From Motor Trend, September 1964, "Olds F-85 Cutlass 442 Road Test"
FOUR-FOUR-TWO stands for four on the floor, four-barrel carb, and dual exhausts. The
factory engineered all this for police pursuit work, but the 442 is now available to the
public at large. Our test car also had heavy-duty suspension and 20 extra horses...
In their efforts to please most people
most of the time, Oldsmobile Division
has a 1964&3/4 offering for drivers who
want just a bit more performance and
handling. It's designated by the numbers
442 but, on the official price sticker,
it's called Option Number B-09
Police Apprehender Pursuit. This car
costs an extra $285.14 over the regular,
everyday F-85 Cutlass.
Olds engineers haven't restricted the
performance package to the engine
alone. The price quoted above includes
heavy-duty front and rear springs and
shocks, a sturdier anti-roll bar up front,
one in the rear as well, plus 7.50 x 14
inch Red-Line tires. These items bring
the car's usually soft springing up to a
nice, firm combination that gives a solid
feeling of control and handling, with no
loss in riding comfort.
The big under-hood change lies in a
wilder camshaft, some valving modifications,
and the use of extra-quality, precision
main bearings and rods to
withstand the higher revs this engine's
bound to get. Although there's only a
20-hp increase and the torque output of
355 pounds-feet is identical with the
top standard Cutlass (290-hp), the 442
feels and is much stronger than you'd
expect from a mere 20-hp increase. A
heavy-duty clutch and 3.36 rear axle
are also parts of the 442 package. But
as sometimes happens, someone missed
the rear-axle boat. Our instruments told
us our 442 had a 3.55 differential. As
for our specification table, we list the
3.55 as standard, not the 3.36.
The characteristic that impressed us
most about the 442 was its extremely
wide performance range. Even with the
wilder cam, it'd idle smoothly and
quietly in traffic, then pull from as low
as 15 mph in fourth without bucking or
stalling. It isn't a car for the ladies in
our audience—the stiffer clutch, non-power
brakes, and stiff four-speed transmission
restrict it to the man with muscle. But
he'll certainly enjoy himself
behind the wheel.
The 442 would come alive and roar
when given its head on the track. No
limited-slip rear axle was fitted to our
test car. It would've improved performance
and driving pleasure considerably.
Nevertheless, straightaway acceleration
was impressive. Zero to 30, 45, and 60
mph took only 3.1, 5.1, and 7.5 seconds
respectively, while the measured quarter-mile
stopped our watches at 15.5
seconds. The fifth-wheel speedometer
showed a true 90 mph as we crossed
the end of the strip.
And flat-out acceleration wasn't the
only impressive part of the 442's added
horsepower. Highway passing times and
distances (from 40-60 mph and 50-70
mph) were equally outstanding. The
ability of a car to pass other vehicles
quickly while spending a minimum of
time on the wrong side of a two-lane
road is a definite safety factor. Needless
to say, the 442 moved out with authority
in any gear and, when pushed hard,
was in the left lane a bare minimum of
The engine's wide torque range, plus
the optional 3.55 axle, are a good
match. The times quoted for highway
passing were outstanding, but we made
them in second gear. Leaving the car in
fourth, it still accelerated from 40 to 60
mph in 6.9 seconds and from 50 to 70
mph in 6.5 seconds. Only in an emergency
would you have to worry about
downshifting to pass. Performance
wouldn't be quite so good with the 3.36
axle the 442 is supposed to have, but
this model would still be far ahead of
the standard Cutlass at the end of the
Top speed down Riverside's back
straight was 116 mph at 5500 rpm on
our electric tachometer. It seems strange
that Oldsmobile engineers fit a tach to
the big, luxurious, automatic-equipped
Starfire convertible but not to the F-85
442. A console-mounted tach is offered
as an option on the regular Cutlass, but
it might be better to forget it and
mount an accessory tach on the dash
where you can see it and still keep your
eyes on the road.
As we said before, the heavy-duty
suspension components are a big improvement
over the F-85's usually soft
ride. Hard cornering brought out a
minimum of body lean. The car felt
stable and controllable and could be
cornered fast with confidence. The
combination of the Red-Line tires and stiffer
suspension gave the car a good grip on
the pavement. The 442 showed far less
understeer than the standard Cutlass
coupe and could be taken through a
bend (and out of it) much faster. It just
goes to show that, with the proper
options, a five-passenger car can have
good handling characteristics and still
keep its comfortable ride. Comfort was
enhanced by vinyl-covered, foam-padded
buckets in front and a bench seat
in the rear. Bound and rebound control
was good at any speed on all highway
surfaces. We found only one dip that
would bottom the suspension—our lead
picture shows this graphically.
Oldsmobile offers heavy-duty brakes
with metallic linings, and we heartily
recommend them, especially for a car
like the 442 that's intended for
faster-than-normal motoring. Our test car had
the standard drums. They did a good
job during our tests, giving straight-line
stops with a minimum of swerving and
fade. The rear wheels tended to lock up
first during panic stops from 60 mph,
making quick pumping necessary for
short stopping. We found these brakes
perfectly adequate for normal chores,
but the Cutlass 442 isn't a normal car.
It goes faster and handles better than
run-of-the-mill sedans and therefore
should have every advantage. The best
possible brakes available, in this case
the heavy-duty metallics, would be a
definite advantage, even on the stock
The standard brakes are self-adjust-ing.
Special cooling flanges fitted to the
drums helped them cool quickly after
constant hard use (about six panic
stops) faded them considerably. To date,
they're the strongest stock brakes the
F-85 has had, and they're far better
than our last year's test car had. But
they could be (and should be) stronger
for the 442 if you intend any pursuit
Mileage was more or less what we
made it. Out at the Riverside track
during performance and high-speed testing,
mileage dropped down to an eight mpg low.
With the car's 10.25 compression ratio,
we could use only premium.
Steady highway driving at 65-70 mph
gave a very good figure of 19.8 mpg,
while city driving dropped to 14- 15
miles per gallon.
Just to see what very careful driving
could produce, we filled the tank, drove
onto the freeway, and covered 100 miles
at a steady 55 mph. We refilled immediately
after leaving the freeway.
The result was 24.1 mpg, which shows
that the careful driver, if he works at
it, can have his cake and eat it. An
economy performance car is hard to
find in this country.
To say we didn't have any complaints
with the 442 wouldn't be true, but the
few we had certainly didn't dim the
otherwise bright aspects of the car. Our
Muncie gearbox had a linkage adjustment
problem and took too much power
to change gears. It also tended to hang
up on fast shifts. The reach to third
was far too long for our liking.
It also took considerable leg-power to
work the heavy-duty clutch and non-power-assisted
brakes. But both worked
well, and we noticed no clutch slippage,
even during hardest use.
Oldsmobile's power steering, with
four full turns between locks, may be
fine for regular passenger cars, but
again, we feel it's a bit too slow for a
car of the 442's caliber. It was smooth
enough but a little vague in action.
Since many makers refuse to design
a car seat adjustable to different-sized
drivers, we appreciated the four-way
power seat in our test car. The addition
of a tilting wheel should let anyone fit
his new Cutlass. Yet, somehow it doesn't
seem right that you have to pay extra
to make your car fit. We're still in
favor of seats that adjust for height and
rake with simple tools.
As it was, the Cutlass proved quite
comfortable for trips of any length.
Foam-padded buckets give good lateral
and under-leg support, with the power
seat lending almost infinite adjustability.
The padded dash is a Cutlass standard
item, but we'd prefer a full complement
of gauges instead of the warning lights
used for oil, temperature, and generator.
One unusual feature is the glove
box door—it swings up. Anyone who
goes to drive-in restaurants isn't going
to like it.
Four-four-two stands for four on the
floor, a four-barrel carb, and dual ex-
hausts. It's Oldsmobile's answer to the
extra-hot items offered by the competi-
tion, and it serves its intended purpose
well. It offers Oldsmobile owners inter-
ested in performance something that
performs just as well as, and in most
cases better than, the competition. Olds
engineers have done a fine job with the
suspension system. The H-D components plus
the stiffer anti-roll bar up
front and the rear anti-roll bar combine
to make the 442 a car that can cover
ground quickly with a high degree of
safety and comfortable riding qualities.
Naturally, a few items leave some room
for improvement, but as we drove it,
the F-85 Cutlass 442 is quite an automobile.
It's extremely wide range of
good traffic tractability to all-out dragstrip
performance was impressive. Its
fuel economy was surprising (yes, it was
figured on a corrected speedometer). So
we'll have to give the 442 a pretty
enthusiastic send-off. No automobile can
be all things to all people, but the 442
comes a lot closer than most. Why did
they wait so long?
OLDS F-85 CUTLASS 442
2-door, 5-passenger hardtop
OPTIONS ON CAR TESTED: Power steering, windshield washer, 2-speed
wipers, electric deck-lid release, electric clock,
back-up lights, crankcase vent, outside mirror,
anti-glare mirror, power seat simulated wire wheel
covers, Police Apprehender Pursuit package
BASE PRICE: $2784
PRICE AS TESTED: $3658.74 (plus tax and license)
ODOMETER READING AT START OF TEST: 2701 miles
RECOMMENDED ENGINE RED LINE: 6000 rpm
ACCELERATION (2 aboard)
0-30 mph..................3.1 secs.
0-60 mph .................7.5
PASSING TIMES AND DISTANCES
40-60 mph.................3.6 secs., 263 ft.
50-70 mph.................4.5 secs., 396 ft.
Standing start 1/4-mile 15.5 secs. and 90 mph
Speeds in gears @ 5200 rpm
1st ...............45 mph 3rd ......75 mph
2nd ...............57 mph 4th ......116 mph (top speed @5400 rpm)
Speedometer Error on Test Car
Car's speedometer reading.....30 45 51 61 71 81
Weston electric speedometer...30 45 50 60 70 80
Observed mph per 1000 rpm in top gear......21.5 mph
Stopping Distances—from 30 mph, 31 ft.
from 60 mph, 176 ft.
SPECIFICATIONS FROM MANUFACTURER
Engine Wheels and Tires
Ohv V-8 5-lug, welded-steel disc wheels
Bore: 3.9375 ins. 7.50 X 14, 4ply, low-profile,
Stroke: 3.3850 ins. Red-Line tires
Displacement: 330 cu. ins.
Compression ratio: 10.25:1 Brakes
Horsepower: 310 @ 5200 rpm Duo-servo hydraulic,
Torque: 355 lbs.-ft@ 3600P rpm self-adjusting
Horsepower per cubic Inch: 0-94 Front: 9.5-ins. X 2.5 ins. wide
Carburetion: 1 4-bbl. Rear: 9.5-ins. X 2.0 ins. wide
Ignition: 12-volt coil Effective Lining Area: 155.6 sq. ins.
Gearbox Swept drum area: 267.8 sq. ins.
4-speed manual, all synchro,
1-piece, open tube Ball nut with integral power
Differential Turning diameter: 41 ft.
Hypoid, semi-floating Turns lock to lock: 4.06
Standard ratio: 3.55:1
Suspension Body and Frame
Front: Heavy-duty, independent Welded steel body on box-section
coil springs; H-D, double-acting frame with torque boxes
tubular shocks; H-D anti-roll bar Wheelbase: 115 ins.
Rear: Solid axle; H-D coil Track: front, 58.0 ins.
springs; double-acting tubular rear 58.0 ins.
shocks; drive & torque taken Overall length: 203 ins
through control links Overall width: 73.8 ins
Curb weight: 3440 Ibs.