By Patrick Smith
Oldsmobile knew the time was right to field a high performance intermediate after the runaway success of Pontiac's Tempest option called GTO. By adding a parts bin special cobbled from the Police Apprehender's package, the Lansing boys made their F85 and Cutlass a performance car. Over the years, the package grew more powerful with tricarbs, trunk mounted battery, ram induction systems and bigger engines. By 1968, the Cutlass gained more respect from buyers. Tie ins with Hurst using the Dual Gate shifter and H/O model helped initiate the supercar concept in 1968. By 1970, the cubic displacement rule was shattered as the 455 V8 became the standard 442 engine. Today they're among the most desirable and popular Cutlasses made. We'll guide you on how to buy a good Rocket instead of a dud Scud.
Solid, handsome and fast, the Cutlass and 442 have been favorites for decades. This 72 Cutlass Supreme in Flame Orange sports SS2 wheels and sports mirrors.
Year by Year Identification Guide: Due to the popularity of the 442 option and the wide variety of Cutlass models, this guide focuses primarily on the Supreme and 442 models. The Cutlass range included hardtop, convertible, two and four door sedans and even station wagons. Of interest to some buyers is the Vista Cruiser wagon option which supplied a glass rear roof section for viewing. These are collectible now. The 1968 Cutlass has a central grille and four headlights divided by parking lamps in between. The 442 grille is a blacked out egg crate with the 442 emblem in the center.
A 1968 442 convertible is a rare sight and has blacked out grille with 442 badge and die cast vents on hood.
All 1968 Cutlasses used single, rectangular flat tail lamp. The 1969 Cutlass grille has vertical fins, a center metal divider and four headlamp arrangement in pairs with the parking lamps moved to the front bumper.
The 1969 Cutlass has vertical grille columns while the 442 has die cast numbers in center of hood.
The 442 model grilles are blacked out with egg crate grilles and the hood divider has die cast 442 numbers instead of the Rocket emblem. All 1969 Cutlasses used a single, square tail lamp. In 1970, the Cutlass had a moderate restyle of front and rear ends and improved interiors. The 1970 Cutlass grille has a fine egg crate design with Cutlass script on the driver side while the 442 model has bold vertical columns with die cast 442 letters in the hood divider.
1970 442s have bold vertical column grilles and if W30 equipped the hood has twin scoops with hood locks.