Real Deal W-30! 1972 Oldsmobile 442

UPDATE – When we last featured this Oldsmobile, it was listed on craigslist in New York City with a $28,500 asking price. The new owner transported it down to Hollywood, Florida, and have now listed it here on eBay where bidding has already passed $20k. It’s a no reserve auction though, so you might be able to get it for a slightly better price this time around. What do you think, will you be bidding on this 442?

By 1972, it was abundantly clear that the muscle car scene was winding down. That didn’t stop a few hardy and dedicated souls from longing for the thrill that comes from burying the right foot and experiencing neck-snapping acceleration. Happily, companies like Oldsmobile were happy to oblige with models like the 442. The ultimate version of that model featured the W-30 option, and that is what we find with this gem that has recently been listed for sale here on Craigslist. It looks like a straightforward restoration prospect, and the finished product should provide a perfect blend of good looks and remarkable performance. This 442 is located in New York City, and the owner has set the sale price at $28,500. I have to say a big thank you to Barn Finder Gunter K for spotting this marvelous muscle car for us.

I’m sure that every reader dreams of coming across the ultimate Barn Find, and that is probably how the seller felt when he found this 442. Its original owner parked it around twenty-five years ago, but the time has come for someone to return it to its rightful place, terrorizing the tarmac. Its original Saddle Bronze paint is patchy in a few spots, but it holds a good shine in others. The buyer could retain it as an untouched survivor, but it could look stunning with a cosmetic refresh. There is a substantial dent in the passenger door, but the remaining panels look pretty good. Probably the biggest surprise with this classic is its lack of visible rust. The photo quality isn’t great, but there are no glaring signs of trouble externally. The seller doesn’t mention any issues with the car’s underside, but his assertion that it is super solid is encouraging. Moreover, a lack of corrosion in areas like the engine bay suggests that the storage environment may have been close to ideal. The glass looks good, although some of the exterior trim has seen better days. The Olds rolls on a mixed set of wheels, but crucial items like the functional fiberglass Ram Air hood remain intact and in good condition.

This is the moment where we reveal what makes this Olds something pretty special. The engine bay is occupied by the 455ci V8 that pumped out 300hp and an Earth-turning 310 ft/lbs of torque in its prime. The original owner also ordered the car with a four-speed manual transmission, while the 3.42 Anti-Slip rear end was standard fitment for a 442 with the W-30 package. Performance figures remained extremely impressive for the period, with this classic capable of demolishing the ¼ mile in 14.1 seconds. The seller claims that buyers in 1972 ordered only 289 examples of the 442 Coupe with a four-speed transmission, and that figure gels with the information I have. If this Oldsmobile isn’t already desirable enough, its numbers-matching status probably seals the deal. It seems that everything on this car is original, including the aluminum intake and carburetor. The seller says that the vehicle runs and drives, although I’m unsure whether this means that it’s roadworthy. As a bonus, it appears that the original Owner’s Manual and documentation dating back to 1972 is included in the deal.

One area of this 442 that sends mixed messages is its interior. Some aspects, like the dash and pad, look like they would present well with little more than a clean. The door trims don’t look bad, although the carpet is peeling away from the lower edges. The seat upholstery has seen better days, and along with a carpet set and wheel, a complete set of covers will need to go onto the buyer’s Wish List. It appears that there are no aftermarket additions, with items like the factory radio remaining intact. The W-30 option brought a welcome performance boost to the 442, but it came with its drawbacks. Don’t expect to find air conditioning because potential buyers couldn’t order the two options together. However, with an AM radio, bucket seats, and a console, this Olds was considered well equipped for its day.

The great American muscle car could have disappeared quietly as rising fuel costs brought their relevance into question, but passionate enthusiasts like our Barn Finds readers have ensured that this never occurred. I do not doubt that someone will return this diamond in the rough to its former glory, and the person who achieves this can sit back in the knowledge that they will own a significant piece of classic car history. The big question is, will you be that person?



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  1. Tony Primo

    You are a little light on the torque output Adam. It should read 410 ft/lbs.

    Like 14
  2. Joe Padavano

    Despite the fact that the powertrain specs are nearly identical to those of the 1971 cars, the 1972 W30s struggle in the marketplace. Primo examples can often be had for $35-40K. At the asking price, this car will unfortunately be underwater after restoration. That’s too bad, because it’s definitely legit (despite the repainted side stripes).

    Like 10
  3. James A Martin

    Typical example of a car sales of the bubble. These cars have exploded in the last 2 years. But when the bubble pops then what.

    Like 6
    • Dan H

      When the bubble pops, there will probably be folks that bought unrestored cars at the height of the market for not much less than a restored version after the market correction.

      But when people are excited about buying something and money is available . . . .

      Like 6
    • Bick Banter

      People will be wishing they still had the cash. Some will sell and take a loss. Others will probably just hold. Those who need to sell will be very sad. Not much different than any other bubble really.

      Bubble or not, I have had my doubts about the 1960s/early 1970s muscle car for some time. Younger people tend to be interested in Radwood era cars because they never could afford these. We’re moving to electrification. The Boomers are going to be leaving driving age in the not too distant future. Hard to believe! But it’s true. No one lives forever. So the Real question is what happens after that.

      Like 6
      • Raven

        I think they will make fertilizer out of them after a permit is secured to safely transport the fuel

        Like 3
  4. YankeeTR5

    @Bick…I don’t know about your supposition. When going thru my sons 74 TR6 I had three high schoolers here at my house 7 days a week during the summer working on it. Sanding, disassembling, assembly…you get it. I went so far as to buy a beater rusted, but running and driving, GT6 so the boys could drive it.

    My son is gone to USAFA now as are his three friends, but low and behold, my 14 year old neighbor kid showed up and started working w/me on another TR I’m going thru. He has his eye on driving that GT6 I think.

    So, my long point is….young people do LOVE these cars. They just need the opportunity in a good environment (my mantra was, there is nothing you can break on these cars I don’t already have a replacement part for, so have at it) and be left alone, more or less, to do their thing. They also need lower price points of entry….

    As to this car….I thought the W30 package included the red inner fenders or was that just on the earlier cars?

    Like 8
    • Bick Banter

      “They also need lower price points of entry….”

      Yes, this. Starting in the mid-1980s, prices of these started going way up because the Boomers were entering their peak earning years (which were about as good as it got in American history) and there was a 1960s nostalgia craze which also started around them. With a few dips here and there, this continued unabated until today.

      It was good for preservation and appreciation. It wasn’t good because younger people generally could not afford them. As a result, younger people into cars (a breed in and of itself shrinking) turned to other less expensive options. This is turning out to be Radwood (1980-99), particularly Japanese iron from the early/mid 1990s.

      I mean, a good muscle car will always have value. I just think on the whole it’ll be significantly less than what we’re seeing today, outside the Blue Chips like the LS6 Chevelles and the Hemi Mopars.

      Like 2
      • piston poney

        honestly i alwayse thought i was one of the few kids of my generation that likes old muscle cars and old hot rods, but then i realized that yeah there arnt meany of us but those of us that do love them and there are more than you think, most of us just cant afford them working fastfood, but when we finally find the cheap one we buy it and have fun, the we help our friends find their cheap muscle and help them build it and then race them and see who can build the fastest car or truck, weither it be a small block chevelle or a big block torino we build them to the best of out financial ability.

        Like 6
      • Bick Banter

        For a brief but glorious time, say 1974-82 or so, that’s how it was with 1960s and early 1970s muscle cars. Young people, high school kids even, could afford them, and had a lot of fun.

        Then, big money entered the sector and killed that. But I’ve been impressed by the number of car enthusiasts in the Millennial and Gen Z generations. That seemed to skip Gen X mostly. As I said, many of young crowd is into Radwood cars. It’s funny to see this happening because I’ve had my E36 M3 since it was almost new and can remember when it was viewed by most as just another 3-Series, and then, later, disrespected by BMW Enthusiasts as a “328i M” or whatever.

        Now they’re getting more attention and values are climbing because of younger enthusiasts appreciate them.

        I hope it carries on. I really do. Seemed like car culture was dying there for a time.

        Like 3
    • Buddy

      I believe ’71 was the last year of the Red Inner Fenderwells…

      Like 3
  5. George Mattar

    Bick Banter and I are on the same page. 35 years ago, you could buy a mint used muscle car for $5,500. I did. A 1970 GTO built in California and there in LA until I bought it. The 72 W30, as mentioned, is the least valuable by far of the 70 to 72 cars. Buying this for more than $20,000 and restoring it would be financial disaster. If I had room for this car, I would leave body as, but put in new brake lines, fuel tank, go over cooling system, suspension work, clean it and drive as is. It is so stupid to restore and then have a trailer queen you are afraid to get a stone chip on. Drive it. Life is too short for a $25,000 paint job.

    Like 5
  6. timothy r herrod

    I am not an olds person but i have seen older W30 cars and they had the red inner fender liners, what year did they stop putting those in?

  7. EJ

    I am not a 442 expert, but is the steering wheel correct? Also, shouldn’t the bumper have cutouts for the trumpet exhausts and a blacked-out grill? The dash looks like the car had air conditioning??

    • joe_padavano

      The steering wheel is correct standard equipment. The four spoke sport wheel that everyone installs today was an option. The grilles are correct for 1972. The dash is correct for a non-A/C car (note the blank plate in the center vent hole). I can’t tell what bumper it has from these photos.

      Like 1
    • Poppy

      Yes, the Ebay photos show the rear bumper is not notched. It should be notched.

      Like 1
  8. Sam Shive

    FIRST, It needs at least 4 rims that match. Second, GOOD LUCK To who ever buys it …..

    Like 1

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