The 442, which is usually pronounced four-four-two instead of four-forty-two, was introduced as part of a competition between different divisions of General Motors. Pontiac had achieved great succcess with the Tempest GTO, and Oldsmobile needed a car with a big engine to compete.
33,000 442's were sold in its first year as its own car in 1968. It had some impressive performance numbers for the time. The W-30 versions had an engine that could make 360 horsepower. This was also the first year of the Hearst Olds, which included mechanical and cosmetic improvements over the base models.
The 1969 models were almost the same as the previous year. One difference was the discontinuation of the Turnpike Cruiser option and the introduction of the W-32 hi-po engine.
In 1970, all 442 W-30 models came with a W-25 ram air hood. The top engine could now make 420 horsepower by some estimates.
After a decade as a trim option, the 442 made a comeback as its own model from 1985 to 1987. The W42 was now the top performance model. It was a rear wheel drive car.
The final 442 was the Quad 442. It was a front wheel drive car that was based on the Cutlass Calais.
Just in case anyone was wondering about the name of this car, it came from the four barrel carb, four on the floor, and dual exhaust.
These cars are very collectible, especially the muscle car versions. Even the later 1980's models are collectible in good condition. If you are looking to buy one of these cars, you probably won't find one on the used car market. The best place to buy a Oldsmobile 442 is probably on eBay, and it's also a good place to find obscure parts.
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