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25k Genuine Miles: 1986 Oldsmobile Cutlass 442

When you look at this 1986 Oldsmobile Cutlass 442, it is easy to see why it has managed to secure its owner a reasonable array of show trophies. It is very original, and its condition is truly striking. After 16-years of ownership, he has decided that the time has come to reduce the size of his own collection, so the 442 has been earmarked to go to a new home. Given the overall condition of the Olds, it looks like there is going to be one lucky person out there who is set to secure themselves a pretty special car. Located in Toms River, New Jersey, you will find the 442 listed for sale here on eBay. There has only been a single bid of $17,000 submitted at this stage, and I’m not that surprised to see that the reserve hasn’t been met.

The Oldsmobile wears the distinctive two-tone paint that was a hallmark of the 442 at this time. Buyers in 1986 had a choice of four different shades, including Medium Gray, Black, Dark Teal Blue, and Burgundy. In this case, the primary shade is Medium Gray Metallic, with the lower section of the car finished in the obligatory Metallic Silver. Separating these two shades is Gold striping, which also works its way over the wheel arches. The finish of the paint is all that you would expect on a car that has won multiple trophies. It is consistent, has a great depth and shine, and is free of any significant chips or marks. The panels look nice and straight, while the Gold stripes and decals appear to be faultless. Against these darker shades, the distinctive chrome and gold wheels provide a nice contrast and seem to be free of pitting, corrosion, or physical damage. The tinted glass looks just as impressive as the rest of the car, with no signs of any chips or scratches.

You know, I wouldn’t describe the interior as being showroom fresh, but it certainly isn’t far off it. Careful inspection reveals some wrinkling of the upholstery on the outer lower edge of the driver’s seat, but the rest of the trim is in wonderful condition. I think that the most impressive aspect of the interior is the condition of the plastic. While at this point in time manufacturers were improving the quality and longevity of these pieces, some items could still be prone to some horrendous levels of deterioration and discoloring. The plastic inside this vehicle is close to flawless, and when you combine that with the lack of wear, marks, and stains across the whole interior, it makes the owner’s claim that the Olds has only covered 25,000 genuine miles seem quite plausible. About the only fault that I can pick is that the lighter is missing from its socket in the dash. By 1986, the 442 owed a lot more to luxury appointments than to outright performance, and anyone who slapped down their hard-earned cash on one of these wasn’t to be disappointed. For their money, they received a car equipped with air conditioning, power windows, power locks, a 6-way power driver’s seat, cruise control, a leather-clad tilt wheel, and an AM/FM radio and cassette player.

While the 442 was by no means a fire-breather in 1986, it was still a vehicle that was capable of delivering a surprise. The “442” designation was to denote that the Olds was fitted with a 4-barrel carburetor, a 4-speed automatic transmission, and 2 exhausts. In this case, all of these items are bolted to a 307ci V8, which delivers 180hp. The transmission in question is the 200R4, and this feeds the power to the relatively bulletproof 8½” rear end. As I said, 180hp doesn’t sound like a lot, but the 442 was capable of using that power effectively. The efficient transmission was part of the secret to this, but with a curb weight of 3,417lbs, the Olds was by no means a porker. It could accelerate from 0-60mph in around 8.5 seconds, while the ¼ mile could be despatched in 16.6 seconds. Against the lofty heights of the long-gone muscle car era, and against the sorts of performance figures available today, that doesn’t sound that impressive. In 1986, those numbers looked pretty good. Judging by the information provided in the listing, this is a vehicle that is well maintained. When you couple that with the low claimed mileage, that should mean that this is a car that runs and drives well.

The owner claims that this ’86 Olds 442 has to be one of the lowest-mileage examples in existence today, and while there are almost certainly ones with lower mileage, they don’t appear on the market terribly often. This particular one is nicely preserved and original, and someone looks set to become the next proud owner of a very nice classic.


  1. Moparman Member

    Nice! Buckets/console/full gauges, the only thing that irks me is the low hanging exhaust pipe. This one’s a real beauty, GLWTA! :-)

    Like 1
  2. SMDA

    I would want this so much more than a GN or even a GNX. Such a great cruiser.

    Like 2
  3. Skorzeny

    I always told myself that I didn’t like that ‘formal’ roofline, but the older I get… This is a handsome car, and sure it’s gonna get roasted by an Accord V-6 (I love Hondas too) but this would be a nice cruiser. It’s just and attractive car. I hate the automatic, but is it worth swapping a manual? I would like this with about 350-400 hp. Nice find. I really hope the next owner drives the heck out of it.

    Like 2
  4. Mike

    My 1987 Cutlass Supreme was such junk from the factory that I attribute that car in particular to my reasoning that I’ll never purchase a new GM anything again. Although not a 442, it was almost as pretty as this featured car, and had the updated front grille and headlights. Great looks, but build quality poor. Torque converter shot in no time and paint faded in less than 2 years, burning oil at 40000 miles. Hated that car!

    Like 4
    • CJinSD

      I worked at an Oldsmobile dealership in 1989. They were still telling stories about these cars, as they did their detailed delivery inspections on then-current Oldsmobiles. Quite a few of the last rear wheel drive Cutlasses showed up with easter-eggs like dry differentials, loose mechanical assemblies, or missing components. I’m sure every checklist item was learned at the expense of a thoroughly burned new car buyer or two. Incidentally, they were still better built than the new Saabs we also sold. Too bad the Hondas that were making up about half of our sales volume only needed to be hit with a hose after they came off the truck to be perfect.

      Like 2
      • Superdessucke

        They sure don’t build ’em like they used to.

        Thank God.

        Like 2
  5. George Mattar

    307 Olds engine was total junk. Major oil burners. The problem was the cylinders got egg shaped and oil poured through like water into the Titantic. This was the end of Oldsmobile building trash like this. $17,000. F u

    Like 5
    • Superdessucke

      I don’t think it was That bad of an engine. We had an ’85 Rivera with this motor and it was alright. Not stellar but got the job done. But the Olds 307 was a definitely a slug compared to the SFI 3.8 Intercooled Turbo in the Regal T-Type and GN. I always liked the looks of these 1985-88 442s, but it was hard to justify the purchase of one with the much faster Buicks available for not much (if any) more.

  6. Troy s

    Nice looker, then and now. Performance?
    That’s about as good as it got in this style car back then, the SS Monte Carlo wasn’t a big performer either with the lackluster 305. Emissions…sure but corporate average fuel economy standards played a part in it too, which I believe kept certain engine packages out of cars like this. Only the turbocharged Regals displayed any real acceleration.
    Seventeen grand to relive the eighties, no thanks.

  7. Emmett

    307 junk? An oil burner? Maybe a few of you experienced that, but understand that those examples we’re far from the norm.

    307 was just another Olds small block. Terrific engines. Underpowered and smogged to the hills: yes. But still durable with no real flaws related to longevity. Smooth and quiet, too.

    As long as we are throwing anecdotal evidence out there, I had two 200k mile 307 powered Delta 88’s. A 1981 and a 1984.

    Like 7
    • Emmett

      Forgot to add: consider that these engines powered most of GMs full sized cars through all of the 1980’s. If they were that terrible, there’d have been plenty of noise about it. Yet, there never was any!

      Like 5
  8. AndyinMA

    She’s a beauty. Add satellite radio for the 80s channel and hit the road.

    Like 2
  9. DR Member

    Why buy this when a Buick Grand National can be had in its stead?

    Like 2
    • BobMck Member

      There are a lot of people that do not like the GN.

      Like 2
      • Superdessucke

        And also, you could get the 3.8 SFI Turbo on pretty much any Regal trim, including the Limited with pillow velour interior if you wanted.

        I suspect that most of the buyers of these late 442s were older loyal Oldsmobile customers who wanted something a little sporty and didn’t care about blazing performance.

        Like 1

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