Mark & Barbara Miner's 1965 Olds 442
(from Volume 23, Issue 270)

story by owner Mark Miner, photos by Michael B. Kelly


I started out as a gearhead when I was 14. My dad was an aircraft mechanic who worked at a facility where they did both the mechanical and airframe repairs, which included painting. He painted cars on the side in the shop, which is where I learned early on how to do not only mechanical things, but of course also body and paint. I grew up with the philosophy that it must be done right or not at all. With airplanes, you can see why.

I had always worked on many cars over the years including ‘55 and ‘57 Chevys, Chevelles, Corvettes, Camaros, and even some Ford products. I had done paint and body, mechanicals, interior, and repairs of all kinds but never a total body off frame restoration, so I had put that on my bucket list. I did not have a project car at the time and had considered a few different ones until I came across this 1965 Oldsmobile 442. I had never seen one, but was very intrigued by the idea of restoring it. I thought to myself that it was an “A” Body GM car, so how hard could it be? Being an old Chevy guy I figured it would be like restoring a Chevelle, which I had done a few of in the past.

I bought the ‘65 Olds 442 on January 18th, 2001. It was a very rough Texas car that was residing in Mississippi at the time. It was almost totally rust free with only some minor quarter panel damage. It came without an engine and transmission, so I would have to source that and all the associated parts and pieces. I then proceeded to gather parts and information while the car sat for the next 6 years. I found out soon enough that this was not like a Chevelle, and that sourcing parts for this car was difficult to say the least. I wanted to make the car as period correct as I could, which led to finding out that the ‘65 442 is a beast all to itself. It was the first year for the big block, and with factory A/C it was a one year, make and model situation. This is why everything is ‘65 only, because in ‘66 they changed everything from there until 1972. I could have used the later model parts, but it would not have been correct.

Fast forward to 2009 when I started the actual work on the car. I stripped it down completely, removed the body from the frame, and worked on it for the next 5 years, giving the car virtually everything it needed down to the last nut, bolt and screw. I sent the chrome out to Spacecoast Plating in Melbourne and they did a great job. I sourced and built a 425 engine with the machine work done by Auto Machine in Orlando. Since it is not a numbers matching car with no documentation I figured I would build it how I wanted, so I used a 2004R overdrive transmission, which makes it very drivable. I obtained the transmission from a guy who specialized in building these transmissions for the Olds. He beefed it up in order to handle the massive torque of the Olds big blocks. He, unfortunately is deceased. I purchased the last transmission that he built as he lost his battle with cancer just a few months later.

I worked on the body for one solid year before it was ready for paint, while building the engine myself, rebuilding the frame, and so forth. The frame was sand blasted, primed with epoxy primer and painted with a semi gloss industrial grade epoxy paint. I did the rear end myself as well, assembled the total frame with the engine and all the mechanicals done, then lowered the body onto the frame and completed the paint and final assembly. The only part I did not do myself was the vinyl roof and headliner. It seems strange that after all the rest I did myself, that I would farm that out. Truth is, I got ousted from the garage I was using and had to get it finished up. I did not want to take any chances on messing that up and wasting time redoing something. It was easier and faster to get that done by the professionals.

The car was completed in August of 2014. The end result is a rare car that gets lots of attention, is totally optioned, fun to drive, and has won many trophies and awards. Options include factory A/C, automatic transmission, power steering, power brakes, anti-spin (posi) rear axle, power windows, power driver’s seat, left hand remote mirror, power trunk release, power rear mounted antenna, deluxe radio with rear seat speaker, rear defroster, deluxe interior package with deluxe tilt steering wheel, exterior décor package, deluxe lighting package, and factory chrome wheels. Upgrades include the 425 engine, Turbo 2004R overdrive transmission, dual braking system with front discs, heavier front sway bar with polyurethane bushings, heavier springs with 1-1/2 inch ride height increase, gas shocks, quicker ratio steering box, and 15x7 SSII Olds wheels with 245/60R15 BF Goodrich tires. CN