The "4-4-2" name (pronounced "Four-four-two") derives from the original car's four-barrel carburetor, four-speed manual transmission, and dual exhausts  (Some maintain that the '2' indicated positive traction rear differential). It was originally written "4-4-2" (with badging showing hyphens between the numerals), and remained hyphenated throughout Oldsmobile's use of the designation. Beginning in 1965, the 4-4-2s standard transmission was a 3 speed manual along with optional 2 speed automatic and 4 speed manual, but were still badged as "4-4-2"s. By 1968 badging was shortened to simply "442", but Oldsmobile brochures and internal documents continued to use the "4-4-2" model designation.
The 4-4-2 was born out of competition between Pontiac and Oldsmobile divisions of GM. The high performance GTO version of the Pontiac LeMansintermediate had proved an unexpected success midway through the 1964 model year. Oldsmobile's hasty response was to beef up their own popular Cutlass, a task given to a team led by performance enthusiast and Olds engineer John Beltz (later responsible for the distinctive and powerful Toronado), aided by Dale Smith and division Chief Engineer Bob Dorshimer.
Introduced in September, 1963 as an option package on the 1964 Tempest LeMans, the GTO package included a 389 cubic inch V-8, technically a violation of GM policy limiting intermediates to 330 CID, although the 1963 Pontiac Tempest/LeMans had already done this in 1963, and even though badged as a 326 the 63 Tempest V-8 was already at 336 CID, 1964 it became a true 326. – the Olds offering was a conservative package. Technically the "B09 Police Apprehender Pursuit" option, it used the four-barrel carbureted 330 CID (5.4 L) V8 with heavy-duty valve gear, and a hotter camshaft, raising rated (SAE gross) output to 310 hp (231.3 kW) at 5200 rpm. Torque remained 355 lb⋅ft (481 N⋅m), although the torque peak rose from 2800 rpm to 3600 rpm. Also included was a stiffened frame, adjustable pinion angle by way of added holes in the frame mounts for the rear upper control arms, Muncie four-speed manual transmission, a heavy duty drive shaft connected to a 3.36:1 rear end, oversized brakes (155.6 vs 118sq.in lining area) and the heavy-duty police-package suspension, with heavy duty wheels, higher-rate coil springs front and rear, heavy-duty shock absorbers, a larger front anti-roll bar, an additional rear anti-roll bar bolted to a fully boxed lower control arm, and dual snorkel air cleaner. Two-speed windshield wipers, A/C ($430), an AM/FM radio, an electronic trunk opener, and a tilt steering wheel ($43) were optional. Unlike the 1965 4-4-2 model built in Lansing, the 1964 4-4-2 does not have an option code on the data plate. There is documentation available showing that the 1964 4-4-2 was built in both Lansing and Fremont.
Motor Trend tested an early 64 4-4-2 with a 3:55 rear axle (standard ratio was 3.36:1) and found that the 3,440-lb (1,560 kg) car would run 0–60 mph (0–96 km/h) in 7.5 seconds, the standing quarter mile in 15.5 seconds at 90 mph (140 km/h), and reached a top speed of 116 mph (185.6 km/h). A total of 2,999 were sold.
With the GTO receiving GM corporate sanction to receive their full-sized car's 389 V-8, Oldsmobile followed suit and replaced the 4-4-2's standard 330 CID with the new 400 CID (6.6 L). The definition of "4-4-2" was then restated as referring to 400 cubic inches, a 4 barrel carburetor (a 515 cfm Rochester 4-Jet), 2 exhausts. Output for the big engine rose to 345 hp (257 kW) and 440 lb⋅ft (597 N⋅m). The standard transmission became a three-speed manual with column shifter, with a floor shifter four-speed and Oldsmobile's two-speed Jetawayautomatic transmission optional. A heavy duty three-speed with Hurst floor shifter was introduced as a mid year option.
Other touches added to the '65 were chrome body side scoops adorned with 4-4-2 badging, chambered dual exhaust pipes, chrome single snout air cleaner, and 4-4-2 badging on the dash. Late in the year option N98 was added, which were chrome 14 in × 6 in (356 mm × 152 mm) wheels. It also offered standard bucket seats when optioned on the Cutlass and a 6,000 rpm tachometer, mounted in the optional console, more as decoration than for usefulness. Retractable front seat belts were optional. The turning diameter was 41feet.
Modern Rod tested a 1965 F85 4-4-2 with the four-speed manual, slicks, and headers and obtained a quarter mile acceleration of 13.78 seconds at 102.73 mph (165 km/h); Car Life's automatic '65 ran the quarter mile in 15.5 seconds at 89 mph (143 km/h), with a 0 to 60 time of 7.8 seconds. Car and Driver tested a 1965 4-4-2 and did 0–60 mph in 5.5 seconds.
Offered in four body styles, 4-4-2 sales rose to 25,003, including 3,468 convertibles, The cost of option W29, the Olds' first use of the W performance code, was $156.02 on the Cutlass and $190.45 on the F-85 Club Coupe.
The 1966 4-4-2 shared a modest facelift with other Cutlasses. It came with a 400 ci L78 V8 rated at 350 hp (261 kW)/440 lb•ft with a single four-barrel carburetor. Two new optional 400 ci engines offered even higher performance: the 360 hp (268 kW) L69, with three two-barrel Rochester 2GC carburetors on a progressive linkage and 440 lb⋅ft (597 N⋅m) of torque, which was priced at US$264.54, and the rare W30.
The W30 engine added an outside-air induction system (admitting cool air to the carburetors via tubing from the front grill) and a hotter cam, rated – or, more likely, underrated – the same as the L69. The battery was relocated to the trunk to make room for the air hoses, which prevented the package from being ordered on convertible models. Only 54 W30s were built by the factory, although an additional 97 were produced for dealer installation.
The standard transmission was a three-speed manual with column shift and the two-speed Jetaway automatic with switch-pitch torque converter was optional. Hurst shifters became standard equipment with floor-mounted manual transmissions including the optional heavy-duty three-speed, M-20 wide-ratio four-speed or M-21 close-ratio four-speed. The standard 350-horsepower 400 engine could be ordered with any of the four transmissions, while only manual transmissions could be ordered with the L69 three two-barrel option.
Inside, a revised instrument panel featured two round pods for the speedometer and other instruments, replacing the horizontal sweep speedometer of 1964–65 models, but the rest of the basic dashboard designed was unchanged. F-85 models had base interiors with bench seats and rubber floor mats while the more lavish Cutlass versions came with full carpeting and featured Strato bucket seats of a new design with higher and thinner seat backs, or a no-cost bench seat option. Head rests were a $52 option.
Car Life tested an L69 4-4-2 with four-speed transmission and obtained a 0–60 time of 6.3 seconds and a quarter mile of 14.8 seconds at 97 mph (156 km/h).Motor Trend's similar test car ran 0–60 in 7.2 seconds, with a quarter mile time of 15.2 seconds at 96.6 mph (155.5 km/h).
Production slumped to 21,997. The 4-4-2 still constituted only about 10 percent of Cutlass sales, whereas Pontiac's GTO represented nearly a third of all Tempests sold.
For 1967 the 4-4-2's styling and base engine remained the same, save for: minor trim changes and a 1967 4-4-2 only distinctive louvered hood as well as an increase in intake valve size to 2.067 from 1.99. but the automatic three-speed Turbo-Hydramatic with Switch Pitch became available, replacing the two-speed Switch Pitch Jetaway, as was the case with the mid-sized muscle cars from other GM divisions (Pontiac GTO, Chevrolet Chevelle SS396, and Buick GS400). The heavy-duty floor-mounted three-speed manual transmission was now standard with the Muncie M-20 and M-21 four-speeds optional, all with Hurst shifters. Front disc brakes were a new option this year.
A GM policy decision banning multiple carburetors for all vehicles except Ed Cole's beloved Corvette and the Corvair saw the demise of the L69 with its triple carburetors, a rare option for Olds and an icon for Pontiacs since 1957. The W30 remained available, although the four-barrel Quadrajet carburetor replaced the tri carb setup. New red plastic inner fender liners became part of the W30 package. 502 factory W30 engines were built to meet NHRAhomologation rules, along with an unknown number of dealer-installed packages.
Cars tested a W30 4-4-2 with close-ratio four-speed and 4.33 rear axle (a dealer-installed only option), obtaining a quarter mile of 14.1 seconds at 103 mph (166 km/h) in completely stock form. 0–60 times were between 6.5 and 6.7 seconds.
Unlike in previous years which the 4-4-2 option could be ordered on either baseline F-85 or upscale Cutlass models, the 1967 4-4-2 package was based on the top-line Cutlass Supreme series including the sport coupe (with center post), Holiday hardtop coupe and convertible. Standard equipment on all models included Strato bucket seats or no-cost notchback bench seat, full carpeting, expanded Morocceen vinyl upholstery, heavy-duty suspension with rear sway bar, and wide-oval tires. Power front disc brakes were $104, while power steering was $94.
Like all cars sold in the U.S. for 1967, the 4-4-2 came standard with a group of occupant protection and accident avoidance features as mandated by Federal law. This safety package included an energy-absorbing steering column and safety steering wheel, padded dash, recessed controls, four-way hazard flashers and a dual-circuit brake hydraulic master cylinder.
Production rallied somewhat from the previous year, rising to 24,833.
The 4-4-2 became a separate model from 1968 through 1971. The wheelbase was 112 in (2,845 mm), and over 33,000 were sold for 1968. Despite the engine displacement staying at 400 CID, the engine was based on the new 455 cranktrain (4.25 stroke) and the bore decreased (to 3.87). Torque now came at 3000–3200 rpm as opposed to the early 400's 3600 rpm peak, mostly due to a milder base cam grind. Car Life tested a 1968 4-4-2 with a 3.42:1 rear axle ratio and Hydramatic and attained 0–60 times of 7.0 seconds, and a quarter-mile time of 15.13 seconds at 92 mph (148 km/h). Top speed was reported as 115 mph (185 km/h). The base motor was still rated at 350 hp (261 kW), but only with the standard three-speed and optional four-speed; automatics were rated at 325 hp (242 kW). W-30s were rated again at 360 hp (268 kW). Car Life also tested a four-speed W-30 with 4.33 rearend gears and recorded a 13.3 at 103.30 mph (166.2 km/h), which shows the long stroke did not affect actual performance although long term durability at high (6000 plus) engine speeds might be affected.
All standard 1968 4-4-2 engines are painted a bronze–copper color, as with the 1967s, topped with a fire-red air cleaner. W-30 option cars were equipped with Ram Air intake hoses leading from a chrome-topped dual snorkel black air cleaner to special under-bumper air scoops and set off by bright red plastic fender wells. In addition, a Turnpike Cruiser option was made available with a two-barrel carburetor; this was previously available on the Cutlass Supreme for 1967. 1968 was the first year for side marker lights and front outboard shoulder belts, and the last year for vent windows on hardtops and convertibles. 4-4-2s for '68 had unique rear bumpers, with exhaust cutouts and special exhaust tips.
In 1968 Oldsmobile partnered with Hurst Performance Research Corporation to create the Hurst/Olds rather than just adding Hurst shifters as with earlier models. The limited regular production run of 515 Hurst/Olds (459 Holiday Coupes/56 Sport Coupes) started out as regular 4-4-2s, but were treated to numerous distinct enhancements, both cosmetic and mechanical. All cars were painted Peruvian Silver (a Toronado color) with liberal black striping and white pinstripes, exterior and interior H/O badging (unique to '68), and a real walnut wood dash insert. Mechanically, the cars left the factory with two drive train combinations. Red 455 CID engines were backed by modified W-30 Turbo 400 automatic transmissions. A/C cars got a W-46 engine with a 3.08:1 rear while non-A/C cars got a W-45 engine with a 3.91:1 rear. While both engines were rated at 390 hp (291 kW), the W-45 engine received the cylinder heads from the W-30 and the camshaft from the W-31, making it more suitable for higher rpms. All cars came with bucket seats and a Hurst Dual-Gate shifter in a mini-console. Also standard were numerous regular 4-4-2 options such as disc brakes, heavy duty cooling, and FE2 suspension. They shared the red fender wells and ram air setup with the W-30. Popular, but not standard, additional options included the tick-tock-tach and wood-grained steering wheel. Power front disc brakes were optional.
Performance for the 1968 Hurst/Olds (390 hp): 0–60 in 5.4 sec, 1/4 mile in 13.9 sec at 103 mph (166 km/h).
1969 Oldsmobile 4-4-2 convertible
1969 4-4-2s were very similar to the 1968 except the division tooth between the grilles, the trunk lid inlets for the tail lights, wing windows deleted on Holiday Coupes and convertibles, steering lock ignition switch on the steering column, standard headrests were added to the front seats, and the paint scheme. Twin hood stripes were now available to highlight the new dual-bulged hood. The 4-4-2 numerals grew to nearly double their previous size. Optional disc brakes now had updated single-piston calipers. The exhaust manifolds featured a new center divider for better performance. Other changes to the engine were minimal, but the Turnpike Cruiser option was deleted. However, another high-performance engine was offered. Called the W-32, it came with the Forced Air Induction plumbing found on the W-30s, but it had a milder cam like the base engine. It was only available with an automatic, and 297 were built, including 25 sport coupes and convertibles each.
The Hurst/Olds returned, with a Cameo White and Fire Frost Gold striped paint scheme, outrageous functional ram air mailbox hood scoops, rear pedestal spoiler, 15" SSII chrome plated rims, European racing mirrors, and a 380-horsepower 455 cid V8 that was detuned slightly from 1968. 906 production Hurst/Olds Holiday Coupes were built, plus 6 prototypes and 2 convertibles for a total of 914 cars. Performance for the 1969 Hurst/Olds(380 hp): 0–60 in 5.9 sec, 1/4 mile in 14.03 sec at 101 mph (163 km/h).
1970 Oldsmobile 4-4-2
1970 was the pinnacle of performance from Oldsmobile. In order to keep up in the horsepower arms-race, General Motors dropped the cap on engine size in 1970, and Oldsmobile responded by making the Olds 455 V8 the standard 4-4-2 engine. Output was 365 hp (272 kW) and 500 lb⋅ft (680 N⋅m), with a 370 hp (276 kW) variant available with the W30 option.
The revised body style and increased performance resulted in the 4-4-2 being awarded pace car duties at the Indianapolis 500 race in 1970. Those seeking to experience the ultimate in performance from Lansing could order a "W-Machine" version of the 4-4-2, dubbed the W-30 package. The 4-4-2 W-30 added a fiberglass hood (option W25) with functional air scoops and low-restriction air cleaner, aluminum intake manifold, special camshaft, cylinder heads, distributor, and carburetor. Two W-30 equipped 4-4-2 Vista Cruisers were produced by special order. Rear shoulder seat belts were optional at $23.
Motor Trend tested a 4-4-2 W-30 with a 4-speed manual transmission and 3.91:1 rear gears, clocking a quarter mile time of 14.2 seconds @ 102 mph (164 km/h). However, Motor Trend noted that Oldsmobile engineers had earlier posted a best of 13.7 seconds on the same test car with a fresh tune.
New options for the 1970 4-4-2 included GM's variable-ratio power steering (option N47), a console-mounted Hurst Dual/Gate shifter for use with the Turbo Hydra-matic transmission, and aluminum differential housing and cover (option W27). All Oldsmobile V8s received new Positive Valve Rotators for the 1970s to increase engine valve life.
1970 model year spotting tips: vertical bars in silver grille, rectangular parking lights in front bumper, vertical tail lights.
Despite storm clouds on the muscle car horizon, the 4-4-2 returned in 1971 with only minor modifications from the previous year. Engine output was down for 1971 due to a lower compression ratio (8.5:1), which affected all of GM's engines as the result of a corporate policy requiring engines to run on lower-octane regular leaded, low lead, or unleaded gasoline, in preparation for the introduction of the catalytic converter on 1975-model cars. The base 455 was rated at 340 hp (254 kW), with the W-30 achieving a rating of 350 hp (261 kW). The W-27 option was downgraded to an aluminum cover for the cast iron differential housing.
The 1971 4-4-2 was available in a hardtop coupe and convertible body type. The sport coupe disappeared for the first time since 1964, only to return in 1972. 1971 Model Year Spotting Tips: Black grille with silver surround, silver headlight bezels, round parking lights in front bumper, horizontal tail lights.
Quarter mile performance as reported by Road Test magazine was 15.2 seconds at 99 mph (159 km/h), and 0–60 in 8.9 seconds, using the TH400 automatic transmission.
1972 Oldsmobile 442 Convertible
By 1972, the muscle car era was unmistakably in decline due to the twin blows of rising insurance rates and soaring gas prices. The 4-4-2 name reverted to an appearance and handling option package (option code W-29) in 1972 on the Cutlass Holiday coupe, Cutlass S sport coupe and Holiday coupe, and Cutlass Supreme convertible. The W-29 option was not available on Cutlass Supreme notchback hardtops. The 4-4-2 option package, which carried a modest sticker price of $29, consisted of the "FE2" suspension upgrades (heavy duty springs & shocks, front and rear sway bars, boxed lower rear control arms, and 14- by 7-in [356- by 178-mm] wheels), side striping, fender and decklid badging, faux hood louvers, and a unique grille. The rear bumper sported cutouts for exhaust tips, but only when paired with the optional L75455 CID V8 in place of the standard Oldsmobile 350 V8.
Interior trims differed on each bodystyle for which the 4-4-2 option was offered, much like the early 1964–66 models. For the base Cutlass hardtop coupe, a baseline two-spoke steering wheel, and vinyl or cloth/vinyl bench seat was standard along with rubber floor mats (carpeting was optional); Cutlass S sport coupe and Holiday hardtop coupe featured full carpeting, deluxe steering wheel, courtesy lighting, and bench seats with cloth-and-vinyl or all-vinyl upholstery or optional Strato bucket seats; and the Cutlass Supreme convertible came with more woodgrain interior accents than the "S" along with an all-vinyl notchback bench seat with armrest or no-cost Strato bucket seats, between which a center console was an extra-cost option. An AM/FM stereo radio with a tape player was $363.
4-4-2's could still be ordered with the additional W30 option, which included the still-potent L77 455 engine, which produced 300 hp (220 kW) and 410 lb⋅ft (556 N⋅m)s of torque and incorporated low-restriction dual exhausts. Other notable components of the W30 package included a lightweight aluminum intake manifold, the W25 fiberglass ram-air hood, anti-spin differential with 3.42:1 gears (3.73:1 available), and heavy duty cooling. Due to the low-vacuum at idle, air conditioning was not available, and power brakes were only available with an automatic transmission. Only 113 W30 convertibles and 659 W30 coupes were made in 1972, making this a very rare option.
A special edition Hurst/Olds paced the Indy in 1972. The H/O coupe was based on the notchback Cutlass Supreme Holiday coupe (not offered with the 4-4-2 option) and the Cutlass Supreme convertible, both of which came standard with a 270-net horsepower 455 Rocket four-barrel V8 or optional 300-net horsepower W-30 option 455. Both H/O engines were mated to Turbo 400 transmissions with console-mounted Hurst Dual Gate shifters. A H/O Vista Cruiser was provided for the Medical Director.
1972 Model Year Spotting Tips: Silver grille with black surround, black headlight bezels, round parking lights in front bumper, 3-section horizontal tail lights.
Originally expected to debut for the 1972 model year, the introduction of the new "Colonnade" body style was delayed until 1973 due to an auto workers strike in 1972. The body was redesigned to feature massive 5-foot (1.5 m) long doors and energy absorbing bumpers. The rear windows were fixed and the roof was reinforced in anticipation of roll-over standards being imposed by the government. These cars were a few hundred pounds heavier and slightly larger than the 1972's.
Consistent with 1972, the 4-4-2 option remained a handling and appearance package, code W-29, and was available on the Cutlass and Cutlass "S". It consisted of a faux louvered hood, FE2 suspension, specific grilles, emblems and stripes. Items such as dual exhaust and super stock wheels had to be ordered à la-carte. This was all part of the industry-wide weaning of U.S. consumers from large, powerful cars.
The W-30 (that had 300 hp (224 kW) in 1972) had become a trim package. The L77 "V" code 455 was there, but only with the 4-speed wide-ratio M-20 transmission. 1973 was also the last year of the 4-speed manual transmission in the Olds "A" body. The L77 "V" code produced 270 net HP, the L75 "U" code 455 AT produced 250 hp (186 kW), while the "K" code 350 single exhaust produced 180 hp (134 kW) and the "M" code 350 with duals produced 200 hp (150 kW). Positraction rear ends, axle ratios, gauges, Super Stock wheels, HD cooling and many sport type options were available, but had to be ordered. The L77 "V" code engine was also available in the Hurst/Olds without A/C, code W-46, the W-45 L75 "U" code was standard with A/C. Both 455s used the Turbo Hydra-matic 400 transmission, while the 350 was mated to the Turbo 350.
Interior trims for the '73 4-4-2 included a cloth/vinyl or all-vinyl bench seat and rubber floor covering (carpeting optional) on base Cutlass coupe, while Cutlass S included full carpeting on floor and lower door panels, woodgrain trim, deluxe steering wheel and more luxurious cloth-and-vinyl or all-vinyl bench seat, or optional swiveling Strato bucket seats with vinyl trim that could be rotated 90 degrees for easy exit/entry. Center console with floor shifter was optional with either the 4-speed manual or Turbo Hydra-matic transmissions.
The 1974 4-4-2 received the same facelift as other Cutlasses that year including a revised grille and new flush taillights over a newly mandated 5 mph (8.0 km/h) rear bumper to match the similarly mandated front bumper introduced in '73. It remained a handling and appearance package available on both base Cutlass and Cutlass S Colonnade coupes. Engine offerings included the standard 180 horsepower (130 kW) Rocket 350 four-barrel V8 or optional 230 horsepower (170 kW) Rocket 455, which reintroduced the W-30 code that signified the top 4-4-2 engine option package from 1966 to 1972. Power steering and Turbo Hydra-matic transmission became standard equipment on 4-4-2 and all other Cutlass models. The four-speed manual transmission with Hurst shifter was dropped from the option list.
New option for 1974 were GM-specification radial tires.
Interiors were similar to 1973 with cloth-and-vinyl or all-vinyl bench seats standard, or optional swiveling Strato bucket seats with Moroceen vinyl upholstery. Center console with floor shifter optional with bucket seats.
The 1975 4-4-2 received revised vertical-bar grilles and continued with vertically stacked taillight lenses. It was once again a handling/appearance package on base Cutlass and Cutlass S coupes with content similar to previous years. Radial tires were now standard equipment, along with a GM High Energy electronic ignition.
All engines were mated to catalytic converters, which required use of unleaded gasoline and spelled the end of true dual exhausts. With economy now a selling point following the 1973–74 energy crisis resulting from the Arab Oil Embargo, the '75 4-4-2 and most other Cutlass models no longer included a V8 engine as standard equipment. For the first time since its 1964 introduction, the 4-4-2 came standard with a six-cylinder engine, Chevrolet's 250 cubic-inch inline unit which had previously been offered on some Olds intermediates from 1966 to 1971 and the compact Olds Omega since its 1973 introduction. Also new this year was a small Olds-built 260 cubic-inch Rocket V8 specifically designed for fuel economy. The 170-horsepower 350 Rocket V8 was now an extra-cost option along with the 190-horsepower 455 V8. A three-speed manual transmission was reinstated as standard equipment with the six-cylinder engine with the Turbo Hydra-matic transmission optional with that engine and the only transmission offered with the V8 engines. Interiors again consisted of bench seats with cloth-and-Moroceen vinyl or all-Moroceen trim, or optional swiveling Strato buckets upholstered in Moroceen vinyl. Revised door panels featured pull straps. Console optional with bucket seats.
Due to SAE Net horsepower ratings, it appeared that there was a power drop from earlier engines but this is not the case. The Oldsmobile 455 also had significant torque at low RPM. For 1975 the 4-4-2 equipped with a 455 was rated by Oldsmobile at 190 hp @ 3400 rpm and 350 lb-ft @ 2000 rpm.
The 1976 4-4-2 shared a new aerodynamic sloped nose designed for NASCAR with split grilles and new quad rectangular headlights with Cutlass S models, along with revised lower sheetmetal with fewer creases than the 1973–75 models. The 4-4-2 option was offered on Cutlass S coupes and was once again an appearance/handling package. Engine/transmission offerings were unchanged from 1975 except that the 260 V8 could be ordered with a five-speed manual transmission. This was also the final year for the 455 Rocket V8.
Interiors again consisted of bench seats with cloth-and-Moroceen vinyl or all-Moroceen trim, or optional swiveling Strato buckets upholstered in Moroceen vinyl. Console optional with bucket seats.
Final year for the 1973-vintage Colonnade body. The 4-4-2 was the only Olds intermediate to feature the NASCAR sloped nose from the '76 model as this year's Cutlass S switched to an upright nose similar to Cutlass Supreme models. Engine offerings were revised with Buick's 231 cubic-inch V6 replacing the Chevy 250 inline-six as base power, with optional powerplants again including the Oldsmobile built 260 and 350 cubic-inch Rocket V8s. Replacing the 455 as the top engine this year was a new Olds 403 cubic-inch Rocket V8 rated at 180 horsepower (130 kW). Transmission offerings included a three-speed manual or Turbo Hydra-matic with the V6, five-speed manual or Turbo Hydra-matic for the 260 V8 and Turbo Hydra-matic was the sole offering for the 350 and 403 V8s. Interiors included a standard bench seat with cloth-and-vinyl or all-vinyl bench seat, or optional Strato bucket seats with all-vinyl upholstery and without the swiveling feature of previous years. Console again optional with bucket seats.
Another limited-edition 4-4-2 model was offered from 1978 through 1980 on the downsized A-body Cutlass introduced for the 1978 model year. Engines varied from a base 3.8L V6 to a 305 4bbl. There was no 350 available to any 4-4-2 offered in 1978 or 1979. A special-edition Hurst/Olds was also offered in 1979.
The 1978–9 version of the 4-4-2 was an option package on the semi-fastback "Aeroback" Oldsmobile Cutlass Salon, which was the lower-trim version of the best-selling Cutlass model range. It was offered with all powertrains available, including the 231 c.i.d., 2V V6, the 260 c.i.d. 2V V8, and 305 c.i.d. 2V (1978) or 4V (1979) V8s. Transmissions offered were 3-spd automatic with all engines, 5 spd manual with the 260 V8 and a 4 spd Saginaw manual with the 305 V8.
Distinctive trim elements included contrasting striping along the rocker panels and lower doors, over both wheel wells, badging on the rear trunk, and interior emblems. All other options offered on the Cutlass Salon were available with the 4-4-2 option package.
The 1979 4-4-2 is based on the Cutlass Salon body style. The Hurst Olds H/O was offered again and was the only GM intermediate to have a 350ci. engine. Oldsmobile 350 CIDV8.
The 4-4-2 model moved to the notchback Oldsmobile Cutlass Calais to return to its roots as a performance car as it had a larger 350 V8 engine not available on other Cutlass models. It included W-30 badging on the front fenders above the side marker lights, with less dramatic graphics. Otherwise, the cars shared identical powertrain,(minus the Hurst Shifter), with the '79 H/O. Also available only in gold over white or gold over black paint, a total of 886 were built, 540 in Black, and 346 in White.
The MSRP of a Cutlass Calais in 1980 was $6,919.57. Option W-30 4-4-2 Appearance and Handling Package cost $1,255.12. This package consisted of: Gold Accent Paint Scheme (Y71), Painted Grille Face, Applique Pillar Molding, Aluminum Sport Wheels, "W-30" Decals on Front Fender, Tail Lamp Bezel and Rear Window Molding to Match Body Color, "442" Emblem on Sail Panel and Deck Lid, Engine 5.7 Liter (350 CID) V8, 4-bbl (L34), Sport Console (D55), Rallye Suspension Package (FE2), Tires P205/70R14 Steel Belted Radial Ply Blackwall with Raised White Letters (QFV) and Digital Clock (UE8). The W-30 4-4-2 option was not available in California.
A sample of included options: Interior color: Camel Tan with both fabric and/or vinyl, as well as White Vinyl,(Black could be ordered for Black/Gold cars), Custom Steering Wheel (NK3), Tilt Column (N33), Gauge cluster, AM/FM 8-Track Radio (UM2), Cruise Control (K30), Delay Winshield Wipers (CD4), Tempmatic Air Conditioning (C65), Dual Remote Mirrors, 442 Door Panel Emblems, Rear Window Defogger, 6-Way Power Left Bucket Seat (AC3). The 350,(Vin "R", engine code tag "AR"), 3A heads, 4-bbl M4MC Rochester Carb, 8.5:1 compression, 170 hp@3800 and 275 torque@2000. Turbo-Hydromatic 350 Transmission (Code "LJ", special W-30 application). Code "AB" non-locking 2.73 rear axle. A cross-flow muffler gives a "factory" dual exhaust appearance.
The 4-4-2 option was not available 1981–1984, but the Hurst/Olds returned for 1983 and 1984.
1969 Hurst Oldsmobile on display at Ideal Classic Cars in Venice, Florida.
The 4-4-2 name was revived in 1985 on the rear-wheel driveG-bodyOldsmobile Cutlass Supreme due to the demise of Oldsmobile and Hurst's official collaboration on the Hurst/Olds but Oldsmobile wanted to continue to offer a performance-oriented Cutlass model to the public. The name was now defined as referring to the car's 4-speed 200r4 automatic transmission, 4-barrel carburetor, and 2 exhausts. This W42 model replaced the 1983 and 1984 Hurst/Olds model and used the same 5.0 L LG8 V8. The shifter was mounted on the floor in a console between the front seats, and the upgraded F41 suspension package was included. 3,000 were produced in the first year, and all were sold quickly. 4,273 were produced for 1986, and 4,208 were made in 1987.
All 1985 and 1986 4-4-2s used the already-sporty Cutlass Salon model as their base platform. Due to cost concerns, for 1987 it was decided they would use the less-expensive Cutlass Supreme model to base the 4-4-2 on. The package included a beefier drive train, 15 X 7 fully chromed styled-steel wheels with gold trim, manually inflated air shocks in the rear, special paint scheme (always silver at the bottom) and gold body stripe decal package, dual-snorkel air cleaner with chrome lid, mandatory A/C and door panel 4-4-2 emblems. With few exceptions (vinyl tops, painted pinstripes, chrome outside mirrors and wire wheel covers, for example), 4-4-2s could be ordered with much of the optional equipment found on other Cutlass models.
The 1984 Hurst/Olds and 1985–87 4-4-2 were equipped with an 8.5" GM corporate differential and all were equipped with 3.73:1 ring and pinion final drive gears. Rather than using the weaker 7.5" rear differential found in the Monte Carlo SS, these models used the same stout unit found in the Buick Grand National. Many 4-4-2s (and G-body Hurst/Olds) did not come with RPO G80 (limited-slip). This was, in large part, due to dealer ordering "packages" that grouped popular options together for ease of ordering. Problem was, G80 was not part of a single one of those popular option packages, but could be added "a la carte." For the most part, performance-savvy dealers and customers were the only ones opting for the limited-slip.
The 1983–84 Hurst/Olds and 1985–87 4-4-2s are distinguishable by there being a "9" as the engine code found in the 8th character of their VINs. These were the only models to get the hotter VIN 9 307 cubic inch engine, and it was the only engine available. From 1983–1985, this engine was flat-tappet valve train, and rated at 180 hp/240 lb•ft torque. In 1986, the 307 engine received a roller-camshaft valve train and new swirl-port heads to improve economy and low-end torque. HP dropped to 170, with torque climbing to 255LBS FT. The 1985 4-4-2 used an OZ code THM 200-4R transmission (as did the 1983–84 Hurst/Olds). Both 1986 and 1987 4-4-2 used the KZF code THM 200-4R. The KZF removed much of the shift harshness of the original OZ coded transmissions, but were still firmer than the run-of-the-mill overdrive transmissions used in the rest of Oldsmobile's lineup.
The 4-4-2 option was revived on the Quad 4-4-2front-wheel drive 1990–1991 Cutlass Calais. This model used a 2.3 L LG0 Quad-44-cylinder engine with 4 valves per cylinder and 2 camshafts. The engine was tuned with higher output camshafts which produced more top end power at the expense of idle quality. It used a single exhaust with a dual tipped muffler and produced 180 hp (134 kW) with a 5-speed manual transmission. This engine was a technological stretch and proved unreliable.
This version of the 4-4-2 also played upon the "W-30" option code used in past versions of the 4-4-2, the exception being that this model used the option code "W-40". A low production, late 1991 model year version used the option code "W-41"; the key differences of "W-41" package was a 190 hp (142 kW) engine with a different geared 5 speed transmission.
This 4-4-2 model lasted just two years. It was a stretch to group this model with the prior, venerable 4-4-2's and in essence was merely a marketing ploy by Oldsmobile.
1990 "W-40" = 2629
1991 "W-40" = 1160
1991 "W-41" = 204
GM literature referred to the 1992 & 1993 Oldsmobile Achieva SCX as a 4--42, the last time the designation was used. The Achieva SCX used the same 'W41' drive train as the very limited production 1991 4-4-2-W41.