Price Dropped: 1986 Oldsmobile 442

Update 06/20/2022: During the 1970s, a retro craze saw people eager to place their hands on almost anything that brought back memories of the 1950s. Today, a new generation has fallen in love with technology from the 1980s. This extends from home entertainment equipment through to toys and cars. Given the growth in their popularity and value, I’m surprised that this 1986 Oldsmobile 442 didn’t find a new home when the seller last listed it. Their lack of success could be your good fortune because after failing to sell at $18,000, the owner has slashed the price to $15,000. The location and other details remain the same, with the 442 listed for sale here on Craigslist. I must thank Barn Finder Rocco B for spotting this gem for us.

04/22/2022: When Oldsmobile retired the badge at the end of the 1980 model year, many enthusiasts believed that the iconic 442 was gone forever. However, the company revived the 442 in 1985, and sales figures suggested it was a wise move. The 1986 model year brought a few minor upgrades, and buyers responded by giving 4,273 cars a new home in that model year. Our feature car is an original and unmolested survivor with a genuine 84,000 miles on the clock. Its overall condition suggests it has been treated with respect, but the time has come for it to find a new home. Located in Burbank, Illinois, the Olds is listed for sale here on Craigslist. I have to say a big thank you to Barn Finder Pat L, who spotted this beauty for us the first time.

Buyers in 1986 could choose from a few different color combinations on their new 442, but all included the lower section finished in Code 12 Silver. Our feature car wears Code 15 Medium Grey on its upper surfaces, with this pairing giving the Olds a classy appearance. The seller emphasizes this classic’s originality, suggesting it has never received any form of a cosmetic refresh. Grey and silver shades from this era can deteriorate badly due to UV exposure and changing paint technologies. It isn’t unusual to see these classics with a matte appearance and patchiness as a result. That fate hasn’t befallen this 442 because its paint shines beautifully and shows no evidence of inconsistency. The panels are as straight as an arrow, with no marks, bruises, or rust. The Olds may have received a bump on the driver’s side rear corner because the bumper alignment is out. The rest of the plastic and glass look good, as do the distinctive chrome steel wheels.

The Malaise Era was cruel to the American V8, and the 1986 Olds 442 was not exempt from the impact of tightening emission regulations. The cars rolled off the line equipped with a 307ci V8 producing 180hp. The power feeds to the rear wheels via a four-speed THM 200-4R automatic transmission, with the company offering no manual alternative. By today’s standards, the ¼ mile ET of 16.6 seconds might not seem particularly impressive. For those of us who lived through this time in automotive history, it was about what we came to expect. Salvation was on the horizon in the form of fuel injection and electronic engine management systems, but that technology remained a few years into the future. Our feature car is numbers-matching and has a genuine 84,000 miles showing on its odometer. The seller indicates that it runs and drives extremely well, meaning it is ready for some classic touring with a new owner behind the wheel.

Apart from paint deterioration, cars produced during the 1980s also developed a reputation for interior trim with limited endurance. Cloth upholstery could wear and sun-rot, while plastics could crumble under the relentless UV rays. This 442 hasn’t suffered from those issues, with its interior presenting nicely. There is some minor wear on the driver’s seat, but that is one of the few faults worthy of mention. The remaining upholstered surfaces look excellent, the dash and pad are free from cracks, and the faux wood grain inserts show none of the usual lifting or fading. The interior has no aftermarket additions, and everything works as it should. If I was surprised by anything, it is the fact that this Olds doesn’t feature power windows. I find the lack of “fast glass” interesting considering the car rolled out of the factory sporting air conditioning, front power seats, cruise control, a leather-wrapped tilt wheel, and a premium stereo with a power antenna. Maybe I’ve become spoiled because most of the 442s from this era that we see at Barn Finds feature that option. Still, I guess we can’t have it all!

By the 1980s, cars like the Oldsmobile 442 were feeling the pinch for buyers seeking a vehicle with performance credentials. The 442 wasn’t alone in this, with many cars previously considered performance models a shadow of their former selves. Time has taken a heavy toll on these classics, making locating an original example in good condition challenging. Our feature car ticks those boxes, and while it may not be perfect, its overall condition is above average. The asking price is not cheap for a vehicle of this type or age, but it isn’t unprecedented. A few recent sales have topped $22,000, while a couple have edged beyond $30,000. Hopefully, that will place this car into some perspective. It has been on the market for less than a week, and I won’t be surprised if a buyer happens along any day now. Would you?


  1. Stan

    Dr Olds equipped these 442 w a std 3.73 rear gear to help the turbo hydramatic 200 trans move this 307ci underpowered beauty along. They soundbgood and are slow. Actually would make a perfect right-lane cruiser for today. No rush.

    Like 11
  2. Bick Banter

    $$$$$! Well, at least the seller is being honest, for one of these. I’d have taken the ’69 Buick Wildcat for half the money

    Like 6
  3. Ed H

    At least is has the largest displacement of the disappointing engines available.

    Asking stupid money for this.

    Like 3
    • Bick Banter

      All 1986 442s came with the same engine – the 307 H.O 4-barrel 180 horse V-8. Performance was decent for the era with a 16.5 second quarter mile time and an 8.5 second 0-60 time by virtue of the 3.73 gears. But certainly nothing to write home about in a modern contex.

      Like 7
  4. Zach S

    You would think he could at least close the driver side door all the way before the pictures

    Like 6
  5. OldsMan

    I really wish the 442 name would have been put to rest after the 72 model year- never to be resurrected unless a car worthy of it was built; also struggled with the fact that they saw the (marketing) need to stick a Cutlass prefix on nearly every midsized FWD offering in the 80s and 90s..

    • Bick Banter

      Post-1972 was indeed a sorry stretch for the great 442. First, they offered it on the heavy colonnade from 1973-77. Most of them had 350s and were anything but real performance cars. A sorry few had the woeful 260 V-8 and odd-fire Buick 231.

      Then, they offered it on the weird “bustleback” Cutlass of 1978-79, The best you could do there was a Chevy 305, though many have either the gutless 231 V-6 or the equally underpowered 260 V-8.

      After the bustleback was axed for 1980, Olds decided to keep the name around just to get rid of the extra parts they had left over from the 1979 H/O. These literally look identical to the 1979 Hurst/Olds, right down to the 2 paint schemes. At least these had the Olds 350 4-bbl though.

      Then, from 1985-88, it graced this so-so effort. Not a bad car, but nothing compared to the Buick GN, 350 F-bodies, and 5.0 Mustangs of the day.

      Finally, 1990-91, they put it on the stubby 4-cylinder N-body, before finally and mercifully killing the nameplate off for good!

      Like 7
      • OldsMan

        Bick Banter- Great overview… I had an 80 Cutlass Supreme with Chev 305/4V that I liked a lot- Handled and drove great but it would’ve been so much nicer with a previous gen Olds 350

        Like 3
      • Ralph

        Totally glossing over the fact you could still get a 455 engined 442 through 1976 and at least a 403 equipped 442 in 1977…..

    • Gary J Lehman

      I worked for the #1 Oldsmobile retailer in the country. Jim Lupient used to say if a dog ran through the assembly line, someone there would be responsible to stamp CUTLASS on it’s side.

      Like 2
  6. Super Glide Member

    I had a 64 Ninety Eight Sport Coupe with giant buckets and a cousole for the floor shifted Slim Jim automatic. The 394 Starfire engine could push it out of the way but that was it. People felt that it was a over the top way too big, but I loved it. Jay Leno has one just like mine.

    These 442s of this era were gorgeous. Flowing conservative lines of stated elegance. All cars, those years, had terrible performance. Replace the top end with Edelbrock goodies (heads, manifold, carb, decent cam and headers and it will go. Or leave it alone, change the oil and cruise.

    Like 1
  7. Brad460 Member

    Only one bone to pick. I dont agree that 80s cars had fragile interiors. Typically dashes, seats and carpets held up pretty well on domestic cars, with sagging headliners being common on ford and gm 80s cars. 80s import interiors, particularly early 80s Japanese interiors, well that’s another story. My 80 skylark, 84 fiero, and 83 camaro are all in excellent shape. My 79 toyota, 87 crx, and 83 civic interiors all were quite sad before being refurbished

    Like 1
  8. Brian Weyeneth

    Super Glide/98 Sport Coupe is a bucket list car for me, truly the last great Olds I ever hope to own.

    This ‘442’ – not so much. Over priced and underpowered.

  9. Richard Todte

    Love this car, always loved the looks and body style of the 80-88 Olds Cutlass. I had a 1985 Olds Cutlass Supreme Broughm the same color as this car, it wasn’t a 442 but had a 6 banger but was the most comfortable car I’ve ever drove, all power options. I drove it for years until it got stolen. I would love to get another one some day, but I’ll wait until the prices go down a bit lol.

    Like 2
  10. Pops in Tx

    Brings back memories..I had the same car minutes the 442 option, same exact interior and the 305.. Not fast but quick when I needed it to be.. Handled great but the front end always sagged, had to completely rebuilds it twice in the 8 years I had it.. Loved my cutlass

    Like 1
  11. Pops in Tx

    Brings back memories..I had the same car minus the 442 option, same exact interior and the 305.. Not fast but quick when I needed it to be.. Handled great but the front end always sagged, had to completely rebuilds it twice in the 8 years I had it.. Loved my cutlass

  12. trav66

    Love it! Price seems a little steep, though. I was hoping to see the “lightning rod” shifter but I think they were only available for certain years. Good thing it has crank windows because power windows from this era seemed to be trouble. Very nice!

    Like 1
  13. Camaro Joe

    trav66, the “Lightning rod” shifter set up was a Hurst product and only came from the factory in the Hurst/Olds. It looked cool, but as far as I know the drag racers never used it because there were better shifters on the market.

    If you want this car with that shifter you’ll have to find one and install it. Hurst probably doesn’t make it anymore, although they did have a first rate rebuild department into the late 1990’s. I’m sure there is one at the local swap meet or on eBay.

    Like 1
  14. Jim

    Love the body style but hate the pod dash instrument cluster…that pod dash is even in my 94 Silverado. fugly.
    Great write up as usual 👍

    Like 2

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