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Number 13 442 article as written in March 1994 edition of MuscleCars Magazine

 

Number 13 For the owner of this ultra rare 1966 W-30, that numeral is far from unlucky. It's not your father's Oldsmobile, "quote the ads of 1990's ill-fated Oldsmobile campaign. One reason those commercials may have been yanked so quickly is staring at you from these pages. If this was your father's Oldsmobile, bud, you were one lucky kid growing up. First, check out the styling. Granted, the F-85 Cutlass lineup was redesigned in '66 and was prettier to look at than in previous years, with the character line moved from the beltline to just above the rocker panels, new flared fenders, and the sexy "flying buttress" sail panel roof that featured a recessed rear backlight. It looked longer, lower, and wider, but dimensionally, it was fractionally larger then the 65's.

But the F-85 was the most unadorned model in the intermediate lineup. The Cutlass and 4-4-2, for that matter, were a lot hipper-lots o' chrome and glitz. The F-85 lacked brightwork-no body side moldings, roof drip moldings, or side window trim. The windshield isn't even tinted. It's painted eye-popping Target Red, sure, but it's also got a black top, poverty hubcaps, and blackwall tires. Inside, there are rubber floor mats in place of carpeting, with not a radio or heater/defroster in sight.

This is where the casual observer would wrinkle his nose, say "Oh, how dull," and move along, while those in the know would reconize that these are essential deletions when building an all-out NHRA-sanchioned quarter-miler, such as Ed Fochi's "66 F-85 W-30. Those who look closer would see one of the quickest and rarest Oldsmobiles ever to roll out of Lansing.

The year 1966 marked the debut of one of the most vaunted performance hallmarks of the era: the W-30 package was a forced-air induction system that sucked air in through the bumper slots (look closely, and you'll note that the turn signals have been moved inboard to accomodate the dual ram air scoops) into the new for '66 Tri-Carb performance package. The standard Tri-Carb setup was advertised at 360 horsepower out of 400 cubic-inches-and we all know how conservative power figures were at the time. Later dealer-installed W-30 packages were generally rated the same as their non-force-inducted bretheren (no figures were made available for the '66 W-30, and most available reference literature barely even acknowledges that the cars exist), but the difference when stomping on the gas was said to be noticeable.

Other performance and appearance pieces you got with Doc Watson's monster included a chromed air cleaner shroud, valve covers and oil filler cap, and a performance cam and valve springs. The battery was relocated to the trunk, and the insulation was deep-sixed. No special badges screamed that this was the Oldsmobile to end all Oldmobiles, or all musclecars, just standard 4-4-2 emblems. No guages on the dash to give away its potential, just "idiot lights." The grandma's-car details hide a big, fat, throbbing, 400-cubic-inch secret under that hood. It was a sleeper, it was stealthy before the term was vogue.

Sure, the red vinyl interior had a bench seat, but what about that 4-speed shift handle poking up out of the floor? All that brightwork adds unnecessary weight. Who needs a heater or radio at the strip? And that black top? It's painted on, biddy just like the suit Demi Moore wore on the cover of Vanity Fair last year. And the car is about as hot as she is, too.

Of the nearly 22,000 4-4-2's built in '66, just 54 ground pounding W-30's were built- all in June 1966. Since they were purpose-built for racing (where is the masochist who would buy such a stripped machine for everyday use?), most of them were thoroughly thrashed out on the track, and sadly few survive today.

This car is an exception, and it is exceptional.

Ed Fochi found this car, W-30 No.13,languishing in the classifieds back in 1985. Fochi doesn't own this car by accident; He is an Oldsmobile maven, owning five other W-machines, including a '67 4-4-2 W-30 hardtop he bought new back in the good old days. His wife, Bonnie and his daughter, Laura, both run mid-'80s 4-4-2's. He had wanted one since he saw the engine sitting in a glass case at the Oldsmobile display of the 1966 New York Auto Show, so when he spotted it, he jumped.

This monster, which resided in Florida before Fochi scooped it up and took it to his New Jersey home, came with original window sticker-the only '66 W30 that still has it. The car had about 40,000 miles when he bought it, says Fochi, and you get the impression that they were accumulated a quarter-mile at a time.

No.13 was optioned right:In addition to the coveted W-30 option, it was blessed with the Muncie M-21 close-ratio 4-speed gearbox, a side mounted tach, heavy-duty ratiator and manual steering, and the "anti-spin" rear axle (Positractiion by any other name). The only things not right with the car are the door panels: The previous owner changed door and seat panels for units from other models, and Fochi is having a bear of a time finding the proper pieces.

When Fochi got the car, it was running but showed signs of "general neglect after being track-raced," even though "all the hard to find parts were still with the car." All that were missing were the original shifter (a Hurst Comp Plus unit) and original carbs. The motor was rebuilt to stock specs by Dennis Belfi of Lodi, N.J. Part of the rear wheel houses and outer wheel openings had to be fabricated due to the ravages of time, but the body was otherwise intact and all the panels are original. Fochi managed to find an NOS dual exhaust for the car, so it retains the correct deep growl it had when new.

Now, years later, its missing oieces replaced and its restoration complete, No.13 has been singled out to recieve the R.E.Olds Milestone Vehicle Award, presented at the 1993 Oldsmobile Nationals held in Somerset, N.J., last summer.

Fochi loves it, "go to the rear of the car and listen to the rough idle coming out of the low-restriction duals and factory chambered tailpipes. W-30s have a a unique sound"

And Fochi has a unique car.

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