’71 4-4-2 Olds: Dr. Oldsmobile’s Arabian Tonic

It’s hard to argue that the 1971 Olds 4-4-2 is anything but a cool car, right? But when you read all the magazines, they’re always featuring W-30s and ignoring the “regular” cars. Are you guilty of visiting a show and skipping over anything that’s not a HEMI, LS6, or the like?

So what would you do if you saw this 1971 4-4-2? Overlooking it would mean you’d never find out the story it has to tell. If you peeked inside, you’d notice that its speedometer is in kilometers. That’s because it’s been in Lebanon its whole life.

A doctor by the name of Mounzer Kabbarah of Tripoli was the original owner of this Olds, one of 6,285 hardtops built. He spec’d it out with the following:

  • Nordic Blue paint
  • Power windows and door locks
  • Power bucket seats
  • Rear glass defogger
  • Air conditioning
  • Console automatic
  • G80 Anti-spin differential
  • Cruise control
  • Tilt steering with the Custom Sport wheel
  • Rally Pack
  • AM-FM Stereo
  • W-25 hood
  • W-35 spoiler
  • And more!

Dr. Kabbarah used the 4-4-2 as his family hauler, even using it for family trips to Turkey, Syria, and Iraq like an Arabian Clark Griswold. However, repeated overheating episodes started to take its toll on the good doctor’s patience, so the Olds was sold.

Although he had taken good care of it, subsequent owners were not as conscientious. Of course, the parts supply chain made it difficult to maintain an American car with specialized parts, especially during a civil war. At some point, the Olds was repainted in red, then black, and a head-on collision didn’t help things either.

Then Muhammad Aljisr changed the fate of this 4-4-2. It was 1980, and he was smitten enough to devote his life savings toward this interesting American car.

Like American parents, his were on his case for buying “that piece of junk,” but is perseverance has paid off over the years. Improvements were made, little by little, although he often had to tolerate the indignity of waiting six months for a part from an American junkyard, only to find out his parts came from a Cutlass Supreme.

Five years later, there was enough parts collected to redo the engine, although the hodgepodge of low and high compression 455 items did cause some issues that were later sorted out. After searching the junkyards all over Lebanon and educating himself about body restoration, Muhammad tore into the Olds and attempted to make Lansing, Michigan proud of his Arabian horsepower. Giving the paint chores to experts, Muhammad’s newly-burgundy Olds was again roaming the streets of Lebanon in 1988.

With the advent of the Internet, he’s since been able to learn more about where to find the correct parts and fix many details that were detracting from the 4-4-2’s character.

However, Muhammad’s job in the United Arab Emirates keeps him away from his Olds, so he doesn’t get to drive it much, but  his son’s birth in 1996 ensured that the Olds will be waiting for him in Lebanon.

About the author

Diego Rosenberg

Diego is an automotive historian with experience working in Detroit as well as the classic car hobby. He is a published automotive writer in print and online and has a network of like-minded aficionados to depend on for information that's not in the public domain.
Read My Articles

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