Interesting Options: 1987 Olds 442

For cars that were produced in healthy quantities, the devil is in the details when it comes time to determining what makes one better than another. Take this 1987 Oldsmobile 442 located in Pennsylvania: it’s a non-runner with obvious engine issues, and finding another one won’t take too much work. But it has some unusual specifications that may make it worth a closer look. Find it here on eBay where it’s listed with no reserve. 

As we well know, this version of the 442 was a bit tamer than the models that came before it. The special badging, striping and interior trim details were certainly appropriate from a tribute perspective, but the injection of raw horsepower that defined earlier cars never materialized in this example. A few of our commenters on this 1986 example featured a few weeks ago acknowledged that while they drove nice, the 442 was no fire breather.

So, here’s where the odd options come into play: the original purchaser of this 442 ordered it with a power driver’s seat, manual crank windows, manual sideview mirrors and deleted the t-top roof. Not earth shattering, certainly, but it seems like an odd combination. Whenever a car pops up that has manual controls in place of the commonly ordered power features, and a more rigid structure due to a roof without removable panels, I imagine there was an enthusiast behind the original purchase.

That’s not to say a consumer who simply didn’t want to deal with the power windows failing, or water getting in through the t-tops wasn’t the original buyer. But if you’re going for the 442 model that at least looks the part of a performance car, it’s likely safe to say that first owner did everything they could to make their 442 feel a little bit more like the enthusiast car it once was. This Olds will need some time spent under the hood due to being parked seven years ago after unknown mechanical issues arose following an attempted tune-up gone bad. At no reserve and bids just under $3,000, could it be worth the risk?

Fast Finds


  1. CCFisher

    It wasn’t all that unusual to find a car equipped like this in 1987. While most 442s seem to be fully equipped, items like power windows, locks, seats, etc. were all optional. The small chrome knob on the door panel ahead of the door release is a control for a mechanical, cable-controlled remote outside mirror. A true manual mirror would require the driver to lower the window to adjust. Additionally, T-tops were not standard, so the person who ordered this car didn’t delete them, he/she simply didn’t order them (or the optional astroroof).

  2. nessy

    Alot of these were not ordered with the T Tops anyway. The crank windows and locks with a power seat is very strange. Except for those two missing options, this car is not really stripped down. You can see the tilt wheel and cruise control plus a number of other options. The biggest thing I see on this car is the super rare fiber optics option which was almost never ordered on any Cutlass model. It was standard on Cadillacs and sometimes, you would see it on a 98 Regency or a Buick Electra. The only mods at this point on a stock 442’s 307 V8 were larger mufflers which gave it a hotter sound, the gears were different as I recall, the trans had a shift kit and the chrome air cleaner cover for a total of 180hp. Oh, a guys, when are the thumbs up and down coming back?

    • Nova Scotian


  3. redwagon

    yawn then. yawn now.

  4. Nick G.

    I always thought that the Olds was the best looking of the lot… except the GN version of the Regal of course. The Monte Carlo SS seems a little gaudy now.

    As long as the prices don’t blow up on G bodies, I’d like to get one for my next old, weekend car. They’re the last of the tradition, V8, Main St. cruisers (I don’t count the plastic, soulless Challengers, Chargers and pony cars of today) and they still look damn good… at least to an 80’s child.

    And yeah, power sucks (I drove a Monte SS, it’s acceleration is equivalent to late-90’s pick-ups) but that’s nothing a little modifying or engine swap won’t fix… I doubt no one would miss the authenticity of the original180hp.

    This Olds would be great for a ride to the mountains, the beach or just cruising on a warm Sunday evening. I’d be satisfied with just upgrading the intake, carb, exhaust and maybe the cam on the little 5 liter. It don’t need to outrun Mustangs; it just needs a little extra oomph to squeal the tires occasionally.

    Other than missing the all to important (and leaky) T-Tops, I would definitely buy if the price doesn’t go too far north of 3k.

  5. Big Mike

    Has anybody ever heard of aftermarket 442 stickers?
    The reason I ask, back in 2004, I came across a ad for a 87 442, asking price was $5000.00, the car was in the town next to me, the car had 45K and had belonged to a older couple and their Grandson was selling for them. I went over to look at it and I also thought it was a pretty plain car for a 442, after checking it over real close and running the VIN it came back just being a Cutlass Supreme, I asked a few more questions, I asked to talk to the owner and he said they were out of town, so I told the guy I would be back to get the car when I could talk to the owners, he kept saying he had permission to sell it for them, I asked to see the title he said well they still have it in their bank lockbox, that I could just take the sell receipt to DMV and they would do the rest. I looked this guy in the face and told him I would be back with the money in a hour. I did a little research and found out who owned the car, called them and they did not even know he was trying to sell the car they had loaned it to him so he could get back and forth to work until he could get one of his own. I asked the old boy about it and I was right it was just a Supreme. I told him were the car was and that old boy went and got his car back.
    Never did hear what ever happened to that car, it was a really nice Cutlass Supreme.

      • leiniedude leiniedude Member

        Case closed, thanks JW.

    • rando

      I owned a small grahics shops back in the 90’s and did a couple of MCSS and H/Os for customers. These were orgiinals, but I could have made the same decals for anyone asking. Same with SS stripes for any Chevy. I did a LOT of Camaros. So yeah,, any good graphics shop that caters to race cars would probably be willing to make decals. I say race cars because that is usually a car guy doing the graphics.

  6. Tom Hall

    As I recall:
    This car was the best selling car in America just a few years prior to 1987.

    1987 was the last year the of RWD platform – actually only half of the 87 model year as they switched to a front drive platform in early 88.

    And by that time, we couldn’t give them away.
    We had two left. A guy came in one day before Christmas and was going to buy both: one for him and one for his mother – the trunk was big enough for his guitars.
    He never showed. Turns-out he was on leave from a mental institution. True story – the dates above are perhaps not.

  7. Ck

    As long as she’s not a rot box and the price doesn’t get out of hand this is a good deal .Even if it doesn’t run .Yank that 307 find a 350 rocket somewhere , in and drive it .Thats what I did with
    mine.The kool thing about the whole swap was that 99% of the brackets pullys and just stuff that was on the 307 bolted.on to the rocket.A little paint and it actually looked stock,but ran so much better.These are Nice cars!!!

  8. mike d

    the engine ” problem” could be a simple fix, as it went into the shop working well, and came back running terrible . I had discussed with a neighbor about an a 92 low mileage hearse I saw advertised ( here???) and the seller stated it sounded like it threw a rod , and was selling cheap he stated it could be a half hour work ( distributor ? coil?) and it would be fine … could be the problem here Yes, a crate 350 would be a great upgrade ( the old cuss in me forgot exactly what it was he said) Nostalgia would tell me to grab it , it can be a looker … also the options, or lack of, COULD be when they ran out of certain parts, another friend stated he had a mid 80s Cutlass FWD which had power locks but not power windows all sorts of oddities out there

  9. JaxPontiacs

    Even the name OLDSmobile sounded dull and BORING.
    GM = Grossly Mismanaged

  10. Jeff

    I’ve always like this body style and it is a nice size car to drive, handles fairly well. The only drawback is the 307, getting on the freeway with one is sort of a joke these days. Nice car if you can drop a 350 into it yourself, not worth it if you have to pay some one to do it.

  11. RoughDiamond RoughDiamond Member

    A friend of mine bought one of these ’87 442s new and had to keep taking it back to the dealer under warranty to try and get the carburetor sorted out. The dealer never did and so he just got rid of it. I remember that Olds 442 had one heck of an exhaust sound to it.

  12. Brian Scheel

    Where do I start? To many cars, I own a 85 442, T-tops, pwr windows, locks, seat, cruise, a/c, tilt, deluxe radio, and fiber optic front and rear! All came with HO 307 V8 rwd, dual exhaust, chrome air cleaner lided dual snorkel, buckets, console shift, 200R4, 3:73 G80 (posi), supersport chrome w/gold trim 15in, not 14`s raised letter tires, good performer for it’s day mostly because of the gearing!
    The 87 I have is special as well being equipped the same minus fiber optics, but has the Euro front end, not the four headlight system of regular Cutlass, singular composite covered lights and and special blacked out grilles, Amber corner lights and front lower turn signals not clear! The 307 lacks performance like a big block, but cruises well on the open highway, up to bout 120-125 feels smooth as well, not great off the line but you will out run most on highway if they have the guts to keep their foot on the pedal, oh it does have a cut out switch under the pedal when you nail it, it disengages the a/c too! Nice car wish I wasn’t reworking my Spica injected Alfa Spider! It’s worth the price to pick up rework and drive on of the last RWD performance cars!

  13. Tom Driscoll

    Great looking car — lacking personality (power)? I was amazed when I looked at a low mileage supreme recently, how it was not as roomy as I had remembered…or as fabulous, even with buckets,console shift , gauge pkg, FE-1 handling pkg, and pwr everything…I walked away unimpressed. 2nd gen
    A.-body’s from “73 to “77 are my favorite, the best driving/handling cars, but weak on interior quality.

    • Tom Driscoll

      …or was the handling pkg called F41…?

  14. DG

    This era 442 is basically the 83-84 Hurst/Olds minus the Lightning Rod shifter.

  15. Keith

    Had an 86 442 and an 84 H/O. These are in no way powerful or fast cars, but they styling is about as good as it got in the 80’s. 87s are popular because of their last year status (not counting the 15 or so special edition 1988 H/O’s…what….you didn’t know those exist?). Not tough to get another 15-25hp out of these cars, but anything more than that requires an engine swap. Nice to see that these are starting to become more and more popular

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