What Does 442 Stand for in Oldsmobile 442 Car?by Kim KenneyUpdated June 06, 2023
The Oldsmobile 442 was one of the great American muscle cars in the 1960s. At the time, many auto companies were coming out with performance cars that were known by their numbers. The Oldsmobile 442 was originally introduced as an option package for the F-85 Cutlass line, but eventually it became its own model. The meaning of the numbers changed over time.
When the Oldsmobile 442 was introduced in 1964, it stood for a four-barrel carburetor, four-speed manual transmission, and dual exhaust. Surprisingly, it only had a 330 cubic-inch engine.
In 1965, General Motors increased the engine size to 400 cubic inches. It was only available with a four-speed transmission. The meaning of the numbers remained the same.
In 1966, GM introduced a three two-barrel carb set up, but they did not change the name to 642. Now the first "4" represented the 400 cubic-inch engine.
In 1968, the Oldsmobile 442 became its own model instead of just an option on the Cutlass. In 1972, the 442 reverted back to an option that was available on four different Cutlass models.
The 442 emblem from 1964 to 1967 was three colored boxes, from left to right red, orange and yellow. The numbers were written in black inside each box. In 1968, the Oldsmobile 442 emblem was changed to three silver numbers.
The correct pronunciation is four-four-two. It should never be referred to as a "four-forty-two."
I have been a professional historian, museum curator, and author for more than a decade. I have served as the Museums Editor at BellaOnline since 2004. I am qualified to serve as an expert in a variety of historical topics. My expertise includes the Victorian Age and McKinley's presidency, the Roaring Twenties, the 1950s, the flu, museum studies, material culture, architecture, and more. I have a BA in history and an MA in history museum studies from the Cooperstown Graduate Program. Please see my bio on my employer's website for more: http://www.mckinleymuseum.org/speakers_bureau/speaker/2