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Needs Finishing: 1972 Oldsmobile 442


The photo above captures what a 1972 Oldsmobile 442 looked like when it rolled out of the showroom, into the first owner’s possession. We have this evidence because the current owner purchased the car from the first owner – but as they often do, the condition has changed drastically. Seen here on craigslist, this 442 is now being sold to pay attorney fees and has been apart for the last 15 years.


The seller claims he is now going through his second divorce and the Oldsmobile must be sold to pay down bills. The car has various bodywork needs, ranging from a rusty trunk floor to needing new rear quarters. The glass is out and most of the interior has been removed, so any potential purchaser will want to make sure the seller has carefully stored and categorized any parts he stripped off over the last decade.


The body will need a full respray, and no mention is made of the car’s mechanical condition. When I see pictures like these, it reminds me why I am currently getting both of my project cars as buttoned up as possible to know that they will only need minor mechanical needs for the foreseeable future. The bodywork on both my E30 and E28 is getting done as we speak so I can close the book on that chapter of work. It’s just too easy to run out of time (and money) once life gets in the way.


Now, the bugaboo: the seller mentions there is no way to cross-reference via the VIN if this is a genuine 442. For 1972, it was a trim and suspension package and will simply decode as being a regular Cutlass. He makes it quite clear his car is the real-deal, as he knows the original owner who bought it equipped with the 442 package straight from the dealer. What do you think – is this is worthwhile project car or too much of a risk, both from the potential for missing parts to the tricky documentation? Let us know in the comments below.


  1. Howard A Member

    While I can sympathize with the owner, ( I’d still have my Diamond-T pickup if it wasn’t for that situation) I don’t think it matters to most whether this is an original or not, although, I’m sure it is. I’m not sure why the seller is making a point of that. I’d call it a 442 and leave it at that. Looks like a worth while project, as not many of these around anymore. They were very nice cars.

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  2. Marty Member

    It didn’t roll out of the showroom with the Pontiac wheels shown on it in the first photo.

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    • Al8apex

      or those radial tires with the goofy huge white letters … which are the SAME tires on it todaY …

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  3. Jim

    Those are Cragar SS wheels in the first photo. I doubt that it is a true 442 as the dash emblem is an S” as in Cutlass S which was the bottom of the line model but shared the fastback body with the 442. Every 72 442 I have seen still had a 442 on the dash emblem. In the description the owner makes a LOT of noise about it being an original 442. To paraphrase the words of William Shakespeare, “Methinks thou dost protest too much”

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  4. Marty Member

    The wheel on the right front sure looks like a Pontiac wheel in the first photo, and Cragar SS wheels in all of the later photos. Maybe it’s a funny reflection.

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    • Mark S

      Took a look at that crack, any decent welder worth his salt could repair that in max an hour or two.

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  5. Al8apex

    wow, talk about a rusty turd

    Look at the frame crack / rot in picture 7, no wonder this never went anywhere in 15 years

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  6. randy

    I do not think he’ll ever get that much for the “442”. Divorces are brutal non the less.
    Maybe give her the car as part of the settlement!

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  7. Cattoo CattooButt Member

    Q: Why do divorces cost so much?

    A: Because they are worth it.

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  8. piper62j

    This body style is nice but always seemed bulky to me.. I much prefer the 68 – 69 models.. They seemed lighter, sleeker and more stylish.. IMHO

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  9. Barzini

    Wow. It took my breath away for a moment because I thought it was the same car I once knew many years ago. But it’s not. This car had an identical twin in CT back in the late 1970s. It was owned by a co-worker at a Shell station and, oh boy, was it fast. Sadly, he rear-ended a pick-up truck and sold the car cheaply in disgust. Anyhow, this brought back nice memories of a long lost friend and a very nice car.

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  10. Kevin

    it’s in sadness shape. makes me sad

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  11. Rspcharger Rspcharger

    A simple Google search tells us that the 5th digit in the VIN is the engine code. Since his is a J it equals a 350 2 bbl with 175hp. Did they really make 442’s with that little power?

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  12. Jim Marshall

    As stated prior 1971 was the last year for the pure 442 as a separate model. The serial numbers started 344. In 72 the 442 package in basic form was merely a trim package with the vin starting at 3G87 in the 2 dr hardtop. The 455 V8 was no longer standard, but came in 3 option engines, 455 250 H.P. indicated by the letter U, a 270 H.P. 455 indicated by the letter V and the W 30 package with a 300 H.P. 455 indicated by the letter X. 1970 was the first year a 455 was available in the 442 and it was rated at 365 H.P. and the W 30 option upped it to 370 H.P. both understated to help keep the feds happy. Here’s a picture of my 70.

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  13. Joe Cook

    My 442 looked like this one but was a 1972 Blue and white . Is this one on the east coast ? I had seen one like this one for sale . Nice looking car .

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  14. James T

    Any ’72 Cutlass 2 door model could be had with the W29 ; 442 Appearance and Handling Package, along with any engine that would be available in that Cutlass model (including the 160 HP 350). The W29 option consisted of the 442 emblems, (and hood stripes, if W25 forced air hood was ordered) and the FE2 ‘Rallye’ Suspension Package that had the HD shocks, springs, front and rear stabilizer and control arms.. A purchaser could order all the options to make it a duplicate to a ’71 model, all the way to the W30 Performance Package (L77 455-300HP engine).

    I ordered my ’72 Cutlass S with the W29 package, L75 455-270HP engine, M20 Wide Ratio 4-speed, and W25 hood as main features, along with bench front seat and, of course the 8-track stereo! I regret not ordering the W30 package but at that time it was a $650.00 option and was a big bite for a guy making $115.00 a week. Mine came with the script ‘Cutlass S’ logo on the glove box door when I took delivery on 11/03/71. The total optioned vehicle had a sticker of $5200.00.

    My understanding was that the move from ’71 to ’72 actually made no changes to hardware, including the engine (only ‘big’ change was the option procedure and the designation from gross to net HP, which was on paper only – (base ‘bench’ engine versus engine in vehicle with parasitics sucking HP out before it could get to the drivetrain.) – more ‘honest’ HP.. Obviously, the big change to the model came in 1973 with a completely new body style.

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