Wednesday, June 14, 2017

The sister of a girl I once knew

The following rides was inching along in heavy traffic past my shop recently. I knew it from the smallest glimpse in the distance:
This is a 1967 Oldsmobile 442 in aftermarket-but-looking-good red. The name stems from 4 barrel, 4 speed, dual exhaust (though by this year you could order an automatic). I know this ride front to back and top to bottom because I had a convertible version that was slightly more dusty:
Here is my Spanish Red baby in Dumbo circa 1997. More than bragging that I once had 1 of only 1,130 convertible 442s with a Hurst 4 speed built that year this pic shows a 442-only detail you can't see on the feature car. There are 2 rows of louvers cut into the hood up by the windshield that are unique to this model. Another detail is the 442 badge in the grill bar. If this were a non-442 there would be a grill emblem that says OLDSMOBILE
This hardtop is in absolutely perfect shape and with the exception of the wheels looks correct.
Power would come from a 330 or 400 V8 mated to either an automatic, or 3 or 4 speed manual transmission. Both manuals came with Hurst shifters from the factory and a console. Bucket seats were standard.
This was the same intermediate GM platform as the Chevy Chevelle, Pontiac Tempest/GTO, and Buick Special. This is the final year for the 1st generation 442 which was still an option package. In the beginning you could make any trim level of the Cutlass line a 442, even the lowly F-85. By the time this beauty was built you had to start with the top-tier Cutlass Supreme. Starting in 1968 the 442 would be a stand alone model (even though it shared 100% of its body with the Cutlass).
You can see another detail of the 442 in this pic; the taillights consist of all 4 square lenses on the sides, with reverse lights in the bumper. In the regular Cutlass and F-85 the lower squares were the reverse lights. Having 4 big red squares light up when braking makes this look like a spaceship.
This is a 1 year only car as the front and rear were totally different in both '66 and '68 (to be fair the entire car was different in '68).
I delivered a pizza to an auto detailing shop in Providence when I was in school and saw the front end of a 442 peeking out from the depths of their garage. The guy told me it hadn't been started in 9 years and hadn't been on the road in 13. When I asked if he'd sell it he said he'd need to ask at least $1,000 for it (this was 1995). I told him that if I could start it I'd give him his thousand.
After 10 minutes of tinkering and a new battery she fired right up! It had a J-code 455 in it and open headers so it was LOUD. I replaced the exhaust and the original optional front disc brakes and drove it away. I loved that car and it was as rare as can be. After bringing it to Brooklyn and then San Francisco the manual trans finally died heroically by being stuck in reverse. I sold it to a shady tow truck owner and have regretted it since. Maybe someday I'll find another but they have increased in value many many times over at this point.
So long 442!

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