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Home Car Culture Well-preserved 1966 Oldsmobile 442 rumbles into Jay Leno's Garage

Well-preserved 1966 Oldsmobile 442 rumbles into Jay Leno’s Garage

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The Pontiac GTO may have kicked things off, but nearly every General Motors brand jumped on the muscle-car bandwagon in the 1960s. Oldsmobile’s contender was the 442, based on the same GM A-body platform as the GTO. A pristine example of the Olds muscle car gets the spotlight on this episode of Jay Leno’s Garage.

The 442 name was derived from its 4-barrel carburetor, 4-speed transmission, and dual exhaust, but Oldsmobile sometimes abandoned that. This 1966 model has three 2-barrel carburetors, feeding fuel and air into a 400-cubic-inch V-8, which produces 360 horsepower. Jay says that’s more than the 442’s Pontiac GTO sibling made at the time, but our research shows the same 360 hp for the GTO.

Oldsmobile was considered a premium brand, so this 442 has a few more luxuries, such as power steering, power brakes (front discs and rear drums), and air conditioning. Those features didn’t normally come on muscle cars from more mainstream brands like Pontiac and Chevrolet, Leno said.

This car is part of the Audrain Auto Museum collection in Newport, Rhode Island, and was sent to Leno’s garage for some light restoration work. The original owner meticulously documented the car, keeping a binder of paperwork to prove its authenticity.

Oldsmobile kept updating the 442 throughout the 1960s to keep pace in the muscle-car arms race. By the end of the decade, the 442 sported a 455-cubic-inch V-8 and ram-air induction, but the golden age of the muscle car ended just a few years later. While fuel-economy regulations and backlash from insurance companies killed off most of the muscle cars, Oldsmobile remained healthy through the 1970s, and managed to coast along until 2004.

As per the norm, Jay takes the car for a drive at the end of the video, which gives us a chance to hear the throaty V-8. It’s fun to watch a great piece of muscle car history stalking the streets of Los Angeles.

Watch the full video for a deep dive into a muscle-car icon.

This article was originally published by Motor Authority, an editorial partner of ClassicCars.com.

Visit past stories from Jay Leno’s Garage on ClassicCars.com

5 COMMENTS

  1. Hi Jay –
    Love your videos.
    Buick 401 cid and Olds 400 cid engines are very different.
    The 4-4-2 emblem colors in the video are factory-correct.
    The ’66 Chevelle was available with 325 hp, 360 hp and (mid-year released) 375 hp 396 cid engines.
    Thanks for what you do.

  2. Thank You Jay for all you do for the auto restoration sport. I great up in the era of the muscle cars. I wouldn’t want to have missed it. Had a 1969 Z28 that is worth a lot more than the $1300 that I paid for it in 1971.

  3. Hi Jay:

    I think you are terrific!

    I am a “car girl” and started doing some serious classic car buying/investing in ‘86 when I bought a ‘64 ‘Vette-which I still have!

    I bought quite a few cars the next 20 years and then gradually sold last 10 years.

    I would love to have your opinion on “one-owner” cars as to what value it adds. I bought a ‘69 ‘Vette new and am now going to sell. I want it to get the respect it deserves for the love I have given it all these years.
    Thanks for listening.
    Sue

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