Past write-ups here have featured sporty coupes that were based on manufacturer’s bread-and-butter sedans – Ford Capri and Mustang, Alfa Romeo Alfetta GT, Fiat 124 coupe, and more. Besides the Camaro, which generally ran on its won platform, the American arm of GM was not really known for directly translating a sedan platform into a sporty coupe. In the late 1970s, though, GM built a fastback (not hatchback – just as with the Lancia Beta sedan, it’s a fastback design with a trunk that opens below the rear glass) sedan version of its popular Oldsmobile Cutlass and Buick Century models. Of those cars, a few Cutlasses were built with the 442 option package, with the top specification having a 305 V8 and four-speed manual transmission. Check out this 1978 Oldsmobile Cutlass 442 for sale for $2400 in Seattle, WA.
Awesome 1980s graphics and Rally (Rallye? Ralley?) wheels with white letter tires upgrade the look a bit, and in most 1970s “sports” option packages, you’d expect things to end there. The paint is probably original, and was perhaps being prepared for paint – there are some sections of flat black on various panels of the car. At this point it’s not unusual for the graphics to be remade, so if you wanted to finish the job you could and still maintain some of the appeal of the car.
Ignoring the paint, the car does look pretty decent and complete, and the seller says it’s his daily driver. Perhaps that’s not something you want to publish online when your car is wearing restricted collector car plates, but to each their own. Of all the late 1970s offerings from GM, this one’s not too bad looking – it’s actually pretty contemporary and while the fastback shape was intended to save money, it actually benefits by taking from many contemporary European designs.
Okay, so barring the 442 badges, this is pretty typical for GM at that time – vertical dash with not much depth, circular gauges with tachometer and speedometer, 4-speed manual on the floor… wait a minute here, wise guy. Like a grandma driving a Ferrari, or a unicorn jumping over a rainbow, it’s hard not to gawk just a little and wonder what cosmic collision caused this to happen. So, take it in, because the odds of seeing a GM steering column without a shifter poking out of it, a non-ribbon speedometer, and a hole in the floor for a shifter (nevermind the clutch pedal or tach), all in one place together again are pretty low.
So yeah, this thing’s supposed to be sporty. And it has a 4-speed manual to control the power output of its likely wheezy 160hp smog era V8. Without going all LSx crazy, what could you do with the Chevy 305 to make it live up to its potential and pull its roughly 3300 lb. along with a little verve? Suspension was upgraded by the factory, but with this car being smog exempt in several states (including its current location), it would be fun to see what you could make out of it. Does this package plus new shocks and springs, a freer-breathing engine, and some better brakes just change from novelty car to scary car? Someone
else needs to find out.