Low-Mile Muscle: 1970 Oldsmobile 442

Some classics are so jaw-dropping that they are often described as having the “wow” factor. That is the case with this 1970 Oldsmobile 442 because its overall condition guarantees it will draw attention for the right reasons. Its history is unclear, but its future includes a new home. The seller listed it here on eBay, although the location is unclear. Bidding has raced to $32,100 but remains short of the reserve.

Oldsmobile introduced its Second Generation 442 in 1968, and it remained in production until the release of the Third Generation model in 1973. The Second Generation model featured heavily revised styling, giving the car a greater sense of presence. The seller provides little information about this 442, including whether it received any restoration work. Its Nugget Gold paint looks flawless, with no evidence of marks or defects. The same is true of the Black stripes, and there are no signs of panel imperfections or rust. The trim and glass are as impressive as the rest of the exterior, and although they aren’t original, the Magnum 500 wheels are an ideal and appropriate addition to this classic. The hood scoops and rear spoiler proudly shout to the world that this Oldsmobile is more than a pretty face and has the muscle to back its looks.

The engine bay presentation is as impressive as the exterior, including the distinctive and spotless red inner fender liners. The seller doesn’t describe the car as numbers-matching, but they give that impression. Its 455ci V8 should send 365hp to the rear wheels, while power assistance for the steering and front disc brakes are sensible inclusions. Muscle car popularity may have begun declining as the new decade dawned, but 19,330 buyers still added a 442 to their garage in 1970. This Olds is no automotive slug, and could storm the ¼-mile in 14.5 seconds before winding its way to 132mph. The seller states they recently rebuilt the carburetor and have replaced the power steering pump, alternator, fuel pump, and exhaust system. Consistency seems fundamental with this seller because they provide no information on how the 442 runs or drives. However, with everything looking so spotless, it is probably safe to assume it is a turnkey proposition.

It can be difficult to sort the wheat from the chaff with this Oldsmobile because the listing contains what is undoubtedly false information. It lists safety features like airbags and ABS for this classic, and we know that it has none of these items. The two interior shots are found wanting, but if the back seat accurately indicates the interior condition, it is as immaculate as the rest of the vehicle. There are no signs of wear or other problems, with the same true of the carpet and dash. The only visible aftermarket addition is an under-dash gauge set to monitor the engine’s health, which is a change I approve of. Creature comforts include air conditioning, a console, a factory sports wheel, and an AM radio.

Classic muscle cars will often generate interest, and this 1970 Oldsmobile 442 is no exception. Ten people submitted twenty-nine bids in under two days, and there remains time on the listing for that number to grow substantially. If recent sales results are an accurate guide, the action will need to pass $50,000 before hitting the reserve. This car’s overall condition would seem to make that inevitable, and I wouldn’t be surprised if the bidding goes significantly higher. Will you?

Comments

  1. Howard A ( since 2014) Member

    I will agree, it’s a nice one. I don’t mean to continually question the authors top speed figures, but this car would never do 132 mph. Many times, that is the theoretical speed off a cliff, and these cars would do maybe 120, if you dared. I think it was a subliminal thing, not to have the car go over the speedos limits. A neighbor had an old Plymouth state patrol car, 440, the cars meant to catch these cars, and we had it going 120 ONCE, that was enough for me. It didn’t have much more, so 132 is a bit optimistic. Still, this no hooligan car for the dragstrip, this was as classy as it got, and still is today. One of my favorite Oldsmobiles with power to pass!

    Like 9
    • Poppy

      I remember buddies in high school with standard 350 4-bbl Cutlasses saying they “buried the needle” driving on the interstate. My guess is with the right gearing these could hit 132 mph no problem.

      Like 17
      • T. King

        A lot of Olds came with 2.56 rear gears, just none of the performance models came standard with those gears. This alone gave some a great highway top-end.
        My ’68 442 auto has standard 3.08 gears. On a calculator wheel it shows approx 5,000 rpm @ 120/120+ mph with 26″ tires.

    • Ed Hardt

      I hit a 130MPH in 1977 Dodge Royal Monaco with a 360 V8 with a 4 barrel and it had more to give.

      Like 3
      • Michael Berkemeier

        That’s pretty funny, since the 1977 B-Body Fury (not the larger C-Body Gran Fury which was heavier and not quite as fast) with a 440 Super Commando (only available in the police cruisers) would only do 132 mph…and that was with a good tailwind. Proven by the MSP testing that year (the gold standard for top speed, among other things, when it comes to the new model-year police cars.

        So, get real Ed. Your speedo was way off or, you are wearing rose-colored glasses.

        Like 1
    • Old greybeard

      My 69 Cutlass S with the L74 350 and a 2.73 rear end shifts into 3rd at over 80 when the throttle is buried. Easily pulls hard to over 100, and feels like it has plenty to spare. Not enough highway and with drums all around that was enough. But with that gearing I bet 120 would be easy, even going slightly uphill.

      Like 4
      • 65metal

        Absolutely some of these cars would do 130-140 mph. Was personally a passenger in a 66 Ford custom with a hamster cage stock 289 2V going 115. Fast forward ten years with a 66 Galaxie with a stock but well tuned 429 our of a ’70 Bird, 3.0 rear end, on a flat straightaway buried the needle at 4400 rpm, needle was long gone when the tach hit 5 grand, not hard to do the math.

        Like 3
    • Chris In Australia

      I have no doubts about the top end speed. Ford Australia’s overrated and over priced GTHO got to 140 MPH with the right gearing.

      Like 3
      • Michael Berkemeier

        Totally different car and a completely different animal.

    • Steve H

      Had a friend in high school who had a 71 GTO 455HO. Not sure what gear it had with the automatic but we had it to 145 and let off. That 442 will most defiantly hit 132 if geared. Uncle had an 69 Ex Trooper Dodge, 440 and had 148 MPH Certified on the dash. These cars would go faster than they should!

      Like 2
    • Steve

      These cars can definitely go over 120, my 68 H/O’s did 130 at 6600 rpm with 3.91 rear gear. So did my 71 W-30 with 3.42 gears.

      Like 3
      • Johan

        A ‘68 442 with 3.91 gears did 140 mph? No it didn’t. I had a ‘69 RA III 4 speed GTO with 4.33’s and it was screaming at 100 mph

        Like 1
    • Mark

      I used to ride home from high school in my friends dad’s 70 Superbird with 4 guys in it speedo pegged at 150 everyday he drove it.

      • Greg

        Yeah, sure it did. Every single day 🙄

        Like 1
      • steve

        Interesting, especially since the specs on this car state the top speed to be
        134, with the hemi.

    • DON

      Totally different car, but my 73 Duster 340 would do more than 120 ; the needle would go past 120, but as it only had a 120mph speedo , I have no idea what it was actually doing – maybe only a couple miles faster ?

  2. alphasud Member

    I think one of the most important items missed in the article is this is a W-30 car with the red fender liners and the special air induction set-up. If this is a factory option and not a add on that makes this car much more desirable. The 70 442 and the 70 Chevelle SS are both beautiful cars and it would be a tough choice to make if you had the choice of 2 big block cars with a 4-speed. Would probably end up with the Cutlass given its the gentleman’s car. Same for choosing a 67-68 Firebird over the Camaro

    Like 16
    • bw

      Real easy to clone a 442 to look the part of a W-30. Paperwork is the only way to prove it’s real. If so, it’s at a bargain price right now.

      Like 6
    • Steve R

      The seller never makes that claim. It doesn’t have W-30 emblems on the front fenders or factory aluminum intake. He specifically states it has 365 horsepower where a W-30 was rated at 370. It superficiality looks like a W-30 and is likely to draw in bidders who make the same assumption who will then be left with no recourse if they overpay. The author was correct not call it a W-30.

      Steve R

      Like 21
      • Tony Primo

        I haven’t seen a post from you Steve R. in a dogs age!

        Like 4
      • archDeviant

        …Strangely it does have the red plastic wheel wells of a W30….

    • Michael Berkemeier

      The W-25 OAI hood and air cleaner were optional on any 442 (and other Cutlass models too) from ’70-’72.

      Like 1
      • Joe Padavano

        And as someone who was alive when these cars were new, you almost never saw one with the hood and wing in person. Today you can’t find one that doesn’t have them. Again, my money is on repros. Everything under the hood appears to be brand new including the incorrect alternator, the repro decals, and the repro washer tank. To it’s credit, this car does have the correct 1970 “flat flange” front fenders. It’s a nice car, but like all of them today, it had to be turned into an ersatz W30.

        Like 4
  3. Poppy

    Somewhere there must be a warehouse full of discarded steel 442 hoods that most of them came with originally…. Nice looking car.

    Not sure I’d have gone to the trouble to add all the W-30 goodies and not go ahead and spring for the emblems.

    Question for Joe P.: Would the horn button on a gold interior car like this be dark gold? Asking because I have a gold interior ’70 Supreme that I’m trying to put together a sport wheel setup for.

    Check out the low VIN, too. Pretty early car. Would like to see the build date on the body tag.

    Like 3
    • Poppy

      “all the W-30 goodies” figuratively, not literally. As Steve R mentioned, no aluminum intake and most likely standard 442 heads, exhaust manifolds, carb, distributor etc.

      Like 5
    • Mike76

      Not the uber knowledgable Olds guru, Joe P., but I can answer your question, yes the horn button ring should be gold, same as the interior. And yes, I agree with you about the hoods, when I bought my first Olds in 1993, all 442’s I had ever seen had the regular hoods. I’d never seen a car locally with the W25 hood. Now, it’s rare to find one without it. That, and the spoiler. Good luck with your Supreme.

      Like 8
  4. Al camino

    This guy must take care of his vehicles by the way this olds looks plus the Chevy truck next to it

    Like 2
  5. Cooter Cooter

    I nicked 142 mph in a 99 Z28 LS1 that I purchased new. Although those were born in the wind tunnel, it was still a bit uncomfortable. This is a redlight to redlight queen and I cannot imagine any speed over 115 in this behemoth. Very nice car though, nicely optioned and well preserved. I’d park her in my garage!

    Like 6
    • Michael Berkemeier

      Correct, 115-120 tops!!!

      Like 1
  6. Eric Johnson

    Here is the listing from last year on BaT. The VIN is off by 1 (20 versus21)

    Florida area code and New York inspection sticker in eBay listing.

    Sold for $42,000 to “Guinnessman”

    https://bringatrailer.com/listing/1970-oldsmobile-442-13/
    copy and paste

    Like 6
    • Poppy

      Good catch. Looks like all of the eBay photos are from the BaT listing. No recent pics. No reserve on a $42K car sounds fishy to me, too. Makes me wonder if Hurricane Ian has affected the value…

      Like 5
  7. Old greybeard

    W30 fender liners and hood, yet no mention? Is it even a 442? Original block? Too many questions, no pictures of the vin or firewall tag.
    Id assume a “tribute”(hate that term) until proven otherwise.

    Like 3
  8. Steve Weiman

    Beautiful 442. Love the gold color. That thing on the trunk needs to be removed and used as a towel rack in the shop.

    Like 6
  9. ace10

    Google the phone number in the ebay listing. It eventually leads to a janky corner lot in Tampa. Website has many vehicles, all listed with below-market prices. Caveat emptor.

    Like 4
  10. John C Boehler

    I had a ’61 Pontiac Catalina rated 348 hp 389 cid with a four speed manual that would push the speedo needle past the 120 mph mark. A friend had a ’61 Chevy Bel-Air bubble top with the 250 hp 348 cid three speed manual and he claimed he put the speedo needle past the 120 mph mark. Later I had a ’69 Charger R/T with the 375 hp 440 cid that showed 133 mph on the 150 mph speedo. The tach reading was 5300 rpm at the time. After that one run, I decided that one was enough.
    at that time. The Charger had a weight of about 4000 pounds.
    I wouldn’t question that an Olds 442 with a 365 hp 455 cid could do 132 mph. The Olds is smaller and lighter than a ’69 Charger and probably has a better CdA. Cold Air Induction is also a plus.

    Like 5
  11. JohnfromSC

    For perspective, in 1948 a bone stock Jaguar XK120 could easily attain 120 MPH and a 1858 XK150S could do 140 MPH with the body aerodynamics to support that. American cars took a while to catch up to the Europeans.

  12. JohnfromSC

    Correction: 1958 XK150S

  13. Joe Padavano

    For a “low mileage” vehicle, this car has been completely disassembled, reassembled, and repainted. First, the VIN shows this car came from the Framingham, MA assembly plant, so it is NOT a W30, despite the aftermarket red inner fenders and incorrect wide side stripes. My money says that the O.A.I. hood and wing are also repros added during the (non)restoration. There’s a reason why the description is cryptic. Also, since this is a rust-belt car, be afraid.

    Like 2
  14. Bruce

    132.in quarter mi is tuff to believe. In 70 I had a 69 W31 with factory 3:91 gears and about 117 was top end.

    • Michael Berkemeier

      Even 117 with 3.91’s is risky business. That engine’s coming apart at that speed for too long. My ’70 W-31 with 3.91’s was screeeeeeaming at 70 mph.

      Like 1
    • Poppy

      I don’t think Adam is claiming a trap speed of 132mph, just the top end. I admit it’s somewhat confusing as written.

      Like 2
  15. JCH841

    I had a 70 442 with 3.23 rear gears. The speedometer had no pin, 120 was at 4 o’clock and I had the needle at 5:30 a few times. Easily 125+; I was at 5800 rpm, which calculates to over 130. And yes, it was scary. P.S – my handle here was my NYS license plate on the 442.

    Like 2
  16. Michael Berkemeier

    Ahhhhhhhh…and the BS continues. When are you guys gonna learn that physics is a real thing? I realize that a lot of you (presumably) skipped that class (for the entire year) but, most muscle cars did not top out at more than about 125 mph. These cars were never designed for that and, if you’ve ever actually been at 120 mph +/- in any car from this era, you would know that it is not a pleasant experience. It’s more like a one and done thing, if you’re lucky enough to keep it on the road.

    With a set of high gears (2.75-3.00) you may have gotten to 140 in a big-block (429PI or 440HP in ’69-’70, maybe a 454 Chevy in ’70) police car. The CHP said that the fastest car they ever tested was the 1969 440/375 Polara that they squeezed 147 mph out of. I have my doubts but, I suppose they maybe got it there with some optimum conditions and, likely, some tuning up in the shop prior to the test.

    In a muscle car with 3.23-3.73 gears, and especially lower gears (3.90-4.11) you wouldn’t even come close. The engine would’ve grenaded long before you got to 125, lol.

    Like 8
    • Poppy

      Not sure why you are claiming to know more about JCH841’s 442 than he does. 3.23 gears in a 442 would put the engine rpm right at 5000 at 132mph. Peak hp for the 455 was at 5200, so his personal experience is believable to me. Studebaker in 1963 touted in national ads that their supercharged Larks and Hawks would go 132 and 140 mph, respectively (now THAT’s scary :-).

      https://www.flickr.com/photos/91591049@N00/9141436297

      Like 3
  17. Shuttle Guy

    I’m in the lead at $34,200.00

  18. Lathebiosas

    Something weird about this ad…..

    Like 1
    • Bryan Karlan

      I agree. Says it has antilock brakes (I highly doubt that), airbags (not). Says it has a warranty (definitely not), power windows (they are cranks), says it’s a convertible (it’s a hardtop), says it’s got power seats (probably not), says it has power locks (again, probably not), says it’s got cruise control (doesn’t look like it).

      Like 1
      • Joe Padavano

        You are correct. There is no cruise control switch on the dash. You can see the window crank in the photo of the rear seat. Of course it does not have ABS. The booster and disc brake M/C look new, which implies a disc brake conversion (manual drums were base equipment, even on the 442).

  19. Michael Berkemeier

    Someone added the red W-30 fender wells (probably The Parts Place reproductions). IF this is a numbers-matching engine and trans, it looks like a nice 442. If not, I would say it’s nearing or exceeding it’s max. value at this point. Without the third pedal, it’s not that exciting…but does look good.

    Like 2
  20. Robert Liivoja

    It is interesting to read all of the top speed comments.
    I purchased a new 1974 Camaro, 350 -4 barrel.
    I read somewhere that the top speed was 114 mph.
    Okay, maybe speedometers are not 100% accurate, but, one time (and only once) I managed to bury the needle at 140 mph top end on the speedo.
    The car felt like it was floating and telephone poles looked more like fence posts going by.
    I believe that not all cars perform exactly per script!
    Therefore the 442 certainly may be able to reach the speed that Adam mentioned.
    BTW, I always enjoy your write ups Adam!
    Please keep them coming.

    Like 2
  21. Bunky

    Contrary to statements by the armchair racers, it is totally realistic for this car to do 132mph. I had a ‘68 442 with 4speed and 4:11 gears. It could bury the 120 speedo. It was really revvin’, but it could do it. Being an automatic, this car would most likely have higher gearing (lower numerically). 132 mph is totally believable. BTW, 14.5 seems about right for 1/4 mile E.T. That’s about where mine fell, before switching from the Qjet to a Holley 780. Dropped to about 14 flat through the mufflers- (But no air filter) Also picked up a mile and a half per gallon, to about 13.5 mpg. Premium fuel, thank you very much…

    Like 1
  22. Frank’442

    Hey folks I can attest to the fact it should do over 120 mph. In 1978 I had a 1972 442 W29. Originally a 350 with a turbo 350 trans and 2:78 open rear. I replaced all of this with a 3:42 rear out of a 72 Hurst Olds. A low mileage 73 455 that I installed Olds“D” heads as well as Olds 71 w-30 cam, a Mondello high volume oil pump as well as a 6 quart Tornado oil pan as well as a 1970 W-30 aluminum intake utilizing a Quadrajet. I also installed factory ram air hood and air cleaner as well as a turbo 400 trans with shift kit.. I took it out for about 10 miles and then onto a very straight country road. I jumped it and stayed into it until it scared me. Don’t remember what it was taching but I easily buried the Speedo at 120 and the Speedo was at the 6 o’clock position when I backed out of it. The air rushing under the car was lifting the body weight off the suspension and steering had a very neutral feel. Needless to say it was a street monster. I have had several 442’s over the years and this one by far was a freak.

  23. JCH841

    Back then, it was common belief that disc brakes would drag and lower trap speeds. Since these were all really quarter mile racers, drum brakes allowed you to back the shoes off the drums a few clicks. Even so, without slicks and other preps most of these cars were around 14 seconds at 100 mph trap. Thankfully I had the factory optional front discs.

    Like 1
    • Joe Padavano

      The factory manual drums have nothing to do with drag racing – that was standard equipment across all Cutlass models. Power drums (RPO J50) and power disc brakes (JL2) were available options, Interestingly, manual disc brakes were included with the W30 and W31 packages for the 1970 model year, but hard core racers could get the optional RPO JL7 manual drum brakes on these cars. This wasn’t a “common belief”, it was proven that those factory disc brake calipers DID cause extra drag. Drums could be backed off before the run, and in NHRA Stock Class, hundredths of a second matter. Real drag strips have a considerable shutdown area – the drums vs discs wasn’t a concern.

      Like 1
      • Steve

        My 71 W-30 came with manual disc brakes too.

  24. Bigdaddy

    Anti-lock brakes and airbags…..on a ’70 442?? Doubtful and it lends credence to the legitimacy of the ad….

  25. Cooter Cooter

    Hell yeah boys that damn thang’ll fly!

    Leeese thats what Junior said!! Lol

    Like 1
  26. CenturyTurboCoupe

    Nice W-30! Looks like he was able to figure out the lack of vacuum issue the engineers could not with the brake system!!

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