Oldsmobile 4-4-2 1964-71 - buyer & value guide

By: Cliff Chambers, Unique Cars magazine

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oldsmobile 442 1964 71 Olsmobile 4-4-2 brought a bit of style to the muscle car game. oldsmobile 442 1964 71

Oldsmobile was late to the muscle car party, but it made up for lost time.

A four-barrel carburettor, four forward speeds in the manual transmission and two rumbling exhausts were all that was (seemingly) needed to create an icon during the Muscle Car era. Until the 1950s, Oldsmobile had been the most conservative of North American brands; slotted into the model mix just above of Chevrolet and Pontiac and generating its clientele primarily from solid repeat buyers in the over-45 age bracket.

Then came the Rocket 88 which dominated Nascar events during the early 1950s and achieved more than one mention in pop songs of the era.

1964 saw the lightweight Cutlass 4-4-2 with previously-listed inclusions introduced, With just a 5.4-litre V8 it was tough enough to scorch down the ‘standing quarter’ in 15.5 seconds.

Two years later a restyle transformed the 4-4-2 from mid-size to full-size, with extra metal counterbalanced by a bigger, more powerful engine. The 400 cubic inch (6.6-litre) V8 did its job so well that cars with triple carburettors could easily better 15 seconds for the standing 400 metres. In addition there was a W-30 engine option which fed air through hoses behind the grille and needed its battery to be moved to the boot to accommodate the trunking.

A shape change for 1968 coincided with elevation of the 4-4-2 to full model status and an alliance with the Hurst organisation. Olds had for years fitted Hurst transmission shifters to its performance models but for 1968 there came a series of Hurst-Olds 4-4-2s with special paint and interior fittings plus an optional 455 cubic inch (7.4-litre) engine.

By 1970 the quest for performance was at its peak and Oldsmobile was embroiled in a massive brawl for muscle car supremacy. Its most potent weapon was the four-speed W-30 with a fibreglass hood (bonnet), 272kW and a best unofficial 400 metre time of 13.7 seconds.

The W-30 option remained available until 1972 but any pretence to serious performance had by then disappeared. Output from the 455 engine slumped to just 220kW and only 772 cars (including 113 convertibles) with W-30 features were built.

MARKET REVIEW

Although they came here frequently as new cars, 4-4-2s today aren’t a common sight in Australia. When surveying for the this guide we did however find several which might be described as typical to the Australian market. Most would not come home with a car-show award but they would offer enjoyment to their owners whenever driven or displayed.

Which car to pick is likely to be a contest of condition vs price. Mid-1960s cars in excellent order exceed $40,000 but the majority will sell at under $30,000.

Post-1969 models are generally hard to find in Australia so investigating the US market is sensible. Bear in mind that an import will cost roughly double its USD price once on the road in Australia.

As examples of what’s available, a 1969-71 W-30 Hardtop in excellent shape can be found at US$50-70,000. A very scarce convertible with four-speed transmission and the dual-intake W-25 hood option made a stellar US$176,000 when auctioned.

CHECKLISTS

BODY & CHASSIS

Time spent checking for rust is worthwhile. Spare parts for Oldsmobiles are scarce in Australia and the cost of freighting large lumps of sheet- metal can turn a cheap ‘project’ into a very expensive exercise. The chassis, unless some rustproofing was undertaken by a previous owner, could be weakened as well and that kind of damage brings safety concerns. Damaged glass can be replaced but finding parts locally is difficult and freighting a massive windscreen very costly. Complete reproduction grilles and headlight embellishers can be found as a kit while front or rear bumpers cost less than $400 each. Have someone check quality if buying overseas.

ENGINE & TRANSMISSION

Literally millions of 400 and 455 cubic inch (6.6 and 7.4-litre) Oldsmobile engines were made, so basic mechanical items are available everywhere and inexpensive. These big motors are vulnerable to overheating if the radiator gets clogged or water pump fails so switch off after a run, wait a few minutes then restart the car and watch the temp gauge. The two or three speed transmissions fitted to pretty much all of the Oldsmobiles seen here are tough, unremarkable devices which will work OK up until the point of terminal failure. Reluctance to select reverse (3-5 seconds delay is too long) slurring up-changes and big thumps coming down mean a tranny change is imminent.

SUSPENSION & BRAKES

Cars that have arrived recently and retain their LHD steering might be displaying component wear and general sloppiness in the steering and suspension. Other issues affect cars that were RHD converted in the days before regulation got serious and these must be checked by a specialist.. Most parts are still available including pairs of front A-arms at US$500 and complete sets of coil-over shocks at US$1400. If a car (RHD or LHD) creaks, groans or thumps while negotiating bumps or sharp bends, assume the worst and request a significant price drop or walk away.

INTERIOR & ELECTRICS

The Olds interior is painted metal and patterned vinyl pretty much as far as the eye can see. There is still so much repro and NOS trim kicking around US supply chains that ripped seats and hood-linings can be replaced cheaply. However it is still likely cheaper to find a car with the trim well- preserved or already replaced. Power window components including regulators, motors and the interior switches are being manufactured but adding individual prices and multiplying by four results in a parts-only cost of around US$1600. Convertible top covering is a snip at US$190-380.

VITAL STATS - OLDSMOBILE 4-4-2 1964-71

NUMBER MADE: 170,830 (approx)

BODY STYLES: steel separate body/chassis two-door or four-door Hardtop

ENGINE: 5404cc, 6548cc, 7446cc V8 with overhead valves & single downdraft carburettor

POWER & TORQUE: 260kW @ 5400rpm, 594Nm @ 4000rpm (W-30 400)

PERFORMANCE: 0-96km/h 6.7 seconds, 0-400 metres 14.98 seconds (1967 W-30)

TRANSMISSION: three-speed automatic, three or four-speed manual

SUSPENSION: Independent with coil springs, telescopic shock absorbers & anti-roll bar (f) Live axle with coil springs and telescopic shock absorbers (r)

BRAKES: drum or disc (f) drum (r) power assisted

TYRES: 7.75x14 cross-ply or G70-14 bias-ply

 

VALUE RANGE - OLDSMOBILE 4-4-2

FAIR $16,000

GOOD $30,000

EXCELLENT $40,000

(Note: concours & special cars may demand more.)

Numbers from our 2017-18 Muscle Cars Value Guide.

Muscle Car Value Guide home page

Sell your car for free right here.

 

 

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