Continuing A Legacy? 1975 Oldsmobile 442

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Oh, what a year was 1975! If you were a domestic auto enthusiast, it was a lousy one! No more Plymouth Barracuda, Dodge Challenger, Camaro Z28, Pontiac GTO or SD-455 anything, AMC Javelin, or Buick GS – what a difference a year makes, right? Oldsmobile, however, an early participant in the muscle car lollapalooza, decided to stay the course and continue onward with its A-body based 442, such as today’s find, courtesy of Gunter K. So, was Olds still carrying the flag or just going through the motions? Stay tuned and find out. St.Louis, Missouri is where this 442 parks itself and it’s available, here on craigslist for $6,000.

Back to that 20th Century three-quarters mark, to add insult to injury, you now had to fork over more for less by way of a new lead-free gasoline requirement (catalytic converters). More expensive fuel? Of course, and that’s in spite of taking something away as opposed to adding something in. It was a sign of the times – the insurance cabal, federal emission control standards, and new proposed fuel economy regs created the perfect storm for no fun. The 442 was, at this point, just an appearance package – for the most part, and available on the Cutlass S. That in itself isn’t such an issue as the 442 lost its separate model identity after the ’71 model year. Unfortunately, by ’75 the 442 lost most of what was a 442 in earlier times. What exactly did “442” stand for at this juncture? Search me fish. What it did include, according to the 1975 Oldsmobile sales brochure is, “special stripes, louvered hood, an identifying nameplate, and Rallye suspension“.

Often, when one thinks of a 442, the brutish 455 CI V8 engine comes to mind. And, a 455 was still available in ’75 but it now wheezed out a measly 190 net HP – so much for the vaunted W-30 days. This rig is powered by a 170 net HP, Oldsmobile, 350 CI V8 engine that has experienced 90K miles of use and makes its moves via an automatic transmission. No word as to how this “Rocket” motivates – and there’s no engine image included.

The black and gold exterior combination is actually reminiscent of the Hurst-equipped specialty model that was offered in ’75 but this example is clearly not one of those. Overall, the exterior, with the exception of the rear bumper, appears to be sound. The seller suggests that the trunk pan could use some patching but none of the body panels are showing signs of rust-through. The Ebony Black finish is quite faded and there’s some surface rust bleed-through that is evident on the trunk lid, in particular, and in some other places too.  Holding up the four corners are the always popular Super Stock wheels. Unfortunately, two trim rings and all four center caps are absent.

Images of the interior are really constrained. The black vinyl upholstery adorning swivel bucket seats looks pretty good – no visible rips. The center console is in good nick and it appears that the optional gauge package has taken up residency in the instrument panel binnacles. Another nice feature of this 442’s interior is the four-spoke X steering wheel.

The seller tells us that this car is a rare find but research sources claim that our subject car is one of 6,200 442s assembled that year – not exactly rare. Oldsmobile was all about volumes in ’75 and experienced a total Cutlass output of about 310K copies, so in the scheme of things, the 442 volume was paltry. That said, I suppose Oldsmobile should have been congratulated (and I would if they still existed…) for trying to keep the fading performance legacy going. It was all over but the clapping by ’75 and this car’s image had passed. Still, there are those that like GM’s colonnade coupes and I imagine for $6,000, this Olds will find a new home soon, wouldn’t you agree?

Auctions Ending Soon


  1. PRA4SNW

    GONE already. For the money and a few extra grand, you’d have something kind of unique and nice.

    Valuable? Probably never.

    Like 0
    • Duaney

      We used to say that no one will ever collect and restore cars of the 60’s

      Like 2
  2. $ where mouth is

    Nice find !, and in fact it is rare .
    Not only for 6000 units, but for how many left, in black original paint and with the fast back roof, as most had the notch back.
    For all those that expect vi tage metal for walmart prices, heres one that most classes can afford.
    Dispite the tuned down power of this era, these cars are built for speed and just need a few mods and theres the power needed to annky your neighbors ;)

    Like 1
  3. jetfire88

    Terrible body integrity in this era of GM. I’ll guarantee when you pull out the lower rear seat cushion there will be chunks of the floor under it that are missing.
    Usually the torque boxes in the frame go before the rear bumper.
    Swivel buckets are neat.

    Like 0
    • bone

      the 76 and 77 Cutlass Supreme and Regal models yes, but the previous years were tanks . That’s why a lot of the Colonnades ended up as stock cars across the country . I ran a 73 Malibu in 16 straight 100 lap and 200 lap Enduros , finished all but 3 and never even lost a radiator. I later ran a 74 Cutlass Supreme for several years as a street stock . They are very durable cars. Usually the lower quarters were rusted out, but so was every other car in New England

      Like 1
      • Greg Kellams

        73 thru 77 Cutlass models were almost identical in size. Downsize came in 1978 when they really looked shoddy!

        Like 0
  4. Emel

    Looks almost identical (with a few minor variations) of our 1973 (maybe 1974) Chevelle Malibu. That colonnade thing going on. Good thing ours didn’t have a 455….or I probably would have killed myself ! lol

    Like 0
  5. Chris Cornetto

    I bought a white over red one of these in the mid 90s. I was going to make it one of my daily drivers for work. It had the swivel seats, and so on but was a 455 car. The car needed a rear bumper which I bought and was out front of the shop and a tractor trailer backed into it and pushed it into a wall. Needless to say that cars life ended right there. The new rear bumper accompanied it to the shredder which was less than 3 miles from the shop…oh well. Nice one here. Its tough for some of us older guys that bought 59 Impalas, GTOs, and Challengers and the likes for pennies and cared little about these in the 80s and 90s when they were virtually worthless and were stacked three stories high and shredded like tree limbs but they sold a bazillion of these Colonade cars and like everything else many enjoyed and loved them. Aside from the lack of brute horsepower and the rust factor, ( if you lived in the Salt belt) these cars were quite reliable and durable. They came did their job and most were sent to the circle dirt or derby, or strait to the jaws of death. The 442 in my case became a rather decent 77Century four door that carried us for a decade without any major mechanic issue.

    Like 0

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