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When Base Means Brilliant: 1969 Oldsmobile F85 W31, In Chevrolet Rally Green!

When Base Means Brilliant: 1969 Oldsmobile F85 W31, In Chevrolet Rally Green!

Welcome to the land of Hindsight. It’s March, 1969. You’ve just graduated high school, have a track into school, and in a surprise you never saw coming, your old man has agreed that since you’ve got most of the money to pay for a new car (but not quite), that he’ll help you with the final bit so that you can step off on the right foot into your newfound adult life. You, being young and knowledgable, but having a pulse just the same, have suggested that maybe an Oldsmobile would be the way to go. Dad is pleased at your choice…what better way to start out than in a dependable, solid Oldsmobile? You’re pleased that he’s pleased…you’ve read about the 442s that are capable of reversing the Earth’s rotation and you think you have a chance. But as you start moving towards the mythical car, you can almost feel the temperature change. Nope, Pops does not like the idea of you trying to play him for a fool. Smartly, you just say that you’re looking at it, you weren’t considering it. New car, or that 1958 Buick that’s had the “For Sale” sign in the window for a while now? If you were our hypothetical lucky young man, your best bet was to look basic. A 442 is nice and all, but the insurance company was going to become a huge pain in your tailpipe just over the name badge. A Cutlass Supreme would be nice, but that was money…nicely optioned meant nicely priced. But what about the F-85? The entry-level A-body, the F-85 nameplate had dropped in use from it’s origin in 1961 as the main model name to the lowest trim designation. Compared to the Cutlass, the F-85 was all business: a post two-door, basic heater, AM radio (if you were lucky), basic bench seat, basic gauges, the end. You picked a color, you selected your options, and off you went. Now, it looked more-or-less like that 442 you really had your heart set on, but soon your inner Wile E. Coyote lit up with an idea: if he was okay letting you pick the options on an ordered car, you’d stick with the F-85. He agrees, so while he goes and looks at some sedan, you get to work on the options list. In this case, you pick out the Rocket V8, the M21 four-gear, the FE-2 suspension, the dual exhaust, and the 4.33 axle with the limited-slip. It’ll look as plain-Jane as all get-out, but what he doesn’t know won’t hurt you. Then you go over the colors for 1969…”Sable Metallic”? “Burgundy Mist Metallic”? “Flamingo Silver Metallic”?! Oh, hell no…those just won’t work. Any other color will do, so you option a Chevrolet green, because why not. It’ll be easier to explain than bright red, bright yellow or bright orange.

So the car is ordered. The car arrives a few weeks later, and at first glance, it’s a plain two-door with a four-speed, poverty caps and all. But the moment they fire the engine up and the W-31 package makes itself known, your old man shoots you a death glare. But it’s too late…you’ve got your car, and it’s a beauty.

We don’t know how this oddball really got put together, but somebody knew what they were doing with this machine. Were they trying to get the most speed for their thin dollar? Were they seeing the “junior supercar” before the manufacturers did? Either way, this is one neat Olds!

AllCollectorCars.com link: 1969 Oldsmobile F-85 W-31

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12 thoughts on “When Base Means Brilliant: 1969 Oldsmobile F85 W31, In Chevrolet Rally Green!

  1. John Fritz, HMFIC

    They forgot to check the box for front disc brakes from the looks of the master cylinder.

  2. Piston Pete

    Land of hindsight indeed. It’s November 1971, I’ve just quit college and gone back to my union construction job, driving my pos 327 ’67 Camaro.
    I stumble upon an immaculate adult owned 1969 442 400 4 speed for sale for $1,600. My dad and I go look at it, he says ok, I go to the lady at the bank, she says ok. My girlfriend’s dad gets wind of the plan and the next day goes to the construction trailer office where my dad is the superintendent and informs him that he has just learned that his daughter is pregnant. That evening during a meeting of both families the whole 442 plan gets nixxed. . . . ‘and for my 19th birthday I got a union card and a wedding coat.’
    I’ve had a very interesting up and down life with very few regrets, but I sure woulda liked to have had that sweet, yellow 442.
    Thanks to Bruce Steelspring for his song ‘The River’, that was my life the winter of 1971-72.

  3. Bradley

    Wow, graduated high school, got a union card, and bought a 1970 olds 442 in nugget gold, loved that car!! Still have the pictures. 442 forever! Go figure.

  4. Ian

    If Ihad ordered that car I would ordered it in plain white and deleted the W-31 call outs.

  5. Curtis

    4:33’s with a 4 spd. on 14″ tires is like driving a grain truck with granny low gears, your shifting before you’ve gone twenty feet. But that small blocks Olds is a tough little performer, it definitely punches above its weight.

  6. 71C10SWB

    Having Oldsmobiles since I was 16 (37 years!), I understood early what Olds torque was all about. That little 350 can scream, but I can’t help but thinking that you’ll be burning up main bearings without some oils system work running those 4.33’s!

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