The Oldsmobile division of General Motors became defunct back in 2004. It’s almost hard to believe that such a venerable automotive brand is slowly but surely dissolving into the annals of history, but time marches on.
Before we talk about the Oldsmobile 442, let’s take a brief look at the company history. The company dates back to 1897. It was named after its founder, Ransom E. Olds, a native Ohioan who took up roots in Lansing, Michigan. The Oldsmobile company was founded in Lansing, and it was originally called Olds Motor Works.Here’s a fun fact for you: in 1901 the Olds company was the most prolific manufacturer of gas-powered cars in the country. They achieved this landmark by churning out 425 cars; that was a start, as they say. Before all was said and done, Oldsmobile manufactured over 35 million cars over more than a century.
There are those who think that the first muscle car was the 1949 Oldsmobile Rocket. This is because, for the first time, a company consciously tried to put the most powerful V-8 that they had into a lighter body.
Oldsmobile continued with that tradition when they introduced the Oldsmobile 442. The 4-4-2 has a meaning: the car had a four-speed transmission, a four-barrel carburetor, and a dual exhaust.
The 442 was introduced for the 1964 model year as an F-85 Cutlass option package. The Pontiac GTO was introduced that same year, and the Oldsmobile division of GM wanted something that was in the same ballpark with regard to muscle.
Under the hood, the 1964 F-85 Cutlass 442 had a 330 cubic inch, 310hp V-8. The weight of the car was just 3,141 pounds. In 1965 the car grew a little bit. Olds used a 400 cubic inch V-8 rated at 345hp, and the car weighed in at 3,338 pounds.
The 442 became a model in its own right for the 1968 model year, and it stayed in production as a standalone until the 1971 model year came to a close. It became a Cutlass option again from 1972 through the 1980 model year.
From 1985 to 1987, the 442 name was used again with the Cutlass, and it reappeared a final time in 1990 and 1991.
The classic era 442 was one of the most eye-catching cars on the road. I remember a guy in high school having one, and not coincidentally, his girlfriend was also one of the best looking girls in the school.