1971 Oldsmobile 442 is Clean, Husky and Handsome

Car and Track's 1971 Oldsmobile 442 W30 review examines one of the last muscle cars made by Detroit. Host Bud Lindemann showers the 442 with praise and damns progress for killing the muscle car in another excellent vintage road test.


By 1971 the muscle car and the full size convertible were "on the way out". It wasn't long after that both became a distant memory of a better era of American cars. The muscle cars certainly weren't going out without a bang. A prime example is the drool worthy 1971 Oldsmobile 442 W30 that was given to Car and Track for testing. Equipped with a convertible top and a four speed, this car was prime fantasy garage material. The Oldsmobile's 455 V8 was "the biggest of the big in the cubic inch race". Although the horsepower decline had begun in 1971, the W30 equipped tester still had 350 horsepower to toss the car around. The big convertible looks like it still has enough power to have a lot of fun on the track.

Car and Track's footage of this good looking old convertible power sliding around a track reminds us how good looking early 70s 442s were and how badly we want one. Although we doubt anyone would compare the handling of a 442 to a dancing ballerina these days, but that didn't stop Bud Lindemann from doing it in the 1970s. Lindemann was quite smitten with the 442 concluding the test by saying

"No we haven't said anything bad about this car; as a matter of fact we've kind of enjoyed throwing it the accolade. We could have nitpicked about the ashtray or the rear leg room or something, but there was so much to like from the 442 and we're going to miss what progress takes from it."

The era of muscle cars like the 442 and hosts like Bud Lindemann has long since passed. Luckily, because of these vintage Car and Track tests, we can get an idea of what it must have been like to abuse a new W30 442 on the track "at a time when concern for safety and environment are threatening much of what makes men love cars."


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Handles surprisingly well. If I was in the car market back then, I would have probably passed on the 455 and gone with a smaller engine, but I would have definitely ordered the disk brakes and the heavy duty suspension.