You could be a hater and not even know it. Disrespect often leads to hatred, and most hot rodders don't even recognize that Oldsmobile enthusiasts are in fact their own individual entity. The same goes for those of the Buick and Pontiac persuasion, too. Chevy guys love lumping them all into one category, arbitrarily dubbed B-O-P, as if all three camps are one in the same. Just in case that's not generic enough, the Über-generic "alternative muscle car" designation is another mainstream favorite. How's that for disrespect? Instead of whining about it, Darryl Reid takes a much more productive approach: kicking Chevy ass. He's been doing it for the last 40 years, and with an 11-second, street-driven sleeper of an Olds 442 at his disposal, he's intent on giving mainstream hot rodders a painful education for many more decades to come.
In truth—from GTOs to W-30 442s to turbo Grand Nationals—GM manufacturers not called Chevy have turned out some of the most iconic muscle cars of all time. It's not that he was born a silly brand loyalist who disliked Chevys, Fords, and Mopars for no good reason. As a teenager growing up in Southern California during the muscle car heyday, Darryl simply sought the best performance bang for the buck. "When I was a young kid, I just liked fast cars and didn't care about brand loyalty much. Back in the early '70s, a used GTO or a 442 was a lot cheaper than a big-block Camaro or Chevelle," Darryl recalls. "Since Pontiacs were so much more affordable, my first car was a '67 GTO. I later traded up to a '68 GTO that was in better shape, and I got it running 13.10 at the dragstrip with the factory 400 engine and uncorked headers."
All was good in Darryl's hood until he caught glimpse of a '71 Olds 442 with the W-30 package while driving by a used car lot one day. "I thought the GTO was a better looking car, but the 442's dual-snorkel hood grabbed my attention. I said ‘you know what, let's take this thing for a ride and see what it's got,'" he recollects. "That's what sold me on the car. Then I took it to the track and I was even more impressed. A top-of-the-line GTO could run with a stock 442 at the time, but my W-30 442 with uncorked headers ran 12.80s. I raced it on the street and at the old Orange County International Raceway. That's what got me interested in Oldsmobiles."
As an 18-year-old kid with a 12-second ride growing up in the mecca of drag racing, Darryl let the good times roll. Trips to OCIR, Lions, and Irwindale were a weekly occurrence, the weather was sweet, and the deals were insane. "At the time, my friends were buying first-gen Z/28 Camaros that were only 5 years old for $1,200. Used Chrysler Hemi cars went for $2,500, and the crazy thing is we wondered why on earth anyone would pay that much money for a car," Darryl reminisces. The good times soon turned into the responsible times, as Darryl got married, had kids, and focused on raising a family. That meant trading in the Olds for more family friendly modes of transportation, but he found clever ways to hold himself over. He bought a '79 Dodge pickup and modded it Li'l Red Express style by dropping in a 440 big-block and fitting it with heavy-duty police package bits.
By the time 2002 rolled around, the kids were grown up and it was time to go Olds hunting. While flipping through a classifieds magazine, Darryl spotted a nice '68 442 back East that had already been nicely restored. "The bodywork on the car was finished, so for $10,000 I couldn't pass the car up. I realized it wasn't a real Hurst Olds when I went to check it out, but it was, in fact, a real 442," he explains. "Once I hauled the car home, I just wanted to build something that reminded me of the car I had as a kid. Someone did a nice job of making this car look like a Hurst Olds, so I decided to retain that, but I'm not the kind of person who cares how original a car is. I have lots of friends with all-original cars who can't even touch them, and that's no fun. I'd rather have a car I can drive to the track, run 11-second passes in, and then drive back home."
Getting the job done in a portly A-body called for some serious grunt, and fortunately, Darryl's 442 already had a 455 big-block in place of the factory 400. After it blew a head gasket one day, he had the perfect excuse to build a new stump-yanking combination. Darryl enlisted the services of Bob Earleywine Performance, who stroked the big Olds to 496 ci with an Eagle 4.500-inch cast crankshaft, steel rods, and MAHLE 11.0:1 forged pistons. The air supply comes courtesy of Edelbrock Performer RPM aluminum cylinder heads, an Offenhauser intake manifold, and a Quick Fuel Technology 4500-series carburetor. Actuating the valves is a COMP 230/230-at-.050 hydraulic flat-tappet camshaft, and an MSD distributor and coil ignites fires in the holes. Barking out a set of Hooker 1.75-inch long-tube headers, the 496 produces 553 hp and a very impressive 618 lb-ft of torque at just 3,900 rpm.
Farther down the drivetrain, Darryl's decision to mate an Olds motor with a Ford AOD transmission may seem like a curious one, but he says that it's very well suited to endure the big-block's meaty lumps of torque. The Ford trans feeds a Moser 12-bolt rearend fortified with 31-spline axles, 3.90:1 gears, and an Eaton limited-slip differential. Straight-line grip comes courtesy of Mickey Thompson drag radials wrapped around 15-inch Billet Specialties wheels. After dropping in the new engine combo, the Olds ripped off an 11.97-second pass at 115 mph on its shakedown run. Once the track reopens for the summer, Darryl hopes to pare the e.t. down to 11.50.
In contrast to the million-dollar builds of the world, Darryl's Olds takes a more low-key, back-to-basics approach, where pragmatism takes precedence over bling. And we love it. Since the 442 was destined for street/strip duty from the get-go, he simply rebuilt the suspension to stock specifications. When confronted with header clearance issues, Darryl swapped over to a manual steering setup instead of ponying up for a new power steering box or custom pipes. The same logic applies to the disc brake conversion, which was heisted off of a G-body. Sure there are some high-tech methods for actuating the brake pedal in cars with big cams, but Darryl opted to go manual and stomp on the pedal harder instead. Inside, the only non-stock hardware you'll find is enhanced instrumentation and a Hurst shifter.
Had Darryl put that same $10,000 purchase price 12 years ago toward a rusted-out Chevelle instead of a freshly restored 442, there's a very real possibility that he'd still be monkeying around with sheetmetal repair. Instead, he's terrorizing the streets in a fully finished 11-second ride that doesn't look like every other cookie-cutter A-body out there. Hopefully the Chevy boys will pay closer attention to the badges on back of Darryl's 442. Then one day maybe they'll figure out which alternative muscle car that they lump under the B-O-P umbrella just smacked down their Bow Tie. It probably won't seem so generic then!
By The Numbers
1968 Olds 442
Darryl Reid, 57 • Menifee, CA
Olds 496ci big-block
factory 455 block bored to 4.180 inches
Melling pump, Moroso pan
Eagle cast 4.500-inch crank and steel rods; MAHLE 11.0:1 forged pistons
ported Edelbrock Performer RPM aluminum castings with 2.072/1.680-inch valves
COMP Cams 230/230-at-.050 hydraulic roller; .490/.490-inch lift; 110-degree lobe-separation angle
COMP Cams lifters and timing set; Manton pushrods
Offenhauser intake manifold, Quick Fuel Technology 4500 carburetor
MSD distributor, coil, and plug wires
Hooker 1.75-inch long-tube headers and dual 3-inch mufflers
Be Cool radiator and dual electric fans; Meziere water pump
553 hp at 5,500 rpm and 618 lb-ft at 3,900 rpm
Bob Earleywine Performance (Winchester, CA)
Ford AOD overdrive and 2,800-stall converter; Hurst shifter
Moser 12-bolt rearend with 31-spline axles, 3.90:1 gears, and Eaton limited-slip differential
factory GM disc brakes, front and rear
Wheels & Tires
Billet Specialties Street Lite 15x4, front; 15x8, rear
Mickey Thompson Sportsman 26x8.5x15, front; Mickey Thompson 275/60R15 drag radials, rear
The air cleaner base had to be modified to fit the larger 4500-style carburetor. Otherwise
Dual airscoops mounted beneath the front bumper direct fresh air into the air cleaner asse
To assist with ring seal while eking out a few extra ponies, the big-block Olds uses a Mor