With my strong Mopar base, my current Mustang projects, it tends to surprise people that my roots are strongest with GM G-bodies. I’ve had more G-cars than I’ve had FJM Mopars…three Cutlasses, one Monte Carlo and for a short bit of time, a Pontiac Bonneville four-door. You don’t hear me talk too much about them because they are deep within my past (the last car I messed with was in the history books by 2005) but I dig them. I’d have another in half a second. I was looking at Malibus, Grand Prix and El Caminos when the subject of letting the Imperial go started to be more than a minor thought. If the Rough Start Fox hadn’t happened, who knows what could’ve found it’s way into the driveway. Maybe somebody out there is willing to trade a driver-quality Elky for a nice Cruze that gets great fuel economy? Any takers? Please?
Okay, the true short-order list for a G-body for me consists of only a couple of options: a Grand Prix 2+2 simply because “homologation special”, an El Camino because I could use something with an actual bed on it, and either a Hurst/Olds or a 442. Seeing this 1985, hopefully you can see where I’m coming from with this selection. Every brand got a hot performance model of some sort. Okay, maybe excepting Pontiac. They got the body, but got screwed on the power front. Buick had the big-daddy Grand National and unreal GNX, Chevy had the Monte SS, and the 442 nameplate had become the top-tier after Oldsmobile and Hurst dissolved their partnership. Always painted silver on the bottom of the body, always sporting gold trimming and 442 callouts, and always packing the 8.5″ rear axle out back, the 442 had promise. The 180 horsepower 307 was at least on-par with the Monte SS power-wise and the 200R4 overdrive automatic was as happy cruising as it was fishtailing from a right turn before going through the gears.
Does it need more power? Absolutely. It also needs some suspension beefing, bigger brakes, and some brightening to bring the look back into line. But if you couldn’t see yourself rocking a G-body 442 as a street driver, we don’t know what to tell you. It blows the $5,000 budget by $500 bucks, but as long as the inspection checks out and the frame isn’t shot, we’d drop the coin. The only non-stock items we see are exhaust and the aftermarket deck in the dash. Everything else is as you’d expect. Now imagine it as it should be…a handsome, mature street stormer. Dr. Oldsmobile would be proud.