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by Jay Traugott
Designed and engineered during the best years of Oldsmobile.
Now defunct GM brand Oldsmobile was quite something back in the day, you know, before the 1980s and 90s struck. In order to distinguish the brand from Buick
and Pontiac, Oldsmobile combined luxury along with more high-tech innovations. By the late 1970s, it became America's third best-selling brand behind Chevrolet
. That may sound hard to believe for some, especially for younger people who only saw Oldsmobile as an unexciting marque before it was finally put out of its misery in 2004.
Before then, however, Oldsmobile built great cars like the 442. First launched in 1964 as a trim package for the F-86 and Cutlass, it was sort of a delayed response to the Pontiac GTO (there was competition among GM brands), which itself became an unexpected sales hit. Thge 442 received several updates such as styling changes and a more powerful engine until it became its own model in 1968. Just as Oldsmobile was about to begin the best era of its life, the 442 was a major contributor to that success. For example, buyers were treated to a standard 6.6-liter V8 with 290hp. However, the real treat was the 455 cu in 7.5-liter V8.
When mated to the Hydramatic transmission, it could go from 0 to 60 mph in 7.0 seconds, a quarter-mile time of 15.13 seconds at 92 mph and a top speed of 155 mph. Also that year saw the introduction of the Hurst/Olds 442. Oldsmobile worked with Hurst Performance to build limited edition 442s that featured upgraded components that led to even better performance over the standard 442. By 1970 the 455 V8 became standard on all 442s, with total output rated at 365hp and 500lb-ft of torque. Unfortunately, by 1972 the 442 began its decline (along with other muscle cars) due to increasing fuel prices and driver insurance rates.
Although the 442 continued to live on throughout the decade, by the time the 80s rolled up it was clear that Oldsmobile struggled with the model simply because the era of the muscle car was over. While it's a shame that Oldsmobile couldn't truly find itself anymore, it left many memories behind for legions of fans. We happened to stumble upon this ultra-rare 1970 442 factory experimental convertible for sale on eBay. Why is it so rare exactly? This is likely the only 1970 442 convertible that exists featuring an Oldsmobile experimental aluminum V8 in the world. You see, back in the 1960 Oldsmobile began experimenting with large displacement aluminum engines.
They then built an aluminum Can Am 455 with twin turbo charging and fuel injection in order to test the limitations of lightweight engine design. The seller of this 1970 442 is an longtime Oldsmobile fan who sought out to find one of those rare engines. After buying and rebuilding one, he also bought a Rally Red 442 four-speed convertible that didn't have its original numbers-matching engine. After doing a complete restoration on the car, he decided to bring it and the rare engine together, complete with the also rare SZ coded 3:90 aluminum W-27 differential.
The completed car is a very special road going Oldsmobile and a true collector's item in every way. It's currently up for auction with a 'But it Now' price of $196,900. Photos courtesy of themotorcarcollection.