Some specific 442 models reached the level of “coveted classic,” especially if you look at the value of these old muscle cars, but it has always stood in the shadows of the other more “sporty” brands. Other cars have shot up in value, getting rarer by the year yet somehow attract more interest, the same can’t be said of the Olds, now obviously a dead brand there are only a select few who even care about these cars.

A lot of the people who do care about them are either dead or dying, which shouldn’t be the case, these “cult” cars are incredibly cool and deserve to be more popular.

10 Started Life As A Cutlass

Via Orlando Classic Cars

When you think of performance cars, an old Cutlass likely wouldn’t be the first thing that would come to your mind.

black shiny 1964 oldsmobile 442
via hemmings.com

Look a little deeper than the outer bodywork, and you will realize the Cutlass ran on the GM A-body platform, which it shared with the Chevelle, GTO, and Buick GSX to name a few.

9 442 Initially Had Nothing To Do With The Size Of The Engine

Oldsmobile 442
Via: Carsalesbase

One truly bizarre aspect of the three-digit name is the fact that pretty much every other member of the GM family would use that to denote engine size.

red 1970 Oldsmobile 442
Via hemmings.com

Spoiler alert; the 442 never had a 442 cubic inch big block. As this was initially just a package for the aforementioned Cutlass, it referred to what the package included: 4 barrel carb, 4-speed manual, and dual exhaust.

8 Engine Got Bigger Thanks To Pontiac

Oldsmobile 442 W-30
via Mecum Auctions

By 1965, Pontiac ditched the 330 cubic inch restriction GM had previously set on their mid-size cars, starting something of an internal arms race.

via Mecum

It was this move that added a 4 then subsequently removed another 4 in their package; adding a 400 cubic inch big block (seriously, it couldn’t have been that hard to make it 442) then removing the 4 speed. Well not entirely, it was still an option, it just wasn’t a defining feature as they started selling them with a 3 speed and an automatic on top of the 4 speed (not confusing at all).

Related: Here’s Our Favorite Feature Of The Last Classic Pontiac GTO

7 The Real 442 Was Born

1968-Oldsmobile-442
via mecum

It was only in 1968 that the real 442 went into production as a stand-alone model, and it was only a stand-alone model for 3 short years.

1968-Oldsmobile-442
via bringatrailer

Although the name might have been a bit odd (to say the least) it was a sensational muscle car, strangely being produced by a company famed for its land yachts.

6 Offered A Fuel Saving Package

Oldsmobile W-32
expertautoappraisal.com

One of the reasons it became popular (relatively speaking) was actually the very thing that has long been viewed as the antithesis of everything that muscle cars are about; good mileage.

Oldsmobile W-32
Day Family Classic Cars

Known as the W32 package, it made use of the ram air system on a detuned engine, producing a fairly effective economy version of the 442.

Related: These Muscle Cars Prove That They Don’t Need Power To Be Badass

5 If The Battery Is In The Trunk It Is Faster

Oldsmobile 442 W-30 3
via Mecum Auctions

Like most muscle cars back then, there were quite a few different options and performance packages to choose from.

Oldsmobile 442 W-30 2
via Mecum Auctions

The cars that got the W30 package are the ones to look out for, they got a proper tune with their 455 cubic inch big block (why not 442?), ram air, and a couple of sweet-looking snorkels. They were forced to relocate the battery to make way for the ram air tubes.

4 Convertible 4-speed The Most Valuable

1968 Oldsmobile white
Fast Lane Classic Cars

Not many Oldmobiles fetch six figures, but the W30 equipped convertible has become very desirable.

HotCars.com

In pristine condition, these cars are easily worth that, the most out of any 442, the most we suspect out of any Oldsmobile period. Just because it is worth the most doesn’t mean it is the best though.

Related: 10 Muscle Cars from The ’70s That Actually Have Power

3 Hurst/Olds

The relationship that Hurst struck up with Oldsmobile proved to be a fruitful one, something many enthusiasts look back upon with affection.

The Hurst Olds special edition was Oldsmobile's work around to the corperate ban on muscle cars
via americancarcollector.com

It also bore good fruit, the Hurst/Olds was the most powerful by some margin, with the 1968 model being the most powerful, producing 390 horsepower. In this case, the most powerful version really is the best.

2 Known As One Of The Best Handling Muscle Cars

1970 Oldsmobile 442 on the road
Via hagerty.com

Another rather un-muscle car quality was its handling, it proved to be a rather well-balanced car, something most muscle cars were not.

via Flickr

It made it fun to drive, although it was no sports car, it got through the corners well enough, had more than enough power on tap, and has never been the most expensive to purchase or run.

1 Another Victim Of the Malaise Era

50 years on, it is easy to say that the end of the muscle car era was something of a tragedy, but back then it was a necessity if manufacturers wanted to still make money.

For the 442, its brief moment in the sun was over only three years after its birth, 1971 was the last model year of the only real 442s, with Oldsmobile reverting back to it being a package for the Cutlass for the 1972 model. It was the best and will always be the best Oldsmobile, thanks in part to GM putting them out to pasture many moons ago.

Next: These Are The Most Iconic Muscle Car Design Features

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