Plainly Muscle: 1964 Oldsmobile Cutlass

It’s plain for all to see, how original this 1964 Oldsmobile is. Wearing what looks like original color and paint, and dog-dish or “poverty” wheel covers, this car stands proudly awaiting its next new owner. The asking price is $3,000.00, and can be found here on craigslist in eastern Kansas. It has some dents, but the metal looks comparatively solid next to other Midwestern cars of this vintage.

Made in the same era is the first Pontiac GTO, this Oldsmobile could be thought of in the same sort of way. The 4-speed in it sounds like a lot of fun, although the seller thinks it probably started out life as a 3-speed. In its current state, the engine doesn’t sound like quite as much fun, because it’s not installed. But it is included, and the currently-out-of-car status gives the buyer the opportunity to freshen it up, or perhaps hop it up to his or her preference. Like so many other Craigslist ads, it’s lacking on details, and doesn’t even say what the engine is, or if the seller knows why it was pulled out of the car in the first place. We can speculate, but it’s probably not because it was running great.

Other than that, the car has the look of not having been fooled around with too much, and has been spared the typical assault with cans of aerosol primer and other poor quality repair attempts. Less is more, and all the work and improvements not made to the interior is also a good thing. The original steering wheel, dash panel, radio and bucket seats all attest to this. So does all the dirt, tatty seat covers and the sagging headliner.

But still, this is the way I’d like to find one. As close to original configuration as possible, even if it’s rough. A ‘Plain-Jane’ muscle car. I love the ‘old man gold’ color, and the dog dish caps. How about you? Get it running and roadworthy, or restore it? Original, or not? Let us know below.


  1. Jeffro

    Is it me or is this car begging to be a sleeper?!

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  2. 68 custom

    has a bunch of potential if the tin worm has not visited yet be a real easy 455 swap or LS if your feeling rambunctious! clean it up and make the inside presentable and you are cruising! with the dog dishes I might add. Love these pillared coupes!

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  3. Tyrone Shoelaces

    Restomod!!! 455 late model Olds, the only way for me…Keep the 4 speed, make the whole car safely road worthy, freshen the interior but keep it “stockish”, (“day 2 perhaps”??) generally make it a reliable sleeper…then drive it like you stole it.

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  4. JW

    I agree with the previous posters, big iron / 4 speed / sleeper. From the looks of the trunk lid someone couldn’t judge distance backing up. Eastern Kansas would be relatively close to me but not what I’m looking for. Cool find though.

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  5. benjy

    needs a big block Chevy. Had a Pontiac same year with a 454 done over, was a killer street car.

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    • M/K

      454 = cheaper power but 455 = gobbs of torque and a non belly button engine. 455 4 gears and a 12 bolt limited slip = Smokey fish tail burnouts!

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    • Jeffro

      Chevy are cheaper to build. And parts are easy to find. However, I’d want to stay true to the brand and run an Olds motor.

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  6. Luke Fitzgerald

    Conservative but not “plain” – no spaced headltes or wacky rear ends – clean, and I’ll wager rare – Nice find

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  7. nessy

    Oh how I like Oldsmobiles….

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  8. Joeinthousandoaks

    442 was a nameplate not the engine size. Stands for 4 barrel 4 speed 2 wheels spinning
    , positraction.

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    • Rocco Member

      I’m pretty sure the 2 stands for “dual exhaust”

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      • hhaleblian

        correctomundo Rocco!

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      • joeinthousandoaks

        That’s right! My bad.

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  9. JW454

    I had a ’64 Cutlass convertible. 330 cu. in. with a automatic. Dark green inside and out with a white top. I got it dirt cheap from a friend so he could buy his dream car. 1970 Chevelle SS 454 – 4 speed.
    I wish I had it back… it was a nice car but, that was 43 years ago.

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  10. jeff6599

    Of course this is not a muscle car as by definition it was not factory fitted with the engine and trans from the larger body car available that year. And it did not have the ride and handling package with the rear bar and larger front bar. In ’65 when the 442 model came out, then you had a muscle car. Same with Buick and the GranSport package and the short run of ’65 Chevelle Z16s. That was muscle. don’t delude yourself into thinking this Cutlass is anything special or you may encourage someone to pay more than it is really worth. The only muscle car in 1964 was the GTO.

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    • Howard A Member

      Hi Jeff, the 442 came out in mid ’64. I had a friend that had one, and the only thing on it that said 442, was on the dash, and on the trunk lid. That’s what I’d do with this car, ( maybe someone tried)

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      • David Montanbeau

        And the sides. A friend still has one.

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    • David Montanbeau

      1964 Muscles.
      Chev 409-425
      FORD 427-425 HI riser
      PONTIAC 421 SD
      Mopar with the wedge
      Olds 442

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      • Rocco in Florida Member

        Does the ’64 1/2 Mustang with the 289 HiPo 4-speed qualify as a muscle car(since we’re talking ’64), on this forum?

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    • Utes

      Talkin’ real foolish here, jeff6599……
      It’s a ’64 2dr post w/factory stick !

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  11. David Montanbeau
  12. David Montanbeau

    442 option was available on any model except the station wagon. Never seen a 4 dr 442. My friend bought a new one in 64. It was red on a red convertible. Went from Detroit to the Mackinaw bridge in 3 hours. It was a 300-mile ride. I was really wind beat. Good times!!
    The 4-4-2 was born out of competition between Pontiac and Oldsmobile divisions of GM. The high-performance GTO version of the Pontiac LeMans intermediate had proved an unexpected success midway through the 1964 model year. Oldsmobile’s hasty response was to beef up their own popular Cutlass, a task given to a team led by performance enthusiast and Olds engineer John Beltz (later responsible for the distinctive and powerful Toronado), aided by Dale Smith and division Chief Engineer Bob Dorshimer.[3]
    Because of the GTO’s late introduction (some three-fourths of the way through the model year) and the ambiguous nature – technically a violation of GM policy limiting intermediates to 330 CID, although the 1963 Pontiac Tempest/LeMans had already done this in 1963, and even though badged as a 326 the 63 Tempest V-8 was already at 336 CID, 1964 it became a true 326. – the Olds offering was a conservative package. Technically the “B09 Police Apprehender Pursuit”[4] option, it used the four-barrel carbureted 330 CID (5.4 L) V8 with heavy-duty valve gear, and a hotter camshaft, raising rated (SAE gross) output to 310 hp (231.3 kW) at 5200 rpm. Torque remained 355 lb·ft (481 N·m), although the torque peak rose from 2800 rpm to 3600 rpm. Also included was a stiffened frame, adjustable pinion angle by way of added holes in the frame mounts for the rear upper control arms, Muncie four-speed manual transmission, a heavy-duty drive shaft connected to a 3.36:1 rear end, oversized brakes(155.6 vs lining area) and the heavy-duty police-package suspension, with heavy-duty wheels, higher-rate coil springs front and rear, heavy-duty shock absorbers, a larger front anti-roll bar, an additional rear anti-roll bar bolted to a fully boxed lower control arm, and dual snorkel air cleaner. Two-speed windshield wipers, A/C ($430), an AM/FM radio, an electronic trunk opener, and a tilt steering wheel ($43) were optional.[4] Unlike the 1965 4-4-2 model built in Lansing, the 1964 4-4-2 does not have an option code on the data plate. There is documentation available showing that the 1964 4-4-2 was built in both Lansing and Fremont.
    The package was dubbed 4-4-2 based on its combination of four-barrel carburetor, four-speed manual transmission, and dual exhausts.[1][5][6] Priced at $285.14, it was available on any F-85 or Cutlass model except the station wagon, although most were Cutlass hardtop coupés (Oldsmobile archives indicate that approximately 10 four-door sedans were built with the B09 option).
    Motor Trend tested an early 4-4-2 and found that the 3,440-lb (1,560 kg) car would run 0–60 mph (0–96 km/h) in 7.5 seconds,[4] the standing quarter mile in 15.5 seconds at 90 mph (140 km/h), and reached a top speed of 116 mph (185.6 km/h). A total of 2,999 were sold.

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    • John Hipp

      I ordered the 1964 B10 package (which was the police interceptor package), and it had no 4-4-2 badge’s inside or out. It had all frame, drive train, and stabilizing equipment listed above. It had no AC, no PB, no PS, it had bucket seats with no CONSOLE. I made my $65.00 monthly car payment with money I won drag racing on the street until the word was out. I never lost a race to a GTO. When the 66 Chevelle SS 396 came out came out I beat the 325 hp, the 350 hp, and probably should not have beat the 375 hp but the driver was just no good at drag racing.
      It handled great even at top speed. No I don’t still have it.

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  13. David Montanbeau

    1964 442

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    • Utes

      @ David Montanbeau……

      That’s no ’64 442…..
      It’s a ’64 Cutlass w/rear quarter escutcheon pieces off a ’65 442, & some bogus-lookin’ wheels.

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  14. jeff6599

    Good Olds knowledge. Full size cars had a high performance package but were not muscle cars. As said earlier, the best of the journalists of the day attached ‘muscle car’ to the specific group of midsized cars that had the names that we now know and love whose power trains came from the full sized sedans above them. Only quite a few years later did the younger know little or nothing journalist try to make a name for themselves and create a sense of excitement by calling anything ‘fast’ a muscle car’, even foreign cars.

    All the 409s, 421s, 426s & 427s had street versions as options for full sized cars only and race versions for factory produced race cars only. None, not one, of these were referred to as muscle cars for literally decades.

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  15. OldCarGuy

    Here’s my ’64 Cutlass project. I’m in the process up updating drivetrain, suspension, etc., etc.

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  16. jeff6599

    Mustangs, Camaros, Firebirds, Barracudas, Challengers, AMXs, Cougars, etc were clearly in a category of their own called Pony Cars. Only those so called special versions such as Z28, Trans Am, Shelby, Boss, Scrambler, etc could be considered to fall into that Muscle Car world as it was a complete package car that lived up to the 442 or GTA definition with it’s own special identifying name. You couldn’t buy half a package; you got everything in one check on the order sheet.

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  17. David Montanbeau

    The muscle car is an American term used to refer to a variety of high-performance automobiles. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines muscle cars as “any of a group of American-made 2-door sports cars with powerful engines designed for high-performance driving.”

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  18. David Montanbeau

    What was the first muscle car?
    Related pony cars, such as the Ford Mustang and Chevrolet Camaro, are generally smaller cars with roughly the same description otherwise. The general consensus is that the first muscle car of this definition was the 1949 Oldsmobile Rocket 88.

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  19. jeff6599

    Well David, I think your opinion is closer than any other to being correct. None of the midsized bodied cars were designed as ‘sports cars’ let alone DESIGNED for high performance driving. All of them took motors from the full sized version of their brand and put them in a lighter bodied car. The 389 Pontiac went into a 326 car, a 390 ford went into the 289 Fairlane, a 401 Buick went into the 300 inch Special and so forth. Remember that the base model of all the midsized cars and Pony cars were six cylinder and would never qualify as a muscle car no matter what your driving style was on the track.

    Certainly the 1949 Olds was never conceived as a two door sports car and never had the opportunity to get a higher powered engine from a larger family of the same brand. I have put on a lot of car shows and no one has ever, ever entered a 49- 54 Olds or for that matter a quick little 265 1955 Chevy in any muscle car class that I have seen.

    I believe that if you looked up the year that ‘ muscle car’ began to appear in print, you would find it to be late 1964 or in 1965 and was probably initiated by the Ad Agency manager Jim Wangers whose client was Pontiac. Or may have been John DeLorean. All the best

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