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Old 03-28-2008, 06:02 PM   #1
DoubleV
 
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Default What was the point of the W31?

I'm not super knowledgable on all the old muscle cars but my understanding is back then to make a car perform, the car manufacturers dropped in a reasonably built large cubic inch big block and there you had it....instant muscle car. So back in 68-70, you had the 442's and Hurst Olds that had 455's and I'm sure they screamed and thier customers were satisfied.

Then they made the W31 motor which was just a 350.

To make it fast they put in bigger valves, upped the CR and put in a HUGE cam that made it run like crap at low rpms but scream at high rpms.

So why did Olds even bother making this? What did the W31 motors/cars offer that the 455's couldn't do? How did the W31 motors compare to the W30 455 cars at the track?

I'm sure there must be something I'm missing, but it just seems like the 455 could do everything the W31 350 could do and more ( like idle in traffic and have good low end power ).

So I ask, what was the point of the W31?
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Botched Olds 350 build by the crooks at Rocket Racing. Lunati 207/213 Voodoo cam, 8.1:1 CR ( was supposed to be 8.8:1 ), Stock #7 heads ( was charged for work that was never done and what was done was done wrong ), American Racing headers, Performer RPM intake, Qjet with 1/2" 4 hole spacer, 2.5" Pypes X-pipe system, cowl induction scoop.

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Old 03-28-2008, 06:30 PM   #2
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I'm going to geuss, you answered your own question.

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To make it fast they put in bigger valves, upped the CR and put in a HUGE cam that made it run like crap at low rpms but scream at high rpms
The 455's couldn't make topend, nor would they attempt to make it, so to fill those shoes, they used the w31 350.
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Old 03-28-2008, 06:34 PM   #3
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the price of insurance was also probably a driving factor
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Old 03-28-2008, 06:49 PM   #5
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Insurance was the MAIN factor. 455's putting out 400+ hp wouldn't be prudent on a 3800 pound car. There was a general 10 pounds per HP "rule" of sorts and if you went under that, you could be ineligible for insurance or have to pay dearly. The 350 in everyday cars never let them blink an eye at insuring them. Also, the range of affordability. If you wanted to scream for a few bucks less than a W30, then you were in an Olds, right where Oldsmobile dealers wanted you. Buick also played that game with 350 GS's and 455 GS's as well and Camaros with 454 SS's or 350s LT1 Z28s. The range was nearly limiteless. I believe they had 350 SS chevelles along with the BBC counterparts. They all played that game.

Not sure if back in the time they had "quotas" for so many of certain types of engines or not, but in order to maintain certain car lines, you had to make so many of this and so many of that. I don't think they did back then as they do now, as business models and EPA regs kind of dictate that.

The rallye 350 was another attempt at getting "sporty" and 'spriited' Oldsmobiles out to the public without scaring the insurance companies to death.

To be honest, having a W31 isn't so bad....
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Old 03-28-2008, 06:50 PM   #6
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Ram Rod was the W31 option for 1968. Had a V piston decal with RAM ROD 350 on the front fenders.

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Old 03-28-2008, 07:01 PM   #7
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And after you answer that, tell us about W33 and W34. Then give us W36, W39 and W88.

W31/RamRod/Rallye 350 (and others) were designed as insurance beaters. They had Cutlass/F85 VINs so the insurance companies couldn't slap their outrageous surcharges on a 442 VIN. Theoretically you had the same bang in a smaller CID package, and could afford the payment and insurance. Insurance on a musclecar was often more than the car payment, which you can imagine what that did to sales. The target market couldn't afford or in some cases couldn't get insurance on a musclecar.

The carmakers skirted the insurance industry for a couple years, but they got wise and lobbied for cars to have an engine identifier in the VIN which GM started in 1972. Insurance and cop lobbies are some of the most powerful and influential around. Think about that next time one of the cop fundraiser groups calls you asking for a donation.
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Old 03-28-2008, 07:11 PM   #9
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I do know the Toronado W34 option.

Bigger cam 455. Upgraded Trans Valve body, and dual exhaust with notched rear bumpers.
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Old 03-28-2008, 07:29 PM   #10
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I know that W43 was the experimental hemi, and WO43 was the overhead cam hemi. Oh, and ona slightly unrelated topic WS6 means t/a and WS6 is a perfomance suspension for a t/a.
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Old 03-28-2008, 07:36 PM   #11
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The way I understood it, according to GM literature, was that at least 1970 W30/31 engines were factory blueprinted using "select fit" parts (from their 442 and W-machine brochure).

However, a 1968 car rag article says something to the effect that the Ram Rod 350, when blueprinted, is capable of even higher performance.

According to GM sales press releases, the 68 Ram Rod was released for January 1968 production. It had to have either 3.91 or 4.33, G80 posi, L74 engine cutlass ($33.70 option), 3 speed or 4 speed (wide or close ratio) floor shift, and heavy duty radiator with manual brakes. Black fenderwells. Big valve 5 heads, dual exhaust, aluminum fan and clutch, big azz harmonic balancer, 308 cam, special carb and air induction system. 60.58 CC chambers minimum, 325 HP at 5600 rpm/ 360 lbs ft torque at 3600 rpm. Specs were 10.44 - 11.55 Compression ratio. Weight- 590 pounds wet with generator only. Just a note, all W-cars and H/Os were built in Lansing.

Whopping add on cost for a W-31 ram-rod package? $263.30
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Old 03-28-2008, 07:40 PM   #12
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Whatever the rationale, it was freakin' cool. SBO with OAI, factory aluminum intake, big valves, and a big honkin' balancer.
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Old 03-28-2008, 08:49 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rocketraider View Post
And after you answer that, tell us about W33 and W34. Then give us W36, W39 and W88.
Hmm. Never heard of the W88. I've heard of the others though.

W33 was a 1970 "police" version of the Delta 88. Had a 390 HP 455 (W30 was rated at 370 proving that it was weight/HP ratio that was more important) with special TH400 calibrations. Suspension upgrades were optional.

W34 was the Toro performance package 68-70. Toro GT wasn't it? I think it came with "ram air" as well didn't it? I'm not up on the Toros very much...

W36 - this was a cool 68 442 option: the side fender stripe. This actually pushed the emblems back a bit from where they would be on a non-W36 car. If you just paint the stripe on a car not originally with the side stripe, the front bottom part of the stripe would run into the wheel well trim.

W39 was the three speed transmission shifter option. I had this on my 72 442 350 with the Hurst floor shift. Didn't have 442 stamped on the side, but had the little H on the base.

Another interesting one was W41 was both the Quad 442 and the Achieva SCX rpo. And in the 60s/70s, 442s were W29 options.

And while we're on some W codes, W45 was the option code for the 68 H/O w/o air, and the 70 Rallye 350 (W46 was A/C 68 H/O and all 69 H/O). But only the rallye could have a W35 rear spoiler and a W25 ram air hood, but the spoiler was included with W46 in 69. Both could be had with dual gates, but the dual gate was a W26 rpo for the Rallye....it boggles the mind....
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Old 03-28-2008, 08:51 PM   #14
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Let me clarify the W29 442 "option"...even though it was its own model line 68-71, W29 was listed in the "required" rpos if you ordered a 442. Kinda stupid, but that's how it worked.
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Old 03-28-2008, 08:58 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 69hurstolds
Insurance was the MAIN factor. 455's putting out 400+ hp wouldn't be prudent on a 3800 pound car. There was a general 10 pounds per HP "rule" of sorts and if you went under that, you could be ineligible for insurance or have to pay dearly. The 350 in everyday cars never let them blink an eye at insuring them. Also, the range of affordability. If you wanted to scream for a few bucks less than a W30, then you were in an Olds, right where Oldsmobile dealers wanted you. Buick also played that game with 350 GS's and 455 GS's as well and Camaros with 454 SS's or 350s LT1 Z28s. The range was nearly limiteless. I believe they had 350 SS chevelles along with the BBC counterparts. They all played that game.
In SS Impalas (of the mid-sixties)they put 283's in them. I talked to a guy at a car show with one (1964) and he said back in the day you would get laughed off the street if you had an SS with a 283.
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Old 03-28-2008, 09:18 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 69hurstolds View Post
And while we're on some W codes, But only the rallye could have a W35 rear spoiler and a W25 ram air hood, but the spoiler was included with W46 in 69. Both could be had with dual gates, but the dual gate was a W26 rpo for the Rallye....it boggles the mind....

We all know of the W25 ram air hood........BUT how many remember what other option the W25 designation should be remembered for.............

This was also used to represent the 74 & 75 Hurst Olds with 350 engines, no ram air hoods were offered in these years therefore the W25 code was reused to show the 350 engines as opposed to the W30 for the 455 Hurst Olds
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Old 03-28-2008, 10:18 PM   #17
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Not to mention the mid 70s and 79 H/Os were the only Cutlass (without being a 442) to ever get the W30 designator. The 80 442 was also a W30, but it was a 442 after all.

BTW, there was a W31 planned for 71, but it got axed at the last minute.

They played roundy round with the W options in the day. And in the 80s, you could get the WL7....which was the "popular options package" savings when you packaged certain options together. Dealer had to ask for it or you didn't get it.

This W-thing could go on for a while. LOL
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Old 03-29-2008, 01:43 AM   #18
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Well there you have it. They did it for insurance purposes. Either way, it sounds like it would be a fun car to wind out at the track.
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Botched Olds 350 build by the crooks at Rocket Racing. Lunati 207/213 Voodoo cam, 8.1:1 CR ( was supposed to be 8.8:1 ), Stock #7 heads ( was charged for work that was never done and what was done was done wrong ), American Racing headers, Performer RPM intake, Qjet with 1/2" 4 hole spacer, 2.5" Pypes X-pipe system, cowl induction scoop.

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Old 03-29-2008, 02:32 AM   #19
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hmmm wonder what a set of those "ram rod 350" stickers would look like on the side of the 84 when i drop in my '71 350
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Old 03-29-2008, 07:18 AM   #20
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Quote:
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In SS Impalas (of the mid-sixties)they put 283's in them. I talked to a guy at a car show with one (1964) and he said back in the day you would get laughed off the street if you had an SS with a 283.
You could also buy a Chevy II with SS package and a 6 cyl.
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Old 03-29-2008, 07:23 AM   #21
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Lets also mention that unless you bought a H/O in 68 or 69, you could not get a 455 in the A-Body(442,Cutlass), 400 CI was the limit until 1970.

These small block powered cars were also known as "Junior Super cars", and with the cubic inch to weight ratios that NHRA and AHRA used back then, the small block cars were faster than some of the larger cube cars.
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Old 03-29-2008, 08:05 AM   #22
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Believe it or not, by the mid-60s you could get an Impala SS with a six-cylinder. Kinda defeats the purpose of the option, but back then they'd build what you wanted. Someone wanted the sporty appearance without a performance engine, they'd build it. I've also known some (and owned one) pretty stout 283 4-barrel engines.

Yah- I guess a 283 in a Super Sport was kinda laughable in the days of 409/396, but serious performance guys would usually order a non-SS car with the hottest engine they could get, just for the stealth factor. Then they'd remove the big-inch emblems and replace them with 327 flags, which slipped right into the 409 mounting holes.

W88 was NASCAR appearance option for 1986-89 Delta 88 coupes. Dealer installed and included an air dam front bumper, quarter-window louvers, and small trunk spoiler. FE3 and aluminum lace wheels were recommended factory installed options. There were a few running around the Carolinas, but it was a pretty obscure option from back in the days when Harry Gant, Benny Parsons and Buddy Baker were running Oldsmobiles in NASCAR. Gowen Oldsmobile in Charlotte had one in the showroom for a while, but they were kinda the Charlotte Service Zone's skunkworks and testing grounds.

The sales flyer said "Dealer installed option W88 is intended to impart a superspeedway flavor to production Delta 88 coupes. See your Oldsmobile dealer for details".

On the "select-fit" thing, that generally meant putting A sized pistons in D sized cylinder bores, along with the "factory line correction" .003-.005 undersize bearings. They'd build them "loose" for rev capability at the expense of oil consumption.
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Old 03-29-2008, 10:52 AM   #23
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W33 was a Delmont 88 police car (CHP used them) in 1967. The W31s got the same e.t.s as 455s in the late 60s-early 70s, and were better on the strip than the long stroke 400s. A lot of racers got unhappy with the sorry e.t.s of their 68-9 442s and went to W31s.
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Old 03-29-2008, 12:18 PM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rocketraider
Believe it or not, by the mid-60s you could get an Impala SS with a six-cylinder. Kinda defeats the purpose of the option, but back then they'd build what you wanted. Someone wanted the sporty appearance without a performance engine, they'd build it. I've also known some (and owned one) pretty stout 283 4-barrel engines.

Yah- I guess a 283 in a Super Sport was kinda laughable in the days of 409/396, but serious performance guys would usually order a non-SS car with the hottest engine they could get, just for the stealth factor. Then they'd remove the big-inch emblems and replace them with 327 flags, which slipped right into the 409 mounting holes.
I believe it, almost typed it too but I wasn't sure so I just went with 283, which is not as impressive as a 6-banger in an SS
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Old 03-30-2008, 06:30 PM   #25
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Although the factory was "officially" not involved in racing, the W-31 exists in large part because Olds knew the could make them run well in NHRA stock class racing. The W-31 coupes had a lot of success in F/S, and Jim Waibel ran an uber-rare 1969 W-31 'vert in G/S (the added weight knocked it down one class).

With the NHRA stock system of handicapping by weight and horsepower, the small block Olds got a better break than the 455, and ET's were almost dead even. It's also one of the reasons the W-31 was rated at "only" 325 horsepower compared to 310 for the normal 350 4 bbl, there was some serious sandbagging going on (the NHRA rules were later revised to prevent that). The real world spread between the two versions of the engine was much wider.

Insurance and other factors played a role in the W-31, too, but in large part it was intended for the dragstrip. It wasn't widely advertised, and Joe Public would probably been shown a 442 with a milder big block if he just came in off the street looking for a musclecar.

There are war stories of how uninformed W-31 buyers would bring their cars back to the service dept repeatedly asking why they idled so rough.
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