Rhapsody in Blue
When it comes to classic cars, there has always been a fascination with rare cars. There are the ones we all know about, the 4-speed Stage 1 Convertible or the XR-7G 429, but then there are the ones that elude even the most knowledgeable automotive historian. This is one of those tales.
As I was cruising to the Garden of The Gods Park in Colorado Springs, Co, the owner of this beautiful Caribbean Turquoise 442 began telling his story. Ron Madd grew up in Overland, KS. He still remembers seeing a Hurst\Olds for the first time at the O’Neill Oldsmobile dealership in Overland. Ron made a personal vow to eventually own one. In high school, a close friend had a Cutlass with a 350 and a set of Cherry Bombs, setting off what grew into a love of Oldsmobile A-bodies. Jumping ahead more than 30 years, Ron has found his H\O, but his wife felt left out so they started looking for a 1970-72 ram air 442 convertible, but just couldn’t find the right car. Finally, in the fall of 2002, a friend in Kansas City called Ron and described a beautiful 442 convertible his neighbor had just bought that may be for sale. The neighbor was a Mopar collector, but had seen this car pull up to a classic car auction in Kansas City several weeks before, and was so impressed with it that he talked the owner into selling it before he even put it through the auction. “My friend knew I was looking for a 442 convertible and asked the neighbor if he would be willing to sell it,” Ron told me. Being a Mopar guy at heart, he agreed and sent Ron photos of the car. Since Ron was in Texas at the time and could not travel to KC, he had the owner put it on a lift at a mechanic’s shop and quizzed them about every number they could on the car – VIN, cowl tag, engine, transmission, rear end, as well as options and condition. As is turned out, it was loaded with factory options, and everything still worked. The original numbers-matching 325-hp 400ci engine and automatic transmission remain in the car.
Armed with this information, Ron purchased the car and had it shipped to Texas. Once the car finally arrived, the story takes a turn- as it turns out, the car has more than just a few rare options, in fact, the car had a dash (-) on the cowl tag for body color – very rare for a 1969 442. The car came with the original paperwork including the broadcast card, detailing the cars options. The beautiful Caribbean Turquoise paint was actually a Toronado-only color in 1969. There are no records of any other 1969 442 having received this color. Even more interesting, the COPO and F&SO box on the card had three option codes. While COPO cars (Central Office Production Order) are rare in Chevrolets, they are even more unusual for Oldsmobiles. The codes listed included A93 for vacuum power locks and two unknown codes, K56 and 676. Ron sent the information to the Oldsmobile History Center in Lansing, MI, about two years ago, while Oldsmobile historian Helen Earley was still alive. Neither she nor anyone else there had ever seen these codes nor could they provide any information regarding COPO orders from Oldsmobile Division.
Among these options are vinyl-covered seatbacks, complete with matching padded vinyl inserts, an option never before seen on any other GM A-body. Typically, the seatbacks were simple, dyed plastic. The interior also features carpeted lower door panels. Another atypical item is the full-length chrome rocker trim, which was not a standard option until 1970. All of this information leaves Ron to believe this is one-of-one rarity.
The 442 is in its original, unrestored condition, with the exception of a correct-color repaint sprayed before Ron purchased the car. The original paint remains on the underside of the deck lid. The only thing not working on the car is the clock. Ron even has receipts dating back to the mid 1980’s tracking the mileage to prove that the 64k miles showing are original. Ron drives the 442 regularly, and in September 2006, drove the car over 1500 miles from Colorado Springs to Kansas City for the Good Guys Mid America show.
While this car is a beautiful and rare specimen, the story does not quite end there. During the course of the research, Ron found out the 442 sold new at O’Neill Oldsmobile in Overland Park, KS, the very same Olds dealer where Ron grew up and first saw a ‘69 Hurst/Olds on the showroom floor in 1969. Ron finally got his 442 it just took 33 years.
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