The first Oldsmobile 442 was developed quickly as a competitor for the Pontiac GTO – a muscle car that had surprised many with its popularity when it was initially offered as a performance package on the Pontiac LeMans.

The Origins Of The Oldsmobile 442

Executives at Oldsmobile tasked engineers John Beltz, Dale Smith, and division Chief Engineer Bob Dorshimer with developing their own GTO-killer following the same basic formula as the Pontiac – a big engine in a mid-sized car.

Beltz and his team took the Oldsmobile Cutlass model and added the pre-existing “B09 Police Apprehender Pursuit” option which included the four-barrel carbureted 330 cu. in. V8 with heavy-duty valve gear and a performance camshaft, turning out 310 hp at 5,200 rpm with 355 ft lbs of torque.

Oldsmobile 442 Interior

This engine was mated with the Muncie 4-speed manual transmission, a heavy duty drive shaft, and a 3.36:1 rear end. Additional performance improvements included a stiffened frame, larger brakes, the heavy-duty police-package suspension option, and a dual snorkel air cleaner.

This first Oldsmobile 442 was named not for its cubic inches but for its four (4) barrel carburettor, four (4) speed manual transmission, and dual (2) exhausts – or 4-4-2. The car was released in 1964 hot on the heels of the GTO. Although its sales figures never seriously threatened the Pontiac GTO which had been spun off as its own free standing model two years after it had been introduced as an option package, the sales of the 442 were good enough to warrant continued updates.

Over the next few decades Oldsmobile would release six generations of their 442 model, it stayed in production intermittently until 1991 in a significantly varied series of models with little to nothing in common with the 1964 model – even the official meaning of “442” had changed.

Oldsmobile 442 Engine

One of the last hurrahs for the Oldsmobile 442 was the fifth generation model, it was released in 1985 and sold until 1987 based on the popular Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme. This new 442 was said to be named for its four (4) barrel carburettor, four (4) speed automatic transmission, and dual (2) exhausts.

The fifth generation 442 was fitted with the same 5.0 litre LG8 V8 as the outgoing Hurst/Olds model, it was fitted with a hotter camshaft, a larger vibration damper, stiffer valve springs, a Y-pipe dual-outlet exhaust system, and richer secondary metering rods in the carburettor.

Early versions of this engine produced 180 hp and 245 ft lbs of torque, later versions (from 1986 onwards) produced slightly less horsepower and were fitted with roller lifters, a slightly less aggressive camshaft, modified heads with swirl-port intake runners, and slightly larger piston dishes for slightly lower compression.

Oldsmobile 442

The fifth generation 442 sold in moderate numbers, just under 11,500 were delivered over three years before the model was discounted in 1988. Today they’re slowly gaining ground as a collectible as we see many forgotten cars from the 1980s begin to rise in desirability – thanks in no small part to events like Radwood.

The 1987 Oldsmobile 442 Shown Here

The car you see here has just 10,700 miles on the odometer and it’s the cleanest example we’ve seen in recent memory. It was purchased new in Georgia and it remained a one-owner car until 2018.

As you would expect the 442 is fitted with the 5.0 litre LG8 V8 mated to its four-speed automatic transmission. The car is also fitted with air conditioning, power steering, power brakes, power windows, power door locks, and it has cruise control, and tilt steering – making it more than suitable to be either a collectible or a daily driver.

It’s due to roll across the auction block with Mecum in late August, and it’s accompanied by its original owners manuals, bill of sale, copy of first title, window sticker, sales brochure, and a copy of dealer invoice and order form.

If you’d like to read more about it or register to bid you can click here to visit the listing.

Oldsmobile 442 Seats 2

Oldsmobile 442 Interior 2

Oldsmobile 442 Decals

Oldsmobile 442 Trunk

Oldsmobile 442 Dash

Oldsmobile 442 Side

Oldsmobile 442 Books

Oldsmobile 442 Seats

Images courtesy of Mecum

Founder + Senior Editor

Ben Branch has had his work featured on CNN, Popular Mechanics, the official Smithsonian Magazine, Road & Track Magazine, the official Pinterest blog, the official eBay Motors blog, BuzzFeed, and many more.

Silodrome was founded by Ben back in 2010, in the years since the site has grown to become a world leader in the alternative and vintage motoring sector, with millions of readers around the world and hundreds of thousands of followers on social media.

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