Factory 5-Speed! 1976 Oldsmobile Cutlass 442

This shiny Oldsmobile ticks many boxes for fans of sporty cars from the ’70s. Its fabulous condition certainly supports the claimed 22,000 miles! The V8 engine, rare factory five-speed manual transmission, “442” package, two-tone interior, and factory originality (down to the wheels) will raise the pulse of anyone who likes this version of GM’s popular Colonnade coupe. This particular 1976 Oldsmobile Cutlass 442 outside Concord, New Hampshire leaves little to complain about. The listing here on craigslist says it “rides like a dream” and, for $19,000, it can be yours. Thanks to reader David C. for spotting this flashy Olds.

I’m a sucker for GM’s two-tone interiors with white seats from this era, and this one looks great. I had a ’76 Buick Skyhawk with nearly the same paint color as this Olds. Mine had the white seats and door panels, except with a black dash and carpeting. I had the five-speed as well, spun by the ubiquitous Buick 231 cid (3.8L) V6. The white vinyl adds a touch of class and welcome contrast.

The 442 could have been optioned up to the 455 cid (7.5L) V8 in 1976, the last year of that choice. If you wanted the Borg-Warner five-speed, though, it only came with the 260 cid (4.3L) V8, according to Oldsmobile sales literature at lov2xlr8.no. Fifth gear was an overdrive. I test drove a nearly identical car in blue decades ago. Power was not super-exciting, but the V8 with the five-speed sounded great going up through the gears. The next day I bought the Skyhawk for $1250. That little Buick gave me at least 100,000 miles so no regrets.

What? Swivel-buckets too? What’s cooler than turning the seat sideways to hang out after you roll up to a keg party? I’m guessing this car lacks air conditioning, perhaps the only tick against it, but that’s picking nits. Most New England enthusiasts won’t care about that anyway. Had you ever heard of a V8 five-speed Cutlass?

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Comments

  1. Steve Bush Member

    Very sharp car-was a popular body style in NASCAR for a few years. But, even with a 5 speed and low miles, $19k seems high for a so-so performer with no AC or pw/dl. In addition, seller doesn’t provide any engine or undercar pics.

    18
  2. ken tilly UK

    Yech!

    4
  3. Robbie R.

    I understand why they didn’t offer the 455 in this car with the 5-speed manual, but at least a 350 would have made some sense for 4-4-2 package. Nevertheless, I like almost everything about this one. Would be an awesome cruiser!

    13
    • Big_Fun Member

      This combo was to help out Oldsmobile in the mileage category. The 260 was introduced in 1975 as the standard V8 engine. Then, in 76,
      they offered the 5 speed. Only overdrive offered in a Cutlass until what…1982? And that was a 4 speed auto overdrive.
      I have never seen any 73-77 that had a manual and a console. Just the buckets. Olds must have known they wouldn’t sell enough to justify designing a console for the manual. Even the next gen Cutlass didn’t over it.
      Here are two great Hemmings articles on the 73 Cutlass models with 455 and 4 speeds. Only year the combo was availible in the colonnade body.

      https://www.hemmings.com/stories/article/1973-77-oldsmobile-cutlass

      https://www.hemmings.com/stories/article/new-frontier-1973-oldmobile-cutlass

      9
      • Robbie R.

        Thanks Big Fun for details. I remember the 260 V8, I actually wanted one back in the day in a 78 or 79 Cutlass, but I never found one that I liked. Instead, I bought a 78 M.C. with the 305 auto trans and t-tops in late ’79. I was looking for a chick cruiser at the time. Car worked out fine, but I put a lot of hard miles on that M.C.. Previously, I had some sportier cars in the mid 70s and had a heavy foot.

        3
      • Marshall Jones

        I had a 77 442, it had a 403 with automatic and center console.
        It had all the bells and whistles including air. It also got 22 mpg.
        I believe 76 was last year the 455 was offered.

        2
    • RandyS

      …Because that tiny T50 5-speed was only rated for about 200 ft lbs torque. Note the only other body it was installed in was the H body (later a version used in early 4 cylinder S10’s). While I used to love that dog-leg shift pattern in my Vega, to this day I cant believe GM used in a 3700lb A bodies. Parts are non-existant to repair a T50 today.

      6
      • Reid J Meyer

        The 260 CID V8 was a dog in this car and the T 50 trans was a poor choice for this car at that weight. These cars broke transmissions and clutches at an incredible rate. I still remember replacing clutches and rebuilding T50s on these cars while they were under warranty. The last T50 I pulled out of a Cutlass was so badly damaged that it wound up cheaper to buy a complete new unit than repair the original.

        2
  4. LandYacht

    I agree with Steve’s post, add A/C and power windows and it would be very cool, regardless a pretty neat find you don’t see often.

    10
  5. Superdessucke

    The 110 HP 260 V-8 was molasses slow. In this configuration it would have taken you over 15 seconds to reach 60 miles an hour. That’s traffic-safety-issue slow.

    6
    • Big_Fun Member

      I’d rather have this combo than Dad’s 77 Culass with the odd fire Buick 231 V6 auto. It was equipped oddly: full vinyl tan top over dark brown metallic, full wire whell covers. It was sharp (1970’s sharp) No rallys or landau top for him. Inside, A/C, tilt, AM radio and convenience group, so Mom had a visor miror. The only other option was the optional ‘digital clock – it had the nembers that roll over, rather than the dial face.
      The guy he sold it to added an aftermarket in dash cassette stereo with rear speakers. The next car had full power, but still an AM radio…

      4
      • Superdessucke

        Yeah, I checked. I wouldn’t have thought it possible but there is definitely a vehicle slower than this thing. And it is your dad’s former ride. I am sorry you had to go through that.

        Of course, they actually offered that 231 boat anchor in the full size 1976 LeSabre. That must have been a real hoot, rolling eyes.

        To me, odd fire 231 v. 260 seems kind of like a choice between cyanide and arsenic!

        4
  6. Arby

    This is how bad it got before they gave up on it altogether.

    9
  7. nycbjr Member

    Growing up my dad and I rebuilt/restored a black/silver 76 442 with the 350. Drove it first semester of college, then the gulf war happen and gas doubled, sold it and bought a ’87 commanche lol

    3
  8. Evan

    fun, if useless fact: This Cutlass is, I believe, the only car ever offered from the factory with a choice of 3-, 4-, and 5-speed manual transmissions.

    5
    • Twinstick

      I think the Corvette was available with 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7 speed manuals at some point.

      • Steve S

        Yeah Corvettes came with 7 speed manual transmissions some time after 2016 or something like that but not before that. How can this featured car be called a 442 with a 5 speed manual transmission didn’t 442 stand for a 4 barrel carb and 4 speed and dual exhaust.

        1
  9. Troy s

    Wasn’t even aware a five speed was available on these at all, not that I cared one bit anyways. I’m sure it had to do with gas economy not performance.
    Performance?
    What performance…
    For me the real 442’s died after ’72.

    10
  10. Tony Primo

    Oldsmobile Cutlass with sticks seem to be coming out of the woodwork lately.
    http://dailyturismo.com/a-lot-of-new-in-olds-today-1978-oldsmobile-cutlass-supreme/

    4
  11. Geoff

    Swivel seats and T tops are classic 70s features. While T tops could often be more trouble they were worth (Rattling and Leaking) Swivel seats seemed like a great idea. I had a buddy with a 76 Monte Carlo that had them and I loved it. Not sure waht killed them off? Safety?

    4
  12. Bill Owens

    I had the same car in 1980, but with air and pw and pdl. It was terribly slow. I traded it in on a new z28. It ran much better.

    1
  13. Jcs

    Beautiful 442.

    Yep, as stated you could get the 5 speed but only with the 260. Not only was this a dog of a motor, any attempts to up the horsepower in any significant way would rapidly lead to a grenaded tranny, they were that weak. But rare indeed.

    Not sure why you stated that this car lacks A/C. In blowing up the dash control panel it appears that it is equipped with A/C. This is both a blessing and a curse.

    Turn it on and you will be nice and chill while you are easily being outun by a city bus.

    10
    • W9BAG Member

      I also enlarged the interior view, and I only notice 3 settings on the top control of the heater controls: off. heat, and defrost. But as previously mentioned, turning on the A/C in this car would have had the same effect as it would with a Chevette with an automatic.

  14. stillrunners stillrunners Member

    Nice example of what we had back in the day……

    2
  15. Stevieg Member

    I have made the comment in the past how I don’t feel a colonnade body GM car is ever going to be worth (to me) more than $10,000. But I take that back. I feel the asking price is too high, but I would pay up to $15,000 for this if there is documentation to verify the miles. It is in outstanding condition! And being a 5 speed, that works for me because of my love of freaks.
    A friend had a 1976 Cutlass coupe, same as this but without the stripes lol. It was the same drivetrain, silver with black swivel buckets. This was in the 1980’s. He did put a 455 in front of that transmission (a Pontiac engine for some reason). He killed that transmission. It shattered like glass lol. It was fun before that though!

    2
  16. Kevin

    I owned a 77 which I bought brand new in 77. It also had a 260 with a 5 speed and had no power at all but got 30 mpg. I think I put 155k on the car and traded it for an 84 MC Super Sport. Only real problem with the Cutlass was the throw out bearing would pull the input sleeve out of the transmission over time. I repaired it multiple times…

    1
  17. Big_Fun Member

    Thanks for the link to dailyturismo.com. My first visit.
    I think that 78 Cutlass featured is a 4 speed retrofit. Not 100% positive, but a few items makes me think it’s a conversion.
    Still, a nice car.
    When you see a car that was built with, say, 95% of them with an automatic transmission, and then discover that same model with a manual – its a fun discovery.
    Just like this 442! Gettng there is half, well more like most, of the fun! A V8, with a proper exhaust, will sound terrific, and going through the gears on a quiet two lane with the windows down – that is a little slice of heaven for me….

    3
  18. Dana R

    Not totally positive on this little bit of trivia, but I believe the Olds 260 V8 came with a ‘primaries-only’ version of the Quadrajet. Not that I personally saw a lot of them, but all the ones I did see were so equipped. Never did see what the carb mounting pad looked like on the intake, though. Standard Q-Jet spread bore waiting for one of the oddball 600 cfm Q-Jets to be installed? Anybody know? Have a pic?

    3
    • JeffD

      You are correct, Rochester called it a DualJet II. They basically made a air horn casting that closed off the secondary barrels and eliminated any passages to the back half of the carburetor. What a bad idea as the front barrels were so small for fuel economy, so when you opened up the engine and needed more cfm from those back barrels it wasn’t there. Have no idea what CFM that abortion flowed, but it wasn’t very much. Didn’t last too long thankfully, they killed it off rather quickly.

      2
      • JeffD

        Also no, base was different also. Can’t just swap on a real QJet.

        1
  19. KEN TILLY UK

    When I first read Cosmo vs Impala my immediate reaction was Cosmo, until I saw that it was a ’77 and fugly so the Impala takes the decision by a country mile in my book.

  20. Chuck

    I personally ordered a 1976 Cutlass Supreme in 76. I remember wanting a stick, but when told only a 5 spd with the 260 or a 3 on the tree was available I said oh no give me the 350 with an auto. Boy was I ever so happy!!!

    4
  21. Jerry

    Hence the name “Gutless Cutless”

    1
  22. Lynn Member

    How did u make out with the chick cruiser? Now days the chicks couldn’t care less about ur car

    1
    • Robbie R.

      You’re right, what girl would be attracted to a guy who drives a Civic! Generally speaking, 78 Monte Carlos were ugly ducklings compared to the earlier ones and the later ones. However, it was as plush as they got for that year. Bench seat w matching crushed velour, shiny wire hubcaps, vinyl landeau roof, t-tops and power everything. I’m 99% certain that I got dates only because of the car. Looking back on it, I had no “game” whatsoever in those days, and now at 60+ I have no game left, lol!

      5
      • Lynn Member

        I hear u brother

        3
  23. bull

    Pretty sure this might be the same car I bought and sold 10+ years ago.

    Same color, interior, 5 speed, mileage and more.

    If so and in same condition what fantastic Colonade Olds.

    Just don’t git in a hurry!

    4
  24. martinsane

    Nice rig.

    Whats everyones damage about AC? Roll the windows down and drive at speed, free conditioned air. This one isnt going to be your daily anyway.

    Seriously i think back at all the cars ive had and our touched my life and AC and anything power was fleeting.

    2
  25. Matthew Royer

    I had one from my senior year in high school to college graduation. A 78 Cutlass Salon 2 door (the fastback). Same color scheme as this one for sale. Fun car, but that 5 speed is too delicate for a fiend like me. I got to a point that I could switch one out by myself in about 45 minutes. They took ATF for lubrication, which would leak out the rear seal if it was not absolutely perfect.

  26. Greg

    I had a 76′ 442 with the 455 that I bought new in Pittsburgh and sold in Chicago three years ago. Same color as this one but had black interior/stripes. It had 22k miles and I sold it for $13500. I test drove the stick 260 before I ordered the 455. Sad to say it couldn’t get out of its own way. The 455 wasn’t really that fast either but still had plenty of torque.

    1
  27. Matt

    I had a 77 like this. The 260 kept blowing soft plugs. Interior was white and car was gold. Frame rusted out. It was a real slow car.

  28. Beaslbob

    I bought a 76 Starfire 231 v6 5 speed new. It went through clutches every 2-3 years. The clutch cable would bind then the clutch would go. The transmission developed a rattle idling which I found out later was due to an anti backlash gear losing all its teeth. Gave it away just under 300.000 miles

    • Todd Fitch Todd Fitch Staff

      Beaslbob. Interesting! I bought my ’76 Skyhawk 231, 5sp with 119k on it. The clutch always seemed a bit heavy. I sold it to a friend when it had about 250k. He figured out later the clutch cable had been sawing its way down the firewall for years, cutting a slot about 2 in, but never broke. He let me drive it after the repair and it was light as a feather! He sold it to his cousin. Later we figured it had about 350k on the (presumably original) 231. It did need an oil pump once.

  29. firemedic2714

    No one else has said yet, so I will. Since it’s so underpowered, why not an LS/T56. The pedals are already there. I don’t think you’d need a Corvette ZR1 setup, but I bet the stock rear end could probably handle a mild 5.3.

    1
  30. Davis

    The price is high…Call it what you want…but that’s the car that was in our youth….I would love to have it..

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