Olds feels young again
Legendary 442 restored to luxurious, powerful glory
OLDSMOBILE offered the 442 as a performance option on the F-85 Cutlass line beginning in 1964. An intermediate model, with added performance, thanks to the winning formula of coupling a large V-8 engine with a light car, and equipped with stiffer suspension and other road-handling abilities, it sold 2,999 units in its first year of production. Its popularity continued to grow with 25,003 built in ’65, and a slight drop to 21,997 in ’66. For 1967, the 442 sold 24,829 models and continued to offer performance, style, handling and luxury options.
Featuring a 400-cubic-inch V-8, equipped with 10.5:1 compression ratio and Rochester four-barrel carburetor, it produced 350 horsepower at 5,000 r.p.m. and 440 lb.-ft. of torque at 3,600 r.p.m. Available as a two-door coupe, holiday hardtop coupe or convertible, the 442 was quite the boulevard cruiser no matter what model the buyer chose. Along with an impressive list of standard equipment, the 442 could be as loaded up as the buyer wanted, thanks to an even longer list of options and accessories.
For Brian Klassen of Morris, the mid-’60s Olds was never really on his list of must haves. “I didn’t like the big wheel wells on the Cutlass, I felt the tire just got lost in it,” says Klassen. Years later a friend was selling all of his Olds and 442 parts he had removed from many cars, and Klassen bought them and tucked them away for safekeeping. He then started to keep his eye out over the years for a suitable car to build and found a ’67 442 holiday hardtop coupe in Rapid City, S.D., in 2008. It was a complete car with a rustfree body and frame, but the interior upholstery was shot because of several window leaks. Klassen recalls, “It was the first online car purchase I’ve ever made.”
The full restoration started with removing the body from the frame and stripping off all of the mechanicals, including brakes, suspension and the powertrain. The bare frame was then powder-coated black. Brakes, brake and fuel lines, suspension, shocks and steering components were all restored to as-new condition. Klassen used a Hot Rod magazine article of a ’67 442 build as a guide to replicating the factory markings on the chassis components. For the exhaust, a custom, 2.5-inch diameter dual exhaust system was installed with Flowmaster mufflers.
The 400 V-8 was removed and rebuilt to factory specifications, with the addition of a high-performance camshaft by Millar Auto Machine in Winkler. The three-speed TurboHydra-Matic automatic transmission received a shift-kit and a full rebuild by Klassen’s friend Ed Remple.
While all this was happening, Klassen stripped the body of all paint, trim and chrome and began prepping it for paint. For that final paint, Klassen mixed a colour he admits was a bit of an accident. “It’s really an off-white with a little cream.” Looking closer at the colours available in ’67 for the 442, it’s really close to the Cameo Ivory that was an available factory colour. Setting it off is a contrasting red side dual pinstripe . For the vinyl top, Klassen chose a Maroon vinyl. While not a factory offered colour, he wanted it to tie in with the completely new twotone Oxblood and Red vinyl interior upholstery.
The Bumpers were replated and stainless-steel trim polished by the House Of Silver, with North Star Plating doing the anodizing process. To fill those big wheel wells Klassen chose a set of Street Smart aluminium rims from Billet Specialties. They measure 18 inches in diameter on the rear and 17 inches up front, and turn on Nitto performance radial tires.
For options, Klassen’s 442 is pretty well a full load. Equipped with power steering, power front disc brakes, power windows, tilt wood-grain steering wheel, bucket seats, centre console, air conditioning, cruise control, remote driver’s side mirror, tinted glass and AM radio. There’s also the Rally Pack instrument cluster with the combination Tic Toc Tach. Klassen found the cluster worked properly, with the exception of the clock. After seeing an ad, a simple phone call led him to a new, old-stock clock for a mere $100.
Since the restoration was completed, Klassen has had the 442 on the 2014 Hot Rod Power Tour. The 950 mile run from Charlotte, N.C., to Wisconsin Dells, Wis., was a great trip. Out of the 1,400 vehicles on the Power Tour, Klassen found only one other ’67 Oldsmobile Cutlass, but not another ’67 442.
Born out of competition between the Pontiac and Oldsmobile divisions of General Motors, the 442 would see six generations of production, lasting until 1991. Engine sizes would grow to a massive 455 cubic inches in 1970 and then shrink to a 2.3-litre Quad fourcylinder in 1990, but the emphasis was always on power and comfort.
Founded by Ransom Eli Olds in 1897, Oldsmobile was a staple product of General Motors until its cancellation in 2004. Today, these 442 models embody a certain style, luxury and performance that ensures their position in the field of collectable automobiles.
Brian Klassen says he fell into the 442’s paint colour by accident, but Larry D’Argis says it’s a pretty good imitation of a factory colour — Cameo Ivory.
The 442’s V-8 was rebuilt and includes
a high-performance camshaft.