The 1964 Pontiac GTO was the brainchild of John Z. DeLorean, Russ Gee, and Bill Collins. The initial production run was supposed to be 5,000 units, but first-year orders eclipsed the 32,000 mark. Other GM divisions wanted to carve themselves a piece of that performance pie. Oldsmobile did so by creating the 442 package for the Cutlass. The Oldsmobile 442 derived its name from the four-barrel carburetor, four-speed transmission, and dual exhaust.
The Oldsmobile 442 was more than just a carb, gearbox, and exhaust. The 442 was a Cutlass with the B09 Police Apprehender Pursuit Pack that included a more aggressive camshaft, heavy-duty suspension, and six-inch-wide wheels wrapped in redline rubber. The 442 would be a Cutlass trim package until 1968 when it would become a model unto itself.
The 1968 model year would bring a clean-sheet redesign for the Oldsmobile 442, along with the rest of GM’s A-body models. The new body had more sculpted lines, a rounder beltline, shortened wheelbase, but with a wider front and rear track. Coupes had a flowing roofline giving the rear deck a fastback appearance.
Mild appearance changes would come to the Oldsmobile 442 for the 1970 model year. The new grille was silver and the grille bars were vertical. Parking lights were rectangular in shape and located in the front bumper, and taillights had a vertical pattern.
1970 would also mark the performance acme for the Oldsmobile 442. New government fuel economy standards were on the horizon, as were revised emissions standards. Insurance companies were slow to cover factory muscle cars with power ratings in the stratosphere. GM saw 1970 as the final year in the horsepower wars, and rather than going quietly into that good night, the General pulled out all the stops. The company edict limiting displacement in mid-size passenger cars to 400 cubic inches was removed, and all the GM divisions responded accordingly. For the 442 this meant stuffing the 455 cube Rocket V8 under the hood. It should be mentioned that this was not the first time that engine was available in a mid-size Olds, as the 1969 Hurst/Olds had the 455 as part of that performance package.
Oldsmobile 442 customers who were seeking the ultimate in performance could opt for the W-30 package. The W-30 pack would net you the “Select Fit” laundry list of components including the W-25 fiberglass hood with functional air induction scoops, the iconic red plastic inner fenders, low restriction air cleaner, Winters aluminum intake, a high-lift, longer duration camshaft, and either a heavy-duty close-ratio four-speed manual transmission with Hurst Competition shifter, or a three-speed automatic. The W-30 Rocket 455 was rated at 370 ponies and a pavement wrinkling 500 pound-feet of torque. Astute buyers would have also stocked up on rear tires.
Our feature 1970 Oldsmobile 442 W-30 starred in 1993’s “Demolition Man” with Sylvester Stallone, Sandra Bullock, and Wesley Snipes. It came from the GM Heritage Collection and was modified by Oldsmobile with performance options not available from the factory for the movie. Finished in Matador Red with black stripes over a black vinyl interior, it is powered by the 455 Rocket V8 backed by a three-speed automatic transmission.
This 1970 Oldsmobile 442 W-30 will cross the Barrett-Jackson auction block at their Scottsdale, Arizona event taking place January 20th through the 28th.