Original Survivor: 1985 Oldsmobile Cutlass 442

After four years in the wilderness, the “442” badge found its way back onto the showroom floors of Oldsmobile dealerships for the 1985 model year. The company chose to produce 3,000 examples of the 442, which proved to be a sticking point. It equated to less than one vehicle per dealership, meaning that some very keen dealers found themselves left out in the cold. Our feature car is one of those vehicles, and while it isn’t perfect, its needs are the type that an owner could tackle in a home workshop. It is located in Quitman, Texas, and has been listed for sale here on eBay. Bidding has raced past the reserve and sits at $6,600.

Oldsmobile offered the 1985 edition of the 442 in a choice of three paint colors. This car wears Code 11 White with the prerequisite Silver on the lower body extremities. The paint looks fairly respectable from a distance, although it’s worth noting that it isn’t perfect. The owner admits that the car would benefit from a paint job, so if that is something that you’ve always wanted to tackle, this 442 could be a prime candidate. The panels are pretty straight, although I think that there could be a ding in the passenger-side door. The rest looks acceptable, but the big news with this classic is its apparent lack of rust. There is nothing visible in the supplied photos, and if this Olds has spent most of its life in Texas, it could prove to be rock solid. For me, the big surprise is the state of the exterior plastic. Many manufacturers were still coming to grips with this technology in the mid-1980s, and the sight of it crumbling due to UV exposure was common. This Olds hasn’t suffered that fate, which is refreshing. The original owner ordered the car with a T-Top, and the owner admits that this leaks. It sounds like a seal kit could be on the agenda, which would lighten the buyer’s wallet by around $400. I can’t spot any issues with the distinctive chrome wheels, while the glass seems spotless.

The owner explains why he has decided to part with this 442, and the interior shot probably explains his situation better than most. It sounds like his health may be deteriorating, which is why the interior has become quite dirty. When you look beyond the issues that the next owner could address with a deep clean, the news appears pretty positive. There is some wear on the seat upholstery, but this is relatively minor. If the appearance doesn’t meet the buyer’s standards, they could choose to spend $660 on a new set of covers for the front and rear. Alternatively, cleaning what’s there and adding some high-quality slipcovers would protect the interior’s originality. The dash, console and most of the plastic appear good, while the remaining upholstered surfaces appear respectable for a survivor. There are a few other issues to consider, but the most significant sticking point could be the wheel. This looks to have deteriorated badly, and sourcing a good replacement could prove to be a battle. I chanced upon one during an internet search for $225, but it was the only example I could find. The air conditioning blows cold, but the air shoots out over and under the dash rather than through the outlets. The cruise control also doesn’t operate, meaning that some fault-finding will be on the cards. Otherwise, the interior is unmolested. It is equipped with power windows, power locks, a tilt wheel, a remote driver’s mirror, and an AM/FM radio and cassette player.

While he doesn’t specifically say so, the seller’s emphasis on this car’s originality suggests it could be a numbers-matching classic. If so, it should be equipped with the 307ci V8 that produces 180hp. The rest of the drivetrain includes the 4-speed THM 200-4R automatic transmission, a 3.73 rear end, power steering, and power brakes. Performance figures look pretty ordinary by today’s standards, but a 16.5-second ¼-mile ET looked respectable in 1985. It seems that this 442 is in sound mechanical condition. The owner has recently installed new valve cover gaskets, shocks, and a new exhaust with Flowmasters. He says that the car runs and drives well, and the fact that he slips behind the wheel weekly suggests that all is well with this classic.

The 1985 Oldsmobile 442 was viewed as a respectable and comfortable performer when new, which helps to explain why eager buyers snapped up the 3,000 cars that the company produced. They are not a big-ticket performer in the classic market, but values have climbed slowly over the past few years. If the listing is accurate, a buyer could address most of this car’s needs in a home workshop. With that thought in mind, is this a project that you would be tempted to pursue further?


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  1. Stan

    Feels quicker than the numbers…
    V8 and this favorable rear gear.

    Like 3
    • steve

      Agree, the Monte Carlo SS, and 442 “felt” good with the rear gear and the 200R4, in 1st and 2nd, then the thill was over.

      Like 2
  2. AndyinMA

    Those were beautiful cars

    Like 1
  3. Paul C.

    The air not blowing out of dash is common for these especially in hotter climates all it’s probably a vacuum hose. Nice car

  4. Sam Shive


  5. DN

    Relisted- the seller felt like the bids got too high for its perceived worth and ended the auction bc he wanted the buyer to be happy with the sale. Now listed at $6k OBO- Not too bad of deal considering the high rate of the current G-Body tax- but look close at the pics, it’s a rough ol’ gal.

    Like 1

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