1970 was the pinnacle of performance from Oldsmobile. In order to keep up in the horsepower arms-race, General Motors dropped the cap on engine size in 1970, and Oldsmobile responded by making the Olds 455 V8 the standard 442 engine. Magazine ads using an offbeat mad scientist trumpeted "Dr. Olds introduces as large a V-8 as ever bolted into a special-performance production automobile!" Output was 365 hp (272 kW) and 500 lb·ft (680 N·m), with a 370 hp (276 kW) variant available with the W30 option.
The revised body style and increased performance resulted in the 442 being awarded pace car duties at the Indianapolis 500 race in 1970. Motor Trend praised the 442, stating that "it's probably the most identifiable super car in the GM house". Those seeking to experience the ultimate in performance from Lansing could order a "W-Machine" version of the 442, dubbed the W-30 package. The 442 W-30 added a fiberglass hood (option W25) with functional air scoops and low-restriction air cleaner, aluminum intake manifold, special camshaft, cylinder heads, distributor, and carburetor. Two W-30 equipped 442 Vista Cruisers were produced by special order. Rear shoulder seat belts were optional at $23.
Motor Trend tested a 442 W-30 with a 4-speed manual transmission and 3.91:1 rear gears, clocking a quarter mile time of 14.2 seconds @ 102 mph (164 km/h). However, Motor Trend noted that Oldsmobile engineers had earlier posted a best of 13.7 seconds on the same test car with a fresh tune.
New options for the 1970 442 included GM's Variable-ratio power steering (option N47), a console-mounted Hurst Dual/Gate shifter for use with the Turbo Hydra-matic transmission, and aluminum differential housing and cover (option W27). All Oldsmobile V8s received new Positive Valve Rotators for 1970s to increase engine valve life.
1970 Model Year Spotting Tips: Vertical bars in silver grille, rectangular parking lights in front bumper, vertical tail lights.
A 1970 Oldsmobile 442 was featured in the chase scene of the movie Demolition Man starring Sylvester Stallone.