Junkyard Find: 1978 Oldsmobile Cutlass 442

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin
junkyard find 1978 oldsmobile cutlass 442

Yes, GM kept making Cutlasses with 442 badging long after the end of the muscle car era. Between 1970 and 1978, the 442 lost about 400 pounds of curb weight and (at least) 205 horsepower; the top 442 engine in ’78 was a 160-horse Chevy 305 V8.

This junked example has been wrecked horribly and then picked over pretty thoroughly, so it’s unlikely that anyone will be shedding any tears over its demise.

Still, the paint and graphics are pretty wild-looking for the era. A nicely restored 442 in this color scheme would be fun to have.

The Cutlass was quite a hot seller during the late 1970s, more or less the high-water mark for Oldsmobile sales in the United States, and the car was a pleasant enough, if thirsty, driver. I’ve had a couple of Cutlasses from this era, and (aside from the nightmarishly leaky T-tops on one) my memories of them are mostly positive.

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  • Jack Baruth Jack Baruth on Aug 10, 2011

    This car is an AEROBACK and if anybody else refuses to give the body style proper respect I will Murder. You. To. Death. I luuuuvvvvv aerobacks.

  • Tonycd Tonycd on Dec 20, 2011

    The GM downsize of the full-size cars that rolled out in '77 was a huge hit, and deservedly so. They had deliberately let the big cars go to hell with obese styling and horribly rust-prone sheetmetal because they knew the next generation would be so different, they'd never be held accountable by the time the old ones rotted. The '77 and newer ones drove worlds better, looked better, hardly rusted (many, many survive in nice shape today), and sold like hotcakes, especially for Chevrolet. The next year, the equally bread-and-butter midsizers came up for the same downsizing treatment. Aesthetically and commercially, it was not as successful. One reason was that GM seemed to self-consciously try to make the cars an obvious size class smaller than the new full-sizers. I remember C/D commented at the time that the dashboard was small, the speedo was small, as if to scream that the whole car was now smaller. As noted, they were also woefully underpowered, which generally wasn't the case with the full-sizers and their perfectly adequate Chevy small-block V8s (across nearly all divisions, which figuratively blew up in their faces later -- but that's another story).

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