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HomeFeatured VehiclesPick of the Day: 1973 Oldsmobile 4-4-2

Pick of the Day: 1973 Oldsmobile 4-4-2

Better than you think

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It’s 1973! Nixon is a crook! The Vietnam War is not over! The oil crisis! And horrible cars! But no need to be a Negative Nancy, as there’s always a sun behind the clouds. If you will, turn your head askance and observe our Pick of the Day and maybe you’ll have a paradigm shift and learn to appreciate this 1973 Oldsmobile 4-4-2. It is listed on ClassicCars.com by a dealership in Concord, North Carolina. (Click the link to view the listing)

Bill Machalak’s proposal before the Feds barged in. (deansgarage.com)

After five years, the Oldsmobile Cutlass was all-new for 1973. The “Colonnade” coupe styling was a looker, but it had two things going against it: horsepower was not up to par compared to the glory years, and the federal government forced GM to stick a big ol’ bumper up front. Whatever grace that existed with the original design was completely ruined with a fat lip.

This was a shame because the Cutlass was much better car on most metrics. While we love to wax poetic about the 1968-72 A-bodies, the 1973 version (excepting the front bumper) was a looker. Especially attractive were the split grilles, sleek design, and tidy rear end with huge taillights integrated in both the sheet metal and bumper. Inside, high-backed bucket seats available for the Cutlass S swiveled out to meet you, swiveled you neatly into place behind the wheel—all with the touch of a lever. A console was available with the optional automatic or four-speed manual.

The improvements beneath the skin may have been the most profound, though only noticeable when driving. When you ordered the FE2 Rallye Suspension Package, you received heavy-duty front and rear springs, shock absorbers, front and rear stabilizer bars, and heavy-duty rear suspension upper control arms. The FE2 package was included with the W29 4-4-2 Appearance and Handling Package. Available for the Cutlass or Cutlass S Colonnade Hardtop Coupe, the package included body-side and decklid striping decals, special 4-4-2 grille, special hood with black louvers, and those blocky “442” numerals. Any engine was available, from the standard 180-horsepower 350 four-barrel (200 horses with dual exhaust), step-down 160-horse two-barrel, 250-horse 455 (only with automatic), or 270-horse 455 (with four-speed). The W30 package was no more.

This Mayan Gold 1973 Oldsmobile 4-4-2 is a Cutlass S-based example featuring brown stripes and matching vinyl top plus Saddle vinyl interior. Power comes from the standard single-exhaust 350 (based on the “K” in the VIN) though, along the way, a dual-exhaust system has been added. The engine is backed by a console-shifted TH350 three-speed automatic. Air conditioning is a fine option to have, and it being updated to 134A makes it even finer. Power disc brakes up front work great with the FE5 suspension to show how more roadable these cars were compared to the vaunted earlier editions. “Updated wiring and hoses throughout the engine bay give you peace of mind,” says the seller, “and the suspension features control arms with coil springs and single shocks for that classic 70s cruiser feel. Other options include Super Stock III wheels and updated AM/FM stereo. Note the modern gauges that have been substituted for the original ones, plus the aftermarket hood pins and sunroof.

When you drive this 4-4-2, you’ll feel better about 1973 and how things were not so bad after all. And if you want to go faster, all you need to do is get some W31 inspiration. For $27,995, it’s your turn to make a move.

Click here for this ClassicCars.com Pick of the Day.

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Diego Rosenberg
Diego Rosenberg
Lead Writer Diego Rosenberg is a native of Wilmington, Delaware and Princeton, New Jersey, giving him plenty of exposure to the charms of Carlisle and Englishtown. Though his first love is Citroen, he fell for muscle cars after being seduced by 1950s finned flyers—in fact, he’s written two books on American muscle. But please don’t think there is a strong American bias because foreign weirdness is never far from his heart. With a penchant for underground music from the 1960-70s, Diego and his family reside in metropolitan Phoenix.

13 COMMENTS

  1. So many times I see people offering cars that need a total restore, if they are even able to be restored, and i ask myself how did someone’s gleaming new RT or SS end up as such a beat up pile of rusted junk, and what is must have looked like when it was new. Then there’s this Olds which certainly looked just like this, when the first owner drove it home and parked it in the driveway. Beautiful car. Don’t know pricing on these but this one’s nice and I like that they didn’t do the dual exhaust with pipes sticking straight out the back like trombones.

  2. Got one. Grabbed it for a grand 20 years ago. Always liked the look. Mine’s blue with black interior, 350 4bbl, AT. Still runs, all stock. Had a 67 in 69-73. Fine automobiles.

  3. So, it’s a 442 with a 4 barrel carb, 350 cubic inch engine, a 3 speed auto, and a single exhaust? Wouldn’t that be a 431? Or a 43.53, or a 331. Certainly not a 442.

    Love the Aztec gold and the interior,, the putty colored vinyl roof is tough to swallow.

    I loves me some malaise era iron, but bang, this would make for a great resto-mod with an up to date engine/tranny combo.

    • Starting in 1965, the second 4 stood for “four-barrel.” Starting in 1972, the standard engine had a single exhaust.

  4. We bought a low miles 72 Supreme in 79 from first owner and drove it 200,000 reliable miles proudly for 20 years as a daily driver. Many admirers. Sold to a collector. We admired the 73s and their lovely colors. It seemed sluggish compared to our hi performance 1972 350 V8. Best performing cars. Rugged. Fast. Comfortable. Reliable. GM at its best!

  5. My first car was a 73 Cutlass S
    350 4bbl . With headers and dual exhaust. Wasn’t too bad on power.
    Bought it for 600 back in 1987.
    Great car with a lot of great memories.

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