Even though the new front-drive Toronado stole much of the spotlight from Oldsmobile's existing models, the sporty 1966-1967 Oldsmobile 4-4-2 was catching hold.
In its mid-1960s restyle, a "Coke-bottle" profile replaced the straight beltline on all F-85 and Cutlass models, including the 4-4-2 series. Performance fans could have their fun in a choice of five models: the F-85 club coupe and Holiday coupe, and a trio of Cutlasses.
As they'd done since 1963, copywriters promoted the 4-4-2 as one of the company's "sports cars," noting that its "cool good looks [were] equally at home at a sports car rally or on a quiet Sunday ride."
Could be, but neither the 4-4-2 nor any brand of American muscle was quite ready to race a pack of Jaguars and Triumphs around a winding course. Straight-off-the-line was where they shined.
Changes were less than drastic under the hood, which carried the 400-cubic-inch V-8 introduced a year earlier, churning out 350 frenzied horses (five more than before). Ordinary F-85/Cutlass models had to make do with a maximum of 330 cubic inches.
In addition to feeling the surge of power, 4-4-2 drivers tuned into the alluring rumble of acoustically tuned twin pipes. Only by checking off a few option boxes, though, would the 4-4-2's recessed instrument selection include a tachometer for consultation, or a console with performance gauges installed. Prices ranged from $2,604 for a 4-4-2 coupe to the $3,118 convertible (about $150 above a plain Cutlass).
This year's "dumbbell"-shaped full-width front panel contained a simple grille opening with single horizontal bar. Quad headlights in square housings filled the ends of the space, with a 4-4-2 insignia in the corner.
Transmission choices beyond the standard column-mounted three-speed included a Hurst four-speed stick, floor-shifted three-speed, and two-speed Jetaway Drive. Strato-Bucket seats and Red-Line tires were part of the 4-4-2's temptations, as was a heavy-duty suspension aimed at reducing rear-end "squat."
With an optional Tri-Carb assembly underhood, a 4-4-2 streaked to 60 mph in 7.2 seconds. The quarter-mile demanded 15.2 seconds. Adding $265 to the car's price and 10 digits to its horsepower rating, the trio of two-barrel carbs "brightens performance several magnitudes," according to Motor Trend. A 4-4-2 handily won Car and Driver magazine's six-car supercar test.
Read about changes for the 1967 model year on the next page.
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1967 Oldsmobile 4-4-2
The 1967 Oldsmobile 4-4-2, the "Swashbuckler," had a new front-end look that included a louvered hood. The 4-4-2 nameplate resided along the horizontal bar of the narrower grille, with each pair of headlights split by a rectangular park/signal light.
Helping send its energy to the ground in the most efficient manner was newly optional three-speed Turbo Hydra-Matic, replacing the former two-speed Jetaway. Naturally, a floor-shifted four-speed also was available to anyone dissatisfied with the three-speed stick.
By American standards, at least, Oldsmobile's "anti-boredom machine" was looking good in the handling department as well as at the drag strip. Car and Driver ranked 4-4-2 the "best-handling car of its type we've ever tested," describing the muscular Oldsmobile as "a driver's car." As for swiftness, it needed 7.8 seconds to hit 60 -- with automatic yet -- and 15.8 to run the quarter-mile (at 91 mph).
Motor Trend shot the 1967 4-4-2 to 60 in 7.1 seconds, versus 8.7 for an ordinary Cutlass. Quarter-mile time was 15.5 seconds (at 91 mph), besting the Cutlass by a full second.
Options for 1967 included a new transistorized ignition, front-disc brakes, and tachometer/engine gauge. Emphasis on safety caused Oldsmobile to promote such equipment as the new energy-absorbing steering column and padded instrument panel.
Dealers were able to install a special option late in the 1967 model year. The W-30 cold-air package consisted of two big ducts that surrounded the turn signals, blasting cold air into the air cleaner via flexible hoses. The claimed 360 horsepower of a W-30 engine was considered a conservative estimate. Hot Rod magazine breezed through the quarter-mile in 14.5 seconds with its automatic-equipped W-30, and 13.9 seconds with a four-speed stick.
Mid-size movers with heavy action on tap were tempting young America -- and a few older Americans to boot. Nobody realized that the muscle-car era, begun so recently, had only a few more years to go.
Even if Oldsmobile's tri-digit performance model didn't have a song written about it like Chevrolet's "409," it was coming on strong enough in the showrooms. Dealers offered a total of 24,833 in 1967. Oldsmobile was preparing a new look for its Cutlass series, and the 4-4-2 would again be part of the program.
Check out Oldsmobile 4-4-2 specifications on the next page.
For more information on cars, see:
1966-1967 Oldsmobile 4-4-2 Specifications
Though technically an option package on the Cutlass line, the 1966-1967 Oldsmobile 4-4-2s got noticed on their own for performance.
Engine: ohv V-8, 400 cid (4.00 × 3.98), 350/360 bhp
Transmission: 3-speed manual; optional 4-speed manual and 2-speed Jetaway (3-speed Turbo Hydra-Matic in 1967)
Suspension front: upper and lower A-arms, coil springs, stabilizer bar
Suspension rear: live axle, coil springs, stabilizer bar
Brakes: front/rear drums (front discs optional in 1967)
Wheelbase (in.): 115.0
Weight (lbs.): 3,454-4,047
Top speed (mph): 130
0-60 mph (sec): 6.3-7.8