In Kissimmee, Florida, Mecum will be holding one of its many auctions. The January 16-25 event will be drawing tons of special cars like this 1971 Oldsmobile 4-4-2 W-30 convertible, but the ad for this one is a reminder of caveat emptor.
Nineteen seventy-one was a big year for General Motors as the company took the industry lead and lowered compression on all its motors in anticipation of new government regulations for 1972. The 4-4-2’s standard 455 was down 25 from 1970‘s 365 horsepower, and the W-30 package was down 20 to 350 horses. Sales were down too, with the 4-4-2 line falling from 22,877 to 7,589. The top-line 4-4-2 W-30 convertible fell from 264 units to 110 for 1971.
As we wrote about in our sister site Motrolix, you can’t rely on auction ads for properly representing a vehicle. The description in most cases is written by the seller, and the auction house is not responsible for any claims. In the case of this Olds, the seller claims only 10 were built with air conditioning, but there’s no factory documentation provided in the auction ad. And I can tell you the GM Heritage Center does not have that documentation, and neither does the R.E. Olds Transportation Museum. In fact, of the surviving W-30 convertibles out there, I wouldn’t be surprised if more than 10 are documented to exist with AC.
Otherwise, when you buy a W-30, you need to have documentation because there’s no way to prove it from the VIN (except for 1972s). That’s not to say this car is a fake − on the contrary, the seller claims this is “a well-documented three-owner car offered with the original broadcast sheet, original books and manuals and service records” − but it pays to learn as much as you can when shopping for a collectible. In the case of this one, the AC claim is unsubstantiated and should not be used to puff up what is already a very nice car.