1964 OLDSMO­BILE 442

THE ORIG­I­NAL MUS­CLE CAR

New Zealand Classic Car - - Contents - Words: Ash­ley Webb Pho­tos: Adam Croy

Ask any Amer­i­can car en­thu­si­ast for a def­i­ni­tion of a true ‘mus­cle car’ and we just about guar­an­tee that ev­ery sin­gle one will give you a dif­fer­ent an­swer. Those an­swers may not nec­es­sar­ily be in­cor­rect, but they will be dif­fer­ent. We’re not too sure why, but it seems to be the gen­eral con­sen­sus that if it’s Amer­i­can, pro­duced be­fore about 1985, and V8 pow­ered, then it’s more than likely a mus­cle car.

There are, of course, diehard Amer­i­can mus­cle car fans such as John Mur­ray, life mem­ber and past pres­i­dent of the Amer­i­can Mus­cle Car Club, and cur­rent owner of a 1970 LS6 Chev­elle, a 1972 Oldsmo­bile 442 W-30, a 1972 Pon­tiac Le­mans GT 400, and this mag­nif­i­cent 1964 Oldsmo­bile 442, who’ll tell you ex­actly what mus­cle cars are all about.

John will no doubt tell you that a ‘mus­cle car’ is a high-per­for­mance ve­hi­cle, gen­er­ally mid­sized, with a large pow­er­ful engine — usu­ally a V8 — in­tended for max­i­mum ac­cel­er­a­tion on the street or drag strip, pre­dom­i­nantly of US ori­gin, and pro­duced be­tween 1964 and 1972.

Mus­cle cars are quite dif­fer­ent from sports cars, which are gen­er­ally smaller and in­tended for high­speed tour­ing and pos­si­bly road rac­ing. High­per­for­mance, full-size, or com­pact cars are, ar­guably, ex­cluded from this cat­e­gory, as is the breed of com­pact sports coupés in­spired by the Ford Mus­tang, typ­i­cally known as ‘pony cars’ — although few would dis­pute a Boss 429’s cre­den­tials as a mus­cle car.

There’s also the is­sue of the orig­i­nal de­sign in­ten­tions for a car. Fac­tory-pro­duced mus­cle cars that have a larger engine than was planned for in the de­sign and pro­duc­tion of the orig­i­nal car can be found through­out the US, Ja­pan, and Europe. These ex­am­ples, such as the B13 (1991–1994) Nis­san Sen­tra SE-R, are gen­er­ally not la­belled as ‘mus­cle cars’, and ex­clude cars typ­i­cally la­belled as ‘mus­cle cars’, such as the Dodge Viper.

442 mus­cle

Many en­thu­si­asts be­lieve that Oldsmo­bile cre­ated the first mus­cle car when it shoe­horned its new-at-thetime full-size Rocket V8 into its mid­size model to cre­ate the Olds 88 and Su­per 88 series back in 1949.

In ac­tual fact, though, it was the suc­cess of the Pon­tiac GTO that spurred Oldsmo­bile to re­turn to the con­cept in 1964, thanks to Oldsmo­bile en­gi­neer and per­for­mance en­thu­si­ast John Beltz. Oldsmo­bile was the first Gen­eral Mo­tors (GM) divi­sion to fol­low Pon­tiac’s lead by of­fer­ing full-size mus­cle in its mid­size Cut­lass and F85 mod­els. It be­came a model in its own right from ’68 to ’ 71 and then re­verted to be­ing an op­tion through the mid 1970s.

Oldsmo­bile’s mus­cle car pack­age in­cluded its most po­tent 330ci (5.4-litre) V8 engine, com­plete with what was known as the ‘po­lice pack­age’, which in­cluded a four-bar­rel car­bu­ret­tor, a heavy-duty valve

The 422 en­thu­si­asts who wanted the ul­ti­mate per­for­mance pack­age opted for one op­tion above all else: the W-30

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