Built as a response to the Pontiac GTO, Oldsmobile prepared the 442 as a performance option on the Cutlass. Introduced in 1964, it was continually updated, receiving the big-block engines in 1965 and a performance option called the W30. From 1968 through 1971, the 442 was a model in its own right.
In 1971 slight improvements were added to the Oldmobile 442 which can be easily identified by its round running lights and black grille with 442 script.
Only 110 W30 models were built in 1971 which included the fiberglass force induction hood and turbo 400 transmission. Due to strict emissions regulations, GM killed off all the big-block cars and the 1971 442 was the last Oldsmobile muscle car.
The 1971 Oldsmobile 442 was a muscle car produced by the Oldsmobile division of General Motors. The 4-4-2 nomenclature stood for a four-barrel carburetor, four-speed manual transmission, and two exhausts. based on its combination of four-barrel carburetor, four-speed manual transmission, and two exhausts.
Oldsmobile used hotshot parts previously only available to police departments. But the muscle car era was unmistakably in decline due to rising insurance rates and soaring gas prices. The 442 package had run into the 1971 fuel crisis, federal legislation that curbed 442’s power output.
The car came with only minor modifications from the previous year. But what was 10.5:1 the previous year became 8.5:1, a drop in engine output which affected all of GM’s engines as the result of a corporate policy requiring engines to run on lower-octane regular-grade fuel, in preparation for the introduction of the catalytic converter on 1975-model cars.
The interior of the 442 has cheap-looking, wood-grain vinyl dash but had a real race car feel. Bucket seat, custom steering wheel, and Hurst Competition gear shift came as standard. The monster 455cid V8 was stock for that 442 but that would be the swansong year although the 442 had put the Oldsmobile in the muscle-car map.
The muscle car market segment to which the 442 belonged was disenfranchised by shifting social attitudes, crippling insurance rates, the Clean Air Act and the fuel crisis. The OPEC oil embargo led to price controls and gasoline rationing, as well as higher prices. Muscle cars quickly became unaffordable and impractical for many people.
Series Production Car
7456 cc / 455 in³
253.5 kw / 340 bhp
45.6 bhp per litre
body / frame
Unitary Steel Monocoque
0 – 60 mph
0 – 1/4 mile
Auction Sales History
1971 Oldsmobile 442 W-30 Convertible – sold for $189,750 An Exceptional Example of Oldsmobile’s Legendary W-Machine. One of Only 32 Four-Speed W-30 Convertibles Built in 1971. Stunning Saturn Gold over Black Color Combination. Equipped with an Impressive List of Desirable Options. Faithfully Restored by Marque Specialist Joe Cubellis. Documented with Build Sheet, Dealer Invoice, and Protect-O-Plate. A Rare and Exciting Find for Muscle Car Enthusiasts. Auction Source: The 2013 Amelia Island Auction by Gooding & Company
1971 Oldsmobile 442 W-30 Convertible 344671M171956 – did not sell for $115,000 Matching numbers. Silver with Black interior. Rare 1971 442 W-30 convertible in excellent condition. 110 left the plant in 1971. Believed to be less than 75 in existence today. Automatic. Hurst His & Her’s option. Anti-spin rear axle. Cruise control. Power steering. Power disc brakes. Air conditioning. Tinted windows. Sport steering wheel. Ordered via Carlson Oldsmobile Inc. on February 26, 1971 and delivered to its first owner on April 7, 1971. W-30 package was the most powerful Rocket V-8 built by GM for the day. Auction Source: 2012 Daytime Auction by Mecum
1971 Oldsmobile 442 – sold for $27,500 1971 was the penultimate year for Oldsmobile’s great 442, which retained the powerful 455 CI engine as standard equipment. This Viking Blue low mileage example is trimmed with the W-30 striping package and equipped with the twin-scooped forced air induction hood and air cleaner. Additionally, it is generously optioned with power steering and brakes, heavy duty 400 Turbo Hydramatic transmission, tilt Sport steering wheel, AM/FM stereo radio with factory 8 track player, factory rear window defogger and full tinted glass. Auction Source: 2011 Monterey Daytime Auction by Mecum