Even though I'm relatively new to this forum, it did not take long at all for me to notice that here, I am in the company of many fellow petrolheads.
Documenting the mildly interesting machines I encounter in my everyday life is something I like very much, and since I didn't see anyone here posting much about car spotting, I thought I'd make my own thread. So, if you have any pictures of interesting automotive finds, feel free to share them all right here.
To get the ball rolling, here's an imperfect (that racing seat looked really out of place, and there were some visible paint scratches) but still exquisite first-generation Mercury Cougar which I encountered this summer:
We have thread about old Soviet cars and Americal cars (that also tend to be about older and top models). This thread is general thread about any cars - new and old, racing or for work. Car news also can be posted here.
I begin this topic with this -
Studebaker Sceptre, created by italian Sibona-Bassano company. Never produced, it is a hell of a looker.
I thought it was disgraceful we had a thread on Russian race cars, and other cars, but not one on American muscle cars and race cars, IE the best cars.
Over the weekend I'll put a little write up on the GTO and why it kicked off the musclecar, and why the Mustang was an overrated econo box for girls until the 67 model, more akin to a nova then a truly great car like a Pontiac GTO.
My thoughts on why the muscle car era was teh awesome.
The reason 64 to 73 was one of the most interesting era for American cars, is they went a little nuts on how much power they started putting into cars, and all the GM brands for the most part still had their own engine types.
The birth of the muscle car era started in 1964 when John Delorean, Jim Wangers and Pete Estes snuck the GTO option on the 64 mid-size Pontiac Tempest/Lemans platform that was based on GM A-Body platform. There were a few reasons it had to be snuck in, all mainly the fault of GM head executives being stodge old fogies. They had come up with two policies that caused boring cars. The first was their decision to pull out of any GM sponsored racing and the ban on developing performance parts. They also had a ban on putting motors bigger than 330 cubic inches in mid-size cars.
The sad thing is GM had a thriving race scene and a set of dealers and race teams using their products. Pontiac and Chevrolet in particular had really bumped up their market share through their winning race teams. They were doing crazy stuff like Swiss cheesing frames, producing aluminum front ends (hoods, fenders, bumpers), and producing multi carb manifolds and there’s more I’m sure I’m forgetting. Then BAM, in the span of weeks GM killed it all off in 63.
The heart of GTO option on the Lemans was the 389 cubic inch V8 used in Pontiac full size cars. The V8 was rated a 325 horsepower. The biggest V8 the car came with normally was the 326. The GTO option also included the choice of a close ratio four speed Muncie transmission, and heavy duty suspension and brakes. It could also include Pontiacs Safe-T-track limited slip differential with gear ratio choices of 3.23, 3.55, 3.90, 4.10, and if I recall right, 4.56. The name was strait up ripped off from Ferrari, by Delorean. You could also order the package with triple carburetors, also known as tri-power, and it upped the engines horsepower to 335.
GM and Pontiac found out about it, but Wangers had gone out and showed the car to some big dealers in the Detroit area and they already had big orders so GM corporate, and Pontiac let it be produced, the general manager told Delorean he would have the last laugh because there was no way they could even sell the 5000 that had been authorized, and Pontiac would have to eat the loss on inventory they couldn't sell, and it would be his ass. It sold more than 32,000 units, as a really un advertised option, so Delorean and Estes won the day, and the ban on big engines in mid size cars was lifted, and the GTO became its own model, still based on the Lemans/tempest platform, but with no small engine choices.
The other GM brands caught up with their own special models in 1965, Chevrolet with the SS 396 Chevelle, Oldsmobile with the 442, and Buick with the GS. GM still put a size restriction on motors and their A-Body mid-size models, but it was now 400 cubic inches, and all the brands had motors that could be grown well past this and already had been and were used in the full-size car lines. Even this restriction would be pulled in 1970 because other major brands were stuffing huge motors in mid and even the newer smaller cars and GM was losing out.
Ford and Chrysler and even AMC didn't just sit back and watch GM reap the reward, Ford had come out with their ‘Pony’ car the Mustang, in 1964, and it was also a huge success, but it was no performance car, even with the top of the line V8 option, a GTO would eat it alive, handing and acceleration wise. Ford also had mid-size cars with large V8 options, but none that had been packaged like the GTO and they were light on good large V8s in the early 60s, plus their mid-size cars were ugly as hell. The Mustang would grow into its own later in the 60s, in particular, when Carol Shelby started playing with them. They never had a great mid-size muscle car that wasn't ugly though.
Chrysler had cars that could be considered muscle cars, but before 68 they were all so ugly, no one but weirdos drove them. They did have some very powerful engine combos, and they really hit the scene hard with the introduction of the cheap as hell but big engine powered Plymouth Road-Runner in 1968, you could buy a very fast Road-Runner for a lot less than you could even a base model GTO. For a classier Chrysler they had their Plymouth GTX line, and Dodge had their beautiful Charger. The Cuda got an update in 1970, so it wasn’t really really ugly anymore, and the same platform was used to give Dodge the Challenger. These cars fit more into the pony car scheme though. The main point is Chrysler produced ugly cars until 1968.
GM would jump into the pony car scene in 1967 with the introduction of the first gen F-body. Chevrolet got the Camaro, and Pontiac got the Firebird. These cars were introduced with engine options up to 400 cubic inches, though, when they got a 396, or 400, they were slightly detuned so the mid-size cars still had an ‘advantage’, there was just a little tab that restricted the secondaries on the quadrajet carb.
The whole thing came crashing down and by 1973, the muscle car was all but dead, and the US car industry was in a slump it would not recover from until the late 80s, also when the muscle car returned in a weird way with the Buick Gran National. While it lasted the muscle-car era produced some iconic cars, and some very rare but interesting ones. Most of them looked pretty damn cool though, and by now, they are very rare to see as daily driven cars. They exist; I pass a 68 SS Camaro all the time. Now even a base model muscle car or pony car that's rusted all to hell can be more then 8 to 10 grand, and you will spend triple that making it into a nice car.
1970 was probably the peak year, and some very powerful cars came out that year and that year only. Chevrolet offered the SS Chevelle with the LS6 454, pumping out 450 HP. Buick, Oldsmobile and Pontiac all had very high horsepower 455 cubic inch V8s in the GSX, 442, and GTO models. Government safety restrictions, smog restrictions that required a lot of crap to be added to the engines, and high insurance prices all worked to kill these cars, and the final straw was the gas crisis. The US Auto industry was a barren waste land unless you liked trucks, until about 1986.
The cars never lost popularity though, but their worth has fluctuated a lot. You could buy just about anything in the late 70s and early 80s, and you could gate rare stuff a low prices, but by the late 80s the collectors had started getting into muscle cars and the prices went crazy. No, unless you want to spend a lot of money, you’re not going to be driving around a classic car from that era. On the upside, the aftermarket parts scene has gotten so extensive, you can build a 1968 Camaro, or 1970 Chevelle almost from scratch, since the body shell and just about all the body panels are being produced. You’re looking at about 14 grand just for the body shell of a 1970 Chevelle, from there you looking at a huge chunk of change to build it all the way, but it could be done. I suspect they are used to put a very rare, but totaled cars back into shape.
It’s nice to be helping with the restoration of one of these cars, without being tied to the cost. I can have fun taking it apart, and putting it back together without worrying about how I was going to fund it. I also have more tools for working on cars than my father in law, and know more about GM cars, so I’m appreciated, and that’s nice. I just with the owner was willing to upgrade the thing a little, you can really go a long way to making an old muscle car handle and stop well, and be more reliable and safe with upgrades not much more than rebuilding everything dead stock, and putting upgraded suspension on a otherwise numbers matching car really doesn't hurt the value, especially if you put all the stock shit in boxes and save it. I’m not paying for it though so it is of course his call, and putting it back together stock is easier in most cases. I really wish it was a 68 GTO because, man I still know those cars, and every time we run into some stupid Chevy thing, I’m like, man, Pontiacs are so much better, and I get dirty looks. BUT THEY ARE!!!
Anyway, I said I would write something up, and there it is.
Hopefully we have a few guys in here who dig on American Iron and will post about the cars they loved, and yes, I mean in that way,
This thread will be about Soviet cars, racing vehicles and SRS BSNS cars. More photos, less text!
Moskvich 404, 1954.
Moskvich 407 Coupe