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4-Speed, Please: 1968 Oldsmobile 442


This 1968 Oldsmobile 442 here on craigslist is located in sunny San Diego – except the listing shows it in a dark, mysterious setting, in what appears to be a missionary-style home with an open-air garage. The 442 is parked next to an equally-intriguing Corvette convertible, which makes me wonder who lives at this address and why would choose to take the pictures at night. 


Now, I know true muscle car guys don’t get all that jazzed about a manual transmission, especially since in many cases the automatic was the preferred choice. But, I just love the idea of rowing my own gears, even if it’s not as fast as the self-shifting unit. This 442 has the numbers-matching and optional 4-speed manual transmission still attached (standard was a 3-speed unit), but the engine was replaced years ago. With what, we don’t know. From the factory, it came with 350 b.h.p. and could hit 60 in about 7 seconds.


This 442 was repainted at some point in the 1970s, and it will need to be repainted again if you desire that showroom shine. I wonder if it was recently moved, or if the Olds and the Corvette have been sitting in plain-sight in this exposed garage for years. A quick search on Google Earth reveals a property with lots of cars strewn about, so I’m guessing the seller has some other projects in his possession.


Even in its waylaid state, the Olds looks pretty intimidating. It’s been sitting since 1981 and is currently registered as non-operational with the state of California. The blue plates indicate this car has indeed been sidelined for a while and whatever detritus is beneath the engine tells about its long-time slumber; an old mice nest perhaps? And is it just me, or are those front tires too skinny? No matter what, this one has me intrigued, along with might else be hiding out at this San Diego estate.


  1. Avatar photo Jason Houston

    Just because they own a 1968 442 and a Corvette doesn’t mean they know any better than to take pictures of marginal cars indoors at night

    Welcome to craigslist!

    Like 0
    • Avatar photo Joe Cook

      as a owner once of a 1972 442 i would have to stick with the stick . i was never beat in a race . she had a 350 in her and she would fly . i’m still looking for her . yes some one wanted her more then me .i may never see her again .

      Like 0
      • Avatar photo Bob

        Sorry but I never saw a 442 with a 350 engine from factory.
        I had a Factory blueprinted 350in my W-31F-85 in 1969.
        It Flew.Beat most Molars & a Z-28,1969 that my best friend bought from underneath me.
        So I had to buy the Olds.
        Yes a 302 Z-28 with 4:11 it was a quick camaro

        Like 1
  2. Avatar photo St. Ramone de V8

    I think most muscle car guys prefer a manual transmission. I know I do.

    Like 2
  3. Avatar photo Rocco

    Surely you jest about the auto vs. the 4-SPEED.

    Like 1
    • Avatar photo TriPowerVette

      @Rocco – Right with you.

      Like 0
    • Avatar photo Mountainwoodie

      Yeah that was a weird statement to make. Who but old ladies and straightline racers want a slushbox? Looks like the car is either gone or the link is bad. Too bad….

      Like 1
      • Avatar photo TriPowerVette

        @Mountainwoodie – Good observation.

        Even straightline racers didn’t WANT automatics, they adopted them early, in the case of very high horsepower cars – read blown – where an errant or missed shift had the potential to destroy a lot of expensive parts. Also; after the death of class racing, e.t. – style bashes required CONSISTENCY (at which automatics excelled) far more than ultimate trap time.

        As an aside, there was one Can-Am builder/racer in the 1960’s (one of the most innovative ever – next to Jim Hall), named Bob McKee who fielded an automatic-equipped car of his own design, but he couldn’t seem to get competitive. He used power plants that included 426 Hemi’s and 455 Olds’. He just didn’t have the budget to get really competitive.

        The bottom line, is that (torque multiplication aside) automatics in the 1960’s – ’70’s were power (and fun) drainers. It took H.P. to run them.

        I remember in 1968, when the AMX was brand new, over a 2 week period I went down to the Local AMC/Jeep dealer in Phoenix, and ‘Test Drove’ 2 identically equipped 390 AMX’s. Both had factory A/C. The ONLY differences were trim/color and the fact that one was an automatic, and one was a manual 4-speed. There was NO comparison. The automatic was slower, lethargic, less responsive, and felt overall like a hollow shell of a performance car. The 4-speed brother was the opposite, in every way.

        As a final anecdote; many years ago, I found myself between Corvettes. I saw a 1970 454 convertible in the paper, and went to see it. The colors were right, and the body style was almost as nice as the ’68-’69, with a nicer interior. My only trepidation was that it was an automatic. To make a shorter story; after driving it, I almost lost interest in Corvettes. It felt much the same as the auto AMX. Just sluggish and no fun to drive.

        Thanks for the comment.

        Like 0
  4. Avatar photo Terry J

    Ahhhh…the mighty 442. Scene: Pendleton Round Up 1966. Famous city wide 4 day BASH in Eastern Oregon. Late night, Dennis and I were in his Chevy at a red light looking over at 4 inebriated cowboys in a new 442, pulling a horse trailer. Light turned green and we both put the hammer down. We got dusted by that Olds, though as it pulled away we saw that there were no horses in the trailer. :-) TLouisJ

    Like 0
  5. Avatar photo Dan h

    Manual trans + big block = a big fat smile that last for weeks!
    I’m sure most that have driven this combo will agree with me.

    Like 1
  6. Avatar photo jimbosidecar

    I was thinking the same about the skinny front tires, as if it was modded for drag racing. At that price though he needs to show a lot more of the car, like under hood and undercarriage.

    Like 0
  7. Avatar photo randy

    Yes you did get the trans issue reversed. The 4 spd is more valuable as well, since they are more desired.
    I’d drive it!

    I Read the ad, there are more questions than answers now. He’s def. going to need to put out more info to get that price from a serious collector.

    Like 1
  8. Avatar photo 64 bonneville

    the car needs a “little” TLC (Truck Load of Cash). crummy pictures, crummy price, maybe $4500 tops. Collector car market classifies this as a #5 non running or parts…needs major work to restore with a value of $3725 + 5% add for the 4 speed. I think they are the most realistic of the price guides. My personal opinion is that Haggerty and Hemmings are more in line with top of the line auction houses on car values. Just my personal opinion, not trying to offend or belittle any one or any business.

    Like 0
    • Avatar photo Woodie Man

      Let me be more direct. I think Hagertys prices are nuts.

      Like 0
  9. Avatar photo A.J.

    The NOM is a problem. I wouldn’t buy a musclecar with an automatic.

    Like 0
  10. Avatar photo Bill Rosen

    A 4 speed is by far the better choice. Who wants to put the trans in D and simply go, when you can continually be engaged with the car and the road.

    Like 1
  11. Avatar photo piper62j

    The closer you look, the worse it gets.. No more than $4k.. tops.

    Like 0
  12. Avatar photo RoughDiamond

    More questions than answers is right.

    Like 0
  13. Avatar photo Woodie Man

    Well too bad its so crusty rusty. If it weren’t I would take a look at it as I’m nearby. Then there’s the way optimistic ask .

    If memory serves me correctly California went from black plates to blue plates in 1967-8. But something perplexes me here. The Z in the plate indicates that it came at the end of the six digit plate blue plate run. But this is a ’68. My 1970 911 with it original blue plates has a B in the first letter. Ergo this plate was issued after 1970. So if I’m correct I wonder where this car originally came from assuming the plate was issued when the car was first registered and has remained on the car since then. On the other hand maybe it was a random left over plate. But I doubt it. California only had maybe 18 million people then…as opposed to the 38 million today!

    I also think this is the year the 442 were not just badge engineered 442’s. Maybe someone can let us know

    Like 1
  14. Avatar photo piper62j

    Hagerty, Mecum and Barrett Jackson are just auctioneers with a big show. Because they are an auction house, it’s the buyers who are over inflating the prices of collectors cars. IMHO, this is what’s driving the prices up in the hobby.

    When we had cars that we couldn’t sell at the shop, they were taken to the auction or wholesaled off. Today, these auction houses make big money selling in different states and on line.. I think (not sure) that the seller pays a fee,, the buyer pays a fee, vehicles for the most part must be transported to the auctions (another big expense) and then transported to the new owners location (yet another big expense)…

    So, yes, the auction houses have caused a drastic increase in the price of these cars.. I’m not into it, but for the collector, it may be just the thing..

    Like 0
  15. Avatar photo TriPowerVette

    Just curious… Where are the 442 fender emblems?

    Like 0
  16. Avatar photo Jim

    Maybe it’s a homemade 442?

    Tags could be off of any car…….. it like a buyer is going to check registration

    Like 0

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