Even at a glance, the Cutlass line -- including the hot 1968-1969 Oldsmobile 4-4-2 -- looked dramatically different for 1968. It had a new, smaller stance, with fresh fastback styling on a 112-inch wheelbase (three inches shorter than before), stretching 201.6 inches overall. Three models could have 4-4-2 equipment this time: the Holiday coupe, sports coupe, and convertible. In fact, 4-4-2 was now a series rather than a mere option package.
Front ends of the "Youngmobile for the purist" displayed a fresh appearance, with concealed wipers and a louvered hood. Quad headlights again resided in square housings, the pairs separated by rectangular parking/signal lights.
A large "4-4-2" insignia sat at the center of a rather narrow, rectangular crosshatch-patterned grille. Rear sculpturing was also revised. Dual exhausts exited through chrome collars notched into the rear bumper.
Not everyone was getting the performance message from Oldsmobile, as sales weren't exactly going through the roof. A new twist was needed. So Oldsmobile pushed harder with its Force-Air Induction System, which had debuted in 1967 on a small number of 4-4-2s.
To give the engine an extra jolt, the W-30 Force-Air collected cold air through intakes at the front bumper, cramming it into the carburetor. Coupled with internal engine modifications that included special heads and a high-output cam, Force-Air tacked 10 horsepower onto the usual 350-horsepower rating with a four-speed.
Standard Rocket V-8s with Turbo Hydra-Matic yielded only 325 horsepower. Farther down the scale, Oldsmobile also offered a 290-horsepower L65 Turnpike Cruising powerplant, with two-barrel carburetion and lower (9:1) compression to run on regular gas. Such a setup obviously guzzled less, but also tended to dilute the 4-4-2's performance image.
Few would have realized it from thumbing through the sales brochures, but 1968's series of 400-cubic-inch engines differed from the one used in prior 4-4-2s, with revised bore/stroke dimensions. A Hurst shifter operated both the wide-ratio and close-ratio four-speed gearboxes, as well as the standard three-speed.
Performance-oriented car magazines heaped praise on the 1968-1969 4-4-2. Find out why on the next page.
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Handling on the 1968-1969 Oldsmobile 4-4-2 got the customary help via the car's heavy-duty springs/shocks, front and rear stabilizer bars, and Wide-Oval F70x14 Red-Line rubber. Simulated wire or Super Stock wheels could replace the regulars, and axle ratios up to 4.46:1 could be ordered.
Transistorized ignition was recommended for cars that racked up high mileage. An optional Rally-Pac instrument cluster included a large-dial tachometer, electric clock, speedometer, and engine gauges. Rally Striping was part of the Force-Air package, or could be ordered separately.
CARS magazine named 4-4-2 "Top Performance Car of the Year." And no wonder. Motor Trend achieved a 0-60 time of 6.7 seconds with its 1968 4-4-2, with the 350-horsepower engine. Quarter-mile time was 15.3 seconds, hitting 95 mph.
Front-end restyling for 1969 positioned those vital "4-4-2" numerals in the wide center section of a split black-out grille, setting the stage for the grille style that would be used on Oldsmobiles into the 1990s. The digits were repeated on a big badge at the cowl and on the deck. Headlight pairs were separated by a narrow vertical divider.
Claimed to make "everything else look tame," the 4-4-2 again carried a 350-horsepower engine (325 with Turbo Hydra-Matic). The emasculated Turnpike Cruising edition was dropped after a single year's service. Force-Air was back, however. Ordering that W-30 package brought the "largest factory air scoops in the business" (more than 26 square inches), as well as low-restriction dual exhausts and dual hood stripes.
Force-Air Induction also could be ordered on lesser Cutlass and F-85 models, the entire group known as the "W-Machines." Oldsmobile insisted that one of these came "as close as you can get to a blueprinted engine."
With its unique "bi-level" hood and contrasting paint stripes, the final 4-4-2 of the 1960s looked just a tad outlandish, but remained a sizzling performer. As the ads explained, owning this slick Olds just might deliver some "escape from the ordinary."
Optional five-hole brushed stainless Custom Sport wheels could add a distinctive touch. And with its alluring option list, including a broad selection of axle ratios, a 4-4-2 could be fitted to travel in accord with anyone's wishes. At $3,141 for a Sports Coupe ($3,395 for a ragtop), a 4-4-2 wasn't quite bargain-basement, but those dollars bought a healthy helping of excitement from the guys at Oldsmobile.
Check out 1968-1969 Oldsmobile 4-4-2 specifications on the next page.
For more information on cars, see:
1968-1969 Oldsmobile 4-4-2 Specifications
The 1968-1969 Oldsmobile 4-4-2 was well received by auto critics. One magazine named the 1968 Oldsmobile 4-4-2 its top performance car of the year, and others came up with very favorable results as well.
1968 Engine: ohv V-8, 400 cid (3.87 × 4.25), 290/325/350/360 bhp
1969 Engine: ohv V-8, 400 cid, 325/350/360 bhp
Transmission: 3-speed manual; optional 4-speed manual and 3-speed Turbo Hydra-Matic 400
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)
Wheelbase (in.): 112.0
Weight (lbs.): 3,502-3,580
Top speed (mph): 108-122
0-60 mph (sec): 6.7-7.0