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Muscle Car Madness - 1969 Oldsmobile 442

Muscle Car Madness - 1969 Oldsmobile 442
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"To put it mildly, I was appalled," recounts Greg Schuller. "I was interested in restoring a 1968-1969 Oldsmobile 442 as I had already worked on a 1979 Supreme frame-off and continued with a 1969 Cutlass S frame-on with my brother, so I had great expectations driving down with my friend, Blair Rendell, to view a 1969 Oldsmobile 442 located in a town so small, it's not even located on GPS. If I had blinked, I would have missed it." Hardly surprising, they got lost. "Who really listens to what the GPS is saying?" and arrived a couple of hours late. This did not sit well with the owner who, muttering to himself, was replacing all the parts away that he had spread out on the front lawn. He was about as glad to see them as if they had been representatives from Canada Revenue.

"We had informed the owner that we were going to be late, but one guys 'late' is another's 'I am not coming.'" Butter wouldn't have melted in this scene as Greg and Blair looked at the parts and what was left of the car - engine out, transmission out, peeling vinyl roof, water in the car up to the top of the rear foot wells because that is as high as the water could accumulate before draining out the door. "I was shocked. All the highly touted new parts were in the trunk in boxes that were falling apart and moldy and all the new spare parts had noticeable rust patina and a disquieting odour - ode de toilet - thanks to the water-logged carpet in the trunk. It was just a scary mess."

The owner was mad for us being late and Greg was offput by the owner's lack of honesty regarding the quality of the product. "I was so upset I couldn't even bear to talk to the guy and give him my counter offer, so Blair did all the dirty work." Instead, they were asked to leave. No deal. No car. Not even a bolt. As Greg put it, "just a big footprint on our butts cause he felt a bit insulted>" Unbelievably the owner called Greg the next morning and wondered why they left. "He was a little into the beers," recalls Greg, "in fact, I'm sure I could smell the booze waft through the line. I swallowed my pride and expressed interest in the car and pats, but at my price.That's when the receiver died. It was January and correspondence was dead as a turky on Thanksgiving until October, the owner called - petulant as usual - and offered the package at the original asking price to which it was promptly declined. That seemed to be the end of the story.

Greg shakes his head, "the next spring he called and agreed to my offer. So I raced up there and picked up the package before the hit the sauce and changed his mind." Greg's smile broadens. "It was only after purchasing the car and getting it home that I did a search with G.M. of Canada and was ecstatic to discover that this car was one of less than 40 built in Canada with this particular powertrain combination." All Canadian-built 442s were equipped with the Chevrolet 12 bolt, but they did one special rear-end order from the Lansing plant replace the usual with a M21 transmission with an Olds. 3.42 gear ratio, 12 bolt for a Canadian car. That is rare.

“The 355 cu. in. engine was replaced with a spare 455 that I had saved from the 1969 Cutlass S,” as he taps his finger on his palm. “I added a .030 over, forged pistons, 9.6 to one compression, balanced, squared and decked the whole deal. I ported the stock C-heads and put Mondello valves into it along with roller rockers.” Although the ’69 Olds 442 is still considered by automotive experts to be the best balanced muscle car most due to the use of a rear anti-sway bar, Greg restored the car with an Edelbrock intake and a Holley 850 double pumper, boosting it to 400 hp and 500 ft lbs of torque. “The rear end and M21 were rebuilt by myself and friends, Bob Tattrie and Bruce McGill. The frame, suspension and all related pieces were cleaned, blasted and repainted, but the hardest part was the bodywork. As I disassembled the body, I realized I had to start from scratch – everything was rotten from the firewall to the door panels, floor, roof, trunk and wheel wells – all gone.”

Blair was having similar difficulties with restoring his ’69 442. The solution came in purchasing second-hand ’69 Olds 442 that had been bought and brought up from Florida but never put on the road. “We cut almost every panel out of that car and welded it into our own projects. The only parts that didn’t need to be replaced were the quarter panels.” The biggest challenge recalls Greg was the substantial doorposts, but even that was accomplished with lasers, string and a whole lot of measuring and trimming. After 6 years, the final touch was the paint job by Kitely Collision matching the original colour, Jade Gold green and Meadow green for the interior. Greg threw in the tinted windows for a more aggressive appearance. Tragically, Blair passed away suddenly and the spirit of the project died with him. “It was a year before I was motivated again. I know Blair would have loved this car. It drives like it’s brand new and though it consumes as much gas as a Sherman tank, it is loud, fast and fun. What else would you want from a car?”