10,000 Mile Theft Recovery: 1986 Olds 442

Few things seem worse as a gearhead than having your pride and joy stolen and stripped. I’ve heard countless stories of automobiles that go missing, never to be seen again and likely headed overseas. Well, sometimes they end up right in our own backyards, as may be the case with this 1986 Oldsmobile Cutlass 442 here on eBay that the seller says had only 10,000 miles on the clock before it was swiped from its rightful owner. 

So, do we believe the numbers on the dial? This is a task made more difficult due to the interior being stolen and making it difficult to judge the cosmetic condition agains the mileage. The engine bay shot is perhaps our best evidence that this is a low mileage find, as the motor looks very clean – the sort of clean that isn’t manufactured and is only possible with limited use. Having owned a former theft recovery vehicle, I can tell you that if the mechanical components check out, it’s a great way to drive a rare car for a lot less money.

However, this 442 won’t return to the road with merely an interior. Whether this car was stolen, stripped and then wrecked isn’t disclosed, but there’s no doubt this whack to the passenger side rear quarter is significant. As I am not a bodywork expert, I’m not sure if there’s risk of frame damage with a hit like that, but the seller seems to think it’s a simple matter of replacing panels. The other detail I notice is how fresh the unique 442 graphics and gold striping still appears, perhaps another indication of the low mileage claim being accurate.

I’m struggling to see why the interior was so desirable that it was stripped. When looking at pictures of the seats and door panels in complete cars, aside from the 442 stuck on the top of the door panels, I can’t spot anything special about the buckets and console. If a 442 expert knows of some subtle tweak that made those pieces unique to the car, let us know in the comments. Same goes for the carpet – wouldn’t it just be standard-issue Cutlass fabric? And is this Cutlass 442 special enough to return to the road, or is it going to give up the rest of its parts to another vehicle?


  1. Steve

    Tires are not originals, and worn at that. nor is the exhaust (should have a slash tip) and the painted front bumper is peppered with stone chips. Most likely 110,000.

    Like 1
  2. Kevin Wernick

    Ugly then, and ugly now

    • Mark S

      Kevin I say a mans entitled to his opinion. So NO thumbs down from me. As for me this is one of my all time favorite body style. As for this car I’m afraid it is done.

  3. Adam T45 Staff

    Looking at the photos I well believe the mileage, but I also believe that the damage to the rear is a bit more than cosmetic. The fact that the hit on the passenger side has been hard enough to buckle the quarter panel on the driver’s side suggests that there’s a bit going on under the skin. I wish there was a photo showing the inside of the trunk (especially the floor). The rear axle also no longer appears “square”, so it’s starting to look expensive. This is a crying shame as it appears to have been a very nice car.

    PS. Did I get all of the American terminology correct?

    • Tom Member

      That right sail panel is bent and buckled too. A picture of the roof from the back of the car would have been nice. Hard to tell from the damage on the RR quarter hit means the RR wheel / axle is bent too??. Great point on how hard that hit on the right was to buckle the left. entire back end of that car is probably bent and shifted.

      I have wanted to pick one of these up for my wife for years. It won’t be this one!

    • Dcoleman

      It’s not a 442 i had a 87 and the speed odometer went higher than 85. It should have four or five data plates with 442 under the hood. The front swaybar should very large as well. If its a 442

      • Keith

        120mph speedo was optional for the 442 in 1987, though I can say I’ve never seen one w/o the 120mph speedo, it was indeed optional.

      • Jnapes

        Only the 87 442 had the 120 MPH Speedo. It wasn’t an option, they came with it. There was one tag on the cowl showing it was a 442, but not all cars had them. Also, the 8th digit in the vin is a 9. If it’s a Y it’s not a real 442.

        Like 1
  4. jimbunte jimbunte Member

    Quite often near-classic vehicles like this are stolen for specific parts intended for donor cars – unscrupulous types find, identify, lift and then ultimately dump/abandon the vehicles after getting what they want to sell to their customers who place special orders.

    I had a gf who had a second-gen Acura Integra stolen for its leather interior, cylinder head and all glass. The rest of the car was all there, including Zeppelin CDs LOL (the thieves were obviously not fans).

  5. Flmikey

    …didn’t this year 442 have a special shifter and console? I notice those are gone too…this would be a labor of love to fix up…not a money maker…

    • Jnapes

      Nope! They did have the console, but the “special” shifter was in the 83 and 84 H/O.. The Lighting Rod shifter.

      Like 1
      • Jnapes

        Lightning Rod shifter.

        Like 1
  6. Rock On Member

    Terminology is as good as or better than most of the Americans on this site!!!

    • Adam T45 Staff

      Thanks for that. Australia: America’s 51st state!

      • JW454

        51st state is fine by me. When ever we get into a war you guys show up ready to fight right along side. I’d love to see your country someday… It’s on my bucket list.

      • Adam T45 Staff

        Thanks again. You definitely need to come and have a look. It’s a magnificent country.

        Like 1
      • PAR

        Seriously!?!, Aussie is just New Zealands west island. If you really want to see a country of beauty with car lovers to boot come to NZ!!!!

  7. jps311

    6,500 no way. Mint with no salvage title issues worth in my opinion around 14 to 15 thousand. Numbers dont work. Thousand to fifeteen hundred max. Going to cost somebody way north of ten grand to get it back to mint. Still with a salvage title.

  8. Kincer Dave Member

    I think I’m going to have to say 110,000 miles, tires, exhaust, and all those stone chips just don’t say 10,000 miles. I could go with the tires as they tend to dry rot and also the exhaust as it would rot if not stored properly but you don’t get those stone chips in 10,000 miles, not in my opinion anyhow, Is a shame though, I thought these were great looking rides, not fast but sharp looking.

    • Mark S

      You might get those stone chips if you have a thief driving the $h!t out of it as evidenced by the back of the car. As for tires remember the thief drove the $h!t out of it.

      Like 1
      • Kincer Dave Member

        If those were the original tires, they would have been Goodyear Eagles not Super Star Radial GTs. Those chips look like 110.000 mile chips

  9. sir mike

    Really?? Somebody would have actually stolen one of these???

    • Alfie

      Those cars topped the top ten most stolen cars in mid to late 1990s.

    • Jnapes

      Yup! My 85 442 was stolen out of Tarrytown, NY. It was found a month later on the BQE totally stripped and on it’s roof.

      Like 1
  10. Mark

    My very first job out of college was working at a Buick/Olds dealer. Back then they all looked like hopelessly boring cars my grandpa would drive. The 442’s looked cool, however. The real beauty and beast were the few GNX that came through- we could drive anything on the lot but those.

    Like 1
  11. Jay M

    The 442 package did not get you much in 1986, certainly not enough to justify restoring this one anyway.
    Even if it wasn’t destroyed in the accident, and gutted, what is so special about this car, other than decals desperately trying to pretend they create the performance of cars that wore them in the past?
    Notice they didn’t remove the high performance driveline? Oh right…there wasn’t one in 86.

  12. Rock On Member

    Adam T45 – I was always told that Canada was America’s 51st state . Or was that America was or 11th Province?

  13. Ck

    I had one of these for years .Not fast but they sure did ride nice.Knock.it all you want but I don’t have anything bad to say about the one that I had.

    • Jnapes

      Still have my 87 442. Bought it brand new.

      Like 1
  14. Kevin Wernick

    Nothing “sharp” about gm’s body styles of the late 70s and 80s. Nothing classic whatsoever

  15. Yasha

    Same guy is selling a hurst olds with a decent enough looking maroon interior. Hmmmm….

  16. T L

    You’re right, major sidesway both rails and floor is buckled. Not just sheet metal I’m afraid.

  17. JoeR

    My 1987 Grand National was stolen to be used as a donor car back in the 90s. They stripped the interior, rims, nose, hood, and trunk….Left the rest. While only cosmetic, insurance totaled it, so it ended up with a salvage title with 36K miles. I bought it back and rebuilt it. I still own it. It now has 68K….along with that salvage title….

    Like 1
    • Clinton

      So they stole the car but didn’t take the best part of it? Not the brightest of theives I guess. But then again at work I have seen people smash an entire storefront window to steal a drink and chips.

      • JoeR

        It was apparently a mobile band of thieves working from a van. They stole it from NJ and it was found stripped on the FDR drive in Manhattan. I guess they took what they could in the limited time they had on the highway – or maybe those parts were what the ‘order’ was for.

        This was during the timeframe when Newark, NJ was dubbed the car theft capital of the world.

  18. HeadMaster1

    Back in the late 80’s it didn’t take much to total a car. I was into lowered mini-trucks at the time, and all it took was a pair of seats, 4 wheels, and the radio to total out a Toyota Supra back then…..Man those seats sure bolted into a Toyota truck nicely……

  19. Gunner

    Flmikey, those special shifters were called “lightning rods”. I took one for a spin when they were new. I actually would just prefer a good ol 4-speed when all said and done personally. :-)

    • Ck

      Gunner the Lightnig Rods Weren’t in the 442’s they were in the 83/84 Hurst Olds.Basically the same car just a different color scheme. Not sure how many years they made them.Pretty sure it was only a few years.They came in silver,and silver and black both had orange pinstriping.The interior had orange piping on the seats.My neighbor has one wasting away in his back yard

      • Jnapes

        The Lighting Rod shifter was only two years. They were in the 83/84 H/O. The 83 was black with silver on the bottom and had a red stripe between the two colors. The 84 had the opposite color scheme, silver with black and had a red stripe between the two colors, not orange. Also, they did not have orange piping on the seats.

        Like 1
      • Jnapes

        I mean, Lightning Rod Shifter!

        Like 1
  20. Clinton

    Blah..and a wrecked salvage title blah at that. No thanks.

  21. Cory

    110,000 or 210,000 miles….With 10,000 it would have the original tires…and in better shape,unless left outside since 1986 !

  22. Rustytech Member

    This is a shame! This was a nice car at the time it was built, at least it was RWD and a V8. I’m Having a hard time believing the mileage claim, no matter as the damage is bad enough as to eliminate whatever value there may have been. This is a parts car at this point.

  23. Kevin Wernick

    Anyone who gets a woody over 80s crap like this, probably voted for you know who, the one who lost. The new generation for ya

    • olddavid

      Kev, I’ll try to not hold your ignorance against you. You probably believe in the Porsche bubble, too. And like the rest, without ever having owned or driven one – just like a 442.

      Like 1
  24. Jeffro

    Well, I guess they actually drove it like they stole it.

  25. jrc

    lightly wrecked ?

  26. kenzo

    @Jim Bunte about parts to order.
    I guy I worked with years ago, his brother in Vancouver B.C. did parts to order. You let him know what you needed he would find it, negotiate a price, get it and then it was yours. If it was wheels and tires, he would find some and then you’d ride with him for a while till you found some you liked and next week you’d get a call to come and get your parts.
    I didn’t agree but it was easier keeping my mouth shut that the possible alternative. Both now have passed on but I imagine the business continues.
    Personally I buy what I need.

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