Practicality carries a lot of weight when you’re buying a vintage car to drive and enjoy rather than tuck it away as a blue-chip investment. That makes “tribute” muscle cars—those with the look of a top-level model, but built from a standard trim—especially attractive. They offer the same driving fun of the pedigreed originals, but without the extra cost or value worries if the miles pile on or non-date-coded hose clamps are used under the hood. That’s what makes this ’72 Olds Cutlass 4-4-2 so appealing. In brilliant Matador Red and wearing the W-30 package’s fiberglass air-induction hood over a four-barrel 455-cu.in. V-8, it has the period-perfect muscle-car look and sound that draws attention at cars and coffee, but without the major investment required of a pure-bred example.

EXTERIOR

To be clear, this is an authentic 1972 Cutlass S Holiday hardtop coupe with the 4-4-2 package (the 4-4-2 was no longer a separate model in ’72), which included the white body-side stripes. The rear spoiler was a separate option that was added later on this car, along with the fiberglass hood that was part of the W-30 package. According to the seller, the paint and exterior trim are in “overall excellent condition, with some minor imperfections,” and that the bodywork is “straight and solid, with chrome bumpers that look great and fit tightly to the body.” It also wears the correct rear bumper with exhaust cutouts, which was included on models with a 455 engine, including the W-30 package.

INTERIOR

Inside, this 4-4-2 has a black vinyl interior with the optional Strato bucket seats and matching carpeting. The seller says the seats, carpet, headliner, instrument panel and door panels are in good, original condition, as is the optional center console featuring the factory-available Hurst “His and Hers” dual-gate shifter, (topped with an aftermarket T-handle here) for the automatic transmission. The couple of additional aftermarket perks include a Sunpro tachometer mounted inside the gauge cluster and a vintage Craig AM/FM/cassette stereo with a digital display. The seller reports the horn and windshield wipers do not work.

ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION

The “H” in this 4-4-2’s VIN indicates it was originally equipped with a two-barrel 350-cu.in. Oldsmobile V-8 engine, but owing to its W-30 tribute, that mill has been replaced with a four-barrel-fed Olds 455 that’s finished with a chrome air cleaner and Edelbrock chrome valve covers. The engine blows through a set of aftermarket headers and into a dual exhaust system, while sending its power to the rear axle via a Turbo Hydra-Matic 400 three-speed automatic transmission. According to the seller, the engine starts, idles and runs well and the transmission shifts smoothly. There are no reported leaks or weeps from either.

CHASSIS AND SUSPENSION

With this tribute muscle car built for driving, that’s exactly what it has done over the years. All of the components are in good working order. The undercarriage does exhibit some surface corrosion on some components, such as the exhaust, but otherwise appears to be solid in the photos. The car has power steering and power brakes, which work well and do not leak, while the car rolls on body-colored Super Stock II wheels shod with BFGoodrich Radial T/A tires, sized 205/70R14 in front and 245/60R14 in back, with plenty of tread life reportedly left in them. The car drives and stops well, with no reported vibrations.

DOCUMENTATION

This car will be sold with a clean and clear, mileage-exempt Missouri title. Other documentation offered with the car includes the original Protecto-O-Plate, owner’s manual package and new vehicle warranty information.

This Cutlass 4-4-2 is an attractive muscle car that offers plenty of driving value, with its Matador Red paint, W-30 upgrades and big-torque 455 engine—especially because all of the time and expense involved with the upgrades have already been done. It may not be an authentic W-30 model, but for those who measure a car’s worth in the experience more than matching numbers, it’s an investment that is sure to pay off whenever it rolls out of the garage.

NC

Ka-Chow!