According to some, Oldsmobile invented the muscle car in 1949 when it crammed its hot new full-size Rocket V8 into its midsize model to produce the Olds 88 and Super 88 series. However, Oldsmobile did not return to the concept until 1964, spurred by the success of the Pontiac GTO. Oldsmobile was the first General Motors subsidiary to follow Pontiac’s trend, with the midsize Cutlass offering full-size muscle. The package included Oldsmobile’s top engine, a 330 cid V8 with the police package. It was originally called the 4-4-2 package, referring to the engine’s four-barrel carburetor, four-speed manual transmission, and dual (2) exhausts. Although the specifications changed throughout time, the name remained. Although it was never the fastest or most popular of the GM A-bodies, the 4-4-2 was renowned for its balanced performance, superb handling, and later “W” and Hurst variants.
Oldsmobile Cutlass 442 History
Oldsmobile responded to Pontiac’s GTO with their best engine, a 330 cid V8 customized with all available police issue equipment, including a dual-snorkel air cleaner and premium quality rod and main bearings. The 4-4-2 package had a four-barrel carburetor, a four-speed manual transmission, and dual exhausts. Additionally, the kit includes heavy-duty shocks and springs, as well as a rear stabilizer bar. Except for station wagons, the 4-4-2 package was officially available on all Oldsmobile midsize automobiles, including the less expensive F-85 and the more opulent Cutlass (it was, therefore, possible to have a four-door 4-4-2). In 1964, just 2,999 4-4-2’s were sold due to a late debut and a confusing promotional strategy. This was about to change.Engines: 330 V8 producing 310bhp at 5200 rpm and 355 lb.-ft of torque at 3600 rpm.
Performance: 0-60 in 7.4 seconds, 1/4 mile in 15.6 seconds at 89 mph.
For 1965, Oldsmobile finally got the 4-4-2 package right. They discontinued four door versions and made them available as an option on all two door F-85s and Cutlasses. The former engine was replaced with a new 400 cubic inch engine capable of producing 345bhp and 440lb-ft of torque. The name was changed to reflect the 400 cubic inch engine, four-barrel carburetor, and dual exhausts. Heavy duty shock absorbers and springs, a battery, a clutch, front and rear stabilizer bars, fat tires, and 4-4-2 insignia were included in the kit. Marketing was far more coordinated and fresher, and sales increased to 25,003. The 4-4-2 was hailed as one of the greatest handling intermediate muscle cars and an all-around balanced performer by critics.Engines: 400 V8 producing 345 horsepower at 4800 rpm and 440 lb-ft of torque at 3200 rpm.
Performance: 0-60 in 5.5 seconds, 1/4 mile in 15.0 seconds at 98 mph.
1966 brought new sheet metal for the Oldsmobile midsize series, as well as a new engine option. The F-85 and Cutlass models had a prominent hump over the rear windows, as well as wide C-pillars that extended beyond the back windshield. The base engine was tweaked to produce an additional 5 horsepower, but the major news was the return of Oldsmobile’s tri-carb option, which had been unavailable since the late 1950s. This increased power to 360 bhp and ensured a seamless changeover between carburetors. There was a lengthy list of available options, including five transmissions and eight axle ratios. Due to suspension modifications, handling remained excellent, and critics once again pronounced the 4-4-2 to be the most balanced muscle car. Additionally, Oldsmobile covertly introduced a new performance option for the triple carbureted engine that included an air intake system, front bumper apertures, and internal engine upgrades. W-30 was the designation for the option.
Engines: 350 horsepower @ 5000 rpm, 440 lb-ft @ 3600 rpm, 400 V8 360 bhp @ 5000 rpm, 440 lb-ft @ 3600 rpm (3×2 bbl) 400 V8 360 bhp @ 5000 rpm, 440 lb-ft @ 3600 rpm (3×2 bbl) 400 V8
Performance: 400/350: 7.1 seconds to 60 mph, 15.5 seconds to 1/4 mile at 91 mph.
Soon after Oldsmobile introduced their tri-carb configuration, GM banned such configurations across all of its divisions. Oldsmobile, undeterred, added two new engine options to its 4-4-2. The first was option L66, the “Turnpike Cruising package,” which consisted of a detuned 400 cubic inch engine with a two-barrel carburetor. What piqued fans’ interest was the reappearance of the W-30 package. This “forced air induction system” consisted of custom air ducts, a fan shroud, a camshaft, heavy-duty springs, and chrome valve covers, as well as an air induction air cleaner with enormous hoses connecting it to specific air induction holes above and below the parking lights. The 4-4-2 package, which combined comfort and performance, was no longer offered on lower-priced Cutlass models.Engines: (L66) 400 V8 engine with 300 horsepower at 4600 rpm and 425 lb-ft of torque at 2600 bhp. 350 horsepower @ 5000 rpm, 440 lb-ft @ 3600 rpm, 400 V8
360 horsepower At 5000 rpm, 440 lb-ft @ 3600 rpm (W-30) 400 V8
Performance: ( W-30) 400/360: 6.7 seconds to 60 mph, 14.98 seconds to 1/4 mile at 95 mph.
1968 would be a watershed year for the 4-4-2. For the first time, the 4-4-2 was marketed as a separate model, albeit continuing to be based on the Oldsmobile A-body midsize platform. For 1968, all GM A-body two-door sedans lost three inches of wheelbase and received new sheetmetal that was more shapely. Although both the regular and Force Air induction engines had a longer stroke and a smaller bore (contrary to conventional wisdom), their displacement and power ratings remained same. Air intakes for the Force Air engine were relocated beneath the bumpers, while the Turnpike Cruiser engine was slightly detuned. For enthusiasts, the big news was the launch of the Hurst/Olds. The prototype was created as a one-off for Jack “Doc” Watson’s boss George Hurst, the designer of the Jaws of Life and the transmission industry’s most revered name. Watson installed a 4-4-2 and a 455 cubic inch V8 from an Oldsmobile Toronado. Encouraged by the transplant’s success, Jack Watson convinced Oldsmobile management to allow a limited production run of Hurst/Olds. All Hurst/Olds were equipped with Force Air systems and Turbo Hydromatic transmissions with Hurst Dual-Gate shifters and were available in a single color scheme: Peruvian Silver with Black accent stripes and rear-deck panel. Only 515 1968 models were made, and they are highly sought after today.Engines: (L66) 400 V8 290 horsepower @ 4600 rpm, 425 pound-feet @ 2600 bhp
350 bhp @ 5 rpm, 440 lb-ft @ 3600 rpm, 400 V8, 400 V8 engine with 325 horsepower at 5000 rpm and 440 lb-ft of torque at 3600 rpm. 360 horsepower At 5000 rpm, 440 lb-ft @ 3600 rpm (W-30) 400 V8, 455 V8 390 bhp @ 5000 rpm, 500 lb-ft @ 3200 rpm (Hurst/Olds)
Performance: (Hurst/Olds) 455/390: 5.4 seconds to 60 mph, 13.9 seconds to 1/4 mile at 103 mph.
The 4-4-2 received many “W” options in 1969, including a revised grille style. The W-30 option was reinstated, complete with Force Air induction and intakes beneath the bumpers. The “Turnpike Cruiser” option was superseded with a new W32 option that included a detuned Force Air induction engine. This was supplemented by the W-31, which was offered on a variety of F-85 and Cutlass models. This kit included a 350 cubic inch small block engine with a custom carburetor, valves, and camshaft. The Hurst/Olds made a triumphant return, sporting a new regal gold and white color scheme, crazy hood scopes, and a slightly detuned 455 cid V8 from 1968.Engines: (325 horsepower @ 5600 rpm, 360 lb-ft @ 3600 bhp) (W-31) 350 V8,
350 horsepower At 5000 rpm, 440 lb-ft @ 3200 rpm, 400 V8 ngine with 325 horsepower at 5000 rpm and 440 lb-ft of torque at 3000 rpm. 350 bhp @ 4800 rpm, 440 lb-ft @ 3200 rpm. (W-32) 400 V8 350 bhp @ 4800 rpm, 440 lb-ft @ 3200 rpm. 360 horsepower @ 5400 rpm, 440 lb-ft @ 3600 rpm (W-30) 455 V8 (Hurst/Olds) 380 bhp @ 5000 rpm, 500 lb-ft @ 3200 rpm (380 bhp @ 5000 rpm, 500 lb-ft @ 3200 rpm
Performance: 455/380 (Hurst/Olds): 0-60 in 5.9 seconds, 1/4 mile in 14.03 seconds at 101 mph.
In 1970, General Motors lifted its prohibition on engines larger than 400 cubic inches being installed in medium automobiles. Although Oldsmobile had circumvented that regulation in 1968 and 1969 with the Hurst/Olds, this allowed Oldsmobile to sell its 455 cubic inch V8 in all 4-4-2s. The Hurst/Olds were pulled from the lineup in 1969 and did not resurface until 1972. The W-30 reached its performance zenith with a balanced and blueprinted 455 V8 that had a hotter cam, performance carburetor, low-restriction exhausts, and the Force Air induction system that featured two noticeable scoops on the hood. Additionally, the W-30 package includes a lightweight fiberglass bonnet, plastic inner fenders, an aluminum differential carrier and cover, and reduced sound insulation to save weight and increase performance. Although the W-30 option was only available on Cutlass models, a new option, the Rallye 350, was introduced. The smallest displacement Oldsmobile muscle vehicle, powered by a 350 cid engine, sported the most extravagant bodywork, which was solely painted in an extremely bright yellow. Yellow was used to paint the bumpers and wheels as well. This would be a one-year option due to the collapse of the performance market following 1970.Engines: 350 V8 310 horsepower At 4200 rpm, 490 lb-ft @ 2400 rpm (Rallye 350).
365 horsepower At 5000 rpm, 500 lb-ft @ 3200 rpm, 455 V8 (W-30) 455 V8 engine producing 370 horsepower at 5200 rpm and 500 lb-ft of torque at 3600 rpm.
Performance: (W-30) 455/370: 5.7 seconds to 60 mph, 14.2 seconds to 1/4 mile at 100 mph.
1971 marked the end of the muscle car era, and the 4-4-2 was no exception. To comply with a General Motors directive requiring that all engines be capable of running on unleaded fuel, all engines saw a reduction in compression and a commensurate reduction in power ratings. This was exacerbated by the switch to rating engines with all accessories attached (the “net rating”), which resulted in some significant modifications from the prior “gross” ratings. The normal 455’s output was reduced to 270bhp net (340bhp gross), while the W-30’s output was reduced to 300bhp net (350bhp gross). The W-31 and Rallye 350 were discontinued, and the Hurst/Olds remained unavailable, but the W-30 remained available to enthusiasts, equipped with the familiar Force Air induction system and 1970 hotter cam.
Engines: 270 horsepower At 4600 rpm, 370 lb-ft @ 3200 rpm, 455 V8 (W-30) 455 V8 engine with 300 horsepower at 4700 rpm and 410 lb-ft of torque at 3200 rpm.
Performance: (W-30) 455/300: 6.5 seconds 0-60, 14.8 seconds 1/4 mile @ 98 mph.
For 1972, the 4-4-2 was reinstated as an option on Cutlass models as the market shifted away from gas-guzzling, high-insurance-cost muscle vehicles. The 4-4-2 package was discontinued and was replaced by a handling and appearance package available on any V8 Cutlass. It included a heavy-duty suspension, wheels, and other cosmetic components. For those who want more performance, the W-30 option with its Force Air induction 455 V8 remained available, and fans rejoiced at the return of the Hurst/Olds, though it was not identical to the 1968-1969 cars. Hurst/Olds was available exclusively in Cameo White with black and gold accents and could be customized with a variety of premium choices.
Engines: 160 horsepower At 4000 rpm, 275 lb-ft @ 2400 rpm, 350 V8 180 horsepower At 4000 rpm, 275 lb-ft @ 2800 rpm, 350 V8 250 horsepower @ 4200 rpm, 370 lb-ft @ 2800 rpm, 455 V8 455 V8 (Hurst/Olds) 300 horsepower @ 4700 rpm, 370 lb-ft @ 2800 rpm (Hurst/Olds). (W-30) 455 V8 engine with 300 horsepower at 4700 rpm and 410 lb-ft of torque at 3200 rpm.
Performance: Not Available
The shape of the Cutlass underwent a dramatic transformation in 1973, when it received all-new sheet metal and a new euro appearance. The 4-4-2 package was renamed the W-29 and was available exclusively on Cutlass and Cutlass S coupes. The package had the same handling and presentation items as the previous year. The W-30 was pulled from the lineup, leaving Hurst/Olds to carry the performance banner. The Hurst/Olds were available in Cameo White or Ebony Black, both of which had gold stripes and a white vinyl roof. However, the ostentatious ornamentation couldn’t disguise a 50bhp loss as the 455 was further detuned to satisfy increasingly stringent emission requirements. Models of the Hurst/Olds would be produced in 1974, 1975, 1979, 1983, and 1984. However, none of the successors were able to equal the originals’ strength. Oldsmobile exited the performance market in 1973, and while the 4-4-2 moniker was revived on multiple vehicles over the next two decades, none of them matched the sheer brute strength of the true muscle car models of the 1960s and early 1970s.