Experience the Raw Power and Elegance of the 1968 Oldsmobile 442

In 1949, Oldsmobile made its mark in American automotive history with the introduction of the Rocket V-8 engine, propelling the lightweight 88 and pioneering the concept of the ‘muscle car.’ However, it was in 1964 that Oldsmobile truly embraced the muscle-car era with the F-85 Cutlass-based 442 performance package, following in the footsteps of Pontiac’s GTO.

The 4-4-2 package, derived from the Cutlass model, marked Oldsmobile’s foray into the world of full-size muscle cars. The name itself represented the car’s key attributes: a 4-barrel carburetor, 4-speed manual transmission, and dual exhausts. Renowned for its well-balanced performance and exceptional handling, the Oldsmobile 442 captured the hearts of enthusiasts, especially with the introduction of the ‘W’ and Hurst editions in subsequent years.

For the 1968 model year, the Oldsmobile 442 underwent a significant transformation. It transitioned from a mere options package to a distinct and separate model, identified by VINs starting with the digits ‘344.’

Standard equipment included a dual master cylinder, four-way flashers, energy-absorbing steering column, padded dash, back-up lights, full fiberglass hood insulation, and a deluxe steering wheel. The 1968 442 boasted heavy-duty springs, a stabilizer bar, special shock absorbers and wheels, unique emblems, hood louvers, paint stripe, special tires, and a high-output engine. The interior offered a choice of vinyl or cloth upholstery.

Notably, 1968 witnessed the introduction of the Hurst/Olds option, which elevated the 442 to new heights. The Hurst/Olds featured distinctive Black and Silver paint, a special handling package, various luxury options, and a potent 455 cubic-inch V8 engine. Only 515 units of the Hurst/Olds were sold. George Hurst, president of Hurst-Campbell Inc., approached Jack ‘Don’ Watson, renowned for his work on the “Hemi Under Glass” wheelstander and the twin-engine “Hurst Hairy Oldsmobile” exhibition car, to design and construct a unique ‘executive hot rod.’ Watson installed Oldsmobile’s powerful 455 cubic-inch V8 engine into the 442, skillfully sidestepping GM’s restrictions on engine displacement for intermediate models. With upgraded components like high-performance cylinder heads, a hot camshaft, Force-Air induction, a specially-machined crankshaft, and fine-tuned ignition and carburetor, the engine unleashed an impressive 390 horsepower at 5,000 RPM and 500 foot-pounds of torque.

Complementing the remarkable engine modifications, Watson enhanced the Hurst/Olds with heavy-duty underpinnings, a Hurst Dual-Gate shifter for manual control of the modified Turbo 400 automatic transmission, wide Goodyear Polyglas tires, and comprehensive upgrades to the brakes, cooling system, and drivetrain. The exterior showcased Peruvian Silver paint, black side and hood stripes, a black rear deck-lid, Hurst/Olds scripts, and a hand-rubbed walnut instrument panel insert.

Hurst was thoroughly impressed by Watson’s creation, and soon, Oldsmobile dealers began requesting these special models.

The 1968 Oldsmobile 442 was available in three body styles: Sports Coupe, Holiday Hardtop, and Convertible. Prices ranged from $3,080 for the Sports Coupe to $3,340 for the Convertible.

Powering the 442 was a base 400 cubic-inch engine delivering 350 horsepower. Initial production took place at John Demmer’s Demmer Engineering facilities in Lansing, Michigan, near the Oldsmobile plant. The cars retained their factory warranty coverage and were eventually distributed through Oldsmobile dealerships. A total of 515 units were produced for 1968, consisting of 459 Holiday Coupes and 56 Pillared Sport Coupes. The entire production run was completed in just 40 days. All vehicles began as original 442 models and arrived at Demmer Engineering with the special 455 engines already installed.

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