Engine Of The Day: Oldsmobile Generation 2 V8

Maybe it didn't make financial sense for GM to have each division design its own engines- a policy that continued into, and sometimes beyond, the Malaise Era- but the results were some excellent pushrod V8s!

Say what you will about Detroit's primitive suspensions and iffy build quality during the postwar period, but there's no denying that The General cranked out inexpensive, reliable, and powerful pushrod V8s by the tens of millions. We've honored the Buick 215 aka Rover V8, the Buick Nailhead, the Cadillac OHV, the Pontiac V8, and the Small-Block Chevrolet so far in this series, and today it's the turn of the Olds V8s built during the 1964-1990 period (yes, we'll eventually get to the big-block Chevy and the others, so be patient). Starting with the 330-cubic-inch Jetfire Rocket, this engine family (technically split into "small-block" and "big-block" categories based on deck height, but otherwise the same) included the axle-snapping 455 that powered the '70 442, countless 350s and 400s that were stuffed inside Cutlasses, and the 403, which was stuffed into just about every GM vehicle that would hold still on the assembly line. The "6.6 Litre" engines in the Malaise Trans Ams were Olds 403s… and we'd say that perhaps that engine is best forgotten, but we're saving that distinction for the ill-fated diesel version of the 350. I had a purple '69 Cutlass with the (gas) 350 for a regrettably brief, donuts-on-your-lawn period in my teens, and I think I turned more cheap tires into black marks on the pavement with this engine than with any other. Hooray for torque!

[Wikipedia, 442.com; Image source: Fotki]