1942 Oldsmobile

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Nedanståeende text är kopierad från Hemmings Motor News:

Contrary to popular belief, the B-44 badges found on the grilles of 1942 Oldsmobiles are not a reference to model designations. Every Oldsmobile that left the assembly line, whether it is our featured Special 66, or a Custom Cruiser 98, all carried the B-44 emblem.

In the midst of a war raging throughout the rest of the world, Oldsmobile was celebrating their 44th year in the automobile industry. Part of the sales gimmick utilized to promote their even-numbered anniversary was the use of the B-44 badge; the "B" quite literally meant to indicate "Even Better looking, even Better lasting, even Better built than any Oldsmobile in 44 years!" in their advertising.


On August 29, 1941, Oldsmobile's year kicked off as it usually had, this time knowing in advance that model-year production figures would be reduced considerably, thanks to mandates set forth by the War Production Board. In fact, all manufacturers cut their projected production totals to half those of the previous model year; the attack on Pearl Harbor slashed that number even more.

The new editions arrived from the assembly line featuring a "double-duty," two-tier grille bisected by a substantial horizontal bar, a dramatic facelift from the previous year. Continuing with the patriotic theme of the day, the Oldsmobiles also carried "Fuselage Fenders," described as "pontoon" type, that extended and faired well into the front doors, supported by a "dreadnought" frame to fit three different wheelbases. The Special 60 chassis is the shortest of the three offered in 1942, with a wheelbase of 119 inches, while the Dynamic 70 sits at 125 and the Custom Cruiser 90 is the longest at 127. Fastback body styles were now available in all three series, and the headlamps were relocated more towards the "outboard" position on the fenders.

Focusing attention on our featured Special 66, it should be said that a Special 68 was also available in 1942, the most significant feature that differentiates the two being solely the engine offering; this was also the case for the 70 series. The 66 translates to 60 series with a six-cylinder powerplant; a switch of the last digit indicates an eight-cylinder.

The L-head straight-six is a 238-cu.in. cast-iron engine featuring a 3.5 x 4.125-inch bore and stroke, 6.5:1 compression ratio and single downdraft carburetor that produces 100hp at 3,200 rpm. This equates to .42hp per cubic inch--not exactly material for a land-speed record by any means, considering the lightest model weighed in at just under 3,400 pounds.

Power is transferred from forward to aft compliments of two means, the standard being the manual synchromesh transmission with three forward speeds. If a buyer was willing to fork over an extra Ben Franklin--or less--a four-speed Hydra-Matic automatic would be substituted. Introduced with the 1940 models, the Hydra-Matic eliminated the clutch pedal altogether for a truly automatic transmission. According to the folks at Oldsmobile, the Hydra-Matic allowed for 10-15 percent increase in fuel mileage, thanks to the use of a 3.63:1 rear axle ratio versus the 4.30:1 used with the manual transmission. An interesting side note: A GM test in 36 cities used a device called the "Effort-meter" to physically count clutch pushing and gearshift motion, revealing an average of 419 operating motions per hour of city driving that the Hydra-Matic could eliminate.

Thanks to material restrictions as war loomed ever closer, later models featured only chrome bumpers, while the rest of the trim left the factories painted instead of plated. On February 5, the Oldsmobile assembly line finally came to a halt (Hemmings Classic Car #17). The Club Coupe was offered only in the 60 series, predominantly carrying the straight-six to the tune of 3,803 units compared to the 477 straight-eight units. As well as it sold during the limited run, it was far from the most popular. Today, most 1942 models are generally considered rare, particularly given the fact that pre-war autos were kept in service longer than normal, using worn-out equipment, thanks to the lack of new cars and parts. The question remains as to just how many survived.

This article originally appeared in the JANUARY 1, 2007 issue of Hemmings Motor News

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