People who collect shells, coins or stamps ought to, in my humble opinion, be given electroconvulsive therapy. Hobbies such as these will only drive you insane and you’ll probably end up going on a murderous rampage in a quest for some real thrills.
There are far better things to be collecting, such as model cars. This is what I have done for a number of years, and I must say, I have quite an impressive bunch. I’ve got more muscle cars than I have muscles including a 1969 Dodge Charger, 1970 Chevrolet Chevelle SS, 1974 Ford Gran Torino and five Pontiac Trans Ams (no surprises there) to name but a few. However, my favourite of the lot is my bittersweet orange 1971 Oldsmobile 442 complete with black stripes and lettered tyres.
There are rules you must strictly adhere to before I’ll allow you anywhere near this. Hands must be washed. Nails, perfectly filed. After you’ve taken ten deep breaths will I allow you to handle this pristine 1/12th scale beauty. Remember how Elvis felt about his blue suede shoes? You can treble the feeling I have for my 442. For those asking why, just take a look at that picture of it. There. That’s why. GM built some mighty fine cars back in the day, but none finer than the 442.
Oldsmobile chief engineer John Beltz created the car as an option package to the Cutlass more out of necessity rather than anything else due to the success of rival division Pontiac’s Tempest GTO. So in 1964, out came the new Olds.
Dubbed the 442 because of its four-barrel carburettor, four-speed manual and two exhausts, its 330ci (5.4-litre) V8 had around 330bhp. It could hit 0-100kph in roughly 7.5 seconds which, almost 50 years ago, was no mean feat.
But the GTO was still the car everyone wanted. However, things changed when the second generation 442 arrived in 1968. Now with a 400ci (6.6-litre) V8 under the long and aggressive bonnet, it packed 350 raging horses. But those who dared to tick the W30 option on the spec sheet got a 455ci (7.5-litre) V8. They soon found out they had a rocket ship on wheels.
The 442’s performance peak came in the Seventies where they had 390bhp. Best of all, the car had evolved into an all-rounder. While other muscle cars of the time were just good at one thing, straight line speed, the 442 could not only compete but it went one better by being a much better handling car than the rest.
It was comfortable too; the bucket seats were nice and snug while the suspension was ideal for long cruises but stiff enough to tackle corners with aplomb. The front end looked menacing with those huge bonnet scoops while its profile was as smooth as they come. The massive rear chrome bumper and obligatory twin exhausts made for some real eye candy. This was one tasty beast, especially the convertible body style though the coupé was the better driver. The former, however, is the one that collectors tend to look out for. Good examples with the Hurst Dual-Gate shifter fetch around $35,000 (Dh128,560). That’s a lot of money, even for one of the best-looking American cars of all time. Tell you what. Give me half of that and you can have mine. Actually…