One Owner Survivor: 1968 Oldsmobile 442

The Olds 442 (also 4-4-2) was that GM division’s player in the mid-size muscle car arena. It launched off the F-85 and Cutlass models in 1964 and would stick around in some form through 1987. The second generation from 1968-72 would be its most successful in sales and ’68 would be the record-holder. This 442 from that banner year is being offered by the original owner, runs well and looks great, although it’s not without rust. Located is Biggs, California, the car is available here on eBay where the bidding currently stands at $20,000.

Although an option at first, the 442 would evolve into its own series in 1968 and spawn variants like the Hurst/Olds. Its name, 4-4-2, was derived from the original car’s 4-barrel carburetor, 4-speed manual transmission, and dual exhaust set-up. It was first displayed with hyphens but shortened to just 442 by 1968. After a limited run of under 3,000 units in late 1964 (the same year the Pontiac GTO debuted), the car reached its production heyday in 1968 at just shy of 40,000 automobiles.

The standard motor in the 1968 442 was the 400 cubic inch, 325 hp Rocket V8 and that’s what we believe is in the seller’s car, which he says is its original. It does not come with either the W-30 or W-31 options which would have involved either ram air induction or a manual transmission. This 442 uses a floor-shifted automatic transmission and – at a listed 59,000 miles – seems to be a solid running car (although most of the photos show it on a trailer). Speaking of trailers, there’s a hitch on the back which suggests it may have moved a boat or two in its day.

This Oldsmobile looks to be finished in its original Ivory (beige) paint with a matching vinyl top and interior. It looks a bit faded and there are some issues with the body. There is a big rust hole in the bottom of one of the front fenders and a black rub mark on the passenger door. Perhaps a patch and some rubbing compound would keep the entire car from having to be repainted. Looking inside the trunk, all looks well and could it be that the car’s original red-line tire is still there as the spare?

Because the same family has owned this rocket ship for 53 years, it carries of set of California Black Plates due to its left coast heritage. We’re told the car has always been garaged and maintained, and its presentation tends to support that. The interior looks especially nice with no issues, not even a drooping headliner. In fact, the seller even describes it as a daily driver. Original paperwork has survived, or at least the manuals that it came with. We’re told the sale is prompted by a need for cash, yet the seller’s also open to trades, just no motorcycles or boats and nothing newer than 1972.

Overall, this car is in at least Good condition, which Hagerty pegs at being worth around $25,000. Excellent would fetch another $10,000. So, without a reserve or last-minute crazy bidding (and no hidden rust), someone might get themselves a decent old muscle car that doesn’t appear at every turn like a Chevelle SS 396 or Pontiac GTO.

Fast Finds


  1. Nevadahalfrack Nevadahalfrack Member

    Sweet lookin’4-4-2! I’m told that a lot of cars of that era had little to no water drain in the corners and subsequently built rust holders in those areas. That being said, Biggs is north of Yuba City, which is a fairly dry area IIRC; the nearby left coast on the other hand is almost always all wet. I’d want to see the belly before I pulled the trigger on this one were I even close to being able to be buying it.

    Like 4
    • Steve R

      You are right about the drainage problems, especially with GM cars. Cars that spent almost any amount of time parked outside, even if it was just during the day while the owner was at work would rust in the same locations.

      The dealer frame is from Burlingame, which is a few miles south of San Francisco, the area is very dry and not subjected to ground fog like the western part of San Francisco was.

      I’d leave it as it is and enjoy driving it. At most, put in a patch and paint it to match. There is no need to do a full restoration on a car in this condition.

      Steve R

      Like 18
    • JoeNYWF64

      The problem was fallout from trees falling into the cowl vents & collecting at the bottom of the fenders, blocking the drains – & water fills up inside the fender & sits there. Not just GM cars.
      I believe 2nd gen F-bodies had/have a seam inside the rear qtrs where splashing water would seep thru, migrate downward, not dry & rust the qtrs from the inside out. Rust would be visible after just a few years of ownership.
      Optional chrome wheel & rocker moldings also invited rust.
      Modern Challys have rust problems with rockers whose foam inside gets wet & does not dry.

      Like 2
    • jerry z

      If the car was garaged all its life, there shouldn’t be any rust issues. So my guess it wasn’t garaged all its life.

      Like 1
      • DON

        Depends on the garage. My mothers Rambler was garaged all it life ; she took it out for shopping every other weekend, rain or shine. The problem was the garage was not insulated and was not heated , so sitting idle on a concrete floor did it no favors whether it was parked wet or dry . She had the car for about 30 years and it only had 65k on it when it was sold , but the dampness took its toll , the floors and the lower braces were all rotted

        Like 3
  2. RCinphill RCinphill Member

    Just curious as to why the original owner would be hauling his daily driver quality 442 around on a U-Haul trailer. Hmmm?

    Great looking car though. A patch and a wax and it’s ready to go.

    Like 6
    • Steve R

      Other than the first few sentences the ad is typical of how flippers write theirs. The seller starts out saying he’s the original owner, then a goes on to say it’s been in the family since new. He says he “I wish I could keep it, but can use the money”, then immediately says “may be open to trades…nothing newer than 1972”. He also never describes the car in the first person or the type of depth of someone whose owned a car for 53 years.

      Not to mention one if the biggest factor, California DMV fees, possible back fees (which are hundreds of dollars per year) and sales tax, which is 9.75% of the price on the bill if sale.

      The ad may be written by the actual owner, but put yourself in their position, is this how you would have written an ad for a car you bought new and had owned for an extended period of time?

      Steve R

      Like 14
  3. Timothy Phaff

    This is a gem, the interior is amazing and the rust is an easy fix for a true body man or woman. If I was an Olds man I would be all over this, repairing any bad spots on the body, keeping as much of the original paint as I could then dolling the whole car up and I bet it would be a beautiful 442 to take to any car show. Examples like this do not come around that often. Good Luck to the new owner.

    Like 3
  4. Fred W

    I had a nearly identical 4-4-2 as a teenager, medium blue metallic that I repainted white and flamed. I had it a very short time- it probably got sold when my dad received the first monthly insurance bill. Only muscle car I ever had, and I had owned well over 100 cars by age 25. Buy,fix, drive 6 months, flip, get bored, on to the next.

    Like 2
  5. DON

    Depends on the garage. My mothers Rambler was garaged all it life ; she took it out for shopping every other weekend, rain or shine. The problem was the garage was not insulated and was not heated , so sitting idle on a concrete floor did it no favors whether it was parked wet or dry . She had the car for about 30 years and it only had 65k on it when it was sold , but the dampness took its toll , the floors and the lower braces were all rotted

  6. Kay

    Question- My mother bought a 1968 red with white convertible top 442 back in 1970. I drove that car for 2 of my teenage years. It was a great car! Both my mother and I swear it was a three speed on the floor. How can that be? I specifically remember being on a hill at a stoplight and popping the clutch so I would not roll backwards. I know exactly where first, second and third gear were. Were there ever any three speeds made? Or would someone have changed it to a 3 speed???

    Like 1
    • Steve

      A 3 speed was the standard transmission on the 68 442. I had one and the interesting part it was a Ford transmission, FoMoCo cast in the main case as I found when I pulled it to install a Muncie 4 so.

      Like 4
      • Kay A

        Thanks Steve! Good to know about the 3 speed. I knew I wasn’t crazy! Wish I still had that car.

  7. Larry D

    You know when I see a dirty car on a trailer for sale, that indicates to me that the new owner had just bought this car and couldn’t even wait till he got it home or got it unloaded to put it up for sale.

    Like 7
  8. Desert Rat

    Russ, I love the term “rocket ship” that you used, cool. Boy I would really like to own this Olds.

  9. Don Eladio

    Of course it doesn’t have the W-31 option. The W-31 was not a 442. The W-31 package was available on F-85 and Cutlass models and, included a 350 C.I. engine that was pretty radical. In addition, it was badged as a “Ram-Rod 350” in 1968. Ironically, one of those W-31’s would smoke a base 442 such as this car.

    Like 5
  10. Don Eladio

    1968 was, by far, the best looking year for the Oldsmobile A-bodies…this car is also an amazing survivor in a perfect color combination. I love the white vinyl top on a white car. If it was a 4-speed car, I would be all over it.

    Like 2
    • Bob

      Don, the 68 and are near identical in appearance. How do you reckon the 68 is by far the best looking year? I would say the 68 AND the 69 were.

      • Steve

        The 68 has separated headlights with the turn signal in between and a nicer grill that wasn’t part of the hood. Also had the horizontal taillights that appeal to me anyway.

        Like 4
  11. Rick Rothermel

    Beautiful car, one of GMs handsomest designs ever with the ’69. Not a wasted line anywhere.

    Like 2
  12. Bunky

    Owned a ‘68 442. 400/ close ratio 4 speed/ 4:11 posi. Added a 780cfm double pumper Holley. It was fast, smooth, and handled amazingly for a car with 65% of its weight on the front wheels. Unfortunately, the factory clutch/pressure plate and posi unit weren’t stout enough to handle the horsepower.

  13. its1969ok

    Another set of awful tailpipes.

    Like 1
  14. Keith D.

    I bought my first car in 1982 when I was 16 years old. A 1968 Olds Cutlass 4-Door, It appeared that the original buyer added on special orders with the car adding on a split bench front seat with an armrest. Also AC and power windows which sometimes would freeze up if the temperatures were below 20 degrees (I live in New York City). It started up everyday, I drove it to school and sold it about 6 months later for a 1970 Olds Delta 88 coupe. Are there any 68 Cutlass “4-Doors” existing anymore??

  15. Ken

    I owned a 68 442. 4 speed with factory experimental heads. 14 second car. Never had problems with the gto or grandsports couldnt beat the Plymouth 6 packs or 426 wedges.

    • Larry D


      How in the world did you get a car with factory experimental heads? What was different about them?

      Thanks very much.

      Like 1
  16. Larry D Brooks

    My dear old dad was a conservative guy. Never bought anything flashy. Always bought bland, plain Jane cars in discreet colors.

    So, imagine our surprise (shock actually) when he came home in 1969 driving a ’68 Oldsmobile 442. In Bright Red with a white vinyl top and white/black interior. Dad got out of that car as proud as a peacock. And my mother said, “Whose car is that?” And my dad said, “It’s ours! Well, ours and the bank’s.” She looked at it and asked why he bought something like that. He said because he thought it was beautiful. My mother just shook her head. And she asked him if he was having a mid-life crisis at age 53. I could tell he was starting to get irritated about this now. And he looked at her and said, “This is our car and that’s all there is to it!”

    ‘Nuff said. They drove that car for years until they finally traded it in on a 1974 Cutlass Supreme. Oh well, there went the ol’ 442. I sure did hate to see it go.

    Oh, and by the way, the ’74 Cutlass was dark brown with a tan vinyl top and tan interior. Here we were back to the bland, discreet cars.

    Like 1

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