With Oldsmobile gone for over eight years now, we haven’t been able to bring you any real news of the defunct marque since 2004. It’s a shame, because it’s among our favorite American brands of all time. Their halo car was the 4-4-2, and although we haven’t seen one in production since 1991, there are those of us who are still fans of the midsize muscle car.
Recently, our friends over at CarBuzz put together an article outlining the history of the 4-4-2/442, spanning from the early 1964 model to a brief mention of the FWD 1990-91 Calais-based version, dubbed the Quad 442. Look, the early ’90s were clearly a very different time, and it was an era of pushing political correctness harder than needed. At least the the 442 didn’t morph into a hybrid.
So let’s take a moment to reflect on the timeless classic, and the legacy it left behind. It’s all we can do in a 21st century without Oldsmobile.
In 1964, Pontiac released it’s incredibly popular GTO, a model then based on the LeMans/Tempest, and the first car to utilize the big engine/midsize car formula that would become the template for the musclecar definition.
Wanting a piece of the action, Oldsmobile commissioned it’s F85/Cutlass model to try to earn back some of it’s sales that it’s sister brand had stolen.
What the ’64 4-4-2 essentially was is a sport coupe version of the B09 Police Apprehender Pursuit Package with more class, attitude, and chrome. It packed a 330ci V8 equipped with a 4-bbl. carburetor, dual exhaust, and backed by a 4-speed manual. Hence the term, 4-4-2.
Over the years that definition would change, and even the hyphens would go away for good after 1965. Throughout the ’60s and into the early 70′s we would see 442′s with ram-air, rear spoilers, and engines up to 455ci.
Unfortunately, the oil embargoes of the ’70s would have an impact on performance, and by the end of the decade we would see downsized versions packing 6-cylinder powerplants. The 442 would go away for a several years during the early ’80s, but would make a return for 1985 with a new body and mandatory 307 V8 power.
It would live on with this configuration through 1988, until it was once again released in 1990 as the aforementioned 2.3L Quad 442. It’s not exactly the way we would have liked the 442 to end it’s destiny, but it’s the best that GM could do at the time. With Oldsmobile gone, we’ll never see another 442 produced, but at least we know we can still enjoy the remaining examples out there.