Here's Why The Oldsmobile Cutlass Calais Quad 442 Was A Tough Sell In The Early '90s – HotCars

Take a look at the Oldsmobile Cutlass Calais Quad 442, which is a ’90s classic that was ill-fated at its time.
Doesn't the Oldsmobile Cutlass Calais Quad 442 reek of '90s nostalgia? It may look more like an '80s vehicle, but that is because this model was released in 1990-91, and many people no doubt have fond memories of the Quad to this day.
For the 1990-91 model year, the top version of the Calais would be the Quad 442. Since the 1980s, Oldsmobile had been trying to produce a model that would help it stand out from its competitors.
During that decade, they used their legendary 442 moniker on the compact Calais coupe. On paper, this did not represent a bad thing for them. The N-body Calais was far smaller and lighter than previous versions of the Cutlass Supreme that the 442s were based on. It served a purpose, with the Calais being Oldsmobile's least expensive car.
Regardless of its designations, such as GT and International Series, the Calais in coupe form was far from a standard muscle car. It still remains debatable to this day as to whether the Quad 442 should be regarded as a muscle car or not, but that is another story.
Despite its history, what do we still love about the Quad 442? Let us find out!
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As Autoweek suggests, the noisy high-revving Oldsmobile Quad 4 engine was a massive fast-forward into futuristic engine technology for a rookie car company at the time. The Quad 442 had multipoint electronic fuel injection, a five-speed manual transmission, and a single exhaust. These cars also offered V6 performance and four-cylinder efficiency. Much to the surprise of many, there was a wireless ignition system, something that is used in modern cars. Hard to believe, isn't it?
The Quad 442's engine went from 0-60 mph in seven seconds, and its top speed was nearly 130 mph. Oldsmobile no doubt gave the likes of Nissan, Honda and BMW a good scare at the time. Its torque figure of 500 lb-ft made this car rather special, too.
1991 was a crucial year in Oldsmobile's history, as they decided to move from the W-40 to the more powerful W-41 engine.
However, the car company was struggling with sales in the early '90s. $13,000 per unit seemed like a huge asking price and many customers preferred the Nisan Sentra or the Honda Civic instead. The Ford Mustang LX 50 also seemed like a better option thanks to its light chassis and gigantic V8 engine up front. Therefore, Oldsmobile had to change its formula again. Nonetheless, it just felt like the automotive company was trying too hard.
They added a 442 option package in its Achieva coupe for the 1992 model year. But this only made the few '91 model year Calais-based 442 badged cars with the W-41 engine (there were approximately 200 left by this stage) the best and most desirable Oldsmobile model.
These changes failed to improve the car company's fortunes. It was not just the Quad 442's high price during a time when the economy was doing terribly that repelled people from buying this car, but it was also its vibration and excessive oil use.
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Sure, the Quad 442 had problems, big ones in particular, but that did not mean that its design was not tasteful. If anyone is looking for a vintage model with a simple interior, this Quad model ticks that box because of its typical angular GM ergonomics. The leather-wrapped steering wheel and full instrumentation both added to its attraction.
The exterior performance cues were more effective at conveying performance. The rear wing, large tires, and an integrated front air dam are easy to miss. There was also a tiny Quad 442 label on the doors.
The International Series sedan simply appeared like a four-door version of the 442 coupe and offered more luxury than ever before.
The Quad 442's fate is a sad one. Not only did it lose out to quieter cars, but GM's PR department failed to project the car's luxury image. In fact, it must have been a nightmare to conceive an adequate PR strategy to promote this car back in the early '90s because its overpricing during a recession and engine faults, as mentioned earlier, meant it was always going to be tough to sell this Oldsmobile vehicle to anybody, frankly.
Years later, it is easy to forget the struggles that this model went through and appreciate it for the '90s automotive vintage beauty that it has become today. Consider yourself lucky if you can get your hands on one.
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Matt Snape is a freelance journalist and a news executive based in Evesham, Worcestershire, UK. He’s written for numerous publications such as Inside Over/Il Giornale, the i Paper, the Metro, Blasting News, and more. As he has been monitoring Nissan’s content in his role as a news executive, he will be specialising in Nissan for Valnet, Inc. Many of his hobbies include film, 90s and 00s music, reading and gaming.

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