Steve Cian's '70 442

Steve Cian's '70 442


My first car was a plain jane yellow 1970 cutlass 2 door hard top in 1977. Years after I bought the car, it was shortened by a truck that hit me in the rear at a red light. I put the drive train in a 1971 cutlass supreme doner car and added the 442 trans and drive train. After getting it ready for paint, I tried to drive through an inocent looking water filled mud hole in the New Jersey pine barrens. There was a big hidden rut in the middle, the car stopped, and water came it up to the top of the seats. It was a shame.

I finally had a chance to buy a '70 442 convertible in 1990 for $1900. It had no fenders and the interior as well as the rest of the car was taken apart for restoration. I put an additional $7000 into the car from 1990 to 1996. I bought new N.O.S. quarters and fenders. Plus, I added the OAI hood and wing. Then I had the 442 painted in the original gallion gold with black stripes on the hood, it looked beautiful. I also rebuilt the engine twice in those years. Doing smoky burnouts with G-60's took its toll -- twice! Now, I still have a pair of cast pistons with the ring lands blown off for book ends.

Anyway, I trailered the car from the East Coast to my Midwest destination in July 2000. Actually, I trailered the car almost all the way to my planned destination. After driving about 750 miles, I was very tired so I let my companion drive. I fell asleep in the cab of the truck while she drove. We were 150 miles from the planned destination. In minutes I was fast asleep on the floor of the truck cab.
Suddenly, I was rudely awakened by the sound of the tires hitting the rumble strip at the edge of the highway. Plus, I felt the truck turning over on its side. I couldn't believe it. The truck, trailer and my 442 was leaving the road and turning over -- at highway speed! I knew what was happening and couldn't believe it. It seemed like we slid down the side of the road for a very long time. I was bouncing around between the floor and the bottom of the dash the whole time.
Finally, the truck turned completely upside down and stopped on the side of the road. I crawled out of the cab and looked around to see if everyone was okay. My companion was still in the truck, strapped into the driver's seat and there was a small fire at the back of the engine. (Later I found out she was soaked in diesel fuel.) I lost my glasses but I could see she was in trouble. I crawled back into the truck, at some moderate risk to myself, to get the onboard fire extinquisher and put the fire out. I was able to get the extinguisher out after what seemed a very long struggle. Then I put the fire out, with the help of two people who stopped to assist. The whole time I was bleeding from my forehead like a stuck pig. It was intense! My driver finally got out of the cab and walked away from the wreck.
Then I walked down to see my 442. It was crushed up to the top of the doors! Almost all the glass was gone. It was still rigged to the trailer though. I was heartbroken, but glad to be alive. It was almost a sin. My car was finished except for the interior. I worked for 10 years on this car and in seconds it was destroyed.

Luckily the car was insured and I was able to collect. However, I couldn't bare to let the beloved car go, so I paid the salvage amount and kept the car. I desperately tried to figure out how to fix it without losing my shirt. The windshield frame was crushed and almost all of the new sheet metal was damaged. The ram air hood and the wing was miraculously untouched. The back of the truck held the trailer up off the ground high enough so the hood and wing were off the ground. The car still ran and drove though. It was amazing.
Finally, I figured it was more trouble than it was worth to fix the car, I did some last smokey burnouts in it, and then I sold it. The person who bought it was going to take it apart and do a frame up restoration since it was a original 442 numbers matching car. I was lucky enough to own it for 10 years anyway and have all those memories. I loved doing those smokey burnouts with a big block '70 olds. There is nothing else like it.

Now it is a over a year later and I am surfing your website for another convertible. I hope my future Oldsmobile doesn't end up like the other ones. I am quickly approaching my 40th birthday and another Olds convertible would be really great.

Email Steve at racerpgw@yahoo.com