From the front, this 1979 Oldsmobile 442 looks pretty good: handsome A/G body shape, the cool sectioned grille that looks aggressive compared to the standard Cutlass waterfall-style unit, and no hood ornament. But out back…yep, this is an “Aeroback” body 442. Kind of hard to miss the shape that GM thought would echo European design, isn’t it? To call this body style “decisive” is an understatement. It’s a love it or burn it kind of deal, with few people finding middle ground. But good G-bodies are hard to find, and honestly, how many Grand Nationals are out in the world? We get the feeling that there are more now than when Buick closed the line down in 1987.
On the play that “different is good”, we want to know how you would really build up this 442. The nameplate alone deserves power, and there are plenty of options. As it sits now, there is a 350 Chevy and a TH-400 automatic in the car, which might grind a nerve or two. Not that the 350 can’t make great power…there’s a reason why the Mouse motor is so popular…but we see two other camps forming: those who want to stuff an Oldsmobile mill underhood, like a pumped-up 403, and those who simply want to put big-number power underhood, at which point an LS/LT block gets jammed in. Either way, we’d like to see a third pedal replace the automatic, and a full set of gauges in the dash.
The outside needs a polish-up, and we’d skip the big billboard side “442” stripe and just stick with the callout on the back. But how would it sit? G-bodies can handle, but is it wrong that we think that this Olds needs a bit of old-school rake? Not too much, but just a bit higher in the back, with mags all the way around. Maybe we’re wrong…maybe not. Maybe you have different ideas, like shoving the powertrain from a Toronado in the back seat and a blower visible through the rear glass?