Along with the special edition Hurst Olds of
1968 and 1969, the 1970 W-30 was one of the most powerful production Oldsmobiles
ever created. While the 370 hp from its 455 is impressive, if not as
high as some other contemporary muscle car engines, what is really
amazing for those who have experienced it is the 500 lb-ft of torque.
Unlike most engines of the postwar
period, the Oldsmobile 455 is undersquare, i.e., the stroke is longer
than the bore. Having a long stroke engine tends to make the
torque curve peak early in the rpm range; conversely, a short stroke
engine will be inclined to rev higher and have higher torque peak.
The advantage of an engine that has loads of torque at low rpms is that
the surge of power is immediate from the moment that you step on the
accelerator. While there are many cars from then to now that
handily outperform the W-30 on paper, the number of cars that have that
same sense of immediate power are far fewer. It's an intangible
that makes the W-30 an enormously fun car to drive on the street.
The only other muscle car of that era to
equal the maximum torque numbers is the 1970 Buick GS. Even today,
very few naturally aspirated cars match or exceed the 500 lb-ft of the
The W-30 was an option package on top of
the 1970 Oldsmobile 442 model. Features over the regular model
included an engine with 5 more horsepower and an aluminum intake
manifold, red plastic inner fenderwells, and fiberglass OAI hood.
Always a relatively rare muscle car, the
total production for W-30 convertibles in 1970 was 264. (Of this
number, 96 were manual shift and 168 were automatic. Of the latter, 126
featured the Hurst Dual-Gate shifter.) Few of these cars survived,
and only a handful of authentic 1970 W-30 Convertibles remain in the
world today. -- JF of Serious Wheels