Rare Mini-Muscle: 1991 Oldsmobile Quad 442

Jesse recently featured an Oldsmobile Quad 442 that he found in a junkyard and guess what, a 1991 Oldsmobile Cutlass Calais 442 like it just popped up for sale here on Facebook Marketplace in Pueblo, Colorado for a mere $3,500! Some work has been done to it but it needs a little TLC. Our thanks to reader Rocco B for this tip. If like me, you thought the last 442 rolled off the Oldsmobile assembly line in 1987, you might be surprised to see that Oldsmobile tried one last time at selling a 442 badged car. Just recently these cars have been popping up for sale with an even more surprising amount of interest.

This car does not compare to the classic 442 models of 1968-1972. Some may consider this car an insult to the 442 name. Oldsmobile tried to spice up the front wheel drive Cutlass, you have to give them credit for at least trying. This was a 1990 mid-year offering by Oldsmobile and the last year of this body style. In my research, I found only 204 W41 cars were produced for the public. What makes it different? The engine. It was labeled the “Quad-4” because it has dual overhead cams, thus four valves per cylinder. It was only a 2.3 liter four cylinder engine which was also offered in the Pontiac Gand Am. It came with a manual five speed transmission adding some excitement. And boy did Olds want you to know that this is a 442, with badges letting you know everywhere. The spoiler on the trunk was to make it look sporty, but probably doesn’t add much in the way of performance. So, why was this car made? You might be surprised by this one. Oldsmobile wanted the “Quad-4” to be competitive in the SCCA racing circuit.

This car after sitting ten years has been found and revived. Various parts have been replaced to make this car road worthy. While replacing the water pump they put on a new serpentine belt. Regular maintenance items like spark plugs, coils and oil has been changed. This car has spent its life in the dry climate of Colorado. The interior is in good shape, yet I wonder what is hiding under the seat and the dash covers.

This car needs a repaint to look its best. I think red is a fitting color for the car though. The rims are not original, obviously. The other modification mentioned is the addition of a modern audio system. I have been a fan of the now defunct Oldsmobile brand for many years. It all started with my first car which was a 1974 Oldsmobile 442. While not as desirable as an older 442, you would definitely be the only one at the local car cruise with a 1991 Oldsmobile Cutlass Calais 442.

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Comments

  1. DayDreamBeliever Member

    Uuglee Wheels.

    That’s about all I have to say, at least for now.

    3
    • Bakyrdhero

      At least GM was trying to be exciting during the malaise era…I’d drive this over a Ford Tempo any day.

  2. poseur Member

    sorry, i don’t get the disdain for these.

    sure, it’s a 4-cyl FWD car with smaller dimensions compared to the 60-70’s models….but it’s a manual with 190hp that revs to a 7500rpm redline on its way to a mid-14 second quarter.

    it will dust any of its brothers from ’73 up. braking & handling performance isn’t even close compared to the bloated mid-70s 442’s & emasculated 80s models.

    compared to peers like the 320i & Sentra SE-R that eke out 50hp less, these are monsters. the Quad 4 gets a bad rap due to its maintenance requirements but they obviously can last if taken care of as this one has nearly 200k racked up.

    i hit driving age in ’82 & suffered through the performance desert of 150hp Mustang GT’s & Z28’s that wouldn’t spin a tire on dry pavement. we had few obtainable cars to champion.

    seeing AJ Foyt blast up to 260mph in the Quad 4 Aerotech gave power-starved little gearheads hope that some exciting muscle would make it through to production & there was some hope for the future.

    26
    • Fred W

      Everybody has their decade, usually the one they went to high school in, and the fans of the previous decade(s) can never understand the likes of the next generation.

      5
    • Philip Lepel

      I agree with you 100 per cent theirs and 90s were rebuilding years for the US car industry. I love so many of the cars with turbo charged four and better handling
      . What they didn’t have in top speed they made up in handling and comfort . Us they were the predecessor s of today’s performance cars.

      2
    • Ralph

      It probably faster than most stock old 442s…..the 60’s cars weren’t really as fast as they are in people minds either……

      5
  3. C.Jay

    This as a 442!
    4 cylinder
    4 tires
    2 people pushing.

    13
    • Dusty Rider

      I was thinking 2 squirrels in a hamster wheel.

      4
  4. CCFisher

    I had the Pontiac equivalent of this car, albeit with 180 hp: A ’91 Grand Am SE. With only 2700 lb to move, these cars would surprise more than a few of the vintage muscle cars that people swoon over, though the driving experience was very different. These cars came to life high in the rev range and could actually turn when the road turned. They deserve far more respect than they get.

    14
  5. Douglas Wildey

    Has too be a sign of the end times

    1
    • Danh

      My thoughts exactly! Its over.

  6. CCFisher

    This does not appear to be a W-41. Cars with the W-41 engine had a callout on the front fender trim.

    1
  7. JC

    With 187k on the clock, it’s a tired little Quad…

  8. RandyS

    Don’t forget the Torsen diff. This car hooked up in the corners!

    1
  9. Jimbosidecar

    These cars were actually competitive in the IMSA series of the time. The Firestone Firehawk Endurance Challenge.

    3
  10. poseur Member

    and here’s a timely article on the mighty (& shaky) Quad4:

    https://jalopnik.com/heres-why-the-quad-4-was-one-of-gms-most-important-engi-1829719965

    1
  11. Bakyrdhero

    Good read Posuer. Thanks for the info. I never owned a quad 4. I gather it had its flaws, but was it popular with buyers?

    1
    • poseur Member

      not sure how well they sold, i think the 150hp base model was standard in a lot of the GM midsize offerings.
      shocked to admit that i don’t think i ever got to drive one.
      i did guide my best buddy to buy a new Grand Am SE sedan in ’88 when he graduated university & was headed to law school at Univ Chicago….chose the Turbo with 5-speed instead of the Quad4 for torque & cost IIRC.
      It was a pretty cool car for the time with fat tires & SportBucket seats with a subdued monotone medium gray exterior. It was a rocket off the line & surprised a lot of V8 cars & imports but you better have the wheels pointed straight with a tight grip when you nail it or you’ll end up in a ditch!

      1
  12. Bakyrdhero

    I loved those old Grand Ams. Buick had a nice little Skylark GS around the same year. I had a 91 Chevy Cavalier Z24 with the 3.1 V6. That was a quick car off the line. Awful torque steer and the one time I had the speedo pegged at 120mph I thought the wheels were going to fall off! It felt like a wooden rollercoaster. For all the flak GM takes for their 80-90’s cars, people have tons of memories of them.
    GM lost me at the end of the nineties when their Dexcool ate three intake gaskets between 2 cars. It’s been Toyota ever since for me with the exception of one great XJ Jeep for ten years.

    1
  13. Mike

    The Quad 4 was a decent engine as long as they were maintained properly. I’ve never personally owned one, but, I know several people that have. The one that immediately comes to mind is my ex-wife. I’d never wish anything bad on her, but, had to laugh after a frantic phone call from her one Sunday night. I found out later that the “new used” car that her new husband said was a “great deal” broke the timing chain about 5 hours from home. I might have left them stranded if my 2 kids weren’t with them. Instead, I took a day off work (no big deal since I own my business), hitched up my trailer, and rescued them. I even let her borrow the 1988 (?) Chevy S-10 Blazer that I was flipping, with explicit instructions that only she could drive it. She ended up buying the Blazer on payments and divorced her husband 6 months later when it finally dawned on her that he was nothing more than a freeloader! Her husbands “great deal” was a Pontiac Grand Am which, to my eye, based on the goofy stickers and other add ons, had last been driven/beaten to death, by a kid. Maintenance was obviously not a recent concern with that poor car! This happened in 2001 and she drove/maintained that Blazer until 2015. She then traded it in on a new GMC S.U.V.

  14. kevin houser

    I had one of these and it was difficult not to spin the tires in every gear. Loved that car and it was fast to say the least.

  15. Gregory Bauman

    I had one of these and absolutely loved it. I 1000% am looking around to buy another one.

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