The 1970 Oldsmobile 4-4-2 W-30 stands as a muscle car classic -- but the formula was years in the making. Truth be told, the 1968 and '69 4-4-2 400-cid V-8 was a troubled motor. Olds had revised its bore and stroke to meet emissions and cost requirements, resulting in a "high-performance" mill that wouldn't rev past 5700 rpm and had subpar durability.
W-30 versions, benefitting from better-breathing heads and what amounted to factory blueprinting, matched the performance of the short-stroke '66-67 4-4-2 V-8s. But it wasn't until '70 that Olds got it together with perhaps the best all-around 4-4-2 ever.
The major advance was the newly standard 455-cid V-8, an under-stressed, big-port engine with tug-boat torque. Yet, it also had an advanced design that kept its exterior dimensions compact and its weight below that of the '69 400-cid V-8. It made 365 bhp in base form and was underrated at 370 in W-30 guise.
The W-30 package again included what Olds called "Select Fit" engine parts, plus a performance calibrated four-barrel, a hotter cam, and low-restriction exhausts. A Hurst-managed four speed with 3.42:1 gears or a performance-calibrated TurboHydra-matic 400 with a Hurst Dual-Gate shifter and 3.23:1 cogs were drivetrain choices. The Anti-Spin axle was standard and dealer-installed ratios up to 5.00:1 were available. Front disc brakes (with no power assist on four-speed cars), sway bars fore and aft, and G70xl4 white-letter tires were other W-30 components.
Drawing on experience with 455-cid V-8s in Hurst-doctored cars, Olds knew what it took to get the engine to perform in a 4-4-2. Weight reduction was essential, as illustrated in the W-30 package. The hood, with molded-in functional scoops, was made of fiberglass and was 18 pounds lighter than the steel version. The W-30's intake manifold was aluminum, its inner fender liners were plastic, and the cars had less sound deadener than other 4-4-2s. Aluminum was even used for the differential carrier and cover, shaving another 18 pounds.
Oldsmobile's 1970 W-30s blended a plush bucket-seat cabin with athletic road manners and vivid acceleration. It was the thinking-man's approach to muscle cars.
Return to Classic Muscle Cars Library.
For more cool information on muscle cars, go to:
- No muscle cars were more stylish, sophisticated, or brawnier than those from Oldsmobile. See profiles, photos, and specifications of Oldsmobile muscle cars.
- Muscle cars came in many shapes and sizes. Here are features on more than 100 muscle cars, including photos and specifications for each model.
- Muscle cars created their own culture. To learn about it, read How Muscle Cars Work.
Check out these profiles of muscle cars, which include photos and specifications for each model:
- The 1968 AMC AMX was a high-performance machine that appealed to more than just the muscle car crowd -- sports-car enthusiasts also loved it.
- Beep, beep! Make way for one of the baddest muscle cars of all time, the 1970 Plymouth Road Runner Hemi.
- It's hard to improve on an original, but new styling and more power helped the 1965 Pontiac Tempest GTO do just that.
- An all-aluminum, race-proven V-8 defined the rare and wicked 1969 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1.
For related car information, see these articles:
- The engine is what gives a muscle car its flamboyant personality. To learn everything you need to know about car engines, see How Car Engines Work.
- Muscle cars wouldn't have much muscle without horsepower -- but what exactly is horsepower? How Horsepower Works answers that question.
- NASCAR race cars embody the muscle car philosophy of power. Read How NASCAR Race Cars Work to find out what makes these charged-up racers go.
- Are you thinking of buying a 2007 muscle car, or any other car? See Consumer Guide Automotive's New-Car Reviews, Prices, and Information.