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American muscle cars, 64-73, and other American cars, like race cars


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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. 

 

UPDATE:

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,

1968_pontiac_gto-pic-27108_zps0237be86.j

Edited by Jeeps_Guns_Tanks
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Mustangs are "pony" cars and most don't qualify as muscle cars since they lack the prerequisite big block engine.

Lee Iacocca had a winner with the Mustang which was designed as a somewhat sporty car for your average housewife or grandma.

1967 fastback or 1970 Mach 1 are the Mustang master race.

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Mustangs are "pony" cars and most don't qualify as muscle cars since they lack the prerequisite big block engine.

Lee Iacocca had a winner with the Mustang which was designed as a somewhat sporty car for your average housewife or grandma.

1967 fastback or 1970 Mach 1 are the Mustang master race.

 

I was going to get into the ponycar thing at some point.  I remember reading somewhere some car reviewer from a mag back in the day, car and driver or one of those, reviewed a 64 mustang and 64 GTO, he loved the GTO, remembered all kinds of stuff about it, like it was a prepped by Jim Wangers press car with more horsepower than normal. All he remembered about the 64 mustang was some unfinished metal in the trunk cut his hand. 

 

GM's answer to the Mustang, the F-body, Firebird and Camaro were much better cars. 

ba4d.jpg

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I've always liked Camaros over Mustangs. But me and my family have always owned Mustangs. Go figure.

1968 SS Camaro convertible in 396 was my dream car as a kid.

 

When I was a little kid, the 67 SS/RS 396 Camaro from better off dead was my dream car. Then my old man and I started talking about cars, and his love of all things pontiac rubbed off on me, and then I saw a 68 GTO and had to go change my pants. 

http://www.chevyhardcore.com/news/better-off-dead-camaro-found-and-restored-to-its-former-glory/

 

Screen-shot-2013-02-18-at-12.46.05-PM.jp

 

I've always had a fair amount of disdain for Ford products.  All my dealings with them have been negative over the years. Fucking two oil drain plugs? REALLY??

Brake calipers held on with sheet metal 'pins', really ford??!... I hear they've improved. 

 

Anyway, there have always been a few Fords I liked the looks of, the mustangs got ok in 67. 

 

The cars I've always wanted to get into but never did was Dodge and Plymouth muscle cars like the Roadrunner and Charger.    Made dad thought Chrysler products were trash though so he never wanted to touch them.  

Edited by Jeeps_Guns_Tanks
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A cool little race car before I go off to bed. 

 

Penske+camaro+side.jpg

Trans-Am racing in the late sixties was BAD ASS. 

 

Now, I'm off to bed. Tomorrow , I have to get up I early on a saturday to actually go work on one of these damn things. We are pulling the motor and tranny out of my father in laws 1970 SS 396 Chevelle.  The thing is so much more complicated than my precious 68 GTOs were... But it's still been fun. 

 

Night guys!

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The Black one looks great. How it is called?

That's a Plymouth "Charger".

 

A lot of these were still on the road when I began driving, my first car was a '70 Olds '88.  Sounds like a boat, but they made a two-door hardtop that with a 455CID eight and Quadrajet carb was stupidly quick.

 

I've had my share of Ponchos, Olds, Buicks  and other sleds from the 60's and 70's.

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thats a 68 or 69 dodge Charger. THe same car used in the Dukes of Hazzard, and many other Hollywood movies where they get destroyed, making a rare care that much more rare. 

Not that they were -that- good a car.  Funniest one I came across, someone had stuffed a slant six under the hood, probably thinking it'd get better mileage.

 

Otherwise, if one ever owns a Plymouth/Dodge/ Chrysler/Fargo of that era, you'll come to loathe it's ballast resistor block.

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Not that they were -that- good a car.  Funniest one I came across, someone had stuffed a slant six under the hood, probably thinking it'd get better mileage.

 

Otherwise, if one ever owns a Plymouth/Dodge/ Chrysler/Fargo of that era, you'll come to loathe it's ballast resistor block.

 

My sister had a 73 one owner Dart, the one owner being my grandmother.   My grandmother had some shadetree idiot mess with the car over the years and the electrical system was a nightmare. I don't remember the specifics, but the damn thing would not start, and it wasn't the starter.  I was 14 so and it was my sisters car, so I didn't pay that much attention.  My dad did rant for years it was some stupid shit only chrysler did. 

Edited by Jeeps_Guns_Tanks
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I spent all day pulling the motor and tranny on a 1970 SS 396 Chevelle. All went well, except, about 9am about 500 people on Harleys showed up. There is a custom bike shop and they were having some kind of event. 

 

It kinda sucked having to yell over all the 30 to 50 year old wanna be 16 year old girls riding around on their look at me look at me bikes. They blocked off the street about a block down and were doing burn outs and wheelies. At the height of this event, they were driving down the alley our shop is on doing burn outs and revving their motorcycles.  It also looked like leather specific pride parade, with so many middle aged, banker types on 30 grand harleys. I suppose these guys weren't total posers since they rode in, instead of being trailered.

 

Anyway, the day was still fun enough, even if i'm even more deaf having had to endure faggots(see Southpark episode on this) on harleys all day.

 

I have pics, but I'm tired, and my hands hurt from wrench slips, I'll post them at some point.  

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My sister had a 73 one owner Dart, the one owner being my grandmother.   My grandmother had some shadetree idiot mess with the car over the years and the electrical system was a nightmare. I don't remember the specifics, but the damn thing would start, and it wasn't the starter.  I was 14 so and it was my sisters car, so I didn't pay that much attention.  My dad did rant for years it was some stupid shit only chrysler did. 

Yeah, that'd be the ballast resistor.

 

Best way it'd fail, is the car would try to start when cranking, but when you let off the starter, it'd die.

 

They did other weird things, like having the wiring loom for the rear lights run through the kickpanel near the parking brake, right where every one of their vehicles seemed the most prone to rusting.

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Muscle cars from the 1960s are cool, but American race cars from the 1960s are cooler. Specificially, the Chaparral cars.

 

The Chaparral race cars were funded by Texas oilman Jim Hall, and incorporated numerous innovations (many of these got various models of the car banned from racing competitively). A few of my favorite models are below;

 

Chaparral 2D:

 

Chaparral-2D-Chevrolet.jpg

 

Very light (less than 1000 kilos with over 450 hp), but fairly conventional compared to later offerings. Was fairly successful in racing competitively.

 

Chaparral 2E

 

217.jpg

 

As can be seen, the 2E was quite different from the 2D. The rear wing (an uncommon feature at the time) was mounted directly to the suspension, producing additional loading on the tires (adding traction). Interestingly, the angle of attack of the wing could be varied by the driver, allowing downforce to be decreased when it was not needed (such as when driving straight), thereby reducing drag.

 

The 2F, 2G, and 2H were all derivatives of the 2E.

 

The 2J was quite different from earlier Chaparral automobiles.

 

CGLeIXp.jpg

 

DXV28Lt.jpg?1

 

It did away with the large rear wing, instead using plastic skirts that would create a seal against the ground. At the back of the car were two fans driven by a small auxiliary engine (I believe it was taken from a snowmobile). These sucked air out of the bottom of the car, essentially turning it into a reverse howevercraft. This gave the 2J about 5 kN of additional downforce in addition to the weight of the car, massively improving braking and cornering. More importantly, while aerodynamic methods such as wings and spoilers, became less effective at low speeds, the 2J would retain downforce even while stopped. A magazine article from 1970 had this to say about the 2J:

 


 

The car you see on the next four pages is perhaps the most incredible race car ever designed and built. It's the new Chaparral 2J. It promises to revolutionize everyone's ideas about race cars. Unless, of course, some spoil sports get together and ban it.

 

 

Naturally, the 2J was banned after 1 season.

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Some thoughts on Muscle cars, I've updated the first post with it as well. 

 

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 and 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 350 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 secondarys 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 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 88s 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 erra. 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. 

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Muscle cars from the 1960s are cool, but American race cars from the 1960s are cooler. Specificially, the Chaparral cars.

 

The Chaparral race cars were funded by Texas oilman Jim Hall, and incorporated numerous innovations (many of these got various models of the car banned from racing competitively). A few of my favorite models are below;

 

Chaparral 2D:

 

Chaparral-2D-Chevrolet.jpg

 

Very light (less than 1000 kilos with over 450 hp), but fairly conventional compared to later offerings. Was fairly successful in racing competitively.

 

Chaparral 2E

 

217.jpg

 

As can be seen, the 2E was quite different from the 2D. The rear wing (an uncommon feature at the time) was mounted directly to the suspension, producing additional loading on the tires (adding traction). Interestingly, the angle of attack of the wing could be varied by the driver, allowing downforce to be decreased when it was not needed (such as when driving straight), thereby reducing drag.

 

The 2F, 2G, and 2H were all derivatives of the 2E.

 

The 2J was quite different from earlier Chaparral automobiles.

 

CGLeIXp.jpg

 

DXV28Lt.jpg?1

 

It did away with the large rear wing, instead using plastic skirts that would create a seal against the ground. At the back of the car were two fans driven by a small auxiliary engine (I believe it was taken from a snowmobile). These sucked air out of the bottom of the car, essentially turning it into a reverse howevercraft. This gave the 2J about 5 kN of additional downforce in addition to the weight of the car, massively improving braking and cornering. More importantly, while aerodynamic methods such as wings and spoilers, became less effective at low speeds, the 2J would retain downforce even while stopped. A magazine article from 1970 had this to say about the 2J:

 

 

 

Naturally, the 2J was banned after 1 season.

 

 

Yes they are, thank you for posting about them. 

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