Oldsmobile 442 and Hurst Olds Story – American Muscle Cars TV Series
Watch the amazing Oldsmobile 442 and the Hurst Olds Story on the American Muscle Car TV series.
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American Muscle Car – The Oldsmobile 442 and the Hurst Olds Story – Part 1.
Narrator: Coming up on The American Muscle Car, the amazing story of the Oldsmobile 442.
General Motors has always made cars to suit everyone’s taste. If you wanted luxury, there was Cadillac and Buick. If you wanted good basic transportation, they offered you Chevrolet, and if you wanted high-performance picked a Pontiac. And if you wanted a good healthy dose of all three you bought an Oldsmobile.
When the first shots were being fired, in the muscle car wars. Oldsmobile was the only General Motors division other than Pontiac that wasn’t asleep at the switch. Olds built a car that had the image of the world’s most exotic sports car. Yet was exactly what the new performance-minded youth market was asking.
For this car embodied everything that Oldsmobile was about. High style, the ultimate in creature comforts, and neck-snapping performance. This car featured among other things four-barrel carburetor, a four-speed transmission, and dual exhausts. It didn’t have a name, just a number.
They called it 442, what more could the driving crowd ask for. And oh yes, it just happened to launch like a rocket. The 442, Oldsmobile’s luxury muscle machine.
In the 50s and 60s, you might have thought America’s space program was located not in Cape Canaveral, but in Lansing Michigan. Oldsmobile advertising made you think Jet Fighters were rolling off their assembly lines. The way their cars performed that this wasn’t far from the truth.
Oldsmobile performance heritage dates back to the days when horses outnumbered cars on the nation’s roads. Ever since Ransom Olds’s Pirate, which achieved the breakneck speed of 60 miles per hour at Daytona Beach in 1904.
Oldsmobile has always been at the top of American car performance. Olds leap to the forefront of American performance in 1949 when they introduced their overhead valve 303 cubic inch V8. This engine made 135 real horsepower, and it was the first really modern v8 made in America. Rocket 88 soon became the cars to beat in stock car racing.
Read Byron won the 1949 Daytona Beach race in an Olds and continued on to win the NASCAR championship that year. Bill Rexford won the national championship in 1950 in turn Olds. Also, in 1950, Oldsmobile won the Mexican road race. A grueling two-thousand-mile event.
For the next three years, Oldsmobile won almost half the stock-car races on NASCAR’s schedule. As they continue to develop, their world-beating engine from 303 cubic inches to 324 cubic inches, and 202 horsepower.
By 1955, the other automakers had developed their own overhead valve V8s. Which broke Oldsmobile’s stranglehold on stock car racing. But it sent the Olds engineers back to the drawing board. In 1957 the
J2 option came out with 370 cubic inches, 9.75 to 1 compression, and triple Rochester two-barrel carburetors. This boosted horsepower to 300, torque to 415-foot pounds, and it put the rocket Olds’s back out front again.
Oldsmobile knew that racing improved the breed. All the knowledge gained on the track went right into their cars. Thanks to their racing experience when the muscle car wars began in 1964, they were ready.
The owner of this 65 442, lives the legend every day. Despite the fact, the car was built a decade before, he was born. We’ll meet him when we return on the American muscle car.
The stock car racing world went sailing along into 1958, with everyone loaded for bear. What a perfect time to throw a wrench into the whole thing. Or at least Manufacturers Association thought so. GM’s own president Harlow Curtis had three motivations to get out of racing.
Tom Shaw (Muscle Car Power Magazine): In 1957 number one is bad press. Number Two has cost them a lot of money. They could be putting into product elsewhere. Number three Ford was catching, and nobody wanted to lay out that kind of bread to be second-best.
Narrator: in 1959 Lee petty managed to win the first Daytona 500 held on a big Bank track. Using parts bought from ex Olds racers at bargain-basement prices. it was the last one for Olds in NASCAR racing for a long time.
The official decision based on photos such as this gave Lee petty in number 42 the victory by a margin of less than one yard. Oldsmobile wouldn’t return to stock car racing for nearly 25 years.
Somewhere in the Oldsmobile management ranks, someone must have breathed a sigh of relief now that all that racing hooliganism had been done away with. Now maybe they could get down to the real business at hand, making and selling gentlemen’s motorcars. Big, heavy, chrome, slow gentlemen’s motorcars.
Welcome to the age of the fins.
There is an interesting side benefit to building luxury barges. It takes a lot of horsepower to pull 4,000 pounds of not very aerodynamic metal through the wind. And even more, power to run all the accessories on the options list. So, engine development at Oldsmobile kept right ongoing. It had to, without more and more power there was the danger that someone might mistake a 60 Olds for a condominium or a gymnasium.
As the wretched excesses of the fin’s era vanished, General Motors placed more emphasis on the new wave of compact cars. These cars weren’t the favorites of car dealers though. They were inexpensive, and they didn’t have a lot of extra-cost options to help the profit margin. But by golly, they had one big thing going for them they were slow. These compacts were billed as the cars of the future by GM.
Each took a different tack, engineering-wise. Buick’s little special offered a V6. Pontiac Tempest came equipped with an automatic transaxle and a rope driveshaft. Chevrolet went off the deep end completely with the Corvair. Oldsmobile reached out as far as they dared, with their jet fire. and came up with maybe the one innovation which had any performance potential at all. The all-aluminum V8 with a turbocharger. With the 63 Jetfire Olds had achieved what all the other GM divisions had hoped for with their compacts. A sports car image.
In 1964 there was something blowing in the wind over Michigan’s frozen tundra. It was called GTO.
Greg Dunne (442 Owner Acworth, GA): When I graduated from high school that was the very first car I ever had. I
think it’s either a mid-life crisis or a nostalgia one of the two. I decided I wanted to get another one. So, I went in search and found this.
Nick Piccini (442 Owner Lawrenceville, GA): Mostly I think, it’s a desire that I have to kind of relive some special moments in my life. So, it kind of brings me back to the mid-60s. Although I’m sitting back in the seat in this car. Sunk down with my head barely sticking up because they made all these cars with a dash way up here in the air. You’re just kind of peeking out over it. I love it, when you step on it, it kicks in and tears out.
American Muscle Car – The Oldsmobile 442 and the Hurst Olds Story – Part 2.
Narrator: Pontiac had pulled off a bushwhack of its sister divisions with the GTO. It hit the market like an atomic bomb. and the whole world scrambled to jump on this bandwagon.
Oldsmobile reacted first. By midyear 1964 a new option appeared on the Cutlass F85’s ordered form. Option B09 delivered you a brand new 64 cutlass. With a hotrod version of their 310 horsepower 330 cubic inch Jetfire rocket engine, and special performance suspension. On its body and interior there appeared little badges which told the world that this car had a four-barrel carb a 4-speed transmission and dual exhausts. And yes, even the ones with automatic transmissions had the badges.
Pontiac had circumvented GM’s 10 pounds per cubic inch rule by making the 389 part of the GTO option package. Olds didn’t have to pull a similar fast one on their management since their engine was at 3:30 and the car weighed about 3400 pounds. Olds’s 330 was rated only 25 horsepower less than the GTO’s standard 335 horse 389.
In a side-by-side stoplight drag race though it still did all right. Still, though this muscle car marketplace was a real go bigger or stay home proposition. So, by the following year, Olds was ready. The first 4 in 442 now meant 400 cubic inches.
It was this horsepower that enticed Ken Hickey to restore his 442.
Ken Hickey (442 Owner Dunwoody, GA): This is my 1965 Oldsmobile 442. I’ve had it for about four and a half years. I found it for sale on the paper just here in Atlanta, and I went to see it, and kind of fell in love with it. I’d never seen a 65 442 but I really fell in love with the body style and especially the interior.
I did an engine rebuild on it, about two and a half three years ago. Wasn’t anything major, I just put it back to stock pretty much. Just took care of the components that are made to ware. It’s been a great car; it’s never left me stranded on the side of the road it’s been a great car.
Narrator: For 1966 the Olds engineers went in search of some quick and easy horsepower. So, they resurrected the triple carburetor setup which made the Olds motors so mean nearly a decade earlier. This was the W-30 engine.
“This was the W-30 engine”
With a bore of 4 inches and a stroke of 3.975, equipped with a standard Rochester Quadrajet carburetor. The Oldsmobile 400 developed 350 horsepower at 5,000 RPM and 440 foot-pounds of torque at 3,600 rpm. With triple Rochester carburetors, it made 10 more horsepower. The engine was still rated at 10.5 to 1 compression and the W 30 option provided a Wilder cam and valve train improvements.
When you open the hood on a tri-carb 1966 442, though you might just see a strange looking air cleaner, and two large tubes running two ducts below the front bumper.
Two of the big buzz words of the muscle car era were hood scoop. They look racy and they set the Muscle Car apart from the more mundane based vehicle from which it was usually derived. Magazines went gaga over hood scoops even the ones that didn’t work. And by 1965, some folks were even opening up the scoops.
Unfortunately, the 442 had a flat hood. So, they had to be a little creative to get some cold air into the engine. The only thing climbing faster than the 442’s horsepower was its price tag. A full-on 67 442 hit the streets with a sticker price of almost $4,300.
Greg Dunne (442 Owner Acworth, GA): When I decided I wanted to purchase one. I looked in Hemmings, and I found the car, it was owned by a dentist who lived in Staten Island New York. I went up to New York, and took a look at the car, the minute I saw it, I decided I wanted to buy it.
Reminds me of a time of my life that was pretty special, a lot of fun. Well, they are a lot easier to work on and you need that because we’re always working on them. They are not as high-tech as today’s cars, they don’t ride as well. You know they are not as comfortable, but for nostalgia and fun and they’re a lot more enjoyable.
Narrator: As the 68 models were introduced with a new body style. Olds took a leap forward of the entire industry and redesigned the 400 engines to reduce exhaust emissions.
Tom Shaw (Muscle Car Power Magazine): Well, the rest of the auto industry was dinking around with air pumps as a stopgap Pollution Control. Oldsmobile re-engineered their entire 400 and they kept their horsepower levels up to 350 for stick cars, 325 for automatics.
Nick Piccini (442 Owner Lawrenceville, GA): I’ve had this car for about a year now, and last summer I tore apart redid my engine on it, and I haven’t really done anything to the body. I got it from a woman who was the original owner here in Atlanta Georgia.
She had the car, got it as a graduation present in 1968, and pretty much took real good care of it. All the pieces are about 95 percent here, so my restoration work on it hasn’t been too bad. Because I haven’t had to look for too much. It has been a doozy though the couple of pieces that I have needed have been hard to come by.
Right inside here in the engine, you can see where I did all my restoration work on it. I pulled the motor out, and the transmission, and took the front nose all apart. Took my hood off, and redid all my fender wells, and my nose pieces in here. Had all my radiator and my engine block all redone. My
transmission is redone. The reason that I went for 68 Olds, when I was younger, I had an Olds F85 that we used to bracket race, and I was always particular to that body style.
I like the fact that the wells bubble out a little more, have a little more definition than like your Chevelles or Camaros or any of them. It’s just a good fast car, it’s always a lot of fun to drive.
American Muscle Car – The Oldsmobile 442 and the Hurst Olds Story – Part 3.
Narrator: The 442 was already an expensive high-profile car. These are just the kinds of cars that make excellent platforms for what they call special edition cars. The Hurst Olds was a very special edition.
Tom Shaw (Muscle Car Power Magazine): George Hearst wanted an executive Hotrod, so he had Jack Watson tool up a doctored up 442. He fitted it with a lot of custom touches a grill, a spoiler that rose off the rear deck when the brakes were applied. This was a prototype when the production cars hit the dealers were clamoring for it.
Narrator: 515 Hurst Olds were built in 1968, and this small production run was actually farmed out to a nearby business in Lansing, Demmer Tool And Die. All 68 Hurst Olds came with the 455 engines that Olds wouldn’t put into a regular 442. This 455 received the W30 treatment, with the hot cam, and the other goodies.
All 1968 Hurst Olds came with the M40 Turbo Hydra-Matic trans and the Hurst Dual gate Shifter naturally. And every heavy-duty option you could get on a 442. From battery, to fan, to radiator, all were painted Peruvian silver, with special hand-painted accent stripes, and a black rear panel. It was one of the most successful image builders for any car, and the concept lasted in one form or another for 15 years.
Tom Shaw (Muscle Car Power Magazine): The Hurst Olds is not just a beauty queen either. With 455 cubic inches under the hood, the car had run 12.99 at 108mph.
Narrator: Just when you thought you had seen all they had, Olds came out with more. In 1969. They hit you with new cylinder heads. which breathe much better on the exhaust side. In 1970 the head office okayed the 370 horse 455 engine in the 442. And the force air package now breathes through two huge scoops in a fiberglass hood. They now offered a factory aluminum intake manifold and an aluminum rear axle center section.
All the years of research and development, the racing, the constant improvement, culminated in the 1970 W30 442. The mission the Olds engineers and designers set upon in 1949, with the rocket V8, led right to this car. The MO was the same with this car, as all the ones which came before. If it Helped make a better car, go for it. The red plastic inner fenders, the extensive use of aluminum engine components, the very effective hood scoops. These and a hundred other features were all folded into a package, which makes the 442 a favorite of collectors and restores.
Greg Dunne (442 Owner Acworth, GA): The car was in excellent condition and all I had to do to it since I’ve had it, I put another paint job on it. Do, a little work on the interior, and we recently did the heads on the car, and everything else is original.
Charlie Crooks (442 Owner Brighton, Mi): The car was restored in 1979. It was completely disassembled in 1979. New fenders were put on it, new door panels, new hood. The car was completely detailed in the undercarriage area, completely repainted totally. On the interiors, it’s the original interior. The restoration process took about a year, a year and a half.
The Oldsmobile was built to be a little more luxurious, to appeal to a different market. At the same time, they wanted brute strength and good handling and plenty of horsepower, and it had the best of all three worlds.
Narrator: The years after 1970, did not come launching out of the gate with a lot of tire smoke, and roaring engines. The muscle car era was drawing to a close, but Olds was going down swinging. Thanks to the fine preparation Olds engineers had made in the previous years. The new 8.5 to 1 compression ratios weren’t as severe a blow to the 440s performance as was felt by others.
The big 455 was now being rated very conservatively at 375 foot-pounds of torque at 2800 rpm. And so, oppressive were the forces of the day, from the insurance companies to the emissions police, that nobody even advertised horsepower anymore. But a reliable estimate put it at around 300 still though bulbs figured a way to keep their rocket at the top of the rapidly slowing performance pack.
In 1972 the 442 suffered the insult of losing its model status and return to being just an option on the Cutlass. The magic was gone an era had ended.
Linda Vaughin (Miss Hurst Golden Shifter): My favorite car of the Hurst Oldsmobile is the 1972 Indy 500 pace car, and which Mark Donohue ended up winning. I gave him the car, and now Roger Penske has saved that car, it’s beautiful, and it’s in his collection. My favorite was that big-block 455 smoked the tires and shift those gears.
I love the 72-pace car that was my favorite. I have a 75 and a 79, I drive on the street at home now, but my favorite car the whole wide world probably was 57 Chevrolet. The first kiss ever had was in a 57 Chevrolet.
Ken Hickey (442 Owner Dunwoody, GA): I like it because it’s unique, I’ve only seen one other 65 ever as long past four and a half years.
Nick Piccini (442 Owner Lawrenceville, GA): I’ve had some fun, and I had a guy one day going down the freeway on a CBR 600 who wanted to race me. So, he started doing a little hesitation, and we took off went down the highway and we were probably doing about 110,120, perfectly legal. He finally let off and I cooked on by and let off ways down the road. It’s a screamer, definitely hauled ass.
Charlie Crooks (442 Owner Brighton, Mi): The restoration is a process that I think you’re going to see more and more cars go through. Even cars in the 70s and late 70s and I think. I hope it’s something that continues to last well into the next century.
Narrator: The 442 continued on in name only, for another 10 years. Never again to be the muscle car it once was, but the magic lives on in the great 442 still on the road today. Whether they’ve been lovingly restored, or carefully preserved. Thanks to them we’ll never forget with a four-barrel carburetor, a 4-speed transmission, and dual exhaust can do if they’re in a car made by Oldsmobile.
Thanks for watching and we hope you’ll be with us again on the next issue of the American Muscle Car.
Remember Don’t Crush Them, Restore Them!