1966 Oldsmobile_442_08

Equipped with the rare L69 360-hp tri-carb intake system and 4-speed manual transmission. Original, rare color of Autumn Bronze paint code MM. Options include power steering, power brakes, factory AM/FM radio, bucket seats, console, factory tachometer and vacuum gauge.

Very correct restoration with minor upgrades to improve performance and reliability. Engine rebuilt and upgraded with roller rockers, high volume oil pump and forged pistons. Runs outstandingly and is incredibly fast. Frame-off restoration was completed in approximately 2006.

Previously owned by an avid Oldsmobile collector and enthusiast in Northern California. Updated with new Super Stock Oldsmobile wheels and five new Firestone Redline tires.

(Introductory description courtesy of Barrett-Jackson.)

SCM Analysis


Vehicle:1966 Oldsmobile 442
Years Produced:1964–67
Number Produced:74,828 (21,997 in 1966; 2,129 L69s as one-year-only option)
Original List Price:$3,024
SCM Valuation:$45,000–$85,000
Tune Up Cost:$160
Distributor Caps:$11
Chassis Number Location:Plate on driver’s door jamb, directly below upper door hinge
Engine Number Location:Behind water pump, on top of timing chain housing
Club Info:Oldsmobile Club of America
Alternatives:1964–67 Pontiac GTO, 1964–67 Buick Skylark, 1964–67 Chevrolet Chevelle
Investment Grade:B

This 1966 442, Lot 640.2, sold for $77,000, including buyer’s premium, at Barrett-Jackson’s Las Vegas, NV, auction on September 22, 2012.

Oldsmobile followed Pontiac, like the rest of their corporate cousins did, into the burgeoning performance market in the mid 1960s. The same way Pontiac turned the Tempest into the GTO, Olds took a ho-hum F-85 or Cutlass series car and added a few parts from the bin. The B09 police package (330-ci, 310-hp V8 and heavy duty suspension) was mixed with dual exhaust, 4-speed and a rear stabilizer bar to create the 442 — Oldsmobile’s best-known model of the ’60s.

In 1964, 442 stood for 4-barrel carburetor, 4-speed and dual exhaust. 1965 saw the definition change to 400-ci V8, 4-barrel carburetor and dual exhaust, since the standard transmission became a 3-speed manual and an automatic was optional. By 1966, the name stuck. Good thing, because the 4-barrel carburetor wasn’t the only induction offered that year.

The L69 option, offered in 1966 only, topped the 400-ci V8 with three Rochester 2GC 2-barrels. This upped the horsepower rating from 350 to 360, but the torque rating stayed at 440 ft/lbs.

In the group, but not in the spotlight

Oldsmobile was placed between Pontiac and Buick in the GM hierarchy of the early 1960s, although by the mid-1960s, the lines between each automaker and their products had started to blend. In 1966, the 442 was a muscle car through and through, but it still followed the basic structure — it was a little more edgy than a Buick Skylark GS, but a little more refined than a Pontiac GTO. 

A 442 never starred in a television show or movie, and the Beach Boys didn’t write a hit song about them. These cars were not as tied to pop culture as the GTO was back in the day, and that was because they were marketed to a different group than some of the other youth-oriented GM muscle.

It’s all in the ads

Period advertising was pretty telling in terms of the buyers each make was going after. Pontiac’s 1966 GTO was marketed on TV as “6.5 liters of young tiger. All nimble, all agile, all wide track.” Perhaps the most enticing part of the ad was the attractive brunette woman shifting through the gears next to her blonde friend.

In contrast, Oldsmobile’s 1966 advertisements highlighted the heavy-duty suspension components and sway bars front and rear. In their spots, an older man (the “voice of astronauts” Shorty Powers) drives the 442 on country roads, explaining what the 442 has to offer. “Step out front in style and action, in a Rocket-action Oldsmobile.”

The Olds division was clearly chasing a different demographic than Pontiac, one that was more calculated and more serious about their cars. The guys looking at a 442 weren’t the ones who would call a lot of attention to what they were doing. For them, balanced performance was the name of the game.

The right options

The 442 package was optioned on only about 10% of all F-85s, whereas the GTO made up a full third of Tempests in 1966. This car is a rarer beast than the Goat, even without the L69 factored in.

Still, this is the most common 1966 442. Olds produced 21,997 442s that year; 13,493 of them were the Cutlass Holiday coupe — our subject car’s body style. Of the 2,129 L69s, 1,171 had this body style. All L69s came with the manual 4-speed. So why would somebody pony up for it?

$77,000 is a lot for a car, but Olds 442s are known for bringing big money when equipped with the right options.

Mecum sold an L69 club coupe (post car) with an over-the-counter W-30 package and only 19k miles for $116,600 in St. Charles, IL, in May 2010. Barrett-Jackson is no stranger to selling these L69s either, as an immaculately restored award-winner fetched $121k at Scottsdale, AZ, in January 2012.

But those were the cream of the crop. At Mecum’s Kansas City sale in December 2011, a restored L69 went for just $42,400. The auction description stated, “Believed to be original engine, engine was decked during overhaul, build date matches car.” That boils down to more than enough issues to keep the big dollars at bay. Will it drive any different? Probably not. But as always, when it comes to American muscle, documentation and condition are key.

Our subject car falls about in the middle of the recent L69 spectrum. The Autumn Bronze is very attractive, and appropriate, on this car. The black interior appears clean as can be with the Strato Buckets — perfect for keeping you in place during stoplight drags. You’d take as many wins as you would losses against the competitors. And that’s about where these cars fall in the muscle-car hierarchy today. But with the heavy-duty suspension including the rear stabilizer bar, you’d take the win if any corners were brought into play.

So, $77k got the buyer a recently restored (finished in 2006) 442 with the right bells and whistles. There were even a few “minor upgrades” (roller rockers, oil pump, forged pistons, et al) included with the engine rebuild — all reasonable and desirable.

At the price paid here, this car’s buyer probably won’t make any money in the near future if he decides to resell this car. But this car wasn’t poorly bought, either. The buyer’s an Oldsmobile man — just think of this deal as a calculated decision on a well-balanced muscle car. All that’s left is to get out and drive it.

Comments are closed.