Yard Find With A Story: 1970 Oldsmobile 442 W-30


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The back story for this rare Oldsmobile find is an unusual one! Supposedly the original owner’s wife took the car out, had an accident and then they chose to park the car. According to the story told by the original owner to the now seller, a divorce ensued. The car is now located in Holbrook, New York and is up for sale here on eBay, where bidding is pretty slow but hasn’t met the reserve yet.


I think the wreck part of the story is pretty validated by the pictures! The W-30 package added some really desirable features to the already terrific 442, with the package including a fiberglass hood with functional air scoops and low-restriction air cleaner, an aluminum intake manifold, special camshaft and cylinder heads. It also included an improved distributor and carburetor as well–a very complete upgrade!


Well, this doesn’t look good. I’m not even 100% sure what part of the underside of the car this picture is showing, but I know rusty metal when I see it. I’m hoping one of our GM expert readers can tell me exactly what I’m looking at?


If you don’t feel comfortable repairing the hood, I did find some reproductions here. They aren’t inexpensive, though! On the brightwork (er) side, there are bumpers available here for not a lot of money. And grilles are here. Fenders are here. Ultimately, if you want to get this car back looking nice, you can do it–with a lot of time, money or both!


While the interior looks pretty rough at first glance, it does look complete, and the 65,000 miles may well be correct. And guess what? Here are upholstery kits!


We can’t see much of the 455 V8, and based on what I do see, I’m not sure I’d want to see the rest. Another question to our experts: is the red paint here indicative of what the exterior color should be? I’m a little puzzled.


Here’s what this car could look like finished if you went back with the green and black! I’d want to print a large copy of this picture on the wall in my garage so that I could keep this in mind while I was working on the car. It’s a big task; do you want to take this one on!


Auctions Ending Soon


  1. ken

    Those are red fender wells, super rare and a w30 option

    Like 2
    • Chebby

      Were those a fad, like red painted brake calipers are today? To me they’re not attractive and seems like a strange option to offer on a car. But maybe they have a purpose?

      Like 0
      • Brian Matthews

        Standard equipment up to mid 1971

        Like 3
    • David

      Red plastic fenders are standard in all 1970 w-30s.

      Like 5
  2. sparkster

    I believe W-30s had red plastic inner fenders as opposed to black on my 69′ Cutlass

    Like 4
    • Mike Gleeson

      You are correct.

      Like 0
  3. DREW V.

    A true W-30 car will have red innner fender wells…

    Like 3
  4. Joe Gotts

    Buyer’s beware,

    Parts of Long Island “Holbrook, New York” have been under water multiple times in the last 30 years.

    I’ll bet the 442 was submerged for quite awhile!

    Joey G…

    Like 0
    • Tony

      Those pictures are Long Island, but not Holbrook. They are some low lying sections of highway that always flood, but did so severely after some record rains a few years back. Holbrook is also not near the coast and wouldn’t have been subject to any hurricane related floods.

      Like 0
      • George Mattar

        Red fender liners now reproduced. Gonna take a Titanic full of green money to save this. At least this car is worth saving. True W30s have now outpaced even RAIV Pontiacs at auction. Oldsmobile gone more than 15 years and they were excellent cars. I have owned 5 in my life. The best cars I ever owned.

        Like 0
  5. TBall

    Ouch! Beautiful car when they are altogether, just think this one would take a ton to get it there – appears that glass is about the only thing what would not require replacement. I believe Joe G may be on to something, exterior does not show it, however limited underside and engine compartment (note the valve covers) so heavy exposure to moisture. I’d be surprised if this was not a total overhaul at extreme cost – if, as others are concerned, it is an actual W-30. I’d have to do a lot of homework before even thinking about this one.

    Like 0
  6. Van

    A w-30 is a bad ass.
    Compared to a GTO It it has more torque than a Ram Air 3 and a more refined interior.
    Compared to a chevelle close to an LS5 power and again much better interior.
    I think you want a good donner to even consider this.
    Olds was bad about these with drum brakes.
    Never saw a GTO With drums from 69 on.

    Like 1
  7. JW

    A coworker of mine had one of these new in 1970 but gold, yes a bad ass car but rode like a caddy. Too much work for this old guy. Pass !!!

    Like 1
  8. Chris

    There is a small 3×5 card under the rear seat used to build the car. That or the window sicker is the only thing that can prove it is a real w30. If it is missing the car is a write off. Too bad the way this one was treated. For sure looks like a flood victim the body would be more rusted if the engine was that bad.

    Like 1
    • oldsnut

      While the build sheet is not the only documentation that proves it is indeed a W30, Oldsmobile History museum can prove it by serial number. In order to make sure that the car was not a stolen car or one that was put together from parts, there are locations on the frame where the serial number is stamped into the frame to match the serial plate and the frame. It would also match the engine and trans as they have the last digits of the serial number on them too. The rest to look for is as follows:

      VIN begins 344XXM.
      Must be a Lansing built car. “M” in the VIN tag.
      Build date codes include 10B, 10E, 11B, 12A, 2D, 3D. So they were built steadily throughout the year.
      Red inner fenderwells.
      No sound deading.
      Outside Air Induction Hood and Air cleaner.
      “F” cylinder heads.
      Q-jet number 7040256 for automatic, 7040258 for manual transmission.
      W and Z exhaust manifolds.
      Distributor #1111979.
      Engine block casting #396021-F (with matching VIN number under #1 plug on block).
      “F” cylinder heads.
      Intake will be casting number 406115, with OLDSMOBILE W-455 in raised letters. Some were cast with OLDS W-455, but will have the same 406115 casting number. Some restoration guides don’t state this discrepency. Apparently the mold broke near the end of W-30 model production.
      Boxed lower control arms in the rear.
      Sway bar.
      Disc Brakes.
      OW Transmission.

      Like 0
      • Chris

        You know your 442s. The serial number documentation won’t hold water at the top of the market. I bought mine 10 years ago to enjoy, and I know its a w30, it kills my Buick and my Charger. With the 3.91s these things haul.

        Like 1
      • jack

        There is no way to verify a W30 by the VIN. Oldsmobile history museum? RE Olds transportation museum and the GM heritage center cannot give you any info on W30 vin numbers. They dont have such info. Nobody does

        Like 2
      • Bill

        I’d like to know where you have seen a 10B car. The earliest code I’ve seen is the one I have which is a 10C.

        Like 1
  9. piper62j

    The underside pic could be of the exhaust pipe rotted out.. Seems to be a lot of rust and corrosion in odd places.. This find has been sitting out in the weather, or even under some level of water..

    Nice car and a good find.. Call your banker..

    Like 0
    • Tony

      Looks like a pic of the gas tank.Notice the rusty strap.

      Like 0
    • JamestownMike

      The underside pic is an angled rear pic showing the swiss cheese exhaust tail pipe, underside of fuel tank and rear end pumpkin with posi tag.

      How does the engine and alternator get SO rusty and corroded? Not sure there’s much to save here, what parts are good?? This car is already 3 feet or more in its grave. It’s turning back into nature in the form of rusty compost!

      Like 0
  10. Nova Scotian

    This is a total rotisserie rebuild. Maybe not able with so much rust…the trunk lid/quarters/and just about everywhere else…underside is obviously a shot from driver side rear of transaxle, with rotted gas tank straps and what’s left of the tail pipe…if your considering this…you must either have a lot of spare cash for fabricating a new car…or its a parts car. Too bad someone left it out under a tarp all these years. What a great find. Love to have one complete.

    Like 0
  11. Bruce

    Put a chain through the windows and use it for a boat anchor. It’s used to being under water. One look at the trunk pic will tell you that !

    Like 0
  12. Rando

    I had a customer once that had a W30 with the red fender liners. He took them out, said too many people tried to steal them. He also painted his car a non stock color and took al the w30 stuff off. Original paint was gone when he got it, os no big loss of value. He did have all the stuff to return it to factory “someday”. I eventually lost contact with him and have no idea what happened to the car.

    I guess this car could have been faked in the past. Even so the rust under hood is horrible. I thought fire at first. But they the post about flooding. Either way, motor is probably a goner.


    Like 0
  13. benjy

    Good Junk but still junk!

    Like 0
  14. JamestownMike

    $3,550 for a wrecked and really rusty car?……..no thanks!

    Like 0
    • Keith

      It’s already over $12k now!

      Like 0
  15. Nessy

    You can tell this car is real. Too many W30 442 items not to be. If this car has been sitting around for over 30+ years as they claim, that really proves it. Nobody cared to clone this car right down to every detail years ago. It was just another old car at one time. It has every W30 item on it that we can see and even the tic/tach/clock has been removed. You know darn well, nobody removed a basic clock from this car. Did anyone ask the sellers for the block and head numbers? Run some numbers at the Oldsmobile History Center. They are nice guys always looking to help id special Oldsmobiles. As for the car itself, somebody will save it. This is not a parts car. No flipping way! You save it, rust and all. Rust like this can be fixed and you can buy every panel for this car online.

    Like 0
    • Chris

      I have a 70 w30 without the documentation. While I agree with you, it won’t bring real w30 money. Most of the stuff is easy to fake/get except the cylinder heads. Those are expensive and usually most overlooked when these things are faked. If this car has the F heads that is a key tell, but you still can’t prove it. I have never heard of the Olds history center, I’ll look those guys up.

      From the VIN you can prove it is a real 442, but that might not be enough save this car.

      Like 0
    • sean

      if the car had the tach it would also have gauges not idiot lights , car probably ordered with nothing and that was a blank plate

      Like 0
  16. Woodie Man

    I think Joe Gotts with his Trumpian avatar has it just right. This puppy was marinated in flood water for a longggg time….no block loooks like that unless it was submerged for an extended period of time…..and the rust marks on the dash? YUCK!

    Like 0
  17. Jim Marshall

    A rare and sought after muscle car but it appears this one is to far gone. There are many aftermarket and reproduction parts available for these cars but the engine would concern me the most as without the original functioning 455 the money to bring it back would exceed it’s value.

    Like 0
  18. Kincer DaveMember

    All I can say is “What a shame!” My first car was a 1972 Cutlass Supreme, nothing special just a good solid used car in 1985 but I dreamed of having one of these 442’s I would have loved to find this in 1985.

    Like 0
  19. JamieBMember

    What a sin. I hope there’s a special circle in Hell for people that let this happen to once-wonderful cars like this. (OK, so I have a 71 Cutlass SX out in the weather in my driveway, but at least it’s under a cover and NOT underwater as this one appears to have been.) The winning bidder is essentially buying the VIN and the documentation, since just about every other part will need to be replaced.

    Like 0
  20. RoughDiamond

    So who is the 2nd owner, Jon or Dan?

    Like 0
  21. Ron (Florida)

    Up to $9300 currently!? W-30 442 or not, that’s too high to me for as rough as this car is.

    Like 0
  22. erikj

    that’s so sad. I got a 71 cutless during highschool. green with green int. just a rocket 350,but it had buckets with the auto console .very nice/clean car. First car I took over 120 mph on the freeway( quick looking when I hit the crown of the bridge and was air born for a short time) think I was doing more like 130. what a nice car andwith fac.rallys it was cool.everyone at school called it my grandparents care till took them for a ride ,but I always liked the w-30 442. Hade a 68 442 455/4speed but still wanted th71the .stories,have, and they are real

    Like 0
  23. OldsJoe

    O.K. $12,000.00 and still not hit reserve! Really it will take another $65,000.00 at least to restore this bucket of dust and it will have no original body parts left intact. So will it still be a real car if all panels and pieces have been replaced? To me it will just be a rebody and not a true W30 at that point.

    Like 0
  24. Chris

    Agree. Way too much money. The best go for 80-90k with 4 speeds and all numbers.

    Like 0
  25. Billy Bob

    I believe that is Sherwood Green Color # 49. The broadcast cards and build sheets are imperative to document the W-30 is original. Would want to look in the seat springs, top of the glove box, top of the fuel tank, behind the door cards.

    Like 0
  26. piper62j

    Good point OldsJoe… Ya gotta wonder about the Barret Jackson and Mecum auctions that pump these old cars out and they bring big, big bucks.. Granted, they look great and the work seems impeccable, but, they are old cars, sitting around in bone yards, barns swamps and closets since they came off the road. So, I doubt many of them are selling with their original birthday skin.

    You’re on the right track and I tend to agree with you.. I guess the value is all in the eye of the beholder with deep pockets and desire..

    Like 0
  27. Alan (Michigan)

    A question for those who are familiar with period Oldsmobile offerings:
    My recollection of the car that a co-worker bought when these were new, is that his car was a W30, and marked as such…. But was NOT marked as a 442. The exact year had to have been 1970 or 71.
    Am I dreaming? Was it possible to get a W30 without the 442 designation?

    (BTW, yes, that car was FAST…..)

    Like 0
  28. Chris


    Like 1
  29. oldsjoe

    Chris is correct only way to get the W30 option was on a 442.

    Like 1
  30. Nessy

    It may be a rusty rat but it’s the finest of rats. I dig this car alot. It’s the real deal and we all know it. I would almost bet the bidding will make 20000. Is it worth it? I think it is to the right buyers but I am not one of them at that price. Oh boy do I like Oldsmobiles.

    Like 1
  31. Chris

    WOW – 15K and reserve not met. Wow that is crazy.

    Like 1
  32. sean

    alan your co worker probably had a cutlass w-31 , all the look but the hot 350 not the 455 , red fender wells were a sales gimmick [something hot under the hood] for the w-30 ‘s , all w-30 had red front fender wells , except 1972 only first 12 cars got them then they ran out , and all the rest got black , but 1972 was the only year that the w-30 could be verified by vin.

    Like 0
    • Alan (Michigan)

      Possible, I suppose.
      But I have an image of the white lettering on the dark blue car, being “W-30”.
      Heck, it has been 40+ years….

      From another friend’s photo album..

      Like 0
  33. dj

    Reminds me of a Ralley 350 that was listed last year. It was pulled from a junk yard and needed everything. Just because the parts match on this car, I don’t think you can use some of them. I had a 73 HO. They were fun but the smog police robbed the horsepower from them.

    Like 0
  34. oldsjoe

    It went over $16,000.00. Now the auction is closed seller canceled auction a mistake was made when listing say’s ebay. Makes a person wonder what the mistake was? Joe

    Like 0
  35. piper62j

    I believe we all had a hand in exposing some flaws in the listing..Maybe…

    Like 0
  36. Chris

    It said it had all the paperwork and didn’t.

    Like 0
  37. JamieBMember
  38. JamieBMember

    …and I see the listing now says that it is NOT the original engine, but still a 455 e-code engine. That goes against logic of the original story (wife banged up the car a few years after he bought it and it has sat ever since–I mean, who has to replace a 455 V8 after only 65K miles?!) And the original owner has all the paperwork… BUT is still looking for it!

    As other posters have noted, there is no place to check an Olds VIN to verify exact options (thank God the Pontiac Historical Society founder was able to acquire the Pontiac microfiche records, before GM tossed those, too). Without that paperwork, and without the numbers-matching engine, the value on this wreck just tanked. The buyer had better get the build sheet and/or window sticker. It would have been very easy to pop in red fender wells way back when the original engine was pulled.

    Like 0
  39. oldsjoe

    The original ad or auction went to over $16,000.00. Before being shut down so it’s back with a little different wording in the post or description. It will be interesting to see just how close it get’s to that high bid this time around. The engine in it looks to have either C or G heads on it. Very hard to tell with all the rust. I can’t imagine why anyone would want to even try to bring this car back to life. I’m an Oldsmobile lover and former owner of a W30 and just can’t fathom the amount of cash it would take to resurrect this hulk. Looks to me to be missing a lot of the correct parts and what is left is not useable. But as the say there is a butt for every seat.

    Like 0
  40. SEAN C

    olds 455 engines were prone to spinning the # 7 rod bearing , because at high rpms it could pump the oil up to the heads faster then it could drain back , alot of cars got replacement engines , g head would be a ’71 engine , could be warrenty

    Like 0
  41. Chris

    F heads are what you need here. Very expensive to source.

    Like 1
  42. JamieBMember

    And yet again, it’s baaaack:

    So this second winning bidder (I believe it topped out at $10K this time, down from $16K+ the first time) backed out, or maybe the seller was his own shill bidder and got caught as the top bidder when the music stopped. I’m betting it goes to only $7K this time.

    Like 0
  43. Keith

    Yep I see this happen constantly on Ebay now….car sells, 5-7 days later it’s back on…car sells again (for less)….5-7 days later car’s back on Ebay again. If you ever doubt that Ebay is rigged with shill bidders, look at the sold listings for car “X” and you’ll see it’s been listed and sold multiple times, often to a winning bidder with 0 or 1 feedback.

    Like 0
    • Alan (Michigan )

      Some years ago, I bid on a custom part for a racing kart, and was incrementally outbid by a single digit feedback guy. This was before the change to semi-disguised identities.
      That bidder’s entire feedback list was from the seller with the part I was bidding on.
      Locations were the same city.
      I dropped the dime. Same guy. Accounts terminated.
      Probably back in a month.

      Like 0
  44. Keith

    Little off topic but when I sell cars on Ebay (about 2 per year) I figure out how much I’d take for the car I want to sell. Then, I add about $3k to that price, and list it as “buy it now or best offer”. Sure, i get some lowball offers. But I generally end up getting right around what I wanted for the car. No fake bidders or other b.s. Would that always work in every situation? No, but I’ve had better luck doing that than when I used to list them in the traditional auction style format.

    Like 0
    • JamieBMember

      Good strategy. I’m only able to afford to be a “serial monogamy” collector, having one car at a time (“driver” quality that I find at what I believe to be below market value) and then selling it when it comes time to move on to the next. I’ve cycled through a 1972 Pontiac Grand Ville convertible, a 1966 Olds Starfire coupe (with the 425ci V8–should’ve kept that one!), a 2002 Lincoln Blackwood (yes, out of left field but I had always wanted one; hated driving it, though), a 1963 Sedan de Ville all-original “survivor” and a 1972 Olds Cutlass convertible (ok, this one needed work to be a driver). And I swear eBay is only populated with flippers. Every car I’ve listed has fallen short of even the low range of value by $2000 at least. And I’m talking sub-$8000 cars here, so that’s a huge percentage. So I started trading instead. Same result, but I get closer to the real value.

      Like 0
  45. joe

    I would love it….., and pet it…., and call it George.(bugs bunny) maybee Georgia, so it wouldn’t be weird)some 442’s had red plastic fender wells too, I believe. I was the son of a olds mechanic of this era.So my opinion is slightly biased! Personally I would love to have any of these cars regardless of “numbers matching” b.s. To me it seems like a bunch of stodgy, rich-guy non-sense… As long as it performs the way it should, the fitment is not too bad, Who cares! It is about the way she makes you feel going down the road!!! If this had the best 455 Joe Mondello ever built would you value it less than the stock one?

    Like 1

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