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Rough Start: 1985 Oldsmobile 442 – Clean Base, Now Get To Building!

Rough Start: 1985 Oldsmobile 442 – Clean Base, Now Get To Building!

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.

Facebook Marketplace link: 1985 Oldsmobile 442

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7 thoughts on “Rough Start: 1985 Oldsmobile 442 – Clean Base, Now Get To Building!

  1. 71C10SWB

    Cool, no leaky t-tops or landau roof….this would be a sweet one.
    Being an Olds guy, I’d swap in a 455 with minimal effort. But, being a guy who just want to jump in and drive with the least amount of issues, I’d probably lean towards an LS (Yeah, I know, I hear the boos already from the purists.)

    1. Michael Hollingshead

      Olds 455 is a heavy monster but I love the oldsmobile 445 . I had pulled a old 403 out of my 79 transam and installed a olds 455 bored with head work and a nice cam with headers .
      Being it was a 1970 engine it has the big valve c casting heads . The bore job made her into a 462 and with flattop pistols I got a nice 11 to 1 compression . Ended up marking 800 rwh . Talk about a hand full . But I\’m a oldsmobile guy and chevy .

      1. Ire A Nettles

        Good morning my brother my name is Iree and I\’m looking for a 1970 Oldsmobile 455 engine and 400 trans that\’s stock built and needs rebuilding. I have a 1964 F-85 Cutlass that I want to install this engine in. If you know any resources that I can look into can you please give me a call at 708-724-2987

  2. Turbo Regal

    My brother had an 87; black with T tops. When freshly washed and waxed, it shone like a black diamond! Was totaled when a chick in her Geo Storm ran a stop light. Took the insurance check and bought an 87 Buick T-type that was faster than my T.

  3. BW

    Not a bad price. I prefer the 87 with the composite headlights. No rot-tops is a definite plus.

    Always wanted to build one with a 455 since few average joe’s would be able to tell it wasn’t original.

  4. Tank442

    Very underrated cars. I\’ve owned mine since 1998 still drives like a new one. She\’s white with blue interior with 87,000 miles on the clock. On the really nice days I pop the tops and cruise watching people stare and give a thumbs up. She reeled in a lot of leg back when I was a young man. She gets more attention than any of the new Mustangs, Camaros or Challengers. Four cylinder Camrys will blow her doors off but she\’s a part of the family so I\’ll think she\’s a keeper. She has a sibling a 1969 Cutlass with a 455 TH400.

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