Cars We Remember: A quick ’66 Olds 442, Nash engine and Kaiser memories
Q: Hi, Greg! I have a 1966 Olds 442 with a rare 390925e code 400 cubic inch V-8 Rocket engine. I’ve been told only 50-55 were produced from 1966 to 1967.
What I would like to know is why only a few of these engines were made and what is the difference from the standard 400? Any info you could give me would be great, and thanks for your help and I really like your columns. Greg Maxey, Kingsley, Pennsylvania.
A: Greg, glad to help. First, the 442 1966 E-code 400 was the common engine in the 1966 and 1967 442s. In 1965, Olds debuted with a similar “B” block 400, which came in the 442 and police option models.
Although many websites say your engine is “rare” and “ultra-rare,” it really was not. However, there was a 50 to 55 run of a special drag package 442s in late 1966.
Specifically, Olds offered a W30 drag racing option with the L-69 Tri-Power 3x2 carb 442 that came with air induction, bigger cam, racing valve springs, 4.33:1 gear ratio and battery in the trunk. Only 54 of these race-ready 4-4-2s were ever delivered, and Olds won the C/SA (Class C in Stock Automatic) NHRA class championship in 1967. I would think this is where some of the “50 to 55 built” info comes from in your question.
Personally, I think the reason the 1965 to 1967 B and E block 400-inch Rocket V-8 is considered rare these days is the fact that in 1968 and 1969, the 400 was rehashed for the worse as it featured a shorter stroke crank and a bigger bore piston, much to the chagrin of the street and drag crowd. The racers quickly found out the “new 400” didn’t rev anywhere near the 1965-1967 400-inch Rockets, and were slow at the dragways in comparison to a car like yours. So, in this case, and considering how many have survived the wrecking yard crusher, the B and E code 400s are rarer and in more demand.
Also, although there were many more “E” code 400s on the road than “B” codes, both were considered a hot ticket on the boulevards. In keeping with GM’s “must be 400 inches or smaller” cubic inch mandate those years, both the 1965 B-code and your 1966 E-code 442 engine measured right at 400 inches and came with 10.25 compression pistons, 4-inch bore, Rochester four barrel, 3.97 stroke forged steel crank, and good breathing cylinder heads with 2.0-inch intake and 1.625 exhaust valves. Olds said the “E” 400 delivered 345 horses and 440 lb. feet of torque. The main difference between the B and E codes was that the camshaft bank angle was changed to 39 degrees in 1966 from 45 degrees in 1965. Other than this, both were real screamers when a good set of headers were added.
Hope this all helps, and thanks for the photos! You have a class “A” muscle car in your garage, and the fastest and highest revving of the 400 inch Rocket V-8s ever offered.
1935 Nash flathead six
Q: Greg, I read your answer to the Nash flathead engine in the Rambler American from the 1960s. I owned a 1935 Nash and it had a flat head that not only the carb bolted to the head, the exhaust (manifold) tail pipe bolted directly to the block, too.
The water pump ran off a V-belt and attached midway to the block on the driver’s side. It took me some time to find an older gentleman that knew this as the pump was a packed seal, which he said his dad had to repack very often (with lubrication grease).
I read and enjoy your column very much. Keep up the good work. Art Hensley, an old Indiana car nut.
A: Thanks much, Art, for the excellent early Nash information.
Kaiser owner responds
Q: I just read your article in the Peoria Journal Star on the Kaiser cars. In 1951 when I was a senior in high school in Peoria, and with my grandmother’s help (she signed for me), I purchased a Kaiser. It was a great automobile. The last one I saw was in Cuba about 20 years ago, and it could have been mine, as it looked identical in a beautiful dark green. I also enjoyed your comments on the Henry J. Thanks, Carl Kumph, now living in Boca Raton, Florida.
A: Much obliged, Carl.
Greg Zyla writes weekly for More Content Now, BestRide.com and other GateHouse Media publications. He welcomes reader questions and comments at 303 Roosevelt St., Sayre, PA 18840 or at email@example.com.