Another question about fixing up my 1968 442

I am now in the process of removing the cylinder heads for reconditioning as 2 of the frost plugs had small leaks. The Driver’s side exhaust manifold has a crack near the front and an entire piece of about the front 1 to 2 inches is now off, resulting in a hole of about 1 CC assuming that the front piece was not replaced. So, my simple question is whether it would be worth the effort of investing in headers or just purchase a replacement manifold. I’m not interested in high performance as such (just a fun to drive car now and then) but if headers will make the engine run and perform more efficiently I will consider an upgrade.

Thanks in advance.


Then use OEM replacements. Headers can cause issues.


They also tend to take up more space and make working on the car a little more difficult, so if you don’t need them, do as insightful suggests, use the normal oem version exhaust manifold. Good on you btw for making the considerable effort to get your Detroit Iron '68 442 back on the road.


Thanks to you both. That is probably the best option, and much easier to boot.

It’s going to be a lot of little, and not so little things to getting it going, but so far I have not lost interest. I did drive it several times last year, and remembered why I am going through the trouble. It’s a convertible too, so lots of fun to drive. Good night.

It’s a good choice. 442’s remain pretty popular as hot rods, and quite a few of them sold, so most parts should be possible to obtain. A relative of mine had one in the late 60’s, and I recall being driven around in that car as a kid. Very fast. And cool dash gauges. It had a good radio too, one you could really crank up when a Jimi Hendrix tune came on the air.

Headers make it hot under the hood and fry wiring like crazy. Two seconds after startup of a big block engine they glow red.

Why are you removing the cylinder heads? Frost plugs can be replaced. And if you live in a climate where you are starting the car in 15 degrees and below you might consider replacing a freeze plug with a block heater.

In my recollection headers can be added without messing with the manifold.

Headers replace the exhaust manifold. I can’t imagine what you are recollecting, however I have also had the experience of giving myself a mental “dope slap” when trying to recall something from more than 50 years ago.


15 Degrees? I wouldn’t consider using a block heater unless temps got down to 15-20 BELOW ZERO constantly. I know of very few people who own a block heater…and they live near the Canadian border.

I vote against headers as well but for reasons of originality. If this is a numbers matching 442, original engine, transmission, paint color, ect, headers would reduce the value somewhat. Original parts are far more desirable and parts are available on EBay.

Headers will reduce ground clearance and increase noise. If the car isn’t original or you don’t mind the drawback, by all means install headers and gain a bit of power and sound.

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I’ve put headers on several GM small-block V8’s without any issues. Clearance on one was a bit tight. Not all headers are created equally. Some use very thin metal, some have a heat shield.

The Olds 442 came stock with a pretty good engine and more then enough power, so headers are probably not needed. I also agree with @Mustangman that if it’s already stock, the it’s best to keep it that way.

The pipe that bolts to the cast iron exhaust manifold is sometimes called the header pipe.

Thanks for all of the advice. I’ve decided to continue using a stock manifold.

Here’s a new question. I am considering upgrading the distributor to a solid state ignition system. I’m curious about others’ thoughts on this, and also if anyone has a recommendation for a brand or unit that would help. It would be best if someone had direct experience installing one. Thanks.


AbSOlutely do that! Electronic ignitions to replace the points is a great way to add reliability to your classic without taking anything away from originality.

A company called PerTronix pretty much owns this market although MSD and Accel have conversion kits. I have not installed one but have seen it done dozens of times in magazines and on TV. It is a direct swap for the points with a 2 wire hookup. Really, a very easy swap.

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I’ve dropped a number of GM HEI distributors into contact point GM engines. The HEI setup is the simplest and most reliable ignition system ever made IMO.

GM started using the HEI in 1975 ('74 with Cadillacs) and it should be a drop in installation.

Hang onto your contact point distributor though and keep it with the car.

I took a quick look at eBay and there’s an Olds HEI distributor complete with plug wires for right at a 100 bucks with free shipping.
There’s a complete distributor sans plug wires for 50.

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Hey, Hey… Noise… That is exactly what you want.
1968 remember??? Headers… loud exhaust
Come on

Well, it has been a while since I posted about this, and a lot has changed, so I thought I’d chime in again, probably for the last time.

I have had a complete engine and transmission overhaul since the last post, and done a lot of other things to keep the car running well. Unfortunately, life events have changed and I am now looking to sell the car. I am not sure if this photo will upload correctly, as I tried to upload a photo previously, and could not get it to work.

I am trying to determine if it would be better to sell the car through Hemmings auctions, or a traditional classified ad. If anyone has a valuable opinion, I’d like to hear it.

If anyone happens to be a big fan of 442 convertibles of that era, let me know. Perhaps we can work out a deal. It is not perfect, but it is very solid and would be a great project car for someone who wants to do some work but not a full restoration. The underside is solid, which I think is the best thing about it for someone considering a purchase. It has been garaged for most of its time while in our family since 1977.

Thanks for any advice you all have to offer.


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Looks like 442 convertibles get bid to between $34,000 and $49,000. Check these out for an idea on what yours is worth. Nice car!
Cars & Trucks in Body Type:Convertible, Model Year:1968|1969|1970 | eBay

I have no experence but just looking at the ( Bring your own trailer ) auction web site it seems to sell vehicles for higher prices than I thought possibe . Or see if their is a classic vehicle auction near you and put a reserve on it.

Looks like some rust behind the front wheel - is there more elsewhere? That’ll knock down the price a bit.