Home Car Stories One Owner 1969 OLDSMOBILE 4-4-2- Oakland, CA
1969 OLDSMOBILE 4-4-2- Oakland, CA PDF Print E-mail
Written by Double Dragon
Monday, 30 September 2013 19:07

1969 OLDSMOBILE 4-4-2- Oakland, CA


Writing and photography copyright D. S. Brown. Photos of original owner inside her 4-4-2 and images of the paperwork pertaining to the 4-4-2 provided courtesy and copyright of owner. Oldsmobile literature copyright Oldsmobile.

69 442 j logo deck

This ONE OWNER story is particularly interesting when read in conjunction with the story of the 1969 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme also featured in this section. Neither owner knows one another, but both share some pertinent details of life.

Both owners are females with a long standing attachment to their 1969 Holiday Coupe 'A body' Oldsmobile ONE OWNER cars. Both women purchased their special cars in March of 1969 from the same dealership: Connell Chevrolet Oldsmobile in Oakland, California.

69 442 j 3qtr water

The Oldsmobile 'A body' is an intermediate sized car that by today's standards is fairly large. In the 1960s the 112 inch wheelbase and 200 inch length was considered svelte. When compared to the full size land yachts roaming the streets the 'intermediates' were truly intermediate sized. 1960s intermediate car dimensions closely duplicate those of the standard sized family car of the 1950s.

When full sized cars were downsized in the 1970s it is no coincidence that many rode on a 112 inch wheelbase. This size combines maneuverable outer dimensions with sumptuous interior space. Fewer people collect or drive the full size 1960s cars due to the sweet spot that the 112 inch wheelbase vehicles occupy as an easily livable car.

69 442 j f water

Oldsmobile sits third up the GM pecking order totem pole, standing above Chevrolet and Pontiac, and just below Buick. The early history of Oldsmobile established the brand as a high end prestige car. GM eventually demoted Oldsmobile in price thus increasing sales volume. The memory of its former glory lingered for decades to come. Even a base model Oldsmobile car is tinged with luxury and exudes quality.

69 442 j side

The A body Oldsmobile was available in base F85 trim, upscale Cutlass and top of the rung Cutlass Supreme trim. Since 1964 Oldsmobile had been offering a special Cutlass model named 4-4-2 which was the Oldsmobile version of the wildly popular Pontiac GTO.

Many agree that the GTO is the first true 1960s musclecar. The GTO began as an option on the Pontiac 'A body' Tempest combining a relatively light car with a big engine. The GTO was instantly recognizable. Unlike invisible Chrysler tire frying products of the time the GTO package came complete with racy appearance and tons of 'youth image'.

Pontiac was not only ahead of the curve with their marketing and imagery, but they had an engineering head start that other GM divisions lacked. Pontiac used the existing engine mounts and accessories when replacing the Tempest 326 engine with the 389. All cubic inch displacement V8 Pontiac engines share the same external dimensions. None of the other GM divisions enjoyed this convenient engineering shortcut. Pontiac dropped in a bigger cube engine without any fabrication or rerouting of fuel lines, linkages and so on.

69 442 j r f fender

Chevrolet SS and Oldsmobile 4-4-2 answered the GTO in 1964 with small block offerings. The first of the GM divisions to copy the GTO was Oldsmobile with the 1964 4-4-2. Olds used a police spec small block 330 engine with 4 barrel carburetor, 4 speed manual transmission and dual exhaust. The name 4-4-2 is short form for 4 speed, 4 barrel, 2 exhaust.

Oldsmobile kept the name for 1965 despite making an automatic transmission available. The 4-4-2 now carried a 400 engine allowing the moniker to be revised to stand for 400 (4), 4 barrel (4) dual exhaust (2).

Buick didn't respond to the GTO until 1965 when they found a way to get a 401 to fit into their version of the GTO named the GS (Gran Sport). Chevrolet previewed a 396 SS in late 1965 but didn't offer an affordable volume version of a big block until 1966.

69 442 j front wheel

The concepts that Oldsmobile carried over from that original 1964 small block 4-4-2 were good ones. Oldsmobile offered less external identification and concentrated instead on tweaking the handling. The 4-4-2 was praised as one of the best all around muscle cars offered during the 1960s due to excellence in all areas of performance: straight line speed, handling and braking.

Following Pontiac's lead, Olds made Hurst shifters standard in all floor shifted 4-4-2s. Olds also got on board quickly with the switch to Muncie transmissions in 1965. In 1966 Olds offered a potent 4-4-2 drag strip car with force air tri- carburetor 4-4-2 named W-30. In 1967 the GM tri- carburetor ban (Corvette was exempt) caused the W-30 to run with a 4 barrel, but it picked up red plastic inner fender liners for weight savings and eye appeal.

69 442 j r park

GM's 1968 A body was redesigned with 'ponycar' proportions: long hood, short rear deck. The roof line merged into the rear quarter panels creating a fastback effect as seen in the image above. The new design was beautiful. No one messed with it for 1969. While the GTO had built up an image first as "The Tiger" and later as "The Great One" Oldsmobile had started to catch on with some image building of their own.

69 442 j tail light

The cool shaped rear maker light shown below uses the Oldsmobile logo which is a rocket. The rocket logo traces back to the period when Olds was ahead of the pack at NASCAR and subsequently on the street with the Oldsmobile 'Rocket 88'. The 88 was a lighter bodied car with a top performing engine. The new for 1949 V8 engine was miles ahead of the usual straight 8 engines in use in the industry and was named the 'Rocket' engine. The legend of this car seeped into the entire Oldsmobile line-up which began to use the rocket logo and space age names.

69 442 j r marker

The rocket imagery carried forth to even small details such as the bucket seats in Oldsmobile which are named "Strato" buckets in reference to the stratosphere. By the 1960s Oldsmobiles had a reputation as solidly constructed prestige cars with performance being a thing of the past. Olds did have some exciting personal pseudo performance cars such as the Jetfire and Starfire but nothing like the bombshell GTO.

Olds was not asleep at the wheel however when it came to technological advances and this proved to influence their musclecar offerings. One of the most well promoted pioneering efforts Olds did in the 1960s was the Toronado which was the first full size domestic front wheel drive. Olds worked the bugs out of it for a one year model run before Cadillac got their own version (the Eldorado) the following year. In 1967 Oldsmobile created the Cutlass Supreme Turnpike Cruiser which used the 4-4-2 chassis. The Olds temperature controlled air cleaner was eventually adopted industry wide in order to cope with tightening emissions regulations. Read about the Turnpike Cruiser on this website filed in the GAS LOGS MPG section.

69 442 j side view ocean

Despite the past reputation of the 'Rocket 88' and the cutting edge inventiveness of the engineers at Olds, the very name Olds conjures up the idea of a car for older well established people. When the 1960s youth explosion and musclecar craze hit, Oldsmobile was marketed as a refined and conservative car which wasn't connecting with the young hot rod set.

Olds advertising responded to the GTO set with a play on their brand name, describing the exciting new 1960s offerings 'Youngmobiles'. Once the 4-4-2 became its own series in 1968 the imagery of the car was catchy enough to support the promise of excitement attributed to the 'Youngmobiles'. In 1969 'Dr. Oldsmobile' was introduced in ads depicted as a humorous modern day Frankenstein creating monster musclecars.

Olds also came out with the 'Ramrod' W-31 small block which later morphed into the wild appearing Rallye 350. The relationship with Hurst Olds had paid off for Pontiac in the past with Hurst gold wheels on a Gold Tiger GTO. Oldsmobile went even further by releasing a 'Hurst/Olds' 4-4-2 that circumvented the GM intermediate 400 cubic inch engine size limit. Hurst dropped a 455 into the 4-4-2 for 1968 and again in 1969. From the subtle badges of 1964 Olds had leaped into the musclecar fray with a wildly painted, striped, spoilered and scooped big block monster.

In the winter of 1968 a local Oakland, California resident we shall name Miss J had saved enough from her paychecks to buy a new car. With deposit in hand Miss J embarked on a long thorough hunt for the ideal high-performance car. The mission eventually consumed nearly a year. Looking back on it, the long search was worth it in light of how many years of ownership she was going to enjoy with her car. Miss J had narrowed her choices down to two models which interestingly cross the brand barriers.

Often you will find someone debating between models within a particular car division such as a Firebird or GTO. Less often the potential buyer compares different divisions; for instance: a Superbee versus a Roadrunner. Very rarely will someone have a foot in two rival car companies. But Miss J had straddled the chasm between the 1969 Dodge Charger and the 1969 Oldsmobile 4-4-2. If you look closer at the cars, you can see some commonality.

Both cars were intermediate offerings, although the Charger rides on a longer wheelbase. Both cars were now in the second year of a fantastic looking fast back styling cycle introduced for the 1968 model year. Both cars were high up in prestige. Dodge was higher than Plymouth but lower than Chrysler and Imperial while Oldsmobile sat atop both Pontiac and Chevrolet but below Buick and Cadillac. Chargers and 4-4-2s offered great handling in standard form. Chrysler musclecars came standard with heavy duty everything, particularly in the steering, brakes and suspension areas. The 4-42- commanded respect for the Oldsmobile engineering. Olds was congratulated in enthusiast magazines for producing a well balanced good handling musclecar. Price was similar.

What tipped the balance for Miss J was her observation,

"The 4-4-2 had a more upscale, solid feel and sleeker look."

Miss J felt "the gentleman's muscle car" aka "bar room brawler in a tuxedo" combined brute power with a well finished product. This was a performer that sacrificed nothing in comfort and smoothness to attain it.

Miss J Comments,

"The Charger, in comparison, looked cheap and did not stand a chance. I later found out it couldn’t catch up with the 4-4-2 performance-wise, either."

Lest our faithful Chrysler readers scream bloody murder, bear in mind that Miss J is not knocking the looks of the fantastic Charger. She wouldn't have been looking at it if she hadn't recognized the classic design of this car. It was the seams, fit and finish that she objected to. Mopar quality control just wasn't up to snuff in the 1960s. Chryslers from the 1960s have inconsistent seams and gaps, wind noise and rattles. The real street freaks of this era were primarily young males who gravitated towards spartan stripped down warrior cars. To die- hard Hemi or 440 Magnum fans a few rattles meant nothing when the other guy was a fender length or even a whole car length behind you. But for someone buying a daily driver, comfort is an issue.

All Chryslers I've owned from this era made it necessary to slam the glove box or trunk to get it to close. It sometimes required several tries and they always rattled. A GM glovebox or trunk from the same era requires one finger pressure to close with a nice snick. Almost all domestic cars built in the 1960s had wind leaks at highway speed including General Motors. Although most of my GM cars had wind leaks, two of them actually didn't (a Buick and a Pontiac). ALL of my Fords and Chryslers had wind leaks with no exceptions.

The GM "Mark of excellence" really had some basis in fact at the close of the 1960s. And Oldsmobiles were right up at the top. Olds was miles ahead of the Chevies and even notably smoother and tighter than Pontiacs of the same time period. Olds was so good I would lump the Olds and Buick in a class together. Many road tests of the 1960s commented that the Cadillac buyer paid extra for a Cadillac because 'he could afford to' while someone who wanted quality on a par with Cadillac could save some money and get a Buick. When I say Oldsmobile was nearly as good as a Buick, that meant something in the 1960s. Buicks really were that good back then.

Most of our loyal Mopar readers are probably also up in arms about the performance comment, but remember that a base Dodge Charger relied on a 230 gross horsepower 318 two barrel with single exhaust. This low compression regular fuel engine was a stout daily driver engine and a decent performance engine when installed in the lightweight Barracuda. In fact adding a few performance items turned a Duster 318 into a real threat. But in a heavy Charger the 318 was not as fast as the standard 400 four barrel dual exhaust engine in the base level Olds 4-4-2.

In 1969 there was also a no charge (in more ways than one) slant six 225 step down option 'standard' engine available in the Charger. That makes for a Charger that doesn't charge. So few were built it is improbable but not impossible that one of the new 1969 Chargers Miss J test drove was so equipped. She likely drove a 318 and formed her opinions based on that experience.

69 442 j 400

Charger buyers who wanted to go fast couldn't stand pat with a base model. Optional 383s had to be ordered, or for serious contenders, a jump up to the R/T would take you to the outer limits of tire burning performance. The R/T automatically included the killer Magnum 440 with the King Hemi being the only option. The fabulous 440- 6 Pack hadn't been released yet when Miss J was on the car lots. But to give credit to the Mopar men where it is due, even the highly specialized rare Hurst/ Olds 455 would find a Hemi or 440-4 barrel to be a handful.

69 442 j 400ds

Perhaps a fairer comparison should be drawn between a base Cutlass and base Charger. But in 1969, the 4-4-2 was an actual model line while the R/T was an option package. Technically the base Charger versus base 4-4-2 comparison is valid. Of course, it is very common to find non R/T Chargers sporting an optional 383 in either 330 horsepower form (the high performance Magnum 335 horsepower version was not used in the Charger yet). Either way that 383 is a real threat to the 4-4-2. But back in 1969, Miss J was seeing base engine Chargers on the local dealer lots and found them lacking.

Having driven Miss J's 4-4-2 I agree with her that it is a very solid car despite logging 95,000 miles. The engine pulls nicely with lots of torque. The 4-4-2 tracks straight and true and is a one finger driver without vagueness or wander. There are no squeaks or rattles and it is a well balanced car that takes turns well despite the big engine up front and three passengers inside. The driving position is comfortable with a sense of good workmanship.

A typical example of an Olds touch is the cover provided for the spare tire. In this era only top luxury cars had carpeting in the trunk. Olds gave you the bare steel floor but they did provide a cover for the spare which cleaned up the appearance of the trunk as well as making the surface of the spare somewhat useful when packing objects into the trunk.

69 442 j spare tire cover

Underneath that cover is the original Wide Oval Redline Firestone spare tire from way back in 1969. Because the car was garaged all of its life the intense California sun hasn't superheated the trunk compartment and broken down the rubber.

69 442 j redline spare

Back in 1969 Miss J had eliminated the Charger from her list and her mind was made up. She visited Connell Chevrolet Oldsmobile in Oakland in February, 1969 to place an order for the car of her dreams. See a story on Connell Chev Olds in the DEALERSHIPS section of this website filed under 'California/ Oakland City Dealers'. The order went through quickly as attested by the 3rd week of February date code in the cowl tag of the 4-4-2.

69 442 j salesman card

The 4-4-2 arrived at Connell Chev Olds in March, 1969. Miss J purchased her new 4-4-2 from salesman Dan Kositch on March 3, 1969. The 4-4-2 showed just 4 miles on the odometer. Miss J recalls the intense impression the 4-4-2 created,

"I was stunned by the shimmery dark sable car with black vinyl top and black interior:  MY 4-4-2! I stepped into the luxurious interior, turned the key in the ignition and that famous soft snarl did me in -- I had to call my fiance to drive us home."

The little booklet below contained some basic facts to assist the new owner with the basics of the car without reading the owner's manual.

69 442 j quick facts tag

Aside from break- in information it also acquaints the new owner with must know warning light procedures.

69 442 j quick facts info

When Miss J and her fiance safely parked the 4-4-2 in her driveway, she marveled at the well loaded car. The VIN 344879Zxxxxxx decodes as follows:

3= Oldsmobile
44= Series 4-4-2 (an astute person in Oldsmobile chose '44' to designate the 4-4-2 model)
87= Bodystyle 2 door Holiday coupe. (Oldsmobile used the name Holiday to denote hardtops)
9= 1969 model year.
Z= Fremont, California final assembly plant.
xxxxx= Sequence number (not shown here to preserve owner privacy)

The first line of the cowl tag reads 69- 34487 BF 02722. The first number denotes a 1969 model year. The next series of numbers duplicates the VIN series and body style. The BF= Fremont, California final assembly. The 02722 is the Fisher body number which does not correlate with the VIN sequence number.

The second line reads 930 B80  61 B PNT. 930 means black bucket seats, B80 is the drip molding along the roof edge, 61 is the paint and B is the black vinyl top. PNT is short form for 'paint'.

The third line reads 02C 011564 350471. 02C means build date was the third week (C) of February, 1969. The next numbers are plant codes. Some of these numbers should correspond to the dealer order form.

The 4-4-2 exterior color Sable was combined with a black vinyl top (C08). The wheel covers are simulated-wire (N95).

The black vinyl interior is lavished with nice extra touches. The shot below of the dash today is still factory original with the exception of the under dash aftermarket temp and oil gauges mounted below the heater controls. The stock layout only provides a 120 mph speedometer and fuel gauge and relies on warning lights for everything else. It was possible to order a fuller gauge set but that is one of the few interior options not present on this car which otherwise sports an abundance of options.

69 442 j dash

Although the Rally gauges weren't ordered, the instrument panel with wood-grained vinyl trim includes an optional electronic clock (U35) and AM/FM Deluxe Stereophonic pushbutton radio (U63). The shot of the radio is taken from a low angle to reveal the concealed switch for the optional defogger above it.

69 442 j radio

The inside rear view mirror is a day/night mirror. The comfort options continue: Lamps, Instrument –panel Courtesy and Map (U29) as well as Lamps and mirrors, convenience (Y60). The interior includes such niceties as Standard Strato Bucket front seats with back armrests and patterned Morocceen headlining and the Sports console (D55). The 4-4-2 came with buckets but provided for a column shift with automatic unless you ordered a console shift which is what Miss J did.

69 442 j console

There is more: Floor mats (B32) and Seat lap belts and Front-seat shoulder belts (W39).

Soft Ray tinted windows and windshield (A01) (A02) ensure that the California sun doesn't fry the occupants. The tinted glass is bolstered by the expensive optional Air conditioner (C60). Miss J ordered a rear window defogger (C50) which is a bit of a rarity for a Fremont built car. Rear defog is frequently left off California order forms.

Other options include Turbo Hydra-Matic 400 automatic transmission with floor shifter, power steering and power front disc brakes (JL2). It is little wonder that there was really nothing left to add to the car after taking delivery. But Oldsmobile was ever hopeful and included this accesories booklet with the owner's manual to tempt new buyers into adding some goodies to the car.

69 442 j accessory booklet

The list of options is impressive and all were available for dealer installation. As previously noted Miss J's 4-4-2 was equipped with the  AM/FM Deluxe Stereophonic pushbutton radio so the only way she could ascend further up the option totem pole on this page of the booklet would be to order a tape player.

69 442 j acces book music

Miss J has an underhood lamp and a trunk lamp which are two of the many lighting options listed in the booklet. One of our ONE OWNERs, Barry actually has the portable spotlight option on his 1965 GTO but this option is rarely encountered in cars despite being a very clever idea.

69 442 j acces book lamps

Below you can see the trunk light mounted under the deck lid on the driver's side of the lid of Miss J's 4-4-2.

69 442 j trunk light

The underhood light sits inside a hole cut out of the very thick insulation blanket under the hood. Oldsmobile isolated sound very carefully on their cars.

69 442 j hood light

The luggage racks and other related options are rarely encountered on ONE OWNER cars with an exception being Gil's 1971 GTX which was ordered by the dealer this way. Note the obscure spare tire lock option below.

69 442 j access book luggage

The available mirrors supplement the factory rear view mirror. Miss J didn't get the right hand outside rear view mirror but she did get the rear window defogger.

69 442 j acess bk mirror

The rear window defogger is located in the rear passenger parcel tray behind on the driver's side of the car.

69 442 j r defogger

Miss J has the clock listed in the brochure below but not the pretty obscure tissue dispenser option.

69 442 j assy bk clock tissue dispensor

The variety of different wheel cover choices and styled wheels creates a lot of scope when ordering out a 4-4-2. Choice 'C' is the simulated wire wheel covers which Miss J has on her 4-4-2. The door edge guards are good for people who accidentally open their doors into other cars or objects. Miss J was quite careful with her car and didn't require this extra item.

69 442 j accy bk wheelcovers

Miss J hadn't intended to go on too many long highway trips and didn't order the cruise control but the power brakes and steering option was becoming commonplace by the end of the 1960s.

69 442 j assy bk cruise control

Olds also offered a full line of cleaning products.and a nifry highway emergency kit.

69 442 j acsy bk cleaners

Olds even offered a liquid tire chain for getting unstuck in winter. Thankfully Miss J's 4-4-2 was in sunny California where the nightmare of snow was a long way away.

69 442 j asy bk liquid tire chain

As emphasized in the option booklet the 4-4-2 was ordered as much more than just a device to commute with. The wide range of options available catered to the need for each owner to make his or her car personalized to a specific use and lifestyle. Miss J's 4-4-2 became even more important over the years as she continued to re appreciate the beauty, power and comfort of her 4-4-2. Miss J has held dear to her 4-4-2 all these years for the experience the car creates for her every time she drives.

A car that you particularly love also provides you with a feeling of security and stability in rough times. Miss J states that the car has been a major part of her life. She reminisces,

"I recall many vacation trips, dressing it up for my brother’s wedding and getting many offers to buy it. When I felt down, I stepped into it, turned on the radio and just drove it to lift my spirits."

Here's a shot of Miss J happily sitting behind the wheel of her faithful 4-4-2.

69 442 j behind the wheel

The Protect- O- Plate is shown below with Miss J's name, address and significant VIN digits removed. Note that it is dated Feb 28, 1969. Connell also filled out the Warranty shown below the Protect- O- Plate using this date. However, Miss J actually picked up and registered the car March 3, 1969.

69 442 j protect o plate

The salesman for this particular 4-4-2 didn't let you forget who sold you the car. Note how large Dan Kositch's personal name stamp is in comparison to the dealership name!

69 442 j warranty

The Oldsmobile factory designed pre printed maintenance cards which had open space to print a dealership and customer name. The dealership simply mailed out the reminders for regular maintenance which made keeping track of service due dates much easier for the customer.

69 442 j maintenance card

On the back of the Oldsmobile Maintenance Record Card it states that a safety inspection should be performed annually. It also lists the required services for warranty validation.

1) Engine oil

2) Oil filter

3) Carburetor air filter

4) Positive crankcase ventilator valve

5) Steering linkage

6) Automatic transmission fluid. It has a further note to adjust Jetaway band at fluid change

7) Engine coolant

As it turned out the 4-4-2 was trouble free for the entire warranty period. There was one issue with 1969 Oldsmobiles which had not caused any problems for Miss J. The 1969 Oldsmobiles were recalled in 1970 to have a bypass hose from the water pump replaced with a metal unit that wouldn't leak. The metal bypass tube shown in the photo below is a factory original warranty replacement piece installed at the dealership.

69 442 j warranty bypass hose

In the above photo note the tube extending upwards with a bronze painted cap ion top of it. This is the oil fill spout which is just another example of how Oldsmobile paid attention to details. Instead of a less expensive cap mounted on a valve cover for oil fills, Olds spent the extra money to fabricate the convenient fill tube located up high and at the front of the engine. This was a consistent feature on Oldsmobile engines from the 1950s and 1960s.

Here is one of the registration cards. This one is from 1971 with Miss j"s name, street number, license plate number and significant VIN digits edited out.

69 442 j reg card

The day after registration, on March 4, 1969 Miss J signed a bank loan shown below with personal details removed. The 4-4-2 was not a cheap car. $89.91 per month for 36 months wasn't an easy load to carry back in 1969.

69 442 j loan

In March, 1972 this letter arrived confirming that the loan was fully paid off after 3 years. As of this moment forwards Miss J owned her 4-4-2 free and clear.

69 442 j loan piad

When Miss J was married the 4-4-2 was decorated with cans and confetti. It took her and her new husband to Lake Tahoe for the honeymoon. Because the name Oldsmobile is not printed on the car she was asked,

"What is a 4-4-2?"

Now with a new generation of kids out there who weren't around for the glory years of Oldsmobile they ask the same question.

Miss J used the 4-4-2 commuting to work in Concord, California, Soon she was aware that it was attracting some undesirable attention from suspicious looking people. Other employees warned her that the 4-4-2 was not entirely safe parked during the day unattended. Miss J continued to use the 4-4-2 for work but prudently took some precautions. What you see in the picture below is just what it looks like: a large steel alarm bell just like the sort used for fire alarms in commercial buildings in the early 1970s. Miss J had this formidable alarm hooked up to sensors on the hood and trunk.

69 442 j alarm

The 4-4-2 mercifully was spared from most crimes. The antenna is the original and escaped being broken off. The glass is all original. Unfortunately 2 hubcaps were temporarily separated from the car. In the 1980s when the 4-4-2 was parked in the El Cerrito, California shopping mall a thief stole 2 of the simulated wire wheel hubcaps. Scouring local hubcap places uncovered a pair of simulated wire wheel hubcaps (not a set of 4 mind you; a PAIR). These were clearly the 2 missing hubcaps that had vanished the day prior but Miss J paid the price just to get her 2 originals back on the car.

In the early 1970s Miss J's grandmother placed a bottle of beach behind the front seat in the rear footwell and it leaked on the carpet and discolored it. The carpet was replaced prior to 1975.

Mechanically very little needed to be done.

The 4-4-2 ran trouble free until the 1980s when it started pinging at 50,000 miles. The timing was off. The timing cover was removed to replace the gears and timing chain. The original timing cover was resealed and the timing has stayed good since; as confirmed in a 1991 smog inspection. Once the timing issue was solved the car began to exhibit an annoying tendency to overheat on the freeway after 20 minutes of sustained driving in summer weather. The radiator and thermostat were replaced but the problem persisted. A closer inspection uncovered a partially stuck heat riser. Getting that unstuck keeps temperatures steady at 180 degrees.

The usual replacement parts lasted quite awhile on the 4-4-2. The original brake master cylinder eventually packed it in and was replaced but the original booster is still on the car. The original alternator was also replaced. The original Rochester carburetor eventually became too gummed up to function and was replaced with a Holley. The original distributor is in place with a new cap and wires. The original starting motor lasted about 90,000 miles and required replacement in the early 1990s.

As attested in this sworn and signed report for smog inspection, the 4-4-2 showed a mere 91,219 miles on Dec 4, 1991. In 22 years and 9 months the car averaged 4,000 miles a year. The results of the smog check revealed that the idle timing was set 6 degrees before top dead center and the engine idled at 777 RPM. The engine was in good shape and passed all tests. HC was measured 77 PPM at idle (500 is allowable). CO % was 2.76 (5.50 allowable).

69 442 j smog inspection 91000 miles

Oakland, California is good to cars in most ways. It's sunny and far enough away from the ocean salt air to be safe from rust. The air isn't too humid, but the sun is intensely strong. Interiors and paint will often break down from the powerful UV rays. The tinted glass all around in Miss J's 4-4-2 saved the interior. However, the paint needed refreshing after 28 years of California sun.

In 1997 the 4-4-2 was repainted in the original Sable and detailed. Amazingly for a California car the black vinyl top is original. Since the repaint, the 4-4-2 has stayed in the garage except for occasional displays at local car shows and its weekend exercises.

A typical fate for many cars that are restored or refurbished is a gradual tapering off in usage. The car becomes 'too nice' to drive. Because the 4-4-2 was not totally redone but was well preserved the rift between before and after is not as pronounced. Miss J's 4-4-2 is not a garage queen. Miss J still drives it regularly. She tells us,

"It is a pleasure to drive, despite attracting too much attention from the “wanna-buys”, and just a great car from the time when Oldsmobile was king. Make no mistake though, this car is fast, so it does take a bit of care.  It will light up the tires from a stop and catch rubber through 2nd and 3rd (not recommended).  It drives like a dream and cruises comfortably on the freeway."

In 2013 the 4-4-2 had reached 91,964 miles. That is a total of about 700 miles since the smog check at the end of 1991. Despite the fact the car is registered and driven, Miss J has realized that she is logging very few miles now. After years of stubbornly refusing to let it  go, Miss J has finally capitulated to time,

"I know it is time for my buddy to start over again with a new owner who will appreciate and continue to take good care of him -- to experience that 'high' you can only get from driving this gently snarling 4-4-2. It can hold its own parked right next to other high-end muscle cars, draws a crowd, and gets nonstop "thumbs up" going down the road."

Aside from the repaint the exterior of the 4-4-2 is all original from the under-hood insulation pad, wheels, and emblems to chrome, glass and most lights to the red line spare tire and jacking instructions label under the trunk lid. The driver's door panel shows minimal wear. Note the original non remote chrome mirror. The dual racing mirrors and remote mirrors didn't become a frequent sight on musclecars until 1970-72.

69 442 j dr dr panel

Below you can see the minimal wear on the pedals with the edge of the brake pedal showing just the beginning of being smoothed out from use.

69 442 j pedals

The interior is factory original from console to headliner except seat covers in front and carpet which was replaced back in the early 1970s.

69 442 j f seats

The front seat covers are reproduction and fairly close to the pattern used in the original rear seats.

69 442 j R seat

Below you can see the 'T-3' embossed in the glass of the original driver's high beam. This is the original light installed at the factory.

69 442 j driver high beam T3

The bottom is completely solid and shows no signs of significant wear or question-inducing battle scars – no accidents, salvage, or rust.  Documentation includes the original owner's manual, original bill of sale, original Protect-O-Plate and registration receipts from point of sale.

UPDATE: On October 4, 2014 Miss J's 4-4-2 found a new owner. The new owner is a young man who fell in love with the car after a test drive. Miss J and husband Jim watched it being driven away until it was out of sight. It is sad to see the 4-4-2 gone, but also reassuring that a new generation of kids appreciate this car. MIss J owned the 4-4-2 for 45 years 7 months and 1 day.

Last Updated ( Thursday, 13 May 2021 21:38 )