1972 Oldsmobile 442 Convertible Barn Find!

OK, so is it 4 barrel carburetor, 4-speed transmission, and two exhaust; 400 CI, 4 barrel carburetor and 2 exhaust or something else entirely? Whatever, it doesn’t really matter because in the ’60s and early ‘70s the 442 was Oldsmobile’s go-to hot rod and everybody knew one when they saw one regardless of the 442 definitions. And while we are at it, here’s a 1972 convertible version, located in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania and available here on eBay for a current bid of $6,350, no reserve, fifteen bids tendered so far.

The Olds 442 was introduced in 1964 as their entry into the “A” body, mid-size high-performance line-up, competing with Pontiac’s GTO and later on, Chevrolet’s SS 396 Chevelle and Buick’s Skylark GS (Gran Sport). By 1972, the 442 was available with a standard, low performance 350 CI V8 engine or a 455 CI V8 that provided quite a bit more grunt. And no, they didn’t have to have a four-speed manual transmission, they came initially with a two-speed automatic and later a 3-speed Turbo-Hydramatic automatic.

Our subject 442 is a desirable convertible body-style but it’s a bit rough around the edges. The seller tells us that he found it in a barn and there is some rust on the underside and in the trunk. The doors and trunk lid have been replaced but the top fabric is missing. If you cruise the pictures, you can tell that the rust runs way beyond the trunk and underside, it’s making an appearance in the fenders and quarters too. None of this is unusual for this vintage “A” body, it’s just something to manage. Got a dent or two to fix as well.

The interior appears to be in fair shape. There are some funky seat covers that are probably hiding the worn-out originals but the carpet, dash, instrument panel, console and steering wheel look pretty good. Considering that this is a convertible and the seller tells us that there is rust on the underside and the existing rust that is observable, I’d check the floors out carefully. Crusty floors aren’t a fatal problem, they can be replaced with correct style originals or patched with fabricated panels as I did to a ’66 Impala convertible years ago. It turned out well and wasn’t hugely expensive.

Under the hood is a non-running “Rocket” 350 CI V8 engine good for 180 net HP. The seller claims that while the engine does not run, it turns freely (I’ve encountered a substantial number of these “doesn’t run but turns freely” circumstances lately!). Nothing else is said regarding the engine; the images present show what appears to be a stock, original engine so hopefully the non-running situation is something minor. Oldsmobile V8 engines are generally very durable and make, or can make nice power. Gears are courtesy of a three-speed automatic unit.

This 442, or maybe a 432 (4 barrel carburetor, 3-speed transmission, and 2 exhaust) is a very desirable model, body style and year. Oldsmobile’s popularity has not waned in-spite of the fact one hasn’t been built new since 2004. As with so many similar examples, if you take this one on as a project, how far will you have to go to build a drivable and presentable car? What do you think, are you game?

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Comments

  1. TimM

    It’s a good starting point but the rust is a concern especially since it’s in Pennsylvania!! This is a nice ride being 442 and convertible to boot!! This is one that should definitely be checked underneath!!

    1
  2. M.Balmer Member

    That car has been “Munsoned”.lol🎳

    6
  3. John smith

    Rust! No pics of underneath for a reason. Floors are probably shot frame rusted beyond repair. Doors and deck lid got robbed for project. And put on crappy look at those gaps. And what could take the time to start motor. Bought for peanuts selling to highest bidder. Cause it is to far gone.

    4
  4. JBD

    432 – Pretty Funny!
    Everyone thinks their car Is BJ Auction material!
    It is going to take a lot of work!

    1
  5. John Oliveri

    If it was a 455 car maybe, I’m not sure the 442 was even a stand alone vehicle in 72, like the GTO was a Lemans w GTO option, could be wrong I’ve been wrong before, but if you are doing the car yourself I guess ok, having it done, blind fool, w deep pockets

    1
  6. Ron

    I would check the timing chain , engine spinning but no start , Oldsmobile weak
    Link chain

    1
    • John Oliveri

      Could be a chink in the chain?

      5
  7. Terry Bowman

    I can’t understand why no one can explain (the Olds People) what 442 stands for in their model. I (a Mopar Guy) have always thought it stood for, 4 bbl, 4 speed and duel exhaust. Every one I have ever seen had “442” stamped on the floor shifter. Never seen an automatic stating as being a “442”. I do think this is a “Cool” car, not so sure as being a “442”. I know of several Charger owners buying items to make their car look as if it is a “Hell Cat”. Just Saying!!!!

    • Tom Member

      I am not an absolute expert but 442 (I think) initiallly stood for 400, 4 speed, dual exhaust until they, a short while later started to offer it in an automatic and the 4 speed changed to 4 barrel. Again, I could be wrong.

      Someone who knows for sure…….out there? Set us straight !

      Is the hood on this car correct for a 442 of this year? Though it should be different than just a regular Cutlass hood???

      1
      • Poppy

        The very first ones were 330 powered, so it was 4-bbl, 4-speed, and 2 exhausts. From then on they tried to keep things related to the 442 numbers in one way or another (e.g. 400, 4-bbl, duals) until it had enough model recognition on its own and they just gave up!

        1
      • Tom Member

        Poppy, thanks for that reply. The only 442 I owned was a 67 with a 400, 4bbl, automatic, dual exh. Amazing car. Wish I never sold it !!

        Bought it out of CA in 1991 & flipped it. 98K orig miles. Solid, new paint, new vinyl top, detailed it. Tons of factory HD equipment from the posi to factory front and rear anti sway bars, traction bars, HD radiatior, power windows….Had about $3500 in it, sold it for $7000….thought I was Donald Trump!

        1
  8. Robert Henry

    I bought a nice triple black cutlass supreme convertible with a new top for 9K 5 years ago , save your money and get one that needs less work !

    1
    • John Oliveri

      Absolutely, it’s a 350 442

      1
    • Tom Member

      Amen, Amen AND AMEN! Finally the message is getting out !! Well said Robert !

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