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Oldsmobile W-Powered Muscle Cars: The W-30s

In 1966 the W-30 began as a drag-racing only option. Unfortunately, no convertibles were created as the ’66 W-30s made their mark on the world. In fact, only 54 of these hardtops were factory-crafted for utilization in NHRA drag racing. The battery on these vehicles was mounted in the trunk over the right rear wheel—further proof of their uniqueness.

The first year for automatic transmission was—you guessed it!—1967. These W-30s were produced in a far greater number than their previous year’s were. Their battery was also housed in the trunk, and it could not be installed in convertibles. What a bummer!

1968 and 1969 resulted in similar options: both had manual disc brakes, but the ’68 models had fender rally stripes—of the bumblebee variant. Talk about a way to stand OUT!

The following year denoted A/C and power brakes being available for the first time. This option also offered an automatic or manual transmission as well as disc brakes.

Bearing the same fuel filters as ’71 W-30s, the 1972 version’s distinguishing characteristic was the Cutlass/Cutlass Supreme emblem on its glove box door.

Removable T-Top style roofs were common in GM’s ’75 W-30s and were based on the Cutlass Supreme coupe. These vehicles were equipped with an Olds 455 engine as well as an exhaust system with a catalytic converter. Only single exhaust was available, because the converters were so expensive! Center-mounted louvers adorned the hood; the sides, trunk, hood, & mirrors sported gold stripes. What made the ‘75s different from ‘74s were the revised door panels and reversible vinyl/velour seat cushions and backs for their Strato bucket seats!

Jumping a few years ahead, the ’79 W-30s offered a vehicle, based on the Cutlass Calais coupe, with the Hurst/Olds option and a Dual Gate shifter (an identical shifter was also available for the ’75 W-30s). It utilized an L34 V8 engine and was the first W-30 to be equipped with the Olds 350 rather than the 455. Its aluminum wheels were painted gold to match the hood, trunk, and grille!

Subsequently, the 1980 W-30s displayed a white/gold or black/gold color scheme with almost a thousand produced! Not only did they have four headlights—which was how they differed from their previous year—but they were also notable for the 442 badges on their fenders, trunk rear, and interior door panels.

Fun fact: all W-30 engine blocks have an “M” in their VIN stamp sequence (this is an authenticity check).


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