Car Show Outtake: 1976 Oldsmobile Cutlass S 442


Right around the peak of Cutlass-mania in the 1970s, this is what an Oldsmobile 442 looked like.  Based on the Cutlass S, it was only a shadow of its former self, but times had certainly changed.  In those halcyon days of Oldsmobile history, under 10,000 1976 442s found suitable driveways.  It certainly was the era of the brougham.


The ’76 edition of the 442 may not have sported ultra-chic opera windows, but it did have a sporty steering wheel. The white bucket seats and black appointments in this example are a classic touch.  This 442 could have a 260, 350, or 455-cubic inch Oldsmobile engine, but it’s unlikely that it has the 455, because only a handful were sold in its final year.  In 1977, the 403 replaced it.  By 1976, the 442, like many sport packages, was more about appearance and handling.  You got the special decals and “FE2” rally suspension.

1976 Oldsmobile Mid-size and Compact-10-11

An uncommon option in 1976 was the five-speed manual transmission, which one could order with the 260 V-8. Only 964 Cutlass S models were ordered with the overdrive, and our featured car is not one of them.  The 442’s newfound secondary status is obvious in the brochure, where it’s buried at the bottom of the page, a mere option package for the Cutlass S.

1976 Oldsmobile Mid-size and Compact-04-05

The Supremes were indeed earning all the praise: there were two full-page spreads devoted to the Supreme and Supreme Brougham in the ’76 catalog.  The padded velour split bench of the Supreme Brougham was a far cry from the 442’s bucket seats and console look that dominated the 1960s.

442 ad

This proud surfer/owner echoed the thoughts of the time period; it just seemed like the market passed sporty cars by.  Oldsmobile would hang onto the 442 name for a couple more decades, but they would never again produce anything like a ’70 W-30.  However, let us not keep that from enjoying this ironic iconoclast.