Olds 442: a Shift from the Ordinary

By: Sean B. | 02/01/2013 < Back to Motor Life Home
Can good things come from in-company-rivalries? In the 1960s, the Pontiac division of General Motors had released the GTO, which became a cultural icon as we have covered in our story All Rise for the Judge. In response, Oldsmobile, a fellow division of GM released the 442 option for it's Cutlass models. In 1968, the 442 became it's own separate model. So why the name 442? Well first, remember it is pronounced 4-4-2, not four hundred and forty-two. This is in reference to the combination of a 4-barrel carburetor, 4-speed manual transmission and 2 exhausts. The engines inside of the early 442s were 400 cu in. V8s, painted bronze-copper. Oldsmobile partnered with Hurst, to develop the Hurst/Olds, an enhanced version of the 442. The 1968 model featured a Peruvian Silver paint scheme with black striping and white pinstripes. While this was a pretty conservative paint scheme compared to it's successor, the black trunk lid added an unforgettable distinction. We also can't forget the 455 cu in. engines that were dropped in, along with a force air system, 3-speed turbo hydra-matics and a console mounted Hurst® Dual-Gate shifter. 1968 Hurst Olds 442 and 1969 Hurst Oldsmobile 442 The following year the Hurst/Olds got even more ambitious, adding a unique and more efficient dual-snout scoop system on the hood. The trademark paint scheme now featured a white body, with a more daring firefrost gold striping. On the deck lid Hurst added an air foil that not only looked awesome, but allegedly provided 15 lbs. of down force at 60 mph. Hurst wouldn't put out another of their H/O 442s for a few years, but Oldsmobile stepped up after General Motors loosened the leash a little, dropping their cap on engine sizes. The 1970 Oldsmobile 442 now came standard with a 455 V8 that was rated at 365 hp and 500 lbs/ft of torque. In addition to the engine size, they adopted the dual-snout scoops on a fiberglass hood. Things also got a bit more psychedelic, with the introduction of Dr. Oldsmobile, and his "Performance Committee" of cartoonish personifications of the car's attributes. Their marketing also pointed out that if you were sick of being in a super groovy band surrounded by attractive females, you could escape from the ordinary in their 1970 442.
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