Cutlass 4-4-2 for a TV pilot that missed the cut

Cutlass 4-4-2 for a TV pilot that missed the cut

By John Gunnell

The rear bumper treatment is one-of-a-kind.

In 1972, the Oldsmobile 4-4-2 car-line was dropped, but the 4-4-2 name was still around. Oldsmobile marketed it as an appearance and handling package for the mid-sized Cutlass. Apparently, the Lansing, Mich. automaker knew what it was doing, because the Oldsmobile brand rose to third rank on the industry sales charts and sales of the Cutlass models in particular skyrocketed.

The Cutlass came standard with a cigar lighter; front seats with head restraints; crank-operated vent windows; an in-the-windshield radio antenna; recessed windshield wipers; a column-shifter 3-speed manual transmission; H78 x 14 belted black sidewall tires; a deluxe steering wheel; Flo-Thru ventilation; carpeting; heavy-duty wheels; power front disc brakes and chromed hood louvres on ‘S’ models. The Cutlass Supreme added Strato Bucket seats; protective side moldings and a 350-cid four-barrel V8. Cutlass Supreme convertibles also included a power top; an ashtray light; courtesy lights and map lamps.

Hamilton name is prominent on the grille.

The RPO-W29 Olds 4-4-2 appearance and handling package was available for Cutlass F-87 coupes and Cutlass, Cutlass ‘S’ and Convertible models at prices from $20 to $147 (USD) if the W39 Hurst three-speed floor shifter was also ordered for $236. The W-30 Performance package was also available separately for between $577 and $722 depending on which other options the car already had. It included at a minimum the Olds high-performance 455-cid four-barrel V8. More expensive versions included Sports mirrors, a fibreglass dual-intake Force Air hood, an anti-spin rear axle and wide oval tires. A total of 9,845 buyers opted for the 4-4-2 handling and appearance package in 1972. Oldsmobile dealers did offer at least one special Cutlass model. It was a gold-and-white Hurst/Olds Indy Pace Car convertible that marked the second time in three years that a Hurst/Olds paced the Indy 500. In all, 499 Hurst/Olds two-door Hardtops were sold along with 130 convertibles. But there was a much rarer 4-4-2 of which just one was made.
. Harry and Cindy Lenius of Minocqua, Wis., own that car. Their 4-4-2 proves that making a pilot for a TV series doesn’t always guarantee fame or fortune. That’s the case for actors – as well as for cars starring in films. Harry and Cindy know this is true, but they still love their ‘72 Olds Cutlass 4-4-2 “Hamilton” hardtop. It was custom-built for a leading role in “The Prince of Motor City,” the pilot for a TV show that didn’t make the cut.
Actor Warren Christie was the headliner in this show about a fictitious automaker called Hamilton Motors. Christie portrayed the role of Billy Hamilton, the son of the car company’s owner, who was characterized as an “automotive legend.” Actors Rutger Hauer and Andie MacDowell also starred in the TV pilot.
Prior to its Hollywood career, the 4-4-2 had resided in Southern California. At one point, the car was even drag raced. It wasn’t exactly babied, but the So Cal climate was kind to it and the Olds stayed rust-free. The 4-4-2 came to the attention of the TV show producers, who decided to turn it into a Hamilton.

A design team from the Cinema Vehicle Services Collection ( did a restyling job on the original Oldsmobile coupe body. Cinema Vehicle Services claims to be the number-one supplier of movie cars since 1975 and the Oldsmobile Cutlass Hamilton was built around 2010. It was painted in a Candy Apple Red colour and had a custom grille, a unique hood treatment, custom front fender vents, gold body trim, a modular rear bumper and special “Hamilton” nameplates and badges, as well as unique body graphics.

The “The Prince of Motor City” pilot was completed and did come out as planned, but the show concept was quickly cancelled. Two other “Hamilton” cars were being custom-built at that time. The restyling of these cars was never completed. They were sent to the crusher and only the one was completed and actually used in filming.
In May 2010, Cinema Vehicle Services took the car to Dana Mecum’s Original Spring Classic Auction in Indianapolis, Ind., where it sold for $10,000. A man from Madison, Wis., bought it and eventually sold it to Harry and Cindee Lenius. They enjoy driving around in the car and “getting smiles and thumbs up signs” wherever they go. They like taking it to local car shows.

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