Make no mistake about it, the 1968 442 was a muscle car produced by Oldsmobile. The Oldsmobile 442 was introduced as an option package for the F-85 and and the more luxurious Cutlass models sold in the United States beginning with the 1964 model year. What does the 442 designation mean? The 442 is a configuration of a four-barrel carburetor, a four-speed manual transmission, and dual exhaust pipes.
The First Muscle Car
While the subject of which automaker created the first American muscle car certainly can be debated, there are those who contend that Oldsmobile won this distinction when they put a Rocket V-8 engine into their 1949 Olds 88 and Super 88 models.
With that being said, Oldsmobile returned to the muscle car field in 1964 when Pontiac unveiled the GTO.
The Pontiac GTO was the inspiration for Olds to come out with their 4-4-2 package. As mentioned above, the 442 signified a four-barrel carburetor, a four-speed manual transmission, and dual exhaust pipes.
The Oldsmobile 442 W-30
The automobile featured in this article is a 1968 Oldsmobile 442 W-30. This was a year in the middle of the American muscle car era before emission and safety standards changed the landscape. It was also a milestone year where the Oldsmobile 442 became it's own distinct model and no longer just an option. In 1968 Oldsmobile also joined forces with Hurst Performance Research Corporation to produce the Hurst/Olds shifter. The 68 Olds 442's were built on GM's new for 1968 A-Body platforms.
In 1968 Oldsmobile 442's also had unique rear bumpers with exhaust cutouts and special exhaust tips. The car included standard equipment of heavy duty springs, stabilizer bars, special shock absorbers and wheels.
The W-30 designation meant Outside Air Induction System. The W-30 was an available option in addition to the 442 option and added slightly more power. Some 442's with automatic transmissions employed column shifters instead of floor mounted shifters.
For the years 1967 through 1971 W-30's had red inner fender wells. The1968 and 1969 models have a four inch diameter hole cut in the horizontal surface of the inner fender directly behind the head lights on each side for the ducting to the under the bumper scoops.
All W-30s had the Rallye Pac instrument panel as standard equipment.
From 1966 to 1972, a W Series Oldmobiles were produced at Olds Lansing, Michigan plant.
1968 Oldsmobile 442 Specifications
The 1968 Oldsmobile 442 had a 400 cubic inch V-8 engine.The W-30 version delivered 360 horsepower. Out of the five available engine options for 1968, the Olds 442 W-30 was the second highest in horsepower with the 455 cubic inch limited edition Hurst Olds versions claiming 390 horsepower.
In all, there were four transmissions available on Oldsmobile 442's in 1968.
These included a Four Speed manual Wide Ratio, a Three Speed Turbo-Hhydra-Matic, a Four Speed manual Close Ratio, and a Heavy Duty Three Speed.
Suspension on the Olds 442 included both front and rear anti-roll bars that were stiffer than the standard suspensions.
Dimensions included a 112.0 inch wheelbase, an overall length of 204.2 inches, and a curb weight averaging about 3,560 lbs.
As mentioned above, standard equipment on the 1968 442 included heavy duty springs, stabilizer bars, special shock absorbers and wheels.
There were a total of 33,607 Olds 442's produced in 1968. Out of that number there were 5,142 convertible models built. The largest 442 production number for 1968 was the hardtop coup at 26,773 units. As a comparison, total 1968 Pontiac GTO production came in at 87,684 units which included 9,980 convertibles and 77,704 hardtops.
New car price for the 1968 Oldsmobile 443 was about $3,100 for the hardtop and $3,350 for the convertible.
Serial numbers for the 1968 Oldsmobile can be found on a plate on the left front door hinge pillar.
You may also enjoy the related AutoMuseumOnline articles on the links below...
For more information regarding the Oldsmobile muscle cars, you may want to read...Oldsmobile Muscle Cars by author William G. Holder.
Another recommended book is...The Complete Book of Classic GM Muscle by author Mike Mueller.
The 1968 Oldsmobile 442 Collector Car
The Oldsmobile 442 from the late 1960's is a popular and can be a valuable collector car. As mentioned earlier, the 1968 Olds 442's became their own model in line in 1968 after being an option package for the Cutlass making the 1968 models milestone cars. The Oldsmobile 442 is one of the great muscle cars from the greatest era of automobiles.
These were Lansing's last "golden age" muscle cars.
As always, prices for popular classic cars will vary due to overall condition, degree of restoration and particular model and engine. As of this writing, Olds 442's are often times seen on automobile auction lists and as of this writing we see restored models priced from the mid $20,000 range into the $40,000 range. Non-restored models with stock equipment may be found for about $15,000 and less depending on condition.