Friday, January 14, 2011

Junkyard find: 1974 Oldsmobile Cutlass 442

1973-75 Oldsmobile 442s sported louvered hoods as part of the W29 Appearance & Handling package.
Oldsmobile Cutlass 4-4-2s have vanished from the streets! Before you get your Dr. Olds lab coat in a wad, I’m excluding cruise-ins and car show sightings. I’m talking about spotting true Cutlass 4-4-2 daily drivers, of the 1964-1979 vintage, guzzling fossil fuels. I’ll settle for something simple. Have you pulled alongside an Olds 442 in a parking space at your big box retailer? I say, not a chance! 
Oldsmobile built 7,204 Cutlass 442s during the 1974 model year.
Where are the 4-4-2s?
 You don’t see 4-4-2s driven on public roads and I think I may know why. Maybe, on that fateful day in April 2004, when GM sent the Olds brand their walking papers, 4-4-2 fans began hiding their own pieces of Oldsmobile history. Locked safely behind garage doors or imprisoned in Uncle Bob’s storage building to keep prying eyes away. Could it be Olds 4-4-2 owners fear damaging their Olds-badged asset as they hedge their bets on a future payoff? 
Rust and rot around the 442s back glass leads to rust holes in trunk and quarter panels.
Junkyard 4-4-2
 That’s why I was astonished to find one, even though it’s a smog-era A-Body, at my local ‘pull-your-own parts’ junkyard. This 1974 Olds 442 with it’s non-functional louvered hood, looked fiercely neglected. For less than $40 I could have walked away with the unbolted hood which was a prime example of easy parts picking. Major rot inside the rear window glass channel is a sure-fire sign this fastback Olds has spent decades in the rain. Despite the disintegrating body panels, dozens of useable parts remained on this 4-4-2. Heavy duty 442-specific suspension parts, exhaust manifolds and swivel bucket seats are hot items to swap into any GM A-Body.

GMs Colonnade cousins
 GM’s 1973-1977 Cutlass 4-4-2s were built on the A-body platform, also known by the Colonnade nomenclature. These were GM’s popular rear wheel drive, mid-size vehicles which competed in-house against Chevrolet Chevelles, Pontiac’s LeMans (GTO or Grand Am depending on year) and Buick Gran Sports. The sportier versions of these A-Bodies, packing big cubic inch V8s and manual transmissions, are becoming harder to find for cheap. As these mid-70s cruisers continue to gain in popularity as affordable alternatives to "true" musclecars, perhaps fewer will end up meeting the crusher. 

 Try finding a 1973-’77 A-Body the next time your scavenging at your local junkyard. Send your photos and you might become a junkyardlife star.

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