59k Original Miles: 1985 Oldsmobile Cutlass 442

In 1985, Oldsmobile revived the 442 name-plate which had been phased out in 1980. This fifth generation 442 remained in production from 1985 until 1987, and also represented the end of the line for the 442 as a rear-wheel-drive model. Barn Finder Ikey H spotted this 1985 model 442 for us, so thank you for that Ikey. The 442 is located in Statesville, North Carolina, and is listed for sale here on Craigslist. The owner has set a price of $7,000 for the 442.

The owner refers to the 442 as a barn find, but doesn’t provide any details on how long the car has spent in the barn. There are a few spots of surface corrosion on the car, but it doesn’t look like there are any major rust issues to be dealt with. Judging by the first photo, it does appear that the owner has made some attempt to polish the car, but the paint still looks quite tired. There are a few very minor dings and marks on the car, but it might be worth getting a professional to try to buff and polish the car, as not only would this be considerably cheaper than a repaint, but it might also provide some surprising results. The car is also fitted with a T-Top, and this looks like it is in good condition, as does the glass. The chrome wheels look like they have survived quite well, although the passenger side front one is not fitted. Hopefully that’s sitting in the trunk.

Under the hood are the 307ci V8 engine and the 4-speed automatic transmission. The car also features power steering, power brakes, and air conditioning. That engine produces 180hp and was capable of launching the 442 down the ¼ mile in around 16.9 seconds. While this isn’t close to the sort of performance available from a 442 at its peak, this was still a relatively decent number in the era in which this car was released. The owner claims that the 442 has only covered 59,000 miles, but doesn’t mention whether he has any documentary evidence to back this claim. Looking at this photo sparks some concern for me. While it looks pretty reasonable at first glance, I can see some worrying signs of deterioration on some of the rubber items under the hood. Couple this with corrosion on some metal components, and deterioration of the paint on the firewall, and I suspect that it would be a good idea to give the car a thorough check to make sure that there aren’t any other issues to be dealt with.

The interior of the 442 doesn’t look that bad, with a couple of minor seam separations appearing to be the only real issues. However, these could easily be addressed by a good upholsterer. I really can’t identify any changes that have been made to the 442’s interior since it since it rolled off the showroom floor, as it looks quite stock and original. You get power windows, power locks, and cruise control, along with the original factory stereo. I really think that a good clean would make the interior sparkle quite well. However, continuing the theme that I raised about the engine bay, there is a worrying amount of corrosion on the shifter, and this is all pointing towards this car spending some time in a fairly damp environment.

This 442 leaves me with mixed feelings. On the surface, there is a lot of promise. Once you dig below the surface, there are a few issues that need to be investigated further to confirm the overall integrity of the vehicle. It may be that a good “once over” by a mechanic will address these issues, and all will be fine. A really good 1985 442 will set you back anywhere between $14,000 and $20,000 in today’s market, although a pristine car can sell for considerably more. If this 442 is actually a solid car that needs little in the way of mechanical work before it can hit the road again, it would definitely be worth considering.

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  1. Ralph

    59K my you know what…..159,000 maybe, all original? Where did all the decals go? On vacation?

    • Cush

      Maybe a $700 car

  2. stillrunners Stillrunners Member

    Gone ? Still a nice offering from the Big 3 in the day…most guys knew how to – tune it up – back then .

    • Dave Pitts Member

      Not gone yet! At least the ad isn’t.

    • Cush

      Maybe a $700 car

  3. Ben Member

    Mileage is 105,956.2, not 59,562. Good luck to the seller.

    • dansjoy

      the mileage is 105,956.2 and yes the stripes are missing, so are the decals. Looks like someone had painted it at some time, the gray looks like a repaint.

  4. DVSCapri

    Looking at the dash pic… Ben is correct 105,956.2 is the mileage – you can see that the zero has “rolled”. Overall, not in too bad of shape. Personally, I’d love to have another one (my last was an 87 non T-top one), but for the love of GOD no more grey interior cars!!! Why did they ever do this?? I’ve had so many cars with Grey interiors it makes me want to puke every time I see one!

    • Capriest

      I agree about the grey interiors. WAY too many cars have that it’s just overdone and bland. These cars in particular looked fantastic with tan or red depending on your paint/decal scheme. The olds were the best looking of the g-bodys IMO, but I would opt for the buick t-type if given the choice because of the far superior engine.

  5. PRA4SNW PRA4SNW Member

    I wouldn’t drive a mile on those tires. Last set of Eagle ST RWL tires I had was mid-80’s on a Camaro.
    I’m sure they stopped making them well over 25 years ago.

    • Capriest

      I always wonder about that with a lot of the cars I see on here. Being that I am restoring some 15″ western bullets to replace the 17″ OZ wheels on my capri I have realized how few options there are for white letter CAR tires nowadays. AFAIK the only ones are the overpriced BFG radial TA’s, Cooper Cobras, Mastercraft Avengers, Milestar Streetsteels, and the Coker resto offerings.

  6. Steve

    Ad should read “5,956 original miles”! (Someone fell asleep in every math class in elementary school!) It’s bad enough when someone tried to pass off a car that has rolled over 100k as having under that amount, but this is just pathetic!

  7. Bakyrdhero

    I had 3 nice interiors in the 90’s. A dark blue Cavelier, maroon Corsica and emerald green sable interiors. I didn’t appreciate them until now. It seems I’ve had some shade of gray interior since 1999…

  8. Suttree

    Seller cleaned up the left rear corner. It doesn’t look too bad shined up.
    To his credit he didn’t do the whole car leaving a taste of what it is and what a little work could make it look like.
    The price? I don’t think so.

  9. Todd Sturghill

    nice project car complete running hard to find in this shape especially with ttops

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