Detroit floored the accelerator on muscle cars in 1968, and Oldsmobile challenged for the lead by making the 4-4-2 its own model series instead of just a Cutlass option package. Confusingly, all Cutlass two-doors were now call Cutlass S, while the Cutlass Supreme offered two- and four-door models. In addition, the Hurst/Olds line was launched, adding luxury and styling touches to the models.
The 1968 Olds was completely redesigned with more curves along with a fashionable long hood and short trunk. Large badges and dual exhausts through the rear bumper made it easy to spot. Bucket seats were standard and other extras included power steering, high voltage ignition, tilt steering column, center console and Rocket Rally Pac instruments.
The 1968 Oldsmobile 4-4-2 offered three models – a Holiday Coupe, a Sports Coupe (2-door post) and a Convertible. Base engine was a 350 bhp, 400 cid V-8. Base transmission was a 3-speed manual gearbox with a Hurst shifter, while a 4-speed was optional, and a 3-speed Turbo-Hydramatic automatic cut power output to 325 bhp. The 1968 4-4-2 featured dual exhausts, wide wheels, and redline tires. A milder two-barrel carbureted 400 V-8 generated 290 bhp, and presumably improved gas mileage.
While the Holiday Hardtop tested by Car Life listed for $3,127, extras bumped the price to $4,059. With the 350 bhp V-8 the car managed 0-60 mph in about seven seconds and a quarter-mile in 15.13 seconds at 92.2 mph. Production of the 1968 4-4-2 totaled 33,607 units, up from 24,829 the year before. They were divided into 24,183 Holiday Hardtops, 4,282 Sport Coupes and 5,142 Convertibles.
GM limited the size of engines fitted to mid-sized cars but George Hurst decided to produce a Hurst/Olds model with a 390 bhp, 455 cid V8 engine, based on the Toronado. Hurst assembled the H/O 4-4-2s at his own facility. The 455 V-8 featured Force Air induction and was built with a special crank, custom distributor and carburetor, and a 308-degree camshaft with .474-inch lift and Ram-Air cylinder heads. The engine delivered power through a Turbo-Hydramatic transmission that could also be shifted like a manual gearbox. The Hurst/Olds had beefed-up disc/drum brakes, heavy duty suspension, supersized cooling system and 3:91 rear axle.
Only 515 Hurst/Olds models were delivered in 1968 and early cars were finished in silver and with black, while later ones were the more recognizable white and gold. The majority were Holiday Hardtops and a few dozen were Sport Coupes. No convertibles are recorded. When Super Stock magazine road-tested the Hurst/Olds it reported 0-60 in 6.5 seconds, and a quarter-mile in 12.90 at 109 mph.
Options for 1968 Oldsmobile 4-4-2s included power brakes, power steering, air conditioning, power seats, power door locks, AM/FM stereo, cruise control, tilt steering, tinted glass, wire wheel covers, Rocket Rallye Pak instruments, Sports console, Turbo-Hydramatic automatic transmission, 3-speed floor shift manual and 4-speed manual (close-ratio optional).
Oldsmobile maintained 6th position in U.S. sales in 1968, with sales of 562,459 units. CARS magazine picked the 4-4-2 as Performance Car of the Year. The Toronado went 1-2-3 at Pikes Peak hill climb and a W34 performance package was fitted to 111 Toronados, of which 12 are believed to survive.