Muscle Cars Were Slow

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I’m probably gonna get bagfuls of hate mail for this one – but the truth is that most of the muscle cars of the 1960s and 1970s were slow.

At least, compared with what’s considered quick today.

Very few ’60s and ’70s muscle cars could do 0-60 in less than seven seconds. Most were low-to-mid-15 second quarter-milers.

Only a small handful could do better than about 135 MPH, all out.


I know it’s not in line with the image – now 40 years-plus in the rearview mirror – of lumpy cams, tire-frying burnouts, menacing hood scoops and all that. Well, ok, they did have lumpy cams, could do burnouts and very definitely looked menacing.  But the fulsome scurvy truth is that most of the ’60s and ’70s-era muscle cars were only quick by the standards of their time – and would be considered merely peppy today.

Here are some stats:

* 1970 Dodge Coronet R/T Hemi, 426 CID:

0-60, 6.7 seconds; quarter mile, 13.9 seconds

* 1969 Chevy Camaro Z28, 302 CID:

0-60, 7.4 seconds; quarter mile, 15.2 seconds

* 1970 Buick GSX Stage 1 455 CID:

0-60, 6.4 seconds; quarter-mile, 13.9 seconds

* 1970 Oldsmobile 442 W30 455 CID:

0-60, 6.8 seconds; quarter-mile, 14.2 seconds

* 1970 Pontiac GTO Judge Ram Air III 400 CID:

0-60, 6.6 seconds; quarter-mile, 14.6 seconds.

A 2012 Mustang GT does 0-60 in the mid-high four second range; it runs the quarter mile in the high 12s – and has a top speed over 150 MPH. The V-6 version of the current Mustang has more horsepower (305) than most V-8 powered ’60s and ’70s muscle cars had in real terms (back then, advertised horsepower was calculated differently – dishonestly, really – with the engine on a stand, without a production exhaust system or power-sapping accessories installed and often “tuned” for maximum gain, whereas today advertised hp is calculated with the engine installed in the car, with a  full production exhaust system, all accessories hooked up and in standard factory tune). It – the V-6 Mustang – does 0-60 in about 5.6 seconds, which is (again) quicker than the vast majority of factory-stock ’60s and ’70s-era V-8 muscle cars.

That’s just one example of the difference – the gulf in perception as well performance – that separates Then vs. Now.

And to put a finer point on it: The stats mentioned reflect the times of the quickest factory stock muscle cars – models equipped with the largest or highest-performance engines available at the time, like the mighty 426 Hemi, in the case of the Chryslers.

The same cars with the standard (and usually, less powerful) engine were usually slower.

For example, a 383 Super Bee or GTX was a mid-15 second car.

That was typical of the time.

But that’s not what people remember. Their conception of What Was is often based upon much-hyped magazine profiles – and the completely not-representative performance of specially tuned ultra-low-production ringers or barely streetable, dealer-modifed cars like the Yenko Super Camaros and Royal Bobcat Pontiacs.

Some of those cars did run 12s – or even 11s – in the quarter mile.

But they typically did it on drag slicks, with race gas in the tank, “super tunes,” open headers, wild camshaft profiles and rear axle ratios that made them all-but-undriveable on the highway.

Few mass-produced/factory built muscle cars of the ’60s or ’70s ever came close to that kind of performance.

Today, a production Camaro SS runs 12s without even breathing hard, fully-warranted, unmodified in any way. Most any mildly sporty current-year V-6 family sedan will walk away from the mid-late ’70s era muscle cars of the Smokey & The Bandit genre, such as the Pontiac Trans-Am. I speak from direct personal knowledge, incidentally. I own one of those old TAs – and have owned several others. A couple of same-era Camaros, too. Did you know that the strongest of the bunch – the “T/A 6.6” Trans-Am of ’77-’79 – was only packing 220 hp? That’s 200-plus less horsepower than the current Mustang GT – and 85 hp less than the current Mustang V-6.

None of this is intended as a slam of classic-era muscle cars. They have style – and sheer presence – that arguably outclasses anything modern. You can work on them yourself, too – and it’s easy to extract much more performance with a few choice modifications. They are also great investments that appreciate in value – whereas that new Mustang GT you just bought for $30,000 will probably be worth half that five years from now.

But, the speed they deliver is undeniable. And they can usually can be counted on to run for 100,00-plus miles before you even begin to see puffs of blue smoke curling out of the tailpipe.

Most of the ’60s and ’70s-era stuff was seriously tired by 50,000 miles.

I still have my bright orange ’76 Trans-Am (with 455 V-8) and love it dearly. But I won’t be going heads-up against a new GT or SS in it – and if I tried to drive it every day, subjecting it to rain and road salt, it would be a rust-eaten, smoke-spewing hulk within three years.

To make it as quick as a modern muscle car would require some significant modifications. To match the handling/braking, some even more serious mods. To achieve the same body integrity and overall durability would be all-but-impossible without completely re-engineering the car – in which case it would be “old” in name only.

So, I keep it for the memories and because of the way it makes me smile whenever I slide behind the non-air-bag-equipped Formula steering wheel, key the ancient four-barrel V-8 to life and sniff the uncontrolled byproducts of internal combustion.

I remember the good old days – but I also know we’ve got it pretty good today, too.

Throw it in the Woods?


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  514 comments for “Muscle Cars Were Slow

  1. February 26, 2016 at 6:41 pm

    To all you folks out there that think the old 60’s and 70’s cars were slow, go to Hemmings Muscle Machines. They have drag races every year and are in the 11-13 second ranges with stock machines. My 1970 Dodge Challenger that kept dead even with a 70 Chevelle 454-450 Hp is in the records at about 12.75 sec so that is where a 383 modified Challenger is.

    • eric
      February 26, 2016 at 7:50 pm

      Hi Conrad,

      Fifty years ago (or 40 years ago) a 6 second zero to 60 run and a low 14 second/high 13 second quarter-mile was very quick… relative to most cars of the same era. Compared with today, it is in the same ballpark as a V6 sport sedan such as an Accord or Camry.

      • Rick
        March 21, 2016 at 10:52 pm

        Yes my friends dad could never get traction with his 70 Shelby GT 500, crappy thin tires ruined Quarter mile times. However if you take the recorded quarter times of cars with cheaters (almost as good as todays tires) you see a Boss 9 running a low 12.

        • eric
          March 22, 2016 at 6:08 am


          A Boss 429 Mustang is not representative of the typical muscle car, as I’m sure you know. It was a very low production exotic, analogous in modern car terms to something like the current Hellcat Challenger. And the Hellcat – unlike the Boss 429 – is a car you could commute to work in every day, if you wanted to.

          And it’s neither here nor there what the Boss 429 could run with “cheaters” or other mods. The article was about the performance of factory stock muscle cars.

          I wish people could read!

          You can make all the claims you want to about what a car you had ran (or what your buddy’s car runs). It’s all hearsay and bench racing. The only basis for a factual discussion about the performance of these cars as they were built, as they were delivered to the buyer, is the instrumented testing done at the time. Or instrumented testing done today of a documented original/stock condition car.

      • Rick
        March 21, 2016 at 10:59 pm

        Sure its called 40 years of technology. However when those big engines were tuned they did get in the 11’s That considering, crap tires, crap fuel system, crap suspension, crap ignition. So when people make the comparison, I think they are just feeling threatened because the older cars are far cooler, and can easily and cheaply be made just as fast.

        • eric
          March 22, 2016 at 5:58 am

          Hi Rick,

          Elevens from a mere “tuning”?


          Can you cite some proof in support of this claim?

          I will let Clover fart in my face if you can provide documentation/proof that it is possible to take a factory stock mid-low 14 or high 13 second muscle car (as most of them were) and get it in the elevens (or anywhere near there) by “tuning.”

          Now, if by “tuning” you mean a cam swap, aftermarket/high-flowing heads/port work, complementary intake/exhaust upgrades, installing different rear gears and so on… well, sure.

          But that’s hardly “tuning.”

          Meanwhile, the four cylinder versions of today’s muscle cars (Camaro/Mustang) run 13s in totally stock, as-delivered condition.

          PS: Why is is that some people think straight talk about the actual power/performance of muscle cars as they left the factory (not what they were capable of when modified) amounts to criticism/dislike of them? I have owned and worked on them all my life – and prefer them to anything modern because they have personality the new cars lack. But that doesn’t blind me to the reality of their power/performance as built, nor to the limitations of their capabilities.

          Yes, they could be easily and inexpensively modified to run much quicker than as delivered. That is one of their many appealing characteristics vs. modern cars. But they have to be modified to run competitively with modern performance cars. And while you can make them comparably quick without extensive/expensive modifications, getting them to handle/brake comparably is much more challenging and expensive.

          I personally don’t care whether my Trans Am can corner or brake with – or out-accelerate – a new Hellcat or Camaro SS or Mustang 5.0

          I love it for its character, its simplicity and rawness. For the total absence of electronic “safety” crap. I don;t have to switch off the traction control to do a burnout. I can lock up the brakes, if I want to. The moan of the Quadrajet’s secondaries flopping open is a sound no fuel-injected modern performance car can replicate.

          I’m not fitting it with gnomesayin’ 20-inch “rims” – or a TBI system.

          It – and the other muscle cars that have survived the decades – deserve to be left intact as totems of an era that was glorious but never to be repeated.

          Why attempt to make a classic muscle car modern?

          It takes away everything that made muscle cars so cool.

      • Ray
        March 30, 2016 at 10:39 pm

        I walk past my 911 turbo, Nissan GTR, M4 and happily swing open the huge door on my buick gs stage 1.

        I’m having a hard time figuring out what your point is Eric.

        Take 400 HP, bad brakes and boat like suspension and all of a sudden that buick is scary fast.


        • eric
          March 31, 2016 at 4:58 am

          Hi Ray,

          The point was simply to set the record straight. Classic muscle cars were quick … relative to the cars of their time. But by today’s standards, their as-built/as-delivered performance would be considered nothing particularly special. Most would have trouble keeping up with a V6 Accord or similar.

          I gibs you a specific example, which I’m gonna write about more soon:

          This week, I have a 2016 Mustang with the turbo four. The engine makes 315 hp, which if measured using the old SAE “gross” method would be in the neighborhood of 360 hp, or about the same as the rated hp of muscle car engines like the Pontiac RA III 400 that powered the GTO Judge and the LT-1 350 that powered the ’70 Z28 Camaro.

          The Mustang can get to 60 in about 5.4 and is capable of a mid-high 13 second quarter mile run.

          How many stock classic muscle cars ran that quickly?

          That said, I agree with you that a classic muscle car is more fun. Has more emotional appeal.

          • dirtybobbastard
            March 31, 2016 at 8:41 am

            “How many stock classic muscle cars ran that quickly? ”
            I can think of a few but that doesn’t invalidate your point.
            Using test data from the era of shitty bias ply tires stacks the numbers in favor of modern cars – which don’t really need the help.
            I say the old muscle cars would be ‘stock enough’ for comparison as long as the manifolds haven’t been replaced with headers and the motor is still stock specification (i.e carb/intake/cam/heads/pistons).

            • eric
              March 31, 2016 at 8:48 am

              Hi DirtyBob!

              Most muscle cars ran in the 14s; those in the 13s were outliers – those that ran faster were on the verge of not being viable as regular use/street cars.

              There were of course cases of advertised hp being under-rated (426 Street Hemi being a notorious case in point) but in general, most of the mass-market muscle engines were making 300-something hp by modern measuring standards. This has been confirmed by dyno runs of stock-build engines. And it’s not surprising given that most of these engines had not great airflow (by modern standards) and cam profiles that had to balance between street-usable and power. Modern engines can run much more aggressive profiles and have vastly superior airflow, which is why they are both very powerful and perfectly street-usable.

              I can’t think of anything from the classic era that’s remotely comparable to something like a new Hellcat Challenger… 700-plus real hp in a car with climate control AC that could be comfortably driven to work in stop and go traffic all year ’round!

              • dirtybobbastard
                March 31, 2016 at 9:14 am

                “…those that ran faster were on the verge of not being viable as regular use/street cars. ”
                I disagree, more attention to detail may be needed but old school/12 sec capable/stockish/daily driver is not hard to acheive with the old big block cars.
                I’ve used a 244 @ .050 duration/.500 lift hydraulic cam in a carbed daily driver 350 before (big cam for a 350). 13″ vacuum at 1000rpm (choppy) idle didn’t help the power brakes much and it was easy to flood on cold weather starts but I had no other issues with it.
                That much cam in a big block will barely be noticeable and make nice power.

                • eric
                  March 31, 2016 at 9:34 am

                  Hi DB,

                  I mean stock – with ’60s/early ’70s cam profiles!

                  I’ve got a 280 degree (flat tappet) stick in my Trans-Am (455) and while it’s still street-drivable and pulls enough vacuum for the brakes and such, the idle is pretty choppy and not really suited to stop and go.

                  What amazes me about the new stuff is how relaxed and gentle seeming even a 700-plus hp engine is.

                  The old stuff, once you were in the 500 hp range, got pretty hairy!

                  • dirtybobbastard
                    March 31, 2016 at 9:44 am

                    that’s 280 degrees advertised duration, the 244 @ .050 cam was 292 advertised….
                    comp 292H to be specific.
                    I stand by getting a big block muscle car to tip into the 12s w/o changing the cam, provided you can run slicks. 500 hp big blocks aren’t that radical IMHO.
                    Does the T/A idle better in neutral, then lug a bit/lope more when put into gear?

                    • eric
                      March 31, 2016 at 10:20 am

                      It’s streetable… but the idle is choppy (which I like; one of the things I don’t like about the modern stuff is it generally doesn’t sound hairy at all.. and what fun is that?)

                      IIRC, the ’73 SD-455 was able to get into the high 12s on slicks, with tuning… but the question is – how representative is the SD-455 of muscle cars generally?

                      I’d argue the typical muscle car (volume sellers) were cars like Chargers and Roadrunners with the 383; RA III GTOs, 390 Mustangs, etc.

                      Put another way, the current analog of the volume sellers back then is probably something like the four cylinder Mustang we’ve been talking about. The new GT’s performance (0-60, 1/4 mile) is better than probably 75 percent of all stock classic muscle cars – and the 25 percent that were as quick or quicker were probably not everyday drivers in the way that a new GT is.

                      But, then, I liked that about the old stuff. That they were scary – and not for everyone!

                      It kept the guidos away…

                    • dirtybobbastard
                      March 31, 2016 at 10:55 am

                      tuning out some of the chop may give it better manners.

    • Dustin Mccain
      March 4, 2016 at 3:40 pm

      I can tell you this. My 87 Trans Am GTA outran my dads “STOCK”1969 Chevelle 396 SS. I know the 60s were supposed to be the golden age of horsepower and all that and yes I would much rather own a $50k muscle car but.. they were at most way overrated. Ive watched the pure-stock drags and theres no way some of these cars are stock either I may add. Ive saw numerous “musclecars” tried out at the dragstrip only to turn in the 16s.

      • eric
        March 5, 2016 at 6:59 am

        Hi Dustin,


        The problem is one of perception and context.

        Circa the late 1960s/early ’70s, a car that was able to run even a 14 second quarter was very quick relative to the typical car of the era. A low-13-second car was phenomenally quick.

        But today, four cylinder Mustangs an Camaros run 13 second quarter miles; and most V6 family cars do, too.

        The other big difference is drivability.

        Due to the mechanical limitations of the technology in use back in the day (especially flat tappet cams and the state of cylinder head development) it was difficult to have “everyday drivable” civility and extreme performance capability. There simply was no classic-era car that delivered the 0-60/quarter-mile performance of a new car like the Hellcat Challenger or current Z28 that could also idle all day in traffic and be driven cross-country like any family car.

      • dirtybobbastard
        March 31, 2016 at 8:53 am

        Define “musclecars”. I spent a bit of time at the dragstrip and most of the 16 second V8s I see are pickup trucks, 74-82 Vettes, most of the camaros & firebird/TAs ever made, 5.0/4.6 fox/sn95 mustangs with automatic trans & highway gears.
        Dont forget the ‘gramps factor’ either, some drivers suck.
        Met an elderly gentleman driving a 475ish hp Lingenfelter Vette (C5) that could only muster low 13s. I offered to drive it for him (lol) but he declined.

        • eric
          March 31, 2016 at 8:58 am

          Hi DB,

          I’d include any intermediate-sized coupe with a backseat and a big V8/performance upgrades and cosmetics to match, that emulates the concept introduced by Pontiac in ’64 when the first GTO appeared, through circa 1974 – after which the breed effectively ceased to exist. I’d also include the pony cars of the period – Camaro/Firebird/Mustang/Challenger/’Cuda as these were very similar, just slightly smaller and more “sporty” looking.

          The majority of these had engines making in the neighborhood of 300-350 hp as measured by modern standards.

          Still, they were light – by current standards.

          Which is ironic, since they were often criticized back in the day for being too heavy!

        • eric
          March 31, 2016 at 9:07 am

          Yeah, the driver is a huge factor.

          I know for a fact that a well-driven and almost completely stock W72 (“T/A 6.6”) 400 powered ’78-79 Trans-Am is capable of a very low 15 second/high 14 second pass… if the driver knows how to drive.

          • Eightsouthman
            March 31, 2016 at 9:39 am

            eric, the driver makes it or breaks it. My best friend who rode in virtually countless races with me countered to someone who commented that was one of baddest cars he’d seen “it ain’t all car”.

        • dirtybobbastard
          March 31, 2016 at 9:34 am

          e.t.a. “…most of the (pre ’93) camaros &…”

          • eric
            March 31, 2016 at 9:35 am

            Those ’80s-era 5.0 Mustangs could be made raped ape quick with light mods… they were light as hell and all kinds of fun!

            • dirtybobbastard
              March 31, 2016 at 9:52 am

              oh yes, I had a friend with an ’89 LX 5.0 that ran consistent mid 13s on the stock motor/manual trans/exhaust with drag shocks/springs, 4.88 gears and 29×15 slicks.

              • eric
                March 31, 2016 at 10:10 am

                I need to get one of those fancy G meter/accelerometer things so I can (loosey goosey) baseline the performance of my TA… no drag strips very near here…

                Seat of the pants-wise, I think my car is capable of a 1high 13 second pass as it sits. It feels much faster than it actually is, because of the hilariously unequal balance between the torque of the 455 and the grip of the stock 15×7 Honeycomb wheels!

                • Me2
                  March 31, 2016 at 10:17 am

                  Eric – “I need to get one of those fancy G meter/accelerometer things ”

                  I would think that a manufacturer of such would be happy to send one for review. Have you asked?

                • dirtybobbastard
                  March 31, 2016 at 10:50 am

                  My limited experience with those is to take the numbers with a grain of salt. I compared an early gtech pro to the timers at the strip and found that the mph was consistently high vs the timeslip and ET could be accurate if there was minimal/no tirespin.

    • r. lewis
      March 20, 2016 at 7:10 pm

      great article, i had a 65 GTO back then and always telling my son how fast it was, 389, 3 2’s, 390 posi and it was fast for those days. i have a 2015 challenger now 5.7, 372 hp i told him i beleive the GTO was faster but now don’t think so after reading this, but that was a long time ago.

      • eric
        March 21, 2016 at 5:23 am

        Hi Lewis,

        Great car! (I still have my ’76 Trans-Am… Carousel Red, honeycomb wheels… 455 engine.)

        Your Goat was fast for its time. It probably ran high 14s in stock trim (much quicker than the average car of the ’60s).

        Love the new Challenger, too. Its only major flaw, in my opinion, is that it’s really heavy. IIRC, it weighs well over 4,100 pounds – which is something like 400 pounds heavier than my ’76 TA!

    • Zak
      April 15, 2016 at 3:01 pm

      I’m curious how some of these older cars would perform with modern tires. Tire technology has come a long way. Even now, tires make a huge difference. If you put drag radials on a hellcat it goes from an 11 sec car to a 10 sec car. Just a few tweaks to an older car like maybe a tune and some better tires and I bet the numbers would jump up. Better yet, stick some of the older tires on modern cars and see what happens. I bet they’d sit there and spin. Traction makes a huge difference.

      • eric
        April 15, 2016 at 3:55 pm

        Hi Zak,

        Yeah… but the Hellcat has 707 hp. Not “gross.” SAE net.

        Most muscle cars had maybe 300-350 or so (real, SAE net) hp.

        Going from mid-high 14s to 12s is gonna take more than just tires!

        • Eightsouthman
          April 15, 2016 at 9:31 pm

          eric, gross HP was often close to net. No power anything, no a/c, lightweight flywheels, etc. We used to throw everything away we could too. Factory mufflers, some of which worked well, were just too damned heavy as were tailpipes.

          There were a lot of people who bought new cars and immediately started replacing heavy parts with lightweight…or no parts and change nearly everything in a really hot engine to make it really hotter.

          Here’s an interesting article about people in your parts who street raced for pure enjoyment. 1/4 miles turned into many mile races and that’s the way it was where I grew up too. Our 1/4 segued into a winding farm road and it was all out road racing for a lot of us. That was the part that separated the men from the boys. A guy who lived down the road from me were known to race the quarter and never back out. People heard us for miles, going out and coming back in.
          My mother once said in a huff, as if it were news to anyone “We could hear you five miles away”. I didn’t say anything. They probably heard the old rod 5 minutes away, on hell of a lt further than 5 miles….or ten. My dad used to go for a ride with me now and again. My oldest sister loved to go for Sunday morning rides after i’d done a tune up the day before. She’d probably rather been with me the night before so she could watch the flames and reflections off everything we passed.

          These guys did I’m sure.

          There’s also a good article about the death of Pontiac in this edition.

    • Brian
      April 22, 2016 at 8:59 pm

      I have a 2000 WS6 ram air T/A . it was stock i put on a 12lb boost turbo for 1500 bucks and it dyno at 750HP. I can smoke the tires in 2nd gear at 70mph. Where i live there is no car worth racing i only race crotch rocket moter bikes and i beat 1 liter bikes all day long.

  2. brent
    December 17, 2015 at 1:00 am

    Hey Eric –
    I noticed my latest post I think I wrote on 12/5 didn’t make it into either 1 or 2 and I am sure your busy. I’m not a blogger. In fact I have never written on any other page. I know my post was rather long and some of it was a repeat of what I had stated in the past,,,,,but I must admit its so much fun to look back. Anyway I like to think that I helped keep it alive at times and its certainly been my favorite subject. and site. I’m not sure how to email you direct so maybe youll entercept this here. I will also be sure to make a donation. I had a thought though. Probably not feasible but it would be cool to have a spot to post some pics of some of our rides. Just a thought. Brent

    • eric
      December 17, 2015 at 7:05 am

      Hi Brent,

      I just saw this (your latest post). Weird. So, your earlier posts did not go into the Moderation (or Spam) queues? Have you registered as a subscriber? If not, please do. We’ll get this sorted out.

      On pictures: You can post them on the Forum page; see the top menu under “Tools.”

  3. Mark
    October 27, 2015 at 9:06 am

    In the motorcycle world the Harley riders have a saying: “If I have to explain it to you then you probably won’t understand anyway”. I think the muscle car guys probably can relate to that statement.

  4. Brent
    October 24, 2015 at 9:51 pm

    Well I haven’t been back here since ’12, and glad the thread is still somewhat going. I was thinking of an analogy the other day regarding this post. Many who argue Eric’s point on this post most likely had some of those beasts back in the day. Now my dad was a big drag racer in 65′ before going off to Nam.” Times have really changed. He bought a brand new 65 mustang 289 HO (271 hp), but he as well as all his buddies went straight home from the dealership and ripped out the AC as to not affect HP, and loaded it up with all the mods they could get. They lived on the weekends at the drag strip.

    Now for me, I can tell you it was great being a street racer in the 80’s (but I always had that question listening to their stories – was my car as fast?). I had a 76 HIGHLY modified mustang cobra II. It had true BOSS heads and we were always making it faster, and I was ALWAYS asking if it would have run with the boys in the 60’s. That’s why this thread hit such a chord with me. In the end in his opinion it finally got there. What was kind of nice about the 80’s was the factory stock sport cars of that era (5.0 mustangs, IROCS, Z28s, trans ams), were always a for sure win so I spent a lot of time “hunting.” After graduating from college as my career went along I bought my first brand new car. It was a 2000 Ram Air Trans Am that ended up at 345hp (big controversary at Pontiac. I immediately took it to show a friend (who was a car nut), who seemed excited and said pop the hood and follow me. Immediately we had to run up to his third floor apt., were he started rummaging through all his car magazines. I said man I wanted to show you my new car. He proceeded to show me an article on the TA posting speeds higher than that of the vette. As it turned out Pontiac was running short on the TA engine – so some got the vette engine from GM at that time), and some jobs were lost over it as a result. As it turned out mine ended up with the vette engine. I thought what a surprise. I then picked up my father and out we went on hwy AA, where I told him to hit it like he would have at the drags in the 60’s. In the end he had a big smile on his face and stated that nothing back then would have come close to beating that car in the quarter.

    Now established in my career, I have a 69 440 highly modified charger, a highly modified 72 340 dart, an 84 4×4 with a 383 11:1 stroker engine, and most recent an 87 K5 blazer all in show quality. I can also tell you that my company vehicle is a brand new Toyota minivan with a 6 cylinder (yep). I have not put any of them head to head against the minivan but if pink slips were involved I would be nervous. That stock minivan is a rocket.

    Now for my analogy to Eric’s point. I also had another hobby. Remember I am a teenager of the 80’s. I bought 67 standup arcade machines made between 80′ and 84.’ I bought them from an old man who took them out of service almost right after that, and there they sat until 2007 collecting raccoon shit. I was so excited to rebuild them which I did. Before I left with the last trailer loaded, the old man said the following to me, “don’t get to excited. I have found whenever you try to recreate your youth it will always let you down. Things will always be remembered faster, shinier, brighter, and a lot more fun than they will be today.” I rebuilt the first pac man machine which had a counter showing that $20 thousand dollars in quarters went through it at one time. I found out after playing it for 15 minutes he was right.

    How many of you doubters still have those cars you refer to even in moderate stock form? Even if you do, go test drive a new Camaro SS boasting a true 455 hp, When in your day that 70 454 chevelle boasted a 375 hp rating this really is equal to 300hp by todays standards. If your still not a believer simply go try to find a Pac Man Machine and waste 25 cents. EVERYONE loved that game back in the day.

    Don’t get me wrong – kids today still come running up to them and when I show them how to play it, I always get the same response: “looks cool but is that all it does.”

    • eric
      October 25, 2015 at 6:49 am

      Hi Brent,


      About two weeks ago, I got a new (2016) Mustang GT to test drive. 435 hp. This is a mass-produced, docile, AC-equipped street car with a dead-calm idle. Anything from back in the day that made that kind of power would have been a handful to drive on the street and also would almost certainly have been either a low-production, bracket race-intended animal (e.g., RA IV Trans Am, L88 Corvette) or modified.

      The turbo four cylinder (315 hp) version of the current Mustang is probably about “par” for what was available from the factory in a V8 muscle car from the late ’60s/early ’70s, in terms of horsepower and performance. The current EcoBoost Mustang’s output, if calculated using the SAE “gross” method that was used up until 1972, would likely be right around 360-380 hp. Only a small handful of elite classic-era muscle cars touted more gross hp than that.

    • Glenn
      October 27, 2015 at 6:14 am

      Wow, modern cars are faster than cars built 45 years ago! Really? That’s like saying a ’69 Mustang 428 Cobra Jet would easily out run a ’32 Ford flathead V8. Progress marches on I guess. The Muscle Car era has to be remembered this way: Cars steadily improved through the years until the big gains in performance during the 1960s then in 1973 it was over. Suddenly instead of new cars performing better they were much slower even the ones available with the same size engines because of new emission standards that came into effect along with the first oil crisis which shut down the big block engine era. So how long did it take for technology to recover the lost performance of the late ’60s muscle cars? 20-30 years or so. That added to the legend of the factory muscle car era. And in the ’60s every car in a manufacturer’s line was usually available with a performance engine option you could get a 427 in a full size Galaxie and a Cobra back then. By the way that 427ci Galaxie’s 0-60 acceleration was severely limited by the limited traction available from the street tires of that time.

      • eric
        October 27, 2015 at 6:18 am

        Hi Glenn,

        There are plenty of people out there who still believe that the ’60s and early ’70s stuff was the quickest/fastest stuff ever built.

        That was true… until the ’90s.

        Since then, the gap has widened to a canyon.

        And the new stuff is fast and street driveable, every day, in heavy traffic. With the AC on.

        PS: Yeah, the 427 Galaxie was very quick. It was also a factory-built bracket racer! The new Hellcat would slap it silly… and you can drive the Hellcat to work. On a 102 degree (or -5 degree) day.

    • Rob
      December 13, 2015 at 8:23 pm

      My first car was a 69 GTO. 400 / 4 speed car. Boy we had a lot of fun in that car. It was 86 by then and boy did we think those were old cars then. Now 15 years seems like yesterday. In the 80’s the older stuff was the cooler stuff and it was cheaper too.
      The factories were rolling out crap too. Now, it’s true, the factories are rolling out the most serious cars ever. They are expensive as hell and anyone with the dough can jump in and make em go.
      I recently bought another 69 GTO, my brother and I have had a lot of fun restoring it.
      We put a ton of engine in it and we will be looking for some new blood this spring.
      ( $20k goes a long way in these cars and there’s more available than there was in the 80’s)
      Spent way less than a new one, have something we love.
      Not everyone can do it they way we’ve always done it.
      At least that feels good to think.
      GRRRR !!!!

      • eric
        December 14, 2015 at 9:33 am

        Hi Rob,

        Great car (and memories)!

        I still have my 455 Trans Am. It is no longer the quickest thing on the road, but I still love it long time. It feels and sounds ferocious. And that was a big part of what made those old bruisers so much fun!

      • Rob
        January 14, 2016 at 11:45 pm

        If anyone wants to come up to New England Dragway in Epping NH.

        Let’s race! Including you Hartwood boys in Fredericksburg Va.

        • eric
          January 15, 2016 at 6:24 am

          Hi Rob,

          I miss all that stuff; maybe one day I’ll have enough money to race again!

    • tijie2001
      January 8, 2016 at 2:52 pm

      The major difference in muscle car of the 60’s and 70’s era and car today is the weight-to-power ratio of the vehicles. Cars, for the most part, were not made of composite materials or alloys as they are today. With the exception of the Corvette and a few others, most car had a steel frame and a cast iron engine block. Another differentiating fact is that engine technology today is so much more advanced. I own a 2012 Toyota Camry XLE V6 which boasts a 0-60 in roughly 5.7 seconds. That’s comparable to the ’68 Dodge Charger R/T. There were only a handful of muscle cars that had a 0-60 of under 6.0 seconds. Factor in gear ratios and a few other specs and one will come to understand why the 2012 Camry can nearly equal the ’68 Charger R/T. However, say that you would give the ’68 Charger an alloy frame and a composite body structure and you could probably come close to today’s Charger for sure.

      • eric
        January 8, 2016 at 6:36 pm

        Hi TJ,


        Another big difference, then vs. now, is airflow. Modern V8 heads (e.g., the current GM LS series) flow much more air and that, of course, is part of the secret of the modern V8’s incredible hp numbers. Another factor is the roller-type camshaft vs. the flat tappet camshaft.

        Still, even though a V6 Camry will run with almost any classic muscle car, which is the more fun car to drive? :)

        • Eightsouthman
          March 5, 2016 at 8:44 am

          eric, in 1970 I decided to change to a roller cam since exotic cars had them, the ones(uber-expensive European cars)that dreams were made of. Everybody told me that a roller cam wouldn’t fly on the street but could never tell me why. I’ve always regretted not finding the truth myself.

          • eric
            March 5, 2016 at 9:24 am

            You can run a much more aggressive profile with a roller cam. I think Ford was the first to go roller with the 5.0 V8 in the ’80s and since then, pushrod V8s have become almost unbelievably powerful while also being 100,000-mile (and then some) engines you can drive in traffic, every day, with the AC running!

      • February 26, 2016 at 5:39 pm

        I bought a 1970 Dodge Challenger in 1973. It had a three quarter race cam, polished heads and a couple of other goodies. This car could go. This car had a 383 cu inch engine but with the goodies it would beat a 426 Hemi. I races a 454 Cheville with 450 HP and we were dead even. The author of this page says that these cars were slow from 0-60. Not so with the Challenger and I had a 383 Super Bee and this car beat a 442 with 4:10 gears with 3:23 gears and got to 0-60 in about five seconds. Going back to the Challenger,with a few mods like hooking up the hood scoops would give abou thirty or forty more HP over the estimated HP of 425 which would give me about 460 HP. Then with piston changes and duel carbs of the day would put this car well above 525 HP. Then with racing plugs and the best plug wires I believe that I could put this Challenger up to 600 Hp. Now if you get to newer tech, breaker less ignition and some minor tech and with some engine mods, I think you could keep up with the modern muscle. Do not put the old cars down until you have a guy that has a 1969 440 Dodge Super Bee with six pack give a 383 Challenger a tune up and take it out for a spin and tell you that you have a very fast car.

        • eric
          February 27, 2016 at 6:45 am

          Hi Conrad,

          I wish people could read!

          I did not write that classic muscle cars can’t be made as quick – quicker – than modern performance cars. Of course they can. And they can be made so for less money, more easily.

          But that’s not the issue.

          In the article, I pointed out the fact that most muscle cars, as delivered, performed about as well as a typical current-year V6 sedan such as a Camry or Accord. They had V8s that made about the same horsepower (measured by today’s SAE net standards) as modern V6s and they ran, typically, 6-7 second 0-60 runs and low 14/high-mid-13 second quarter miles. There were a few that were quicker – but they were exotics like the 426 Hemi Mopars, L88 Corvettes and so on. And a modern equivalent like a new Z28 or Hellcat matches or beats them, while being everyday drivable, in traffic, which a 426 Hemi or L88 Corvette wasn’t!

          These are facts and stating them isn’t a criticism of classic muscle cars. It’s just a statement of the facts!

          • Ed
            February 27, 2016 at 9:40 am

            “I wish people could read! ”

            Kinda reminds me of that old SNL skit where Emily Litella would go on a rant about how she loves violins on TV to refute an editorial decrying violence on TV. When her mistake was pointed out to her, she’d say, “Oh…That’s Different…..Nevermiiiiiiind.”

            Now it’s Conrad Litella’s turn. Hit it, Conrad.

        • Eightsouthman
          February 27, 2016 at 12:26 pm

          I love those old bullshit terms like “3/4 race cam”, a sign of the truly non-mechanically inclined. So, it’s good for 3/4 of a race? Ah, and the coup de grace, “goodies”. Yep, put enough “goodies ” on one and it’ll make a Saturn V look sick. Dueling carbs no less with “racing” plugs, sounds like an all out free for all under the hood, probably needed to be goody to stay away from “piston changes”(I know, I had an engine they swapped holes on…..but then I had “junk iron” immediately afterward.

          I had one of those Cheville’s too, so damned fast it was unbeatable. Then again, I chose my races well, mostly took on my dad’s friends rolling down the street in their loud machines, cheating as best they could by turning the blades off and “leafing” the baggers at home.

  5. Eric
    April 26, 2015 at 2:11 pm

    Interesting article. I’m a little old school. Grew up riding in the backseat and as I reached my teenage years moved up to riding in the front seat of some of those behemoth machines of the 60’s and 70’s. Mom’s 62′ Oldsmobile 98, later a 64′ Buick Wildcat, Grandma’s 62′ Ford Galaxie 500, Dad’s 68′ Ford Mustang, than his 70′ Buick Skylark (which cruised really nice at 110 mph as a friend and I tested out in 76′ – 77′) and later his 75′ Chevrolet Monte Carlo. I loved all those cars. The memories of road trips, running to the grocery store, dropped off at school or a friends house. For my high school graduation in 1979 my Grandfather gave me his 68′ Plymouth Barracuda of which he purchased new. Came with the factory 318. Fastest car I ever drove! It would literally push you back in the bucket seat when I stomped on it! Which was on more than one occasion. That was the Barracuda’s demise giving it to his 18 yr. old grandson. No – I didn’t wreck it but I did run that motor into the ground. It was fast! I still believe those era cars of the 60’s and 70’s were/are as fast as any of todays American made cars. (what’s left of made in America) When comparing the ratio of weight, the passenger room and luggage space of the ‘slow muscle cars’ , todays ‘muscle cars’ don’t even come close. Running in 14’s – 15’s – 16’s for cars that doubled as a sporty cruiser and family sedan off the assembly line speaks volumes. Grant it today vehicles with computer technology and handling capabilities are very impressive and exceed the ol’ machines that had a tendency to roll into curves or cornering. As long as it’s straight (the road) we won’t be late!) That got us in trouble more than once! Not to mention those ‘slow muscle cars’ did it while carrying an actual front and rear bumper and a hood that didn’t disappear into a wedge. Like I said “I’m a little old school”. Just my humble opinion….. Thanks for the read.

    • eric
      April 26, 2015 at 2:58 pm

      Hi Eric,

      I’m with you on the nostalgia – and still love the old stuff and prefer it to the new stuff, because the old stuff had style and heart and personality. But today’s V6 family cars clean the clocks of two-thirds of all the ’60s and ’70s muscle cars. A new V6 Accord, for instance, does 0-60 in about 6 seconds flat. Tops out close to 140 MPH. Circa 1970, this would have been elite-exotic car performance.

      The typical family sedan of the ’60s and ’70s took 9-10 seconds or more to get to 60. Don’t take my word for it – look up the stats.

      Today’s V8 performance cars totally outclass the V8 muscle cars of the past. Several run in the 12s – and that’s in completely stock tune, with a smooth idle and AC running.

      The turbo four version of the new Mustang runs to 60 in the mid-high fives. It’s quicker – and faster – than probably 85 percent of all stock/as-built V8 muscle cars of the ’60s and ’70s. The V8 GT runs in the high fours.

      Trust me – better yet, look it up yourself – there wasn’t much running high fours in as-delivered/factory stock tune back in the ’60s and early ’70s… and the very few capable of that level of performance were on the borderline of not street drivable. Or rather, not cars most people would want to drive regularly on the street, in traffic. They did not have AC. The did tend to overheat and foul plugs (being made for high-RPM, all-out bracket racing).

      Memories are great, but a reality check is in order!

    • Dan
      May 13, 2015 at 10:13 pm

      Hey there. I don’t care what a new car does. Besides the old ones proved if you could drive. You had complete control. I don’t need some computerized skill. A friendly suggestion. Yeah I hear yah on the speed improvement, but Chevy didn’t make a 302 ford did. Chevy made the 301 and 305 in that area.

        May 13, 2015 at 10:33 pm

        Chevy 283, 301, 305, 327, 350, 454. There are probably a couple others but here’s your cubic inches. These number were closest to ford’s due to there engine war with each other. Chevy had the small block 400 also. Please research your Camaro. history. I just feel if your going to post a new cars are better you need to have every fact correct. Lastly I could care less about a little more power when I compare value. My 67 stang is worth 32000. Why do I want to buy a new stang for 32000 that’s worth 15000 in a couple years. I can’t work on it either so all those repair and up keep cost? No thanks. My 67 will be on the road STILL when your new mustang is in the crusher. Point made.

        • eric
          May 14, 2015 at 5:33 am

          Hi Dan,

          Your point about holding value is inarguable. My ’76 Trans-Am is worth more each year, too. But it took prolly 20 years from 1976 (when it was new) for the car’s value to trend back up. That said, the likelihood of a car such as the new Mustang’s value tracking similarly is probably less, for the following reasons:

          * Being a modern car – computer controlled, complex electronics and emissions systems – it will be much harder (and more expensive) to keep it running for the 30-plus years it takes to reach the point at which its value will begin to uptick as it transitions from “just an old car” to “classic” car.

          * Modern cars are disposable appliances; they don’t have the emotional support of a loyal buyer base. At least, I don’t see anything comparable to the “fan base” the original/classic-era cars had – and still have.

          * The love affair with the car is dying. See above. Or rather, see how old the people are at car shows today. What keeps the value of original-era muscle cars propped up is the nostalgia and willingness of middle-aged people to pay big bucks to relive their youth. Once the last generation that was really intimate with cars – which I submit is Generation X, the people who were in their teens and 20s in the ’80s and ’90s – fades away, so will interest in original-era muscle cars. And forget the new stuff. Millennials and younger care about sail fawns and apps.

          Not cars.

      • eric
        May 14, 2015 at 5:35 am

        Hi Dan,

        I agree on the ease of repair – and dislike computers, too.

        But, the 302 was the engine Chevy installed in all ’67-69 Z28 Camaros. It was unique to that model. I don’t believe Chevy ever made a 301. That was a Pontiac engine.

        • Dan
          May 16, 2015 at 12:24 am

          Well you learn something new everyday. I was under the impression that 302 was solely a Ford engine. 302 was in almost every ford I either had or friends owned. The 70-72 short bed. My dad had a friend that had one. Back in the day it was popular to have those with the side pipes and slot mags. I’ve heard them called kidney bean wheels too. I grew up around a lot of the great old cars. Chevy was the least of the bunch so I humbly stand corrected. I guess you could call me a Ford man. Although I like many of all 3 ford, chevy, and Mopar models. I’m 38 years old but I had young parents. I miss those days back around 1979 to 85. I was fortunate to experience so many unique rides. Weather they were fast off the floor or built fast. I have a little brother I’ve tried to convince to get at least one antique. He’s into all the fast and furious kind of stuff. The little cars not the older ones. He’s so talented and owns some really fast stuff, but I can’t get him to understand when you take a 4000 dollar car, put 20000 in it you’ve still got a 4000 dollar car. Oh well. Maybe one day. In closing here and I’m not bragging but in my life I had many chances to either own or ride in fairlanes, galaxys, hemi 68-70 darts, old stangs, challengers, chargers, falcons, couple GTO’S, a t-top 78 Z28, 73 challenger, bunch of early 50’s trucks. Original and roded. My dad even had a 1961 full body ford pick up. 3 on the tree. Haven’t seen one since. Those are rare. You don’t see many trucks where the cab and bed are one piece. And of coarse a few little British sports cars and volkswagons. I just had to say this. Kids today just don’t know what there missing. All of those rides had something special and of its own. Anyway, for all the old car lovers out there please keep building those sweet rides.

          • eric
            May 16, 2015 at 5:03 am

            Hi Dan,

            The ’67-’69 Z28’s 302 was (IIRC) unique to this particular model; never offered with another Chevy. Since the Z28 was initially meant to be a Trans Am racer, there was a displacement limit of 5.0 liters – but Chevy did not have an “off the shelf engine” that made the cut (neither did Pontiac, incidentally; they tried to get a 303 in the Trans-Am but it never worked out for the production cars so – ironically – the Trans-Am, which came with a 400/6.6 liter V8 – was ineligible to compete in the race it was named for!)

            Beginning in 1970, the Z28 got a 350 (LT-1) V8, essentially the same engine as offered in the Corvette that year.

        • george
          June 26, 2015 at 6:53 pm

          chevy did make a 301 and it was put in corvettes

          • eric
            June 26, 2015 at 6:56 pm

            Hi George,

            That’s news to me. I’ve never heard of a Chevy 301 (much less in a Corvette). Can you cite back-up?

            The 301, based on all my sources and decades of experience, was a Pontiac engine and never used in a Corvette or any other Chevy.

            There were Chevy 302s and 307s and 267s (IIRC). But never a 301.

            If I’m in error, I’ll gladly accept correction!

      • 1924Tbucketofballs
        August 8, 2015 at 6:05 pm

        Thats were you are very wrong, I have 3 sbc DZ 302 screamers in my shop on stands sitting next to my 388ci sbc 510hp stroke. Your not old school son if you werent in class!!

      • Johnny sharp
        August 18, 2015 at 6:42 pm

        Chevy didn’t make a 302?? Wow alot of ignorance in this room… ever heard of a 69 z28? DZ 302 under the hood.. specifically built for trans am racing ( trans am circuit required 350 cubes or less ) you people need to get your facts straight. How about the copo camaro that put down 10.4 seconds in the quarter on factory bias ply wide ovals? I was there for the true muscle car era (64-72 ish) and I disagree with this article on most points… and yes I know of what I speak.

        Automotive technician since 1965
        Drag racing since 62
        Owner of performance automotive shop 39 years.

        • eric
          August 18, 2015 at 7:35 pm

          Hi Johnny,

          It wasn’t me who wrote that (about the 302)!

        • Eightsouthman
          October 25, 2015 at 10:45 am

          The Chevy 302 was the first 4 bolt main engine Chevy made IIRC. It was made to rev and stay together. The 327 was an amazing engine since it would stay together at revs any other brand would disintegrate. There were small and large journal cranks and a higher deck block for trucks. My .030 over 331 would smoke 302’s in a flash as well as BBC’s and BBeverything else.

          A guy tried to sell me his new 428 Shelby Cobra(he worked at the GM dealership and 302’s in Camaro’s were starting to arrive with tube headers in the trunk). I’ll admit it spun that one tire a long ways but it was the typical Ford engine, maybe enough to make grandpa think his pickup was bad but no ability to rev or produce any significant power. Too bad two four barrels don’t equate fast. I kept my 331 Malibu and waxed everything that came down the pike except for ‘Vette’s, the only cars that would put their limited tire to the road with a decent hook-up and even then, a 3/8’s mile run had them looking at my tail lights.

          I lived next to a guy who a Hemi Charger. He wouldn’t race me for love nor money. Guys with BB Mopars were the worst of the complainers and simply got bent out of shape. There’s just no way a SBC can beat my car. Well, if you’d lose about 1,000 pounds you’d probably be right.

          And no, that car wasn’t quick, none of them were “quick” but from 30 mph on lots of them were fast. I sold my car(unwisely)and the guy who bought it immediately installed some rather large slicks. So much for that rear-end.

  6. Tom D
    March 9, 2015 at 10:33 am

    Here’s something that y’all may be interested in. After 40+ years of fixing airplanes with some 70 computers in them, clearly, I don’t have a fear of computers or technology. But just for a change, I’d prefer to drive a car, NOT a computer. I know enough about electronics, computers and technology to say that it doesn’t work, not really. It will let you down when you most want it or need it. It takes away control from the driver who paid good money to own his car. It forces the owner to stay married to a dealer which I suspect is the real reason they computerised cars. With technology you’re driving some corporate design board’s vision of how you should drive, how you should behave, what you should want and how much you’re allowed to do with the metal you’ve just bought. Also, I prefer that Big Brother not have the ability to watch me or shut me down, all of which is quite possible (probable?) with computerised cars. And here’s another bitty. In 1972, I was able to buy a brand new car for two month’s wages. Today a middle -of-the-road ecobox costs 6-7 months wages, My wages didn’t triple in 40 years, did yours? In fact, ten years ago I had a 20% wage cut just to keep my job. And by the way, the cars for which I stayed in school (Tiger, Cobra, XKE, 365GTB, Miura, 250SL etc.) have been legislated out of existence. Anybody got a ’67 descent Valiant with a leaning tower of power under the hood, preferably no radio, for sale?

    • eric
      March 10, 2015 at 9:00 am

      Well-said, Tom!

      This is why I love (and will always keep) my ’76 Trans Am. It does what I want it to – no computer second-guessing or intervening; no black box recording. And the absence of “safety” systems keeps me awake, with respect for the physics of fast driving.

      On cost: Brand-new, my car (a top-of-the-line performance car back in ’76) stickered for several thousand dollars less (adjusted for inflation) than a current base model six-cylinder Camaro or Mustang.

      And it’s not just that. You could maintain a car like the TA yourself; do almost any necessary work yourself. Forget about that with the new car – unless you have acquired a much higher skill set, a much more serious toolbox and a much deeper wallet.

      And there’s more: There was no mandatory insurance back in ’76. If you owned the car, you could the insurance mafia to go fuck itself. Today, you’re forced to buy an extortionate policy that – for most people – will cost you more over eight years or so than you would have paid to buy the ’76 Trans-Am back in 1976.

      • Eightsouthman
        May 14, 2015 at 9:44 am

        eric, my wife’s ’95 Cutlass was the first car we owned I couldn’t diagnose and to make matters worse, it was the first half of the year run so it had OBD 1.

        OTOH, people everywhere I went tried to buy my ’93 Chevy 6.5 Turbo Diesel with NO computer. It was a straight-forward mechanical pickup with a rectangular space where the computer would sit on gasoline models. The ’92 and ’93 model GM diesels are highly sought after and people keep them up. I found out how much they hang onto them when I rolled mine and went looking for another. I have found(without looking)6 TA’s ranging from ’76 to ’79 models. I have found 0 Turbo Diesels. Some are still being used and many are beaten to crap, not a straight panel on them but run fine and not what I want. The few I’ve found with a bad engine or wrecked, are sitting in the barn waiting for the rebuild the owner will never perform.

        They aren’t the most powerful diesel pickup but they’re all mechanical and i’d buy a new one today if they’d build one.

        When I totaled it in Mexico I drove it all the way home(nearly 1,000 miles). I could have smuggled anything across the border I suppose since everybody was simply amazed we were driving it.

        Amazingly enough, getting it fixed required the first couple feet of frame to be straightened and a local Chevrolet dealer was the cheapest price. Watching that frame machine was amazing and what I consider a good use for a computer. The guys at the body shop said the only reason it was still alive was the heavy duty was built, that a new pickup would be a ball of junk down in that arroyo. Actually, what they said was “You won’t get away with that in a new one”. I still shed the occasional mental tear over it.

    • Lee
      April 18, 2015 at 2:41 am

      13.9 to 14 seconds for a significant number of the top muscle cars is pretty respectable for cars made over 40 years ago. Not too far from 12 second cars made today…. Most people wont even come across a 12 second car in their daily driving…. Most performance cars today are 13 second cars. I guess 40 years from now cars will be a little faster….

      • eric
        April 18, 2015 at 6:15 am

        Hi Lee,

        I agree – and think I wrote exactly that. The point I was trying to make is that relative to today’s performance cars, the performance of the classic muscle cars looks (is) pretty tepid!

        A current four-cylinder turbo Mustang, for example, is as quick or quicker than probably two-thirds of all factory-stock muscle cars made from 1964-1974. And the V8 GT is quicker than probably 95 percent of them – while the 5 percent of them that could match or beat its 0-60/quarter mile times were really hairy cars (e.g., L-88 Corvettes) that were barely street drivable and certainly not cars you’d want to try to drive in stop-and-go traffic. Which the new Mustang handles easily.

    • Dan
      May 13, 2015 at 10:06 pm

      Hello. To the person wanting the 67 valiant. No 67 but have the 225 slant six, header and 4 barrel carb in a 65 2door 200 model. In great shape. 40 over bore and less then 10,000 on the jasper engine, rebuilt 904, and rebuilt rear. Too much to write. Solid car. Planned on new paint and chrome. Some chrome is new. 12000 in car. Can part for $7000.

  7. Scott
    December 2, 2014 at 11:47 pm

    Wow this is a gread read. Have to through my 2 cents worth in. I grew up, and wrenched on many of the old muscle cars starting with some fifties and all through the sixties, and there is nothing like it today. Pop the hood on an oldy and behold! a piece of art. On the new ones it’s like what part is the engine?? Everything today is merely a computer enhanced (modernized) version of what we had back then but with efficiency, and I liked the comment about how many decades it took to get performance back in the hands of the driver. It was only a matter of time until “efficiency” took hold as computer generated designs dictated the builds based on calculations longer than my drive to work just to overcome gravity and friction (less the personality) that was done back then with cubic inches. I could only imagine if you were to take those same computer generated performance suggestions and put them into the old rods and what would you get? Many performance models now days will be equipped with a turbo charger, supercharger or some technologically advanced intake system + seriously tuned exhaust. I’m happy to one degree that technology has taken us to where we are but sad that most will not know the invigorating feeling of taking an old ground pounder through it’s paces. If it weren’t for those precious years of trying to push these limits we’d probably all be driving golf carts today. Can’t wait to put my 67 back together…………….

  8. Bill Bean
    November 2, 2014 at 6:29 pm

    Good writeup, but for me it doesn’t really surprise me at all seeing as how these modern top-line cars have (like you said) much more power than the old ones, that’s why I prefer to use a class structure like what the Road racing orgs use, and when you do that, they’re still pretty competent, because in my opinion, a 14 second quarter miler still isn’t a slow car by todays standards. Not to mention that basic blueprinting appears to have a very positive result in the power output of the old engines.

    Also some personal experience I would like to share, I was recently tinkering around with a 1970 ford galaxie, 351w 2 barrel, 2 inch dual exhaust, FMX 3 speed auto, 2.75 rear gears, needless to say it was a dog, so I got a cast iron 4 barrel intake out of a e150 van, a 600 cfm Holley 4 barrel (pretty much made the ’69 4 barrel version), factory fox body mustang headers ( no difference that I could feel)and a 9 inch rear diff with 3.25s, and I can say with confidence that it’s a low 16 high 15 second car, not bad for a 4000 pound car with a stock small block if you ask me.

    It really seems to me that it probably a perspective issue, if you’re used to driving say, a 1000 horsepower car, a 400 horsepower is gonna feel agonizingly slow, but it doesn’t mean it is.

    Not gonna lie, when I clicked on this I thought you were gonna say the old ones were only 16 second cars at best like others like to do. Just my .02. Again, good write-up.

  9. Mike Chambers
    October 26, 2014 at 9:36 pm

    This is so true. Those old muscle cars really were beautiful (most of them anyway) and had such style, but… they just aren’t that fast compared to what we have these days. I mean, Travel back to 1970 with a 2014 Shelby GT500 and take a few muscle car guys for a ride. Their f***ing head will explode.

    Just yesterday (and what prompted me to find this article) I ended up getting into a race with a 1969 Torino with a 428 Cobra Jet. The hype of these kind of cars kind of had me nervous before we started to get on it. I figured I was about to get smoked. I mean, that’s a huge motor! 7 liters!

    I looked at the driver, he looked back and smiled a bit and we brought it down to 25 MPH… I downshifted to 2nd, I honked 3 times and we both gunned it! Took it up to about 70 MPH where the front tip of his hood was easy half a car length behind my rear bumper.

    What do I drive? Nothing special at ALL! Just 15 year old 1999 Mustang GT with a cold air intake, longtube headers, catted X-pipe, Borlas and a 91 octane tune. Very mild car by today’s standards, maybe 290 HP at the flywheel. We raced twice, same result. Needless to say I was a little surprised. 7.0 versus 4.6 and the 4.6 takes it. Indeed, these old muscle cars are out of their league with modern muscle.

    • eric
      October 27, 2014 at 5:22 am

      Hi Mike,

      Yup! It’s to be expected – or rather, what else would we expect? The original muscle car era was more than 40 years ago. The V-8s of that era were designed in the 1960s – 50 years ago. They produced a lot of power… for the era. But almost all of them were limited (relative to a modern V-8) in terms of their airflow capacity. A few essentially “race” engines (e.g., the 426 Street Hemi, the RA IV 400 Pontiac) had good numbers and were capable pf making 500-plus real (SAE net, as measured today) hp. But not everyday driver/sit in traffic with the AC on horsepower.

      Today, there are production cars with 500-plus hp that are as everyday driveable as a Camry.

      That’s a measure of how far we’ve come since 1969.

      • Mike Chambers
        October 27, 2014 at 9:50 pm

        Yeah, we’ve come a long way. I’ve heard all the old tales of these vintage monsters with 500-600 HP. I guess I was expecting more from the Torino because of that. I’m 30 so I wasn’t around to experience the era first hand.

        Of course, that 428 Cobra Jet still does have a bit more raw power than my little 4.6L. These 2-valve Mustang GT motors were rather disappointing straight off the showroom floor, but after looking up specs I see that ’69 had a good 600-700 extra pounds of steel over my car… so in retrospect, there was no way I was ever going to lose unless I missed a shift or something.

        That said, if my car was bone stock I’m pretty sure he would have pulled on me a bit… dead even at best.

        • eric
          October 28, 2014 at 6:25 am

          Hi Mike,

          Believe it or not, even that 428 Cobra Jet probably only made about 260 net horsepower – the way horsepower is measured today. Its factory rating of (IIRC) about 335 hp was SAE “gross” – which meant, the engine on a stand, not installed in the car, with an optimized (not production) exhaust and – usually – “tuned” for maximum hp.

          Only a small handful of the original-era stuff ever made more than 350 “real” (SAE net, as measured today) horsepower. And the handful that did were – for the most part – not very street driveable.

          I’ll give you a specific, personal example: I’ve been messing with classic Pontiac muscle cars (Firebirds and Trans-Ams) for a long time. Their advantage over most modern V-8s is their tremendous torque, which is a function of their large displacement. They can also make horsepower. But it’s much harder – if not impossible – to make the numbers routinely being made today by production V-8s without losing everyday driveability and reliability. I’ve yet to see, for example, a stock block/heads classic-era V-8 that makes 450-plus SAE net hp and also idles smoothly, has a decent vacuum signal at idle, works well with an automatic, etc.

          The current GM LS series V-8s is making 500-plus hp in production trim, without being close to its maximum potential. And still as docile to drive as a Camry.

    • Bill Bean
      November 2, 2014 at 6:32 pm

      Given your vehicle and mods you’re probably good for mid to high 13s, so I gotta say, that old girl kept up pretty good :D. Shoulda went faster lol.

    • antivenom
      January 1, 2015 at 12:16 am

      A 428 cj
      is a total dog……woof woof. Many muscle cars would take it by several lengths in quarter.

      • neeko
        March 1, 2015 at 3:51 am

        Yep. Agreed with you on that. Here’s what made muscle cars “legendary”. For 200.00 you could put ladder bars and 10in. Mikey Thompsons on a 1970 buick gs stage 1 455 and hook that car up to drop a second and take out BB corvettes….That is the typical example of why muscle cars started out as just an option to upgrade to a bigger faster motor on a 2 door sedan to the legend and value at today’s standards. These cars as BB contenders are still considered the best. (Certainly the most valuable) I guess the writer of this article has not heard of BIG RED or THORS HAMMER cause these cars can spank the new z-28 on a rally track and can destroy almost any ferrari and porsche at their games too. If you never heard of these cars look them up cause they are still driving fear at EVERYTIME race track they show up at! Remember this…..Muscle cars only show off their muscles when they work out…or open up those big blocks to breathe in the horse power.

        • eric
          March 1, 2015 at 6:02 am

          C’mon neeko…

          No old muscle car can come close to competing on a road course with a new Z28… unless it was completely re-engineered from the ground up using modern components. The cars you mention are shells. Underneath, they are as “1969” as Taylor Swift.

          Now, a few ’60-’70s-era muscle cars were capable of running faster-than-13s ETs int he 1/4 mile when fitted with slicks and tuned. But the majority ran 14s-15s on the street.

          That’s the reality.

          I love the old stuff. And I am not turned on by the new stuff, despite them being much quicker – and vastly better handling.

          But the old stuff is not competitive, acceleration or handling-wise, with the new stuff unless the old stuff is modified and updated to make up the difference.

        • Eightsouthman
          August 10, 2015 at 4:25 pm

          Big Red appears to be a Camaro but it’s far from it, a pure race car by any term.

  10. Ken
    July 12, 2014 at 2:51 pm

    Muscle cars were fast…..relatively speaking.

    In the day, despite heavily-doctored car magazine articles, a Porsche would only dip below a 10 second 0-60 time with a trained driver who did not care if the clutch immediately burned out. Other European performance cars were similarly pathetic.

    Most family cars were lucky to do 0-60 under 14 seconds. So, 9 seconds 0-60 was quick. 8 was fast. Any faster took a big block in an intermediate or smaller chassis.

    It was all advertising and hype. Ford took a Falcon and re-badged it as the youthful Mustang “pony” car, and no-one noticed that it was a “tortoise” car….unless they started racing it.

    Fortunately, most did not.

    So yes, your article is correct.

    But I will add one other perspective. We still have two major limitations today, even with better brakes, tires and engines.

    One is the driver. A car is only fast with a driver that knows how to drive, and be it autocross, hill-climb, or whatever, you will witness “fast” supercars losing to everyday family sedans driven by good drivers. Even the straight quarter mile takes some talent to get the car down the track. Anyone who doubts that a slow car with a good driver will beat a fast one with Joe Average should watch Sabine Schmitz racing….with a Ford diesel transit van. She does well.

    The other limiting factor is the laws of physics. Cars today are better performers….but only to a point. The big kill-joy is stopping. Despite all the upgraded performance, we still cannot manage to stop well. There is an exponential increase in stopping time and distance past 65 miles and hour.
    It does not matter how expensive the supercar may be, once you are in those triple-digit speeds, you can’t stop. Thus, we still need parachutes on the drag strip, and people still kill themselves on public roads with excessive speed.

    Just check how far you need to stop a supercar at high speed compared to 60 miles and hour. It is scary.

    So, lets all drive cautiously….even with faster cars. (The real muscle car era is now).

  11. Sweatlock
    May 7, 2014 at 6:21 pm

    Here’s the deal – were 60’s muscle cars really that fast? If you lived in the 60’s you would have thought so – they were faster than anything available prior to then. And beginning in the 70’s with increased insurance regulations (primarily due to these same hot rods) and crude government-mandated emissions/pollution controls, the factory HP numbers started a rapid decline, not to be brought back somewhat until the early 90’s with the advent of the Mustang LX 5.0 and the Grand National, the latter being a truly impressive car. So for a very long period the 60’s muscle cars reigned supreme – it has taken a very long time and a lot (and I mean, A LOT) of technology to dethrone them. For this reason alone, I doff my chapeau to them, one and all, regardless of make – they all made automotive history. Everyone forgets how long the dinosaurs ruled the Earth (far longer than we’ve been here) – if we do half as well as they we’ll be doing alright.

    One other thing to keep in mind – you buy a modern car and it’s fast; you want to make it faster, it’s not so easy. You buy an old muscle car, and it’s not as fast as you’d like – the sky’s literally the limit as to what you can do to it (plus the size of your wallet) and if you’re so inclined, 99.9% of it you can yourself and the satisfaction that comes with it is priceless. There’s really something to be said for low-tech.

    • eric
      May 7, 2014 at 7:20 pm

      Agreed, Sweat!

      I did my best to make the same point to numerous others who got upset with me when I pointed out that relative to modern cars, muscle cars were slow… which in no way means they weren’t fast relative to what was typical when they were new… nor that they can’t be modified to be very fast today.

      • joe
        February 22, 2015 at 9:31 pm

        HI Eric,
        Thanks for the incite. Since I grew up in that era. I have some comments on your artical. First of all after 1970 I don’t agree that any car made past this date would qualify for a real muscle car the EPA regulations mandated low compression and to compensate manufactures went to bigger and more massive engines. Slowing the vehicles down with weight. Yes they look cool but they are just mere idols of the cars before them.
        Today we have many technologies allowing us have both high end speed + 0 to 60 that were not available then mostly transmissions with 6 or more gears. back then If you wanted to win races on El Camino Real or legally at the drag strip you had to decide if you wanted, either High speed or acceleration. Most stock cars tried to straddle this but leaned to the high speed. My friend with his 65’GTO swears it will do 135 MPH. Given that with a close ratio Muncie 4 speed transmission he has a fairly high gear ratio, the 0- 60 performance is poor. Drop in a 4.56 rear end and that changes. The 409’s ,427’s all from 60’s (both the Ford and GM) could of course out perform the dogie Pontiac engines. We won’t discuss 70’s 80’s V8s as they have power equal to high end 4 or medium 6 cylinders today
        My Point is.. that Cars had to be built for the intention, either acceleration or top speed in the old days. A 426 in a Dodge Cornet back in 65′ could do 150MPH. That is not going to be a barn burner from 0- 60 MPH though. Same with the old Engine technology they were built with either High HP in mind or for street use meaning lower power and a good idle speed. Today with electronic control of engines we can extend that range to cover both scenarios. That is why 4’s can out perform a V8 of the 70’s and some of 80’s . Yes we have come a long way with autos today, 6 cylinders have more power than much lager V8’s of just a few years ago and we do this with clean burning engines and much better fuel efficiency. One needs to give credit though to the high compression large bore engines of the 60’s. They did made good power and did it cheaply considering the state of the art at the time.

    • antivenom
      January 1, 2015 at 12:32 am

      If you put superchargers or turbos on big inch hemis or chebbs. You can smoke new tech. Look at the Nelson racing cars 2000 hp streetable, cruising at 1200 rims Smooth as silk. For all out performance, you can’t beat a beefed muscle car. What’s running in top fuelers????!!!? Hemi. Hemi. Hemi. It’s not a Toyota, ford, chev.

      • eric
        January 1, 2015 at 7:11 am

        Hi Anti,

        A top fuel Hemi runs a pass or two and it’s rebuild time… right? And what does a purpose-built race engine have to do with street engines? How much hp do turbo’d Indy car engines make? Is that relevant to small displacement street engines?

        I love the old stuff (I own old stuff) but in terms of performance/hp as delivered, the new stuff has the advantage of 40-plus years of advances in engine design. Just consider the new (current) Hemi vs. the original 426. The original – producing a rated 426 hp – was just barely streetable; a great race engine that was a terrible engine for a daily driver. A new Hemi-equipped Charger or whatever has about the same hp (390-something SAE net is comparable to 426 gross) and is a docile as a Slant Six; it can be driven every day, in stop and go traffic, comfortably, with the AC on… for 150,000-plus miles. And it’s in is quicker than the original – in factory stock condition.

        Yes, yes… I know. You can modify the original 426 to produce 600, 700 (or more) hp. And you can also modify the current Hemi to make as much or more hp. Both are modified engines – not stock/as delivered – and so, any talk about which is quicker is not relevant to this discussion. Which was about the hp/performance of classic-era muscle cars vs. the hp/performance of modern performance cars in as delivered/factory stock trim.

        Even so, I’d like to see anyone build an original Hemi to current Hellcat levels of hp/performance and still be everyday driveable. I doubt it could be done without major alterations to the original design, such as using modern cylinder heads and a PFI intake instead of the original manifold and dual 4BBL set-up. In which case, you’d have a modern performance engine.

  12. April 17, 2014 at 12:12 pm

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  13. robert gardner
    April 7, 2014 at 10:05 pm

    This is interesting reading. I wasted an hour or so.
    A lot of you miss a basic fact ! The old muscle cars had no computers,no fuel injection,plus the tires.
    I just sold a 2005 Dodge Magnum RT AWD with 93000 miles. these hemis are 360 cu.
    Stock. It would do 0-60 in 6 sec. 1/4 mi. was 14.3. on 87oct. fuel.
    Add a programmer I could DIAL in programs for shift points,launch speeds,shift point rpm’s,top speeds,etc. Premium fuel was required !
    But, By reprogramming the computer ” 5 min” I could drop those times to 5.5 and 13.6!!!!!!! AND the top speed was 150-160 mph (Check it out on youtube. THIS MAGNUM WEIGHED 4600 LBS !!!
    And the best part was you could set the Nav. to the drag strip and drive there with the whole family in the car with the A/C on and get 23MPG Get your class and run those numbers then cruise home.
    Its all in the computers. The fuel air Mix is kept perfect. The auto shift points are perfect! and it will run at 100mph or idle all day with no problems!
    It is a set it and forget it deal with the tuner..Which is by the way only 200$
    all of my factory muscle cars were in constant need of tweaking to maintain their max. performance!
    Sure ,I would love to have my 64 Max wedge back . But not sure which car my money would be on!

    • eric
      April 8, 2014 at 5:23 am

      Well, computers help in that they make tuning easier, but it’s not the computers per se that make new cars quicker/faster.

      The major factor is that an engine such as your Hemi flows more air/has more inherent ability to produce power.

      Consider: Current-year performance V-8s (such as the Chrysler Hemi) typically produce close to 400 hp in mild factory tune. These are smooth idling/absolutely docile engines. Their potential has only just been tapped. Most of them can easily be tuned/tweaked to make 550-600 hp and still be streetable/reliable.

      Rewind to 1970. A true 400 hp engine (as measured by today’s standards) would have been an animal, savage and wild. Very lumpy idle; not comfortable to drive. An engine in the 500 hp range would have been all-but-undriveable on the street; a near full-on race engine.

      Why? These engines were limited by the hardware of their time – cylinder heads, airflow, camshafts, etc. – not software.

  14. AZ highcountry
    January 12, 2014 at 3:36 am

    Same old argument over and over.

    Say what you will but I will stick with my 72 Charger SE with its 440 cranking out over 500 hp rather than drive around in a beer can that sounds like a constipated sewing machine.

    It cost me $25K to rebuild from the ground up but I’m a big guy and I can drive it comfortably and haven’t been beat on the street yet. I can’t even drive my sons Honda. Knees against the dash, head hitting the roof.

    How fast would those beer cans be with the torque and power of my 440? How slow would the Charger be with the leaf blower out of the rice burners be?

    • eric
      January 12, 2014 at 6:18 am

      Hi AZ,

      I agree with you that an old muscle car can be made incredibly quick relatively easily and inexpensively (compared with a modern car) and that the old cars had heart and style the new ones don’t. But that wasn’t what I wrote about in the article!

      Stock, as it came from the factory, your ’72 Charger SE had nowhere near 500 hp. The stock ’72 440 may have made 300 or so hp (SAE net, as measured today). It was a 14 second/high 15 second car, as delivered.

      In stock, as delivered condition, your ’72 Charger SE would be no match for a new Mustang GT or Camaro. In fact, the V-6 versions of either car would probably beat it in a 1/4 mile drag race – and would walk (no, run) away from it, top speed wise.

  15. ted
    December 7, 2013 at 1:48 am

    I think that everyone forgets that it’s horsepower to weight ratio that has increased so drastically over the years. The classics are great, but they were extremely heavy. This is why newer cars can have smaller engines and still go faster than the big engine classics. Super cars are examples of this fact.

    • eric
      December 7, 2013 at 6:27 am

      Hi Ted,

      Actually – and this surprised me, too – the old stuff was comparatively light compared with the new stuff. The curb weight of the 2014 Challenger R/T, for instance, is over 4,000 lbs. This is about 400 pounds heavier than my mid-70s Trans Am!

      I have a picture of a new Camaro SS parked next to my Trans-Am. It is startling how huge the Camaro is.

      The real reason the new stuff is quick/fast is horsepower. 400-plus horsepower is now common. Several offer nearly 500 hp. A few offer close to 600 (e.g., Caddy CTS-V).

      Very few of the classic-era muscle cars touted more than 400 hp – and keep in mind, those numbers were SAE “gross” – and so exaggerated by about 20 percent relative to today’s SAE “net” measures.

      Most muscle cars touted hp in the mid-high 300s. When they’re dyno’d today, the number is usually around 290-310 hp net.

      About what a current V-6 makes.

      And: The really powerful V-8s of the classic era were at the limit of being street driveable. There’s only so much you can do with the flat tappet cams and airflow capability of a ’60s-era V-8.

      Today’s 400-plus hp cars are as docile as Camrys.

  16. BlaisElias
    August 19, 2013 at 11:32 pm

    I do not dispute that many of today’s sports cars are faster than ones 40 years ago cars, 40+ years of engineering, fuel injection, better transmissions and tire composition should improve speed right? That being said, the author of this blog is a major troll. Here is a list of the Top 20 fastest Muscle Cars of the ’64-74’ era with quarter mile time, trap speed and source.

    1] 1966 427 cobra 12.20/118mph 4278v – 4spd/3.54 gears – source car/driver magazine 11/65

    2] 1966 427 corvette 12.80/112mph 427 4v – 4spd/3.36 gears – source car/driver magazine 11/65

    3] 1970 buick GS stage I 13.38/105.5mph 455 4v – auto/3.64 gears – source motor trend mag 1/70

    4] 1968 427 corvette 13.41/109.5mph 427 6v ** – 4spd/3.55 gears – source car life magazine 6/68

    5] 1968 hemi charger 13.50/105mph 426 8v – auto/3.23 gears – source car/driver mag 11/67

    6] 1969 hemi road runner 13.54/105.1mph 426 8v – auto/3.55 gears – source car/driver mag 1/69

    7] 1969 hemi charger 500 13.68/104.8mph 426 8v – 4spd/3.55 gears – source car life mag 4/69

    8] 1971 hemi super bee 13.73/104mph 426 8v – auto/4.10 gears – source motor trend mag 12/70

    9] 1970 hemi cuda 13.70/101.2mph 426 8v – auto/4.10 gears – source motor trend mag 9/69

    10] 1965 catalina 2+2 13.80/106mph 421 6v – 4spd/3.42 gears – source car and driver mag 3/65

    11] 1969 super bee six pack 13.80/104.2mph 440 6v auto/4.10gears – source car life mag 7/69

    12] 1971 boss 351 mustang 13.80/104mph 3514v -4spd/3.91 gears – source motor trend mag 1/71

    13] royal bobcat GTO 13.80/104mph 428 4v – auto/3.55 gears – source car/driver mag 2/68

    14] 1966 hemi satellite 13.80/104mph 426 8v – 4spd/3.55 gears – source car/driver mag 4/66

    15] 1970 SS 454 chevelle 13.80/103.8 454 4v – auto/3.70gears – source car/driver mag 2/70

    16] 1969 cyclone CJ 13.86/ 101.7mph 428 4v – auto/4.11 gears – source motor trend mag 1/69

    17] 1962 catalina 13.90/107mph 421 4v – 4spd/4.30gears – source motor trend mag 5/62

    18] mach I mustang CJ 13.90/103.3mph 428 4v – auto/3.50gears – source – car life mag 3/69

    19] 1970 torino cobra 13.99/101.1mph 429 4v – 4spd/3.91 gears – source motor trend mag 2/70

    20] 1970 hemi challenger 14.00/104mph 426 8v – auto/3.23 gears – source road/track mag 6/70

    • Eightsouthman
      September 19, 2013 at 9:51 pm

      I’ve been going through old mail from when I was relegated to the far pasture with my highly contagious disease none of the “cowboys” were willing to chance. I did lots of thinking out there. And on that note, paybacks are hell, but back to the subject at hand. Blais, I’m so glad you won’t argue that point eric made. It wouldn’t be your best moment. Yes, those old cars had torque and HP out the wazoo but no way to put it to the ground. A friends turbo Corvair would just leave huge HP cars in a cloud of smoke(theirs) and beat them to the end of the quarter. No way, you say? I lived it, breathed it, ate it, slept it, wrenched it to no end. I can recall when some of the guys at C&D were testing a big block car, seems like a 427 Chevelle SS, maybe a Buick GS stage 3.. They got to the end of the day, had been wailing on it all day and were down to slick tires, not a bit of tread. and then, voila, they posted a 3/4 second best speed of the day when a front blew in, dropped the temp, raised the humidity and the track had literally, dozens of passes from the same car, same tires from all day long that had degenerated to slicks and they posted a speed after a respite well above those of all day. Wonder of wonders, that’s the specs they chose to publish. It was like this for every car mag and some must have used their mothers egg timers. Nothing I liked better than a quick car but back then, nearly everybody who raced off the track, and sometimes on the track, would do so only with rolling starts. Take those same old cars, put some airbags under the rear suspension with the new tech tires and see some astounding speeds….but it never happened back then. Oh yeah, I could run you down, with 425 hp and 3400 lbs but it was all a third gear thing. I also remember being on the side of the road at Ropesville, Tx. changing rocker arm assemblies including replacing the studs. Just regular maintenance for a Duntov solid lifter cam and 12.0/1 compression ratio. Sunoco 106 octane gasoline, heavily leaded and double pumper Holley carbs. I’ve made over 2 miles WOT on a gallon of gas. Every 1,000 miles or less, adjust valves and replace worn rocker arms and studs. Amazing HP, amazing speed…..but not from a stop.

  17. Brian B
    June 25, 2013 at 2:03 am

    I agree. Cars today are much faster. They SHOULD BE. It took almost 40 years to do it. And the cost to performance ratio is not even close to what you could buy then.

    Put bias ply, pizza cutter tires on a new car and see what your times are. Again, you’re right. They’re faster. . .but kind of soulless too. It’s the WHOLE package that makes muscle cars still appealing today. They were pinpoint focused on who they were selling to ,and never tried to be all things to all people. As a result they became amazing statements of time.

    I have a 69 GTO RAM AIR III. The difference is the whole package. It feels like YOU’RE gonna die when you get on it. It’s raw, it apologizes for nothing, sounds awesome and all you can do to keep it under control. Maybe that’s why it seems so fast. You put good tires and shocks on it and and a really good tune and it will run high 12s low 13s all day long. AND IT’S almost 45 years old.

    My girlfriend has a new GT500. At 662HP Stock, It will walk all over my car. And actually gives me a similar feeling when driving it. It’s over the top. But it’s a 60k+ car! and took 7 months to get. And why does it look so good, because it takes styling cues from designs almost 50 years old.

    Anyway, I enjoyed the article. But you’re comparing Apples to Oranges.

    • June 25, 2013 at 10:17 am

      Agreed, Brian –

      I have a ’76 TA with a 455 (with the modern Comp Cams version of the RA III cam) and it’s as you’ve described: Raw, raucous – a lot like my two-stroke triple bike. It’s the package that makes them feel fiercer than the numbers actually are.

      I’ve got a new CTS-V coupe to test drive this week. 556 hp. Probably 200 more hp than your 400 or my 455 make. Yet it idles quietly and smoothly. With the AC on and the windows up, you might be driving a Camry. But floor it – and look out.

  18. Tre Deuce
    June 19, 2013 at 8:38 pm

    Hi! Eric,
    I have listened to this bone head, BS Muscle Car Mythology for years… It is tiresome. I usually walk away from those spouting this crap, relegating them, too put it bluntly, to low IQ numskull status. They don’t even know the correct terminology, and are completely bereft of any historical automotive performance knowledge, let alone what it takes to move a vehicle.
    ‘Overdrive’ as a performance feature/enhancer(?), only in song and the movies. 10 second, 20 MPG 71′ GM ‘B’ bodies, just maybe with a modern 6-speed at a steady, flat, sea level 35-45 MPH, but your trying to drive a barn door through the air at anything above that.

    The CTS-V is one hell of a car, one that I have had the opportunity to drive several times, including track time when Cadillac brought their cars to PIR several years back. Would love to have the Wagon, but I will have to wait until they come down to a price level I can afford. Enjoy that modern American performance classic, Eric. Dam! Hard too eat lunch and type… Back to work.

  19. Tre Deuce
    June 19, 2013 at 7:12 pm

    Note: Regarding 67′ GTO.. Make that a 66′. Need to check/edit before posting…bad habit as the result of really needing to be doing something else, other then reading and commenting on car blogs, even this fine blog. Now where is that blast media?

  20. Brian
    February 3, 2013 at 11:36 am

    And yet, I always smile when my 66 GTO eats an modern LS7 vette at the stoplight!

    • February 3, 2013 at 11:55 am


      If that’s true, your ’66 GTO is not stock!


    • Eightsouthman
      June 5, 2013 at 2:05 am

      To be honest, a ‘Vette always had a huge advantage from a start, even with skinny tires. I’m real familiar with 66 goats, used to send them home crying, and my car couldn’t even suck the exhaust off a LS 7 ‘Vette, no comparison.

  21. Shane
    November 13, 2012 at 10:57 pm

    I saw the title and had to comment. First of all you’re right in as delivered form, the older cars were slow, buy hot rodder standards. For the average person the were more than enough and still are. But for the typical hot rodder it was merely a starting point. With the factory hi PO parts backing you could turn any musclecar into a beast. And that concept still holds true today. Modern technology old school style. A typical big block can be stroked, big brakes added and six speeded. The new cars are just like the old, for some it’s enough. But for us hotrodders it’s never enough. Great thread by the way. Just think in 20 years somebody is gonna write about his buddies stone stock 9flat second SRT challenger, only because he didn’t know what a procharger looked or sounded like. Long live the hotrodder

  22. Tre Deuce
    September 21, 2012 at 6:09 am

    And the march of modern performance moves on.

    Glory Days…>

    795 HP/552 Ft.pds./202+ MPH and 78MPG, and a 7:14 at the Green Mile…>

  23. ken
    September 18, 2012 at 11:46 pm

    Granted, cars have improved.

    But the Ford Thunderbolt would roast anything from today in a drag, the original 427 GT40 would scare ricers into hibernation, and the full-size American cars of the sixties were some of the best cruisers ever made. (I particularly loved the Ford Ltds).

    Brakes, steering and tires are better. But the old cars were handmade works of art, and with modern tires, many would take on anything made today.

    • BrentP
      September 19, 2012 at 1:56 am

      Neither 427 GT40s or thunderbolts were made in any numbers to be of significance. They should be compared to the modern equals and such a comparison would not be favorable to them.

      The 427 thunderbolt, a fairlane 500 modified by dearborn steel tubing, not a real production car. They were extensively modified cars that simply were not even remotely practical street cars. They ran high 11s in the 1/4 mile. The modern mustang cobra jet, the only thing remotely close these days has been running 8s and 9s.

    • September 19, 2012 at 10:35 am

      Hi Ken,

      What Brent said.

      The Ford Thunderbolt was a full-on bracket racer built in extremely low numbers and for nothing else besides drag racing. The 427 GT40 was built for LeMans – it, too, was a purpose-built factory race car.

      Neither of these were even remotely street cars, much less representative of the mass-market production muscle car.


      As Brent wrote, if you’re going to use those cars (or cars like them, e.g., the Yenko Camaro, L-88 Corvette, LS-6 454 Chevelle) as the bar, then it’s only fair to compare them with the modern equivalent, such as the current Cobra Jet (relative to the old Thunderbolt). Or – in the case of the GT40- a modern exotic such as a new Porsche 911 turbo or Corvette ZR1 (actually, this is giving the old GT40 a couple of steps… since the 911 turbo and ZR1 ‘Vette are production street cars, sold in some volume… the old GT40 was neither).

      In both cases, the modern cars run circles around the old stuff.

      And, with a car like the 911 turbo or ZR1, you have street-drivable (really street drivable, not just “you could” drive it on the street, but “could easily” drive it on the street – every day, in traffic).


      To reiterate what I’ve had to say numerous times already: None of the foregoing in any way diminishes the performance of the mass-market muscle car back in the day, relative to what the average car was capable of back then.

      Nor does it make an old muscle car any less cool to own today.

      Everything I wrote about in the article (and subsequently) boils down to: Almost 50 years have elapsed since the start of the original muscle car era in 1964. Five decades on, engineering improvements and new technology have resulted in engines that easily surpass the power/performance of the typical mass-market classic-era muscle car (and even the not-so-mass-market ones) while also being docile and streetable and everyday reliable, too.

      Today, you can buy something like a new Mustang GT – the standard-issue GT, mind – that is capable of high 12s right off the showroom floor, yet which is absolutely docile and reliable; which can be driven to work, in heavy traffic, year-round, without hassles – and with the AC on.

      There was nothing “back in the day” that could deliver such a combination of searing acceleration and everyday civility/reliability.

      And that’s from something mass-market and pretty ordinary – a new Mustang GT.

      Step up to the GT500 – and now you’ve got 662 (real) hp – which would have been 700-plus hp under the old SAE “gross” standards that applied in the mid-late 1960s. And it’s still a fully street-drivable car. With AC. And it could go head to head against the old Thunderbolt 427 in a drag race, no sweat.

      • CT
        June 5, 2013 at 12:02 am

        Your mustang GT won’t run high 12’s, maybe low 13’s. and with 255/40’s on the back Captain’s pontiac will run mid 12’s. The motor in the bird had a bent accellerator arm to keep the hp below the GM edict of no more than 1 hp for 10# of car it is the same as the 350 HP motor as in the GTO. Also Captain’s pontiac weighs about 3-400 pounds less than your GT.

        • June 5, 2013 at 12:09 am

          Hi Ct,

          I don’t own a Mustang; I’ve got a ’76 TA, though.

          The Captain’s Pontiac might very well run 12s – if it’s been modified. If it’s stock, forget about it. He doesn’t have a RA V crate motor – or even a RA IV (very rare). He has the standard, hydraulic-cammed 400 – which rated 335 hp, SAE gross. That’s about 300 honest (SAE net) hp. Nowhere near enough to get a ’68 Firebird into the 12s.

          Now, that said, these engines were easily modified to produce the power necessary to get into the 12s (and deeper). A cam change alone was often sufficient – and could be done for not much coin by any basically handy person in a weekend.

          That is the chief difference, arguably, Then vs. Now.

          Today, factory-stock cars are – in general – much quicker and much faster. But it’s also a lot more expensive (and complex) to make them significantly quicker and faster than stock.

          Yesterday, the typical factory stock car was pretty slow. Even the muscle cars (relative to the performance that’s available today in new cars). But, they could be made very, very quick – very, very easily – and cheaply.

          My disagreement with Captain was not that his car isn’t quick. It was that his car wasn’t that quick when it was the way Pontiac built it.

          • Eightsouthman
            June 5, 2013 at 1:51 am

            eric, I can’t believe you disparage my fire-breathing Malibu that way. Man, just listen to it, wow, what a monster. The truth was, most of these cars were hampered by one basic problem, no decent tires. 5.5″-6″ wheel widths were common, 7″ was huge. I’ll never forget when Goodyear came out with the Polyglas Gt. Laugh now, but then, it was a wonder, got grip no other tire you could find had. I’m not sure no matter how fast I was going on a brick street if the tires ever quit spinning to some degree before Polyglas but after that it was another story. Of course the Judge and other cars came with these tires but hooking up was a joke. I can remember putting slicks on stock cars and they’d almost pull the front tires off the ground but stock rubber, no go. I used to spank Mopars badly no matter what the engine but the people who bought them didn’t realize trying to get 4500 lbs up to speed is quite the task. Fords were never in the running to be honest. I lived it, ate it, slept it, screwed it(big back seats). Yes, they weren’t quick but boy did they ever sound great. A Duntov cam, big Holley, high rise intake, all the good stuff on exhaust along with everything else you could think of and they’d damned near be visible in the rear view of a modern performance car. And the fire, at night, flashing off everything you were going by, what a ride. 11.5-1 compression ratio, giddy up go.

            • June 5, 2013 at 10:04 am

              Morning, Eight!

              Well, sure – I know all about that. My TA has larger (much larger) than stock 255-60-15 rubber, but it’s still not enough to control the torque of that 455. It’ll lay quite a patch. But something like the CTS-V coupe that’ll be in my driveway later this month completely outclasses it. Nearly 600 real – SAE net – horsepower vs. probably around 320 for my modified 455.

              The old dreadnoughts had a torque advantage, being larger displacement – but few produced anywhere near the hp output of something like the CTS-V’s 6.2 liter small block (which, being supercharged, also makes a lot of torque – 551 lbs.-ft.)

              The Captain’s on crack if he thinks a stock regular production D Port Pontiac 400 such as the one in his ’68 Firebird was capable of getting into the 12s.

              For some perspective on this, the ’73-74 SD-455 Trans-Am just barely ran high 12s on slicks. And the SD was a much more radical engine (round port/high flow heads, etc.) than the regular production D port 400. Put another way, The Captain is basically claiming a stock, standard-issue ’68 Firebird 400 (not a RA IV or V) is quicker than an SD-455.


          • Eightsouthman
            June 5, 2013 at 11:23 am

            mornin eric. Consider the fact there was no such thing as a 255-60 15 when your car was made. Mashing the loud pedal resulted in trying to turn around on itself from a start on a bias ply tire. I sometimes wonder how those cars would stand up in a 30mph to 120mph run against newer cars, maybe not badly. Once overcoming lack of traction they had some real power. I’m only speaking of the ’71 and older models though, not the downtuned later versions.

            • June 5, 2013 at 11:45 am

              Hi Eight,

              Road & Track tested a ’73 SD-455 TA with drag slicks – and got it to run high 12s. This is probably representative of what the more powerful muscle cars were capable of in stock mechanical condition.

              The majority were slower – because the majority did not have engines as powerful as the SD-455.

              A few were quicker (e.g., L-88 Corvettes, SYC Camaros, Hemi Mopars, LS6 Chevelles, the factory bracket racers) but as you know, those cars were not representative of the typical muscle car.

              Numerous dyno tests of stock muscle car engines have been done over the years. Only a small handful made over 400 hp in stock production-line condition. Most were in the high 200s – and low-mid 300s (SAE net).

              I’m a Pontiac guy, pretty familiar with these engines. Except for a small handful of very low production units like the SD, they were very limited in terms of airflow (relative to a modern V-8 like the current GM small block). This limited the power they could produce – in particular, streetable/reliable power.

              We should remember that our beloved muscle cars are now 40-50 years old. The engine technology of the ’50s – when most of the engines we’re talking about were designed – is … half a century-plus old.

              The muscle cars of the ’60s and early ’70s were quick… relative to the typical cars of their era.

              But by today’s standards, forget about it.

              I’ve owned/driven both – and drive new cars every day. A V-6 Camry runs 14s. Think about that!

              It is quicker – and a lot faster on top – than probably two-thirds of all the factory-stock muscle cars of the ’60s!

          • Eightsouthman
            June 5, 2013 at 12:06 pm

            eric, there was a lot of wrong think back in the day too. In 1971 I had every intention of using a roller cam, a no brainer right? Well, everybody and their dogs joined in proclaiming a roller not up to street use, never make them last. No telling how much low end and mid range power I would have derived from a roller cam. They were used in racing back then and made the engines last a long time relatively speaking. I also considered a “too expensive” hp add-on too, mechanical fuel injection but none were actually made to be tuneable to a larger engine than what they were installed on from the factory. I have an old Ak Miller book, Turbochargers, from back then too and there was no denying the effects of turbocharging but that too was still in its infancy. The only superchargers available back then for V-8 use were the Detroit Diesel units specifically designed for their 2 cycle engines. That was never a very good option for anything other than a pure race set up and still not that good even at that. They had to make a huge amount of HP to net an increase over the drag it took to power them.

            • June 5, 2013 at 1:08 pm

              Right on!

              Turbos and carbs don’t mix together well.

              Remember the ’80-’81 Turbo Trans Am? Great concept – but it didn’t work well in practice.

              But, imagine if Pontiac had been able to continue developing the little 301… and been able to rig it with a FI system and then the turbo.

              Buick provides an example of what might have been. The turbo (and fuel injected) 3.8 V-6 of the mid-late ’80s was a quick/fast son-of-a-gun.

              Imagine what a properly set-up turbo V-8 might have been like….

          • Eightsouthman
            June 5, 2013 at 2:08 pm

            eric, I guess there’s no point in speculating on what those turbo cars might have done but I always felt they probably could have worked ok without the stop gap smog crap they used on them. I do recall someone about 20 miles from Mid-Ohio, and I’m dating myself, can’t remember his name, built a ‘Vette with a small block and twin turbo’s and had it down to where when C&D tested it, it was very streetable and made over 1,000 HP. He drove it to Mid-Ohio, changed wheels and tires for slicks, ran it a few laps and posted something like a 222mph average, stopped it and replaced the street tires, drove it back to the shop and it averaged 18mpg, quite the feat back then. There were the opposing camps of old V-8 and new turboed engines such as that Porsche I can’t recall the number of but it had two different rear bodies for different conditions. It was a powerhouse on the racing circuit but never quite lived up to its billing. They took that car and somebody’s old NASCAR Chevy that had been wrung out the day before, drove all night to Mid-Ohio and then backed it off the trailer, kicked the tires, fired it up and established a run of 232mph average, loaded it back up and left. The Porsche team stayed there all day trying one body and another, changing all sorts of things and only got about 15mph slower than the NASCAR. Nothing was proved that day except bring a bigger gun to the fight. I believe Porsche increased the size of that engine right after that.

  24. Brent Kinstler
    September 8, 2012 at 10:48 pm

    what year was the 455 made(s)? Did they all have forged cranks? Were they externally balanced? Didnt they have a olds W-442 or some legendary olds low produced muscle car. I saw one at a show but cant rememeber the name of it. I have heard of a 455 Rocket? What was special about that motor if it even existed?

    • September 9, 2012 at 9:55 am

      There were actually several engines with a displacements of 455 CI – but each made by a different GM division and each of them a different engine. There was a Pontiac 455, a Buick 455 and an Olds 455. Parts do not interchange. Completely different blocks, heads, intakes, internals – etc.

      The Pontiac 455 is the final expression of the 421/428 branch of the Pontiac V-8 family tree. It first appeared in 1970. IIRC (I’m going by memory, off the cuff) it was identical to the previous 428, just slightly more bore. It is a long stroke design – the chief difference between it and the 400 (and 326/350) Pontiacs, which are descended from the 389 V-8.

      An interesting thing about the Pontiac V-8 is that all of them (except the oddball 301) appear to be the same, visually. There is no “big block” or “small block” Pontiac. You cannot tell by looking (unless you look at the casting numbers) whether it’s a “little” 326 – or a big 455. They’re identical externally, in terms of physical size/dimensions. Most parts interchange, too. For example, you can use 455 heads on a 400 (and vice versa). All factory intakes fit any of the V-8s (except the 301).

      The 455 was only made for a relatively short time. Lat year was 1976. It was also used in fewer cars. This is why it is much easier (and cheaper) to find a 400, which was produced from ’67 all the way through to 1978 (still sold in the TA through ’79) and used in many more cars.

  25. Brent Kinstler
    September 8, 2012 at 2:56 pm

    eric – your right about that 455. That was one mean engine. I dont know if you have explored it or not, but the 455 the 70’s jet boat king. I cant remember all of the manufacturer names but I do remember the one we had. It was called a taihiti (spelling wrong). They seemed to be the big block of choice in that low profile speed demon hooked to a berkly pump. I remember what that thing sounded wide open. It had its own sound. Didnt sound like a mopar and didnt sound like a chevy. If you have never studied jet boats you ought to look. Im sure youll find your precious 455 as king of the hill in that application.

    • September 8, 2012 at 3:27 pm

      They’re great street performance engines because of the massive torque they produce (and at comparatively low RPM). It’s not difficult to get 500 lbs.-ft. of torque out of one and still have a streetable engine that pulls enough vacuum to allow power brakes, an idle low enough (and not so choppy) that it’s not a hard car to drive ins top and go traffic…

      The problem these days is finding a good core for a reasonable price. The last 455s were made in 1976 – almost 40 years ago. Blocks and cranks are not cheap!

  26. Brent Kinstler
    September 8, 2012 at 5:54 am

    one more comment about the supposed (sick) mustang cobra II. I could easily beat mustang 5.0s (86,87,88, and the 91 GTs and LXs in stock form). I can remember a duster 340 car that used to give me fits. The camero 305 cars and the irocs and z28s were fun to look at in the rear view mirror. I remember a mercury that was comparible as well as a maverick with a 302. I remember the mach mustangs with the clevland all being modified i could beat or hold my own. But I also remember launching against a built chevelle big block. I jumped a half a car lenght out in front of him in my ol stang right off the bat. When he hit second he slid sideways almost into may car although I never got out of it. Boy did he give me an education that night. I think I shut the cobra down about half way through the quarter. There was no point. Where the mopars where in the 80s is a real question mark in my book as a gear head drag guy with the cobra. My little car got me a reputation and people started actually searching me out. I won a bunch especially with new stock cars at the time. I remember the hurst olds with the lightning rods (remember them). They were very cool but dogs. I dont know where the mopars other than the duster where. Never saw them less raced them in the 80s. raced older stangs, chevells, mercurys, mavericks, cameros, even a gto, but back then I dont think i knew what a GTX was. They were probably in the junk yard at the time waiting for the muscle car fad that would soon come knocking on the door and as we all know it did. I guess either I thought my mustang was fast (and I do think it was) or me being into drag racing during the mid 80s gave me an edge. Probably the later. It was fun. I almost got a guy wth a grand national to race but he pampered that car because at the time he thought it would be really worth something. Maybe they are. All i knew at the time was it was a six with a turbo. sounded like an easy victory to me but as i have read this thread. that must have been some animal.

    • Shane
      November 16, 2012 at 9:24 pm

      I’m sorry to keep jumping in at random places, but this is a great thread! In the mid 80’s a buddy of mine had a little cobra ll. It had a nasty little 302cobra in it, it also had t-tops. When he hammered on it you could actually see and hear the body flex. Of course it got sub frame connectors after that. Cool car. I think personally, where people get the idea these cars were so fast from the factory is from riding in their Dads, or a buddies highly modified version. Being an old street racer, I’ve taking many a person for the ride of there life. Alot of these people were only slightly into cars. So after a short but brutal ride in my 10 second duster or roadrunner, they would ask me what is in it, or what’s been done to it. I still answer the same, I say ” oh it’s mostly stock with some headers”. The Duster I Street raced in the 80’s had a stroked 440 (498 cubes). I pulled it off as a 318 all the time. Most guys are brand specific, Chevy guys think if the valve covers aren’t fat it’s a small block. I got to know what’s what from every brand. Point is we lied, I’m sure there is more then one guy still telling the story about that 318 Duster that handed him his ass, one late night. Lol. Eric your Pontiac knowledge is great, alot of people don’t realize they use one block, AMC is the same! Today it’s even better, with all the stroker combinations. 427 small blocks, soo cool. I stroked a low deck 400 Mopar to a 512, for the Roadrunner, it looks just like a 383, painted aluminum stealth heads and all. And of course it’s mostly stock! Haha here we go. Long live the hotrodder.

      • November 16, 2012 at 9:32 pm

        Np, Shane – and, thanks!

        On Pontiac blocks: There is an exception – the 301. This engine does not interchange with other Pontiac V-8s. It’s the main reason why even Pontiac people tend to give it little respect. In stock form, they’re weak – and because few parts interchange (and few aftermarket parts are available) it’s usually tossed in favor of a 400 or 455.

        You also have to be careful about heads. Pontiac adjusted CR using combustion chamber volume and putting certain large cc heads on can leave you with ridiculously low compression. Or, compression that’s way too high for pump gas. I have reference guides here in case anyone needs info about head casting numbers/applications – just shoot me a note.

        I’m partial to the long-stroke 455 (and its predecessor, the 428) because these engines make among the most torque of any classic-era muscle V-8s and so are ideal in heavy street-driven performance cars. A mild-cammed 455 can get you in the high 12s with no trouble – and with a reasonable idle/vacuum.

  27. Brent Kinstler
    September 8, 2012 at 2:00 am

    Man! I think the point has been proven over and over. I’m curious and I got to thinking about this the other day. I’m a mopar 69 charger enthusiest but I was driving down the road the other day and wondered how many would agree with this statement, although it is off the subject. Does any one else agree that the chevy 350 was probably the “best” engine really ever built to date. I know im not qualifying this in any way and I’m sorry. Man – in comparision to anything else of old as far as build potential to $$$.. – not only is it a cheaper bad boy but plentiful and was a heck of a block in some of the latter 5.7 hp stuff. Just a thought. Thought I would introduce it.

    One note that really makes me upset about the old (and I much more enjoy than the new – no matter how fast the new are). My posts of earlier get a little sentimental about the old stuff. In my mind even though Eric is completely and totally right – my brain still wants to believe the old was the ultimate (lol). But back to my point, the one that upsets me. Its very hard to seal up the old engines. Look at the old pictures of supermarket parking lots. Oil everywhere. I drive my old charger somewhat and built it using the very best gaskets you can buy but getting some of these engines even with the intentions, money and know how to seal without the oil is hair pulling! Any truck driver out there? Im not but I remember the ol detroit 318 deisel. I think it might have even been built to loose oil. One of these days I hope to completly seal my 440. By this I mean I dont want a drop on pavement no matter how long it sits. I dont want even the power steering hoses to look wet. I know it can be done if I rarely drive the car but thats not why I bought this car. Its as nice as some trailer queens but I like to drive mine to the shows. I hear the old chevy big blocks were even worse, not sure about the fords but Im curious. Im pretty close but no cigar as of yet.

    The car I had in high school (80s) was one mean machine. You might laugh but it was the overdone pinto – meaning the mustang cobra II. Before I sold it in 91 it was close to perfect – however it had a fireball cam, headers, manual 650 double pumper aluminum intake and it was a 4 speed. If you go and look at the specs of the day, it was referred to as a dog. However the weight of this machine less than a ton. I’m telling you – I beat every 5.0 new in the day along with irocs and z28s and believe it or not – some of the classics. Thats experience I cannot ignore. Now this was the 80’s not what Eric is talking about today. I have recently found this car and have a chance a buying it. I plan on a full restoration and the thought of it keeps me up at night (30 yrs later). I remember I could launch this car and pull the right front wheel. I remember doing it once and breaking three of my back driver leafs. Why am I reading such bad stats on the internet about this car? Its a sincere question to you that in no way diminishes how much I totally agree with you on this topic. Could it be my performance was that of some simple mods that woke this car up similair to the smokey and bandit machine. Another mind blowing note about this car was what went on in that small back seat…..oh sorry this isnt the forum for that lol.


    • MoT
      September 8, 2012 at 3:59 am

      My high school buddies had one and when we went “crusin” the local Sonic we could zip around pretty quick. Of course I spent most of the time squished in the back seat laughing my ass off but it was tiiiggght!

    • September 8, 2012 at 11:33 am

      No doubt, the Chevy small block is among the most successful engine designs ever. It has been in continuous production for 60-plus years now. The sheer quantity of them in circulation has made them extremely affordable and that includes a wealth of aftermarket parts.

      Power for the dollar, they are hard to top. They are also very sturdy engines. Compact design, too. Fit almost anywhere. Easy to work on.

      That said, I still prefer the sound of a Ford 289/302 small block. In my opinion, it is the best-sounding V-8 ever produced. But this is just my ear – and my personal preference.

      I also like the monster torque of a big Pontiac (421/428/455) or Buick (455) … or big block Mopar! That is an objective area where the small block Chevy isn’t king!

      On the Mustang II: They’ve really grown on me! I used to make fun of them – now I’d love to have one. I bet an even lightly warmed up 289/302 would kill in that light little thing!

  28. Tre Deuce
    September 7, 2012 at 1:03 am


    Don’t waste your considerable talents/energy on the specious blatherings of someone who is unreachable by normal, rational, cognitive means.

    The subject cerebral cortex, doesn’t go all the way to the top. Probably a congenital condition… unfortunate, but it happens…too often.

    Mucho regard..Tre

    • September 7, 2012 at 1:14 am

      Thanks, Tre…

      It’s extremely frustrating, obviously. In particular, BLZ’s (and the Captain’s) perception that I somehow don’t like classic muscle cars and am out to “get” them because I refuse to deny or whitewash the facts about them.

      It’s very much of a piece with the “love it or leave it” vituperation one receives when pointing out some of the not-so-free aspects of America to a flag-humping Republican type.

      • Brent Kinstler
        September 8, 2012 at 2:08 am

        WHHHHOOOOOAAAAAA. Eric man I like you. Please dont ruin it by telling me your not a flag humping republican. Dont answer that – lol – I guess I can look past it if your a democrat (totally joking) but really I would have thought you a conservative good ol boy even if your a yuppie like I am lol.

        • September 8, 2012 at 11:27 am

          Nah, I’m a Libertarian anarchist type. You know, like most Americans used to be. I want to be left the hell alone (unless I’m hurting someone else) and will extend the same courtesy to others. I believe in live and let live. In voluntarism and free cooperation between mutually consenting people.

          I hate bullies of all stripes – which means I hate Democrats and Republicans!

          • Brent Kinstler
            September 8, 2012 at 2:51 pm

            understood – meaning your kind of an outlaw like me lol

            • September 8, 2012 at 3:28 pm

              Yup – people who just want to be left alone (and don’t want nuthin’ from no one, if they can’t get it on their own) are indeed outlaws in the USSA!

          • Jean
            August 4, 2014 at 4:56 pm

            Busting your chops here, man – but if I’m hurting someone, I REALLY want to be left alone! Like Dexter! 😉 😛

            (Of course, in an ideal world, it wouldn’t work that way… But in an ideal world, I couldn’t make the joke!) 😉

  29. BLZ
    September 6, 2012 at 11:10 pm

    Clearly we know what side your on, Un rebuilt 42 year old high performance engine? Guess that rules out any of them. Besides carbs, points in high performance engines needed regular adjustment, the technology then just was not that good. Its clear that you wish to stack the deck against old American Muscle. New cars that would be eliminated under your standards GTR – Shelby – any non standard production car on the market today. The fact is that the muscle car era of the 60s just offered buyers more options, and by buyer choice some of those options were low. How many engine choices do you get in the new stuff? Its like saying well in 1969, you could get a 6 cyl. 302 2v or 4v, 351w, 351c, , 390, 428 cj, 428 scj, 429, etc. But to you, just remove anything over 400 CI, because they dont meet your requirements of what you consider a muscle car. So yes if you eliminate all the factory muscle cars that came with the big engines, or high performance options, then muscle cars were slow. This is pointless, You wrote the article, and it is clear that you will just eliminate at will whatever you want to make it true. Clearly you favor imports anyway, so its about what I could expect. I am sure in your head, somehow you are right, but for someone who seems to support anarchists, you sure do put a lot of rules and restrictions into what you consider a muscle car. We will have to agree to disagree, this conversation has become pointless.

    • Tre Deuce
      September 7, 2012 at 12:37 am

      ‘BLZ’…..Did I read, that you claim to be an ‘automotive journalist’?

      The conversation is “pointless”, because you, and a few others, can’t seem to grasp the intent of the article.

      The article is about the relative or comparative performance of production performance cars of the Muscle car era, compared to modern cars, whether they be every day appliances or modern performance cars. The discussion should be in that context.

      In every comparative segment of the then and now, automotive world, the older cars are not up to the performance levels of modern cars. Whether in a straight line quarter mile, top speed, handling, or braking.

      This should be obviously apparent to anyone capable of unprejudiced critical thinking.

      Regards …Tre

      • September 7, 2012 at 12:56 am

        Hi Tre,

        BLZ’s not reachable. I thought he might be. He seemed more reasonable – at first – than the Cap’n.

        I apparently was mistaken about that.

        • Tre Deuce
          September 7, 2012 at 1:07 am

          It happens. Probably because you care to reach common ground and educate in the process. Not always possible.

    • September 7, 2012 at 12:45 am

      I’m on the side of objective reality, BLZ – that’s all.

      I point out the fact that a rebuilt (by hand, by an expert hand, usually…not on an assembly line – and probably balanced and blueprinted at the very least) engine, with a carefully owner-tuned carb and ignition (among other things) is not “pure stock” – because by definition, it fucking isn’t stock! – and you take this as my somehow disparaging the truth about the performance of these engines when they were, in fact, “pure stock”! As in – one more god-damned time – when they were new, as-delivered, from the factory, off the dealer’s lot – as built by GM or Ford or Chrysler? Not rebuilt or modified or tweaked or set-up by you, 40 years later.


      The fact that it’s virtually impossible, today, to find a bona fide pure stock car from that era – original engine, never touched – to test in no way means we now must accept the stats/performance figures achieved by not stock rebuilt/tuned – that is, by modified – engines as representative of the stock ones.

      Yes, I excluded cars from the classic era that were built in tiny numbers (like the Yenko Camaro, the SD TA, the 429 Boss and so on) because these cars were – wait for it, now – built in tiny numbers and so not representative of the typical mass produced muscle car.

      A current Mustang GT, on the other hand is a car that’s mass-produced and absolutely representative of the performance of a current-era mass-market performance car. It is fair to compare the performance of the new GT to something like a classic-era standard-engined GTO or 396 Chevelle or 383 ‘Cuda. It is not fair to compare the mass-market new GT to classic-era exotics like the Yenko or the SD.

      Jesus Chris on a stick!

      Indeed, this conversation is pointless. Because you’re unwilling to accept facts (not opinions, not I think… but facts) such as those above. Instead, you want to confect this distorted picture of how things were back then – and denounce anyone who points out that, in fact, most muscle cars were not 12 second (or even low 13 second) cars as “biased” or “favors imports.”

      In fact, BLZ, you’re the one who who looks down on anyone who drives a car you don’t like – such as a late model import.

      I have my own preferences, too. But I don’t slam other people’s preferences. And I tell the truth about the pros – and cons – of all cars, no matter who made them or when.

      • Shane
        November 15, 2012 at 3:50 am

        It’s all in fun. I help restore old mopars, which by the way are mostly only stock appearing. I am a die hard hotrodder, I enjoy modifying old school iron just as much as the new stuff, import or domestic. Stock to stock new technology is everything we ever wished for. But, you have too take into consideration the generation gap. Back in the day the average hotrodder could install headers, a cam, and tune the combination. And all we wanted was to rule the stoplight wars period. We learned how to plan a stop way ahead! And the dealers new this. Why else would you offer a car to the public with a fiberglass lift off hood and steel wheels. They new what we were going to do with it. You said, you would like to find an original musclecar. It would have been a reach to find anything “as stock” 2 years after it was new. That was our way of personalizing it. Today of course technology is awesome. But the generation is also different. Of course we still have hotrodders, but because of technology when stock is not enough, it has to be taken to a specialty shop.(mine) lol. So now you see modern musclecars personalize, with stripes and exhausts. But to your point, we have cars that would have been considered super cars, back in the day. But this generation wants everything now without lifting the hood. And of course next year it better be faster. So now you can buy a turn key badass, too me they are finally carrying on the tradition. It took a while, but the musclecar wars are finally back. To go back to old school, these cars had to be tuned. Perfect example: per the service manual a 440 six pack or a street hemi’s static timing should be set at 0. That would be 1969 thru 1971. Depending on the mechanic preparing the vehicle, that would have been as delivered.Reality is if you were buying a hemi car you probably already had an aftermarket distributor waiting. Please excuse the errors, I’m on a mobile and these bratwurst fingers don’t get along with these small keys. Long live the hotrodder

        • November 15, 2012 at 11:26 am

          Amen, Shane!

          I was lucky enough to be in high school at a time when high school kids routinely drove V-8 muscle cars. These weren’t show cars by any stretch. Most were well-used, with Bondo’d bodies and primered panels. But some had big blocks – and you could swap in a set of $75 headers after school using a $15 socket set. Good times, fondly remembered.

  30. BLZ
    September 6, 2012 at 7:39 am

    Check out “Pure Stock Muscle Car Drag Race”, mild modifications – not allowed any for engine parts other than tuning. Those cars are not slow.

    • September 6, 2012 at 9:36 am

      Hi BLZ,

      We went over this at length with Cap’n 427.

      “Modified” is not “stock.”

      Those “pure stock” drag racers are not stock – unless you consider owner rebuilt/tuned cars to be the same thing as a factory-built production car as it came off the assembly line.

      • BLZ
        September 6, 2012 at 11:35 am

        I am not sure what the modifications are that are allowed. The rules are on the site, and they are pretty strict. They wont even allow dealer mods that were shipped in the trunk from the factory. It has to be how it was when it shipped from the factory. I only said some mods, because the site said their were some acceptions, it was probably safety.

        • September 6, 2012 at 11:40 am

          They allow for overboring, among other things. And unless you disassemble the engine to check, how are you going to ascertain whether the heads were ported? Not-stock valves? Gasket matching? Cam degreeing?

          And of course, all these engines are finely tuned. They do not have the “pure stock” carbs, set and jetted as delivered by GM or Ford or Chrysler. Ditto the ignitions.

          We can’t turn back time.

          An Elvis impersonator is not Elvis. Maybe he’s close. But it ain’t The King.

          “Pure stock” isn’t pure stock, either.

          • BLZ
            September 6, 2012 at 11:50 am

            Overbores up to .070″ are allowed. Stock cranks only. NO strokers! Random P&G checks are possible
            Straight out of there rule book.
            .070 Is just a rebuild
            But you are right, it would be hard to check.
            But if you eliminate all the top end muscle cars then yes 45 year old muscle cars are slow compared to what has come out over the last 10 years. You just have to ignore a whole lot of stuff, and you end up with nothing but slow cars. Really I agree, Lamborghini countachs were slow, everything was slow until recently I guess. So whatever you want to label as slow is slow, whatever you want to say is fast is fast, what ever you want to ignore or say “that doesn’t count” fine. Its your article.

            • September 6, 2012 at 12:02 pm

              An .070 overbore amounts to a pretty significant increase in displacement. All by itself, that disqualifies describing a car as “pure stock.” Right?

              If you disagree, then clearly we have a disagreement about the plain meaning of the English language.

              And what owner is going to give permission to have his car’s engine torn down for inspection? How often does this happen? Professional race teams (and cars)… sure. Weekend bracket racers using their personal classics? I doubt it.

              On the Countach. This is an example of a high-speed European exotic. Europeans focus more on top speed than accelerating down the quarter mile. The Countach was capable of close to 170 MPH. How many American cars from the ’60s or early ’70s could achieve such speeds?

              It also ran 0-60 in 5.8 seconds.

              You write: “But if you eliminate all the top end muscle cars..”

              No. You are putting words in my mouth. I called bullshit on including the performance of elite, extremely low production muscle cars as representative of the performance of the typical muscle car.

        • September 6, 2012 at 12:09 pm

          “It has to be how it was when it shipped from the factory.”

          Well, then it would have to be the original, unrebuilt engine, built by GM or Ford or Chrysler. With the original carb(s) and ignition, not tuned or tweaked by the owner. The production exhaust and mufflers. Not Flowmasters and mandrel bent pipes. Etc.

          A casual look under the hood of my TA would not suggest obvious mods. It has the factory block and heads. The stock air cleaner. If I put back the stock exhaust manifolds (it has Pontiac cast iron headers now) it’d be damn hard to prove it’s not a “pure stock” 455 – without taking it apart.

          Round and round we go!

          • Hot Rod
            September 7, 2012 at 1:41 am

            So if a guy doesn’t care if he modifies a classic with modern technology. Say you do just one thing add Fuel Injection instead of the original carbs how would these old cars perform versus the new. I’d imagine that the engine being heavier built in days of old it could handle a lot more torque than newer vehicles? Although I’d think the older cars would be at a disadvantage when it came to inertia? I understand this would be blasphemy for someone who likes original, but I’m sure someone has to have tried updating an old car with new technology, but keep the engine basics the same? I’m also thinking the old cars would fair a heck alot better in a EMP scenario and I like the fact that emissions are a non issue.

          • Hot Rod
            September 7, 2012 at 2:23 am

            I’ve been thinking about getting a 1968-70 firebird. I must say its all subjective but I think that is a fine looking older car but this article by Eric really is on the mark. Vintage cars just require more routine maintenance and time is never something I have alot of and I really don’t trust most mechanics. Nothing about mechanics I really don’t trust anyone.

            • September 7, 2012 at 10:18 am

              Hi HR,

              I think you’d be fine with a car like that, provided you chose one in good overall condition, kept it for pleasure use (not as a daily driver) and didn’t choose the high-performance model (Firebird 400 and Trans-Am for the ’67-69 cars; Trans-Am and Formula for the ’70-81s). These – the high performance models – can be a handful, both to drive and to maintain. The standard sixes – and even better, the step-up V-8s like the 350 2 BBL in the ’67-69s – are great engines. Very tractable, smooth, torquey. They’re ideal for actually toodling around in the car.

              A friend had a ’68 convertible with the 350 V-8, 2 BBL carb and automatic. It was a great cruise night car – or nice Sunday afternoon car.

              I know Firebirds reasonably well, so if you’d like more advice or have any questions, just let me know. Be happy to offer up whatever I can.

          • BrentP
            September 7, 2012 at 2:24 am

            Look at a small block chevy
            or the Ford of Australia turbocharged inline 6.

            Both of these are evolution into the modern era of the engines of 50s and early 1960s. Sure the modern ones are like an axe that has had the head and the handle replaced if put side by side with the originals but they give us a good idea of what difference is with all the modern technology and materials.

          • Hot Rod
            September 7, 2012 at 3:12 am

            Thanks thanks for the intelligent information.

            As far defending the honor of older cars, I think it would be hard to argue that technology improves everything. I remember my dad arguing that older cars could rip the newer one a ahole. Its hard to believe that things are so powerful and compact while small these days. I wouldn’t have a clue how to figure out bore size, displacement to power in various car models past or present. Though I suppose empirical is as good an answer for me as any.

            I think the biggest issue why people defend the honor of old cars has nothing to do with logic. Its about projetion. I love the 68-70 firebird for example not because its the fastest for its time. But rather I have memories of one in my younger years. I loved the sound of it idling. The memories and projection that these cars are individuals and have spirits as silly as that sounds. I’m sure the dog whisperer laughs when people project little human feelings on dogs. And its amusing I suppose to someone that we fall in love with our old cars give them names and feelings. You don’t bad mouth my wife, or my dog, or my car. Cars certainly seem to live in our minds, why else do I love the show “Christine” so much? Projection man these cars were big and bad and top of their charts at the time and they have attitude and soul. Nothing will ever change that fact. You have to love them for what they were at their peak, but I think comparing them to something newer is a bit defeating. Technology almost always gets better and it undeniable.

            • September 7, 2012 at 10:02 am

              Morning HR!

              I don’t see it as defending (or disparaging) the honor of old cars to talk honestly about them. I’ve told BLZ probably a dozen times now that mentioning the actual power/performance of, say, a standard-engined GTO when it was new back in 1966, say, doesn’t make that classic GTO any less cool to own now, nor detract from its place in history.

              Let’s talk airplanes:

              The Lockheed Constellation was a gorgeous aircraft. State of the art in its day, too. But it is completely outclassed – in terms of performance, efficiency and pretty much every objective measure – by a modern Airbus. Sure, the Airbus is boring, anodyne, not romantic – all those things. But it’s still much faster, eats far less fuel – etc. etc. And stating those facts does not in any way diminish the beauty, the glory, of the old plane.

              Same with the old muscle cars. They are industrial art. They are almost alive and have personalities very few, if any, modern car can match. They represent a high water mark – and are living, rolling history. But history didn’t stop in 1972 – and revising history to make 1972 (and 1969 and 1968, etc.) something it wasn’t doesn’t make the old stuff better than it really was.

          • Shane
            November 15, 2012 at 5:14 pm

            I’ve built several engines for “Pure Stock”drags. What you do is blueprint the engine to the exact specs that the engineers set for a particular engine. Sounds easy right! Well this takes us to back in the day. The casting, stamping, and machining processes were horrible from the factory. To simply find a factory stamped rocker arm with the correct ratio, you have too dig through dozens of cores. I’m talking sometimes 2when points off. That’s roughly .070 at the valve. And the heads combustion chambers 10-15 cc’s off. Port sizes a quarter inch smaller all the way around the port. Compression ratios all over the board. The list goes on and on. If the one guy running this class does his own machine work and assembly he should know this. As delivered, you would be hard pressed to find any of these motors making anywhere close to advertised horsepower. And those exhaust manifolds, oh my god. In pure stock drags, they are extrude honed. Back in the day we would throw them as far as we could. Anyway to the point, the machine work involved to prep a motor for pure stock drags is what factory backed teams would do to a super stock motor. This is also why these engines respond so well to after market speed parts. But pure stock drags are nothing like as delivered. I wish the QC would have been that tight. Some of us can remember, but if you ever get a chance to see a survivor car, any brand. Look at that sweet ass paint job, that pretty much sums up QC. I still love the musclecar, but we have to keep up with modern technology. Thank god for my best buddy,”the aftermarket”. In regards to the guy that had the newer hemi Dodge pickup. A hand held programmer would have given you what you needed. That goes back to the story someone told about the L88 Vette, that the guy couldn’t wait to get rid of. The old owner of that Vette is probable an engineer today, designing turn key super cars that you don’t have to touch. Everything comes full circle. Just think 40 years ago if we had internet, we would be arguing about flat heads and ohv’s lmao. Too the young blood keep the muscle alive. But it is what it is. As always Long live the hotrodder

  31. Tre Deuce
    September 5, 2012 at 10:54 pm

    Out of sequence…>
    Regarding; BrentP on September 5, 2012 at 10:18 pm

    “I wasn’t referring to you or anyone else in particular.”

    I know you weren’t, Brent, just wanted to give you another perspective.

    Most ‘old’ guys, already have the cars. The first generation(and younger) that missed the generation of Muscle cars, are the ones typically buying the old iron.

    The youngest generations, either don’t care, or want a Nissan 240 or Supra, or STI, etc,. I see ads all the time for cars that are for sale that a dad bought for a ‘Father, Son’ project and the son just isn’t interested in that old Camaro.

    My oldest son, now nearing fifty, liked the old stuff, because that is what was kool and is what dad had when he was growing up, but he too, also has his old Muscle toys. He also grew up in the seventies, when, with a few exceptions, there weren’t any fun cars to be had. The old Muscle cars were the last great cars for him. My youngest son is into old Miyata’s and Sekai’s, and Campagnola… and so it goes.

    Regards …Tre

  32. BLZ
    September 5, 2012 at 7:48 pm

    Here is the ¼ mile times for the old muscle cars you illustrate in this article.
    1970 Plymouth Cuda 426 Hemi 13.10 @ 107.12
    1969 GTO Judge 13.2 @ 104
    1969 Yenko Camaro 13.5 @ 102
    1973 Pontiac Tans Am 455 Super Duty – ¼ mile 13.54 @ 104.29
    These were all factory cars with crappy polyglass tires. One Thing you could really figure out on just how much traction effected performance was when you see 2 cars that have the same engine trans and gear, and the heavier car has the better quarter mile. Those cars never did get traction, that is the number one complaint.

    • September 5, 2012 at 9:08 pm


      Again – every single car you just listed was far from typical of the muscle cars of the ’60s and ’70s. Every single one is a rare, ultra-performance model produced in extremely low numbers. To wit:

      The Yenko Camaro? C’mon. Exactly 201 of these were sold in 1969. Total production from ’67-69 is under 300 cars.

      The SD TA? Fewer than 2,000 were ever made.

      The Hemi ‘Cuda? A relative handful of these were built, too. The vast majority of ‘Cudas had 383s and 440 4-BBls.

      GTO? 13.2? Sure… the very radical (and very rare) RA IV version. Not the standard RA III with D-port heads. It ran 14s. Maybe high 13s, tuned, with slicks.

      Why mythologize these cars? It doesn’t make them any less appealing to take them as they were, not as some of us fantasize they were.

      I’d be very happy with a nice, stock ’69 SS 396 – which is typical of mass-market muscle – even though this car ran low 15s with the automatic, 14s with the 4-speed.

      • BLZ
        September 5, 2012 at 10:24 pm

        Whats the difference, These new cars are not exactly typical, We have how many varieties of super cars now, a few, we had more lately, and I only listed the ones that you showed in the pictures. You have to remember that 500 units had to be made to be considered a production car. Yenko didnt make the cut, but it was in your pictures. So what are the numbers now, less than 4000 Shelby GT500s made. Its the law of supply and demand, if they thought they could sell more of them back then, they would have. Besides there was more choices back then, now its Mustang Camaro Challenger, Vette. Then all major manufactures were giving people looking for high end cars options, not to mention that the amount of people buying cars was maybe 1/3 due to population. So companies had to deal with a smaller share of a smaller market, of course production numbers were low. Besides, up until a few years ago you would have been talking about specialty cars. A 1968 Mustang GT with a 428 (over 30k 428 mustangs were made between 1968 and 1970), range from about 13.8 to a 14 flat quarter mile, The engine was an option for the the GT, Not a lot of options for a GT these days, but until 2009, The old GT with the polyglass 7″ tires was still managing about the same performance in the 1/4 mile. Which can only presume it was fast enough. I am not arguing that they were not as reliable, as easy to drive, hangled as well, the title is that they were slow, and I say that you have to raise the bar pretty high to say that they were slow. And thankfully in the last few years, they have raised the bar higher, but it took 40 years.

        • BLZ
          September 5, 2012 at 11:25 pm

          To end it, I will just say that I understand that new cars are very fast, I just dont believe that old cars can be called slow just yet. Some day possibly, they will say todays cars are slow, but will it be true. Yes modern cars are as quick as old muscle cars that could not get traction. Saying that old muscle cars were not as fast as their 40 year jr modern counterparts would be more accurate. Dont get me wrong, I would rather have a new Shelby for everyday driving, but if I had a choice, I would give up that everyday driver for a mint condition older shelby. And yes I would be settling for a slower car, but not a slow car.

        • September 5, 2012 at 11:36 pm

          What’s the difference?

          A new Camry V-6 is very typical – and it’s as quick or quicker than most factory stock, mass-produced muscle cars.

          That’s the difference!

          A new Mustang GT (or Camaro SS) is pretty nothing-special; they sell scads of them every year (Mustang, at least). It’s just not Apples to Apples to compare a car like that – mass produced, commonplace – with an exotic, extremely low production car like a Yenko SC or SD-455 Pontiac.

          You write:

          “A 1968 Mustang GT with a 428 (over 30k 428 mustangs were made between 1968 and 1970), range from about 13.8 to a 14 flat quarter mile”

          True – and that’s about the same as a new Mustang V-6.

          A new V-8 GT is much quicker.

          • Tre Deuce
            September 6, 2012 at 2:09 am

            LMAoff Eric,

            Magazine Test Cars: Even most of them were thought to be ‘specially tuned’ ‘ringers’ by the manufacturer for the magazine test.

            Unless a test was performed from a car pulled from stock, we, back in the day, were very suspicious of any ‘Magazine test’. Why… real world cars almost never could duplicate those Mag times with out tweeking. Even then it was still a reach to duplicate those times.

            If you were a Ford, MOPAR, or Chevy guy, the published times gave you bragging rights. Reality was something else.

            There were a lot of disappointments for the guys who stepped up and put hard cash down a car they thought was going to hand them a fast car to beat their neighbors or buddies car or give them and advantage in a street/stoplight drag.

            In 1999, Ford published HP figures for the SVT Cobra. When they didn’t perform to expectations, several magazines dynoed the cars and they were found to be lacking OEM claimed and published numbers. Ford backtracked and offered to buy back or fix cars. Back in the day(sixties/seventies), that didn’t happen. Today Ford values its reputation a bit more, and its lawyers have the last word at the corporate level.

            Despite that, I was one of those who opted to have Ford fix my 99′ ‘SVT’, when, after ninety days, they had not acknowledged or responded, or taken any action, I contacted my lawyer, and the state attorney general to try and initiate a timely response from Ford. It didn’t come, and I sued. They settled out of court

            By the way, Ford made sure the 2000′ Cobra ‘R’ had way more then the claimed 385 HP.

            And while Ford’s legal department was remiss in handling my claim. I bought a new 2000′ SVT Cobra ‘R’. Still have it. It has less then 1000 miles on it, nearly all of them, careful track miles

            By the way, a little historical note on the 2000′ Cobra ‘R’. The chin spoiler was delivered inside the car. Mine has never been mounted.

            And I just recently took it over 5,000 RPM for the first time, figuring it is finally broken in. It takes longer to do that when running full synthetic.

            And the transmission is still as stiff as a tranny that has been run out of oil, despite the synthetic gear oil…Sure miss those old ‘T-10’s’ and Super T-10’s.

            And while most, so called, automotive journalists of the time, claimed that the 2000′ Cobra ‘R’s was the best Mustang, ever. They must not have driven the 84’to 85-1/2 SVO Mustang. A car largely ignored and forgotten in the world of Fords with a pounding V-8 declaring your manhood.

            • September 6, 2012 at 10:17 am

              Thanks for reminding us about the ’99 SVT Cobra debacle! Excellent point.

              And in re road tests from Back in the Day: I got to know Marty Schorr – a name you may recognize – back in the ’90s. He told me some great stories about what was provided to the magazines in the ’60s by the automakers. It’s not like today. Today, guys like me – car journalists – get production cars, straight off the assembly line, to test drive. Back then, the cars were not infrequently taken to a garage owned by the PR company that handled the cars for the automaker before they were sent out for testing. Things happened in those garages…

              A few years back, I was invited up to Hemmings Motor News’ headquarters. Hemmings has a “living museum” of classic cars of all types – including several muscle cars. Stock muscle cars. I and other journalists were given the opportunity to drive them – and it was eye opening for a lot of the younger guys, who were too young to have ever experienced a typical mass-produced muscle car (such as the SS 396 Hemmings had on hand) in factory stock condition, unmodified in any way.

        • Brent Kinstler
          September 6, 2012 at 1:45 am

          I have to agree that the title gives me just a little heartburn. “Muscle Cars Were Slow?” If we are going to continue to stress the importance of gramatics and effective communication, Eric you have to agree that in general Muscle cars back then were not slow. (period). Maybe Muscle Cars in comparison to todays cars were slow. I could go with that. However I realize you probably had a twinkle in your eye and a tease factor.

          • September 6, 2012 at 10:24 am


            The point I was trying to make was (is) that in comparison with today’s cars (not necessarily even performance cars) the performance of most classic era muscle cars is no longer very impressive. They were standouts in their day. Because in their day, the average car was much slower than the average car is now.

            Example: An old Beetle needed as much as 20-30 seconds to reach 60. In comparison with that, a 7 second to 60 car is a rocket sled.

            Today, the slowest new car on the road takes 11 seconds to get to 60. There are only a small handful of new cars in this category. Most new cars – and here I mean typical A to B cars, not performance cars – get to 60 in about 8 seconds.

            Relative to these cars, a 7 second to 60 classic muscle car is just not that big a deal.

        • BrentP
          September 6, 2012 at 5:25 am

          There are tons of GT500s out there now after several years. But because ford keeps them on allotment as instant collectables the prices are artificially high for new ones with dealer premiums.

          Most of those 428s went into ’69 Mach 1s. have you priced a 428 cobra jet mach one recently?

          As far as selling more back in the day it depends on what you’re talking about. Those built for racing qualification were not built to demand. At the prices they were sold for the minimum was a stretch to sell at times. They weren’t profitable cars so they wouldn’t have built more. But at the time there was no such thing as marketing new cars as collectable, they were just cars.

          • BLZ
            September 6, 2012 at 6:19 am

            Oh believe me I have priced the 428s, but that engine was put in a lot of stuff. They are about 80k today, but thats a collectors (not a performance) value. Many of my friends have the new mustangs including an 800 hp GT500, that cant get traction. A supercharged 2002 mustang GT that ran a 12.1, I was there when it did it so there was no question. My wife drove her 2003 at the drag strip and ran a 14.2 her first time ever taking it down the track. She also brought home a Cobra R when whe worked for ford Racing. So yes I get it, with the new performance. However, I also know a lot of people who race the vintage cars, and the specs for these cars have to be very close to original, with a few modifications and new tires – Basically the heads engine trans … have to be the same, im not sure about cam and carb, but these cars all run – (the small block versions) in the 12s and 13s. I know some work had been done, but mostly its in tweeking and tires. Also as far as those 428s go, I looked at one that was in mint condition back in ’93, they wanted 13k for it. Mustang GTs at the time cost 18k. So yes the prices have really changed. That 428 would have killed the 93 GT, and it cost 1/3 less. While today a new Cobra will destroy the 428, which costs more. So clearly the price is not based on performance. But there were also quite a few production 426 Probably north of 6000 total, I know those production numbers are low, but they sell the new Shelbys all over the world in many new markets to a population that is probably double what it was then. I will also say that as far as the old 1/4 mile times being too fast, that is not consistent with what I have seen. However, many of the (completely stock) road tests I have seen for the classics have been pretty close to what was advertised, some slower some faster, but the one common complaint no matter what was no traction. In one instance they tested a Boss 9, it ran a 13.6 the driver complained he could not get traction, and it was the first time he actually drove the classic. He responded to the performance by saying, that people have said for years that the Boss 9s didnt have it, “and thats BS”. Which I can only assume is because he knew it had a lot more potential with traction. Which I agree as I saw the results from Motortrend April 1970 where a Boss 9 with slicks ran 12.30 @ 112. Muscle Car Review September 28, 2004 has an article on the 25 fastest fords. 24 were sub 14s, even a Boss 302 that ran 13.43 on slicks according to a test in january 1970. All these time trials were done in the old era, so these were factory cars.I cannot personally vouch for their results, but then again people who find slower results would not be able to vouch for those either. But I will say I have been around the classics for a long time, and the new stuff for as long as it has been new. For the most part, up until recently, the old kept up.

            • September 6, 2012 at 9:55 am


              You write: “Basically the heads engine trans … have to be the same…”

              Yeah. Except for the increase in displacement via overboring, the port work done, the gasket matching, cam degreeing… the meticulous balancing and blueprinting during assembly … plus the careful tuning of the engine (jets, ignition, etc.) to obtain best-possible performance. Then there’s that shift kit in the transmission, the higher stall converter…

              Do you honestly regard these drivetrains as “pure stock”? Just because the engines have the correct stampings on the block/heads and aren’t fitted with obvious aftermarket parts such as intakes and non OE carbs does not make them “pure stock.”

              “Pure stock” should mean (if language has any meaning): An as-delivered car, with the engine built by GM or Ford or Chrysler on the assembly line, untouched in any way.

              Not trying to be a dick – just honest.

              The thing is, there are very few “pure stock” cars from that era left in existence. After pushing 50 years now, most have been through at least one major engine rebuild. Most have been tuned, at the very least.

              To evaluate the as-delivered performance of a “pure stock” muscle car, we’d need to find a pure stock muscle car – a virtual impossibility – and then get its owner to agree to allow it to be thrashed on a drag strip! Good luck with that…

          • BLZ
            September 6, 2012 at 6:35 am

            Another reason I do not look at the old cars as slow would be considering what it took to make them fast by any production standards. For many – not the typicall economy models of muscle cars such as typical small block cars, it would not take much to shave more than a second off the 1/4 time. The heads would be good enough, the blocks good enough, Mayby change the cam and carb/ intake, put a good exaust on it, and find a way to get traction. Even today, you are talking about less than 1000 dollars in mods – tires being the most expensive.

            • September 6, 2012 at 11:25 am

              Agree – well, kinda sorta…

              Yes, you can really wake up the performance of those old cars with some basic (pretty inexpensive) speed parts, as you mention.

              But the car itself is no longer inexpensive.

              Unless you already have one – bought years ago, like mine – or are affluent… or your parents bought it for you… forget it.

              Have you checked classic muscle car prices lately? Heck, even the “disco machines” of the late ’70s typically sell for two or three times what you’d need to spend to buy a decent condition used Corolla. If I wanted to buy a mid-’70s TA like mine today, I’d probably have to spend close to $20k for it. That’s new car money – and remember, you can’t get zero down./zero percent financing for six years on an old muscle car.

              How much would a classic GTO or Chevelle cost?

              Even something nothing-special like an SS 350 Nova from the early ’70s is going to set you back some coin – assuming it’s more than just a pile of parts in need of a total resto. (And then you’ll be spending your coin on repro parts!)

          • BLZ
            September 6, 2012 at 7:21 am

            I wonder how fast that V6 mustang would be with some 7″ polyglass tires on it?
            Its 40 years of technology, it should be faster, and yes they are, but it still does not mean that the old cars were slow. They just were not as fast.

            • September 6, 2012 at 9:48 am


              I’m a professional car journalist who has been test driving new cars on the street and track for 20-plus years. I am very familiar with what modern cars are capable of. I’ve also owned and driven numerous classic muscle cars, so I know what they can do, too.

              I can tell you, from direct experience, that the old stuff was (mostly) pretty slow – at least, unless you consider 7 second 0-60 runs and low 15/high 14 second quarters to be spectacular.

              And the new stuff is very fast.

              I’ve mentioned the current-era V-6 Camry as an example. It’s just a middle of the road family-type sedan. Not a performance car. Well, this car, with the V-6, will do 0-60 in 6.5 seconds and tops out over 135 MPH. This is performance on par with a stock ’73 SD-455 Trans-Am, one of the quickest factory stock muscle cars ever made. The TA would beat it in a drag race – but just barely. And all-out, the Camry would probably edge out the TA.

              Almost any current-year new car – including four cylinder economy cars – is capable of an 8 second 0-60 run. There are only a handful of new cars of any type that take longer than 10 seconds to get 60.

              Today’s mild performance cars do 5 second 0-60 runs and have top speeds in the neighborhood of 150 MPH.

              And today’s performance cars? Forget about it!

            • September 6, 2012 at 11:19 am

              Flip this around, BLZ:

              How quick would that new Mustang V-6 be if prepped for the 1/4 mile? With ideal tires and tuned? Stone stock it’s a high 13 second car. That is damn impressive, don’t you agree? Imagine its performance with 3.90 or 4:11 “track gears” (as many of the original-era muscle cars had), some lightweight body parts, no cats (and a free-flow exhaust) maybe some dry ice on the intake…..I would be willing to bet that one could get a “pure stock” (that is, modified and tweaked) new Mustang V-6 into the high 12s without major modifications to the engine.

          • BLZ
            September 6, 2012 at 11:30 am

            Eric I never disagreed yes the new stuff is extremely fast. As for the v6 stang, it depends on the powerband with a 410 gear. I am not sure, it may dog it, it may rip. Yes many stock versions of muscle cars were slow, again 40 years of technology ago. But those cars set standards, and running 13 seconds even though it may have been some lower production cars, and having the suspension and traction capabilies of the 60s, I just do not think any 13 second car is slow. I guess tounge and cheek you could say praise be hollaluija look at these 21st century cars, we can finally say that the muscle cars were slow. I guess if that is what makes you feel better about your opinion. I would just say they should have been getting faster all along, but the gubbamint wouldnt let them. I for one am not impressed with the speed of some cars today, I think with the technology they should be faster, but finally they are. One point I would make is the cobra R, it ran like a 12.3, I guess that was fast, but at the time my friends were doing 12.1 in there modded stangs. Why the hell is this supposably super mustang built on fords budget not in the low 11s? My friends lightning is faster. And if you look at the rules for those stock races, they are pretty strict, and keep it as close to original as possible. The rules are on the site.

            • September 6, 2012 at 11:44 am

              I’m being patient – and precise…

              You use the word opinion. And make the snide comment I ought to “feel better” about my opinion.

              I am not dealing in opinions, BLZ. I am dealing in facts.

              Whether you (or I) like those facts is immaterial.

          • BrentP
            September 6, 2012 at 3:20 pm

            “mint” 428 ’69 mach 1s were about 6,000 in the mid-late 1980s. By 1989 they were 40 grand. Then the bubble burst and they fell back to 19K. They stayed there for awhile until recent years shooting up to 80+K range.

            I haven’t seen a ‘mint’ one for less than about 18,500 since the 1980s.

            Just a rolling shell of a ’69 mach 1, rusted and just gone is $3000+ these days. Or so the ones I find listed. The kind of a car where you take the vin and put it on a new body from dynacorn because it’s more economical to do it that way.

            I bought my ’97 new. I considered getting an old one (after all I was driving a 1973 Maverick daily at the time) , but there’s no way a ’69 could do 198,000 year round miles and 15+ years in chicago’s environment without an incredible level of attention to detail if at all. I know. I watched my dad’s mach 1 get ground down and dissolve when I was a little kid.

          • Brent Kinstler
            September 8, 2012 at 1:08 am

            eric – much agree

  33. BLZ
    September 5, 2012 at 8:54 am

    I will say this was a very good article that did capture the quarter mile times as they were recorded in the past. Many low 13 cars are missing, and the 12 cars (as rare as they were) are ommited completely. But up untill around 2003, it would be hard to look at those old cars and claim them to be slow especially 35 years after the fact.

    • September 5, 2012 at 10:10 am

      It’s important to paint a complete picture, BLZ.

      Sure, there were a few classic-era muscle cars that were low 13 second cars (and even quicker). But the typical muscle car was not that quick. Most muscle cars were not LS6 Chevelles and dual quad Hemi ‘Cudas. They were more like 396 Chevelles and 383 ‘Cudas. If you want to take the elite muscle cars (like the dual quad Hemi Mopars, the 429 Mustangs, the L88 Corvettes, RA II GTOs – etc.) as the basis of comparison then it’s only fair to compare them to today’s elite performance cars – ZR1 Corvettes, ZL1 Camaros and Boss 302s, etc. Not with today’s run-of-the-mill, mass-produced performance cars like the Mustang GT – the modern equivalent of a standard-engine GTO or similar.


      Well, the modern elite stuff not only delivers 0-60 and 1/4 mile performance that devastates the best numbers of the highest-performance elite/low-production classic-era stuff, the modern stuff is also completely street drivable. In traffic. Every day. The old stuff was marginal for any use other than 1/4 mile drag racing. Not a slam – just a statement of fact – an acknowledgment of the reality that back in the ’60s and early ’70s, if you wanted to run the 1/4 in the 12s or quicker, you had to accept many compromises – including no more everyday driveability.

      Again, this is not to be taken as a slam of the old muscle cars – unless being honest about what they were really like amounts to criticizing them unfairly.

      • BLZ
        September 5, 2012 at 7:04 pm

        I dont believe you are slamming old muscle cars, I have owned a few, and I can say that the 1/4 mile times were actually a bit quicker with very little effort. As far as not being streetable, that part is probably true, my 73 mach 1, which was built was my least favorite car to drive. Good in a straight line, and thats about it. I am just saying that comparing them to cars today of course you are getting a lot more today. However, there is that one aspect of old muscle cars that the majority of people I know have easlily been able to take advantage of. The drivetrains have so much potential. Engines which are easy to get HP from, a multitude of transmissions and rear ends. Now they have brake – suspension and booster bolt ons that can bring them up to speed. I guess I look at it in this perspective, some day we may perfect electric cars, and when we do, every gas car will seem slow. But that does not mean it was. Those old cars are not that unstreetable however, most muscle cars I have been in were fun to be in, although I admitt driving them every day got old, and that is a major reason many of the old muscle cars were automatics, and the engines were not built to full potentials. Women bought cars at the time also. I am a big fan of Early Cougars, and the 427 cougars used hydrolic lifters because of the uncomfortable ride given by solid lifters. Still I prefer the old over the new, even though I must admitt that I wanted to take my chevelle and make it a fuel injected car, with 4 wheel disc and updated suspension. Pretty much I was going to buy a newer donor car and update it, because I was sick of dealing with the old technology, and its floaty ride, questionable breaks, unreliable performance. But nothing is like being in an older (fast) muscle car just for messing around – Well the new stuff is the same amount of fun. I guess my point is that of course the new stuff is faster but thats just it (faster). As a performance car lover, I would hope that the new stuff get faster and better every year. As a mustang fan, I would like to say that for the last ten years, its about time, but the reason they are getting so much faster than they were for that 30 year lull is because they are adopting the attitude they had in the late 60s. I cannot say the same for the cars made between 1972 and 2002 – barring a few sparce cars vs a time when just about every auto company was making some form of performance car.

        • Brent Kinstler
          September 6, 2012 at 1:29 am

          Now that was a good post BLZ (not that the others were not). I spoke to my father (old drag racer of the day 60’s) over the weekend. His car of choice was the 271 hp 65 mustang 289 coupe. I understand and agree with EVERYTHING Eric is saying as long as we are comparing stock to stock. However….according to my father who was there, even then you could relatively make that car with the addition of cheater slicks and traction bars into car that would launch and run high 12’s. So were they slow compared to today when modified then? I think Eric has proved the point time and time again with real data as long as we are speaking STOCK TO STOCK. However – according to my father even with the technology they had available then, there were several models/ brands that needed a chains to keep from breaking motor mounts on every pass. Were those cars slow in comparision to the cars in stock form today or will they ever be? Probably not. I would venture to say that maybe with aftermarket parts then – these cars could out perform the newer $$$ cars of today. However as I have stated before; one up it again and add the newer technology to those old cars we have today along with things like the powerglide (which were laughed at in the 60’s) and you will get the satisfaction that Jake is really wanting to wear as a badge and I think as a general group we all like to see. That being – these guys that show up at the drags with the new Hemi Challenger, new mustang, and relatively newer Viper V10’s. Its really fun to see them completly wipped out by the old metal. I watched this last year at the mopar nationals. Built 3900 lb road runners devour these cars by two and three car lengths. Couldnt help but love it. I think Eric has done a tremendous job trying to keep us on track and even though 21 year old Jake gets a little wild at times, its good to see his passion for the old stuff. Hell, most 41 year olds think the roadrunner was just a cartoon. I love this thread even though we continue to cross the countless boundries:

          stock today vs. stock then (60’s)
          stock today vs. modified stock then (60’s)
          stock today vs. highly modified stock then(60’s) using new technology.

          and for some reason we have even tried highly modified stock today vs. highly modified stock then using todays parts.

          Eric – I wish I had spell check on this thread lol. Tre has given me a gramatical complex lol. Jake my message to you is to read the context of what exactly is being compared vs. that of what you want to be compared. I will give you this……the admiration of the old from a man so yet young. Eric – even though it seems highly repeditive (and I even got tired of it) more and more people are adding comments about the same subject material. However WE are still all learning something.

          Another interesting point while we are getting off track (stock vs. stock). While at the drags my father and I noticed something about these old cars modified. Unless the Big Blocks ran alcohol its a small block game today. Im talking about vintage modified classes. My father who lived at the drags in the 60’s couldnt get over that. But remember this is a person that doesnt understand stall converters and automatics on a drag strip. Love it.

          • Tre Deuce
            September 6, 2012 at 3:16 am

            Sorry Brent, I deliberated about whether to post that comment on grammar or simple punctuation/spelling, because I didn’t want to kill genuine, spontaneous comment.

            I too, sometimes just want to do a stream of consciousness comment, and sometimes I do, under time constraints, but personal pride makes me want to offer a precise, cognizant comment. I still sometimes post with out a careful edit. That is what I wished this forum had.

            Regarding ‘Spell Check’ If you are using ‘Firefox’, and you should be, you have that available for all web page writing/comments.


            Google Mail(G-mail) also has it on board.

            By the way, the 271HP 289″ is one of my favorite engines, but the power to pull twelves with the original Ford heads, is just unobtainable, natural aspirated. Getting the kind of HP to run twelves in a 289″ powered Mustang is an engine build sheet that would peak my interest.

            One of my favorite go to town, Friday night get together at the local drive-in, cars, is my 64′ Fairlane ‘Sports Coupe’, with a mildly built 289″ with a 4-speed.

            I have built many 289’s, and plan on another for a 65’/66′ Mustang Shelby ‘Terlingua’ special, replica. I can’t afford one, so I’m going to build one next year. The motor will be a replica Shelby trans-am motor. They usually produced around 330+ HP at a very high RPM.

            Spend a much time as you can with your Dad, Brent. He is the living history to his and your past, and much more.

            Regards… Tre

            • September 6, 2012 at 10:08 am

              Morning Deuce!

              I like the 289 (and 302) too!

              Great little revvy engine that makes one of the finest V-8 sounds, ever, in my opinion.

          • September 6, 2012 at 10:29 am


            I understand the Capn’s emotional investment (and lack of perspective/knowledge; he’s only 21). I do like that a kid his age is into the old stuff. There’s too much Just for Men in the hobby – not enough young blood.

            But at the same time, I feel compelled to set the record straight. I know I may never reach him – but others reading these pages may benefit. So, I keep at it!

  34. carsarefun
    September 4, 2012 at 5:03 pm

    And just to show how far technology has come and what real horsepower and torque can do, how about a new car that weighs almost 3,600 pounds, does 0 to 60 in 2.7 seconds, and does the quarter mile in 10.9 seconds at 127 mph? What does it take to do this? It has 530 horsepower. And has 516 ft lbs of torque at only 2100 rpm. What is it? Some really large big block V8? No – a 231 cubic inch 6 cylinder with turbochargers. A Porsche 911 Turbo S.

    It breaks into the 10 second range in the quarter mile, and is a drivable car with all creature comforts. Unreal. And we thought the 1970 Buick 455 stage one had a lot of torque – 510 ft pounds at 2,800 rpm. But that was gross torque, not like the Porsche’s net torque. And this new car did not need a big engine to make that torque at even a lower RPM than the old V8 did. Turbos, 7 speed transmission, gearing perfectly matched to all engine speeds and all wheel drive traction does not need 700 hp to do tens. The highly modified F.A.S.T. cars would have trouble keeping up with it. Simply amazing. So we can say “Old Porsches Were Slow”. But that does not take away from the greatness of the 210 horsepower 1973 Porsche Carerra. It’s a part of that segment of car culture history that will always be important.

    • September 4, 2012 at 9:02 pm


      But there will always be people out there who imagine 12 second quarter miles were routine back in 1969… and without even addressing the issue of driveability….

  35. Brent Kinstler
    September 2, 2012 at 2:10 am

    Well I must admit – I have been drawn to this blog daily. I dont remember what actually brought me here. I would tell Eric that I do not agree with the title of this blog but I understand how the title would have a certain tease factor (thats probably what he was after). I agree with any and all of his comments. I have thought he was right on with all; however to say muscle cars were slow is not exactly a correct statement. They definatley were not slow in their day – we all know that. But I also think its a fair statement to say that even in todays period they are still not slow. The mere lenghtly page of this thread is proof of that. Would I chance my 69 440 chargers pink slip to that of a Rav4. Its built and Im fairly sure I would end up at the finish line first…………..maybe (lol). The point he has drawn is clear as a bell – and to one up of Capt, I think if Eric went out and found the raw production data of the cars in question – it really wouldn’t change much. For example – I have seen the 1/4 mile numbers back then on a comparision in stock form of a roadrunner with a 440 six pack tuned vs. that of the exact car with the 426 hemi. Both of these cars were tuned by people like the legendary Dick Landy before several runs and still we times like early 13’s max. Remember when Keith Black reproduced the 426 hemi. To fully understand and develope that motor all of those years later, he needed Mr. Landy to help him understand the elephant engine and its potential during the research phase of pre-production. Once again its like comparing vacuum tube technology to that of the printed circuit board. There is more technology in your average smart phone than there was on the total apallo space system. Why would cars from that era be any different….Im mean really.

    • Tre Deuce
      September 2, 2012 at 4:08 am

      “Muscle Cars Were Slow…..In Comparison To Today’s Cars”

      The unstated mien to Eric’s comment. I have said the same for the last ten_ twelve years, myself. And in the last 2-3 years, the comparative situation has only escalated.

      And I just have to add, after suffering through so many of the grammatical disasters foisted on us on this site, a little joke.

      I will be picking on Jake, largely because he is/was the worst(?), but there are certainly more who could take a little time to craft their comments a ‘little’ better. Some of us would sure appreciate it.

      Now I’m not speaking about the occasional typos, etc, we all can do that, and even with a careful scan we still miss stuff(I do), but some, just don’t even try.

      There is a major US company that gives every potential new employee a little test… a simple grammar test. If you fail it, you don’t get the job. It doesn’t matter that your a genius programmer, engineer, etc. … you don’t get the job.


      Jake’s verbal fantasy’s remind me of a verbal fallacy arising from an ambiguous grammatical construction—and derived from a joke on bad punctuation:

      A panda walks into a café. He orders a sandwich, eats it, then draws a gun and proceeds to fire it at the other patrons.

      ‘Why?’ asks the confused, surviving waiter amidst the carnage, as the panda makes towards the exit. The panda produces a badly punctuated wildlife manual and tosses it over his shoulder.

      ‘Well, I’m a panda,’ he says, at the door. ‘Look it up.’
      The waiter turns to the relevant entry in the manual and, sure enough, finds an explanation. ‘Panda. Large black-and-white bear-like mammal, native to China. Eats, shoots and leaves.’

      • Mithrandir
        September 2, 2012 at 5:13 am


        Thanks for the reminder on the difference punctuation can make in the written word. This reminded me of another case of punctuation.

        An English professor wrote on the board: A woman without her man is nothing.

        The class was then asked to punctuate the sentence.

        The men wrote: “A woman, without her man, is nothing.”

        The women wrote: “A woman: without her, man is nothing.”

        • Tre Deuce
          September 2, 2012 at 5:15 pm

          Morning Mithrandir,

          Thanks for the additional lesson on punctuation. and, once again I went off to bed last night with a chuckle, after one of your comments. Human nature… the politics of sex.

          I was actually hoping someone would catch my deliberate punctuation omission in the joke I provided.


      • Jake (aka) captain 427
        September 2, 2012 at 5:42 pm

        Post deleted – TOS violation.

        • September 2, 2012 at 6:14 pm


          You were warned –

          Tre has been nothing but civil toward you. He’s provided facts; you’ve responded with insults (and atrocious grammar). I will not allow this board to descend into a morass of juvenile name-calling.

          So, your post was deleted. The same fate awaits future posts. It’s not that tre (or I) disagree with you. It’s that you seem unable to have an adult conversation. No one’s made fun of you, called you a dick or a loser or even a liar. We’ve merely pointed out that the muscle cars of 40-plus years ago are mediocre performers in factory stock trim relative to what you can buy today.

          It has been pointed out to you that the bracket racing rules you yourself must abide by allow for modification – overbores, for example. That neither your car nor any of the other cars currently bracket racing have the stock carb, never touched by anyone after the man who installed the unit on the engine as it was moving down the assembly line. Or the (typically points) ignition. Etc. Virtually all of the classic-era stuff no longer has its original engine – never opened up, never rebuilt (with modern “bluprinting” techniques as opposed to the way these mills were – mostly – put together on the factory assembly line).

          To test your claims – your assertion – that a factory stock muscle car was much quicker in factory stock form than the multiple independent instrumented tests done back then set forth would require finding a documented stone-stock example – not rebuilt or restored, not tweaked or tuned in any way – and running it on the dyno and down the track.

          PS: This has actually been done, to ascertain just exactly what a stock-condition engine was putting out in terms of hp. As another poster here mentioned, the typical number – SAE net, at the wheels – was in the neighborhood of 270-330. Your “600” is a fantasy, my friend.

          None of this diminishes what these cars could do with tweaking.

          That’s not the issue – for the twentieth or thirtieth time.

          The issue is: How did these cars perform when they were new, as delivered, without anyone (other than the factory) touching them?

          You apparently can’t understand the distinction!

          • Jake (aka) captain 427
            September 2, 2012 at 7:29 pm

            yes, we have established your unease with “factory stock racing” and we have also established it is impossible to go back in time and retrieve a bone stock “out of the box” musclecar. eric, everyone knows this, so i say this,

            if it is impossible to test, (to your standards) then how can you make an argument, if you honestly do not know what these cars were capable factory stock?

            did you run high performance musclecars at the track right after you bought them back in the day?


            see how I am holding you to your own standard?

            what is your proof?

            your “facts” are random internet artifacts dealing with the performance of nothing special muscle cars.

            i have failed to see these magical dyno charts, horsepower stats, or even a link to these joe-blow websites (even tho i have requested them several times)

            so i declare your argument is null, on the grounds that you have no idea wtf you are talking about.

            • September 2, 2012 at 7:33 pm


              We can know. By referring back to the scores of instrumented road (and dyno) tests done back in the day. Hot Rod, Popular Mechanix, Motor Trend… do you think they’re all wrong – but you’re right?

              Think a little bit, now.

              If Motor Trend – a major magazine then as now, with a huge readership – had published grossly inaccurate (slow) times, do you think Pontiac would have let that go unchallenged?

              Yet Pontiac never contested the times published by MT or any of the others.

              What does this tell you?

              I’m a car journalist – been one for 20 years. I can tell you that for sure, if I (or anyone who writes for a major outlet) published grossly incorrect info, it would get corrected. In print. Pronto.

              How come all those road tests were never challenged as being unfair or not representative?

              How come, in fact, Pontiac (and the others) quoted those published road tests in their ads?

          • Jake (aka) captain 427
            September 2, 2012 at 8:05 pm

            “How come all those road tests were never challenged as being unfair or not representative?”

            because back then nobody cared. they would get laughed at for comparing to some motor trend “facts”. they would quite simply, put up, or shut up.

            and, i’m done with you, you have to delete my comments to make it APPEAR you have won. your pathetic excuses make me ill, saying it is because, “too much name calling” everyone here can read your pompous statements, and constant ridicule.
            but the kid apparently cuts like a knife and therfore shall be cut.

            congratulations eric

            Oh, and i did respect you for putting up a good argument, but now… you fight like the french and you’re just like the rest. image is everything for you. can’t take a little humiliation

            now I’m off to find a worthy adversary.

            soo close. yet so far.

            captain 427 aka JAKE is out. i will sommon other musclecar enthusiast from around the web.

            you cannot delete all of us eric, without deleting this forum.

            have fun, and thanks everyone for playing along, (even tho, you will never see this, for eric is not a real man and will delete this shortly after he reads it.

            • September 2, 2012 at 8:27 pm

              “No one cared.”


              Major automakers – who made money in those days by selling performance – “didn’t care” when the “real” performance of their cars was (according to you) blatantly under-stated. Guys like Jim Wangers (and Marty Schorr – whom I know personally) “didn’t care” when they got money from Pontiac PR to make sure the best-case possible ETs were put into print… and neither did Pontiac. They just kept on posting wrong numbers – and Pontiac kept on paying them….

              This from a 21 year-old kid. A kid who admits he knows next to nothing about the history of the car he drives. A kid who has never worked in the car business, or the car media business. “No one cares” – about the publication of grossly inaccurate stats. They’re all full of beans. Liars, frauds. Inept. Incompetent.

              The Cap’n is right.

              You consistently refuse to address (let alone refute) the facts presented, the points made. Instead, you keep on saying what amounts to “my (modified) car is representative of what the factory stock car was running 44 years ago, when it was new and factory stock.”

              The facts don’t support this, Cap’n.

              Your car is not factory stock, for one. A point you continue to refuse to acknowledge.

              The rules of “factory stock” racing allow for rebuilt/modified engines (balancing and blueprinting, overboring, port matching, jetting, ignition tuning, etc.).

              These are not factory stock engines!

              What they are is modified engines that show what a stock engine could do when it is modified.

              I tire of repeating this over and over and over.

          • BrentP
            September 3, 2012 at 3:01 am

            Jake, I grew up in the 1980s when these cars were still king of the hill. Nobody. Nobody said the original road tests of the era were inaccurate then.

            There was never talk of a vast conspiracy to understate the performance. Occasionally stories of the under rated engine output and to prove this, they would work backwards from the measured times to get an idea of the real power output.

            Also, through the 1980s and into the early 1990s a favorite of automotive publications was to rerun the old cars against the new ones. By then they weren’t running bias ply any more and the times weren’t all that different.

            What you propose is a conspiracy that has gone on undetected for decades… until the moment that these cars are being knocked off their perch.

        • dom
          September 2, 2012 at 6:14 pm

          That is an interesting opinion you have on the importance of grammar. I see you mentioned that you’re a CNC machinist/programmer. Tell me, does the syntax you input into the machine have any effect on outcome of the product created? The entire universe is based upon and governed by laws/rules. English has rules for its proper construction too! It’s called grammar.

      • Brent Kinstler
        September 3, 2012 at 1:49 am

        Well I hope my comments have not been to hard for people to understand. I know I can be “out there,” meaning my comments and views can be a tad aggressive but I must admit; I’m guilty, even with my summa cum laute MS degree in engineering in failure to perform a spell check. I’m not a blogger in any way shape or form. No offense Tre – I hope that shot wasn’t headed my way but if so I’ll do my best to tighten up a bit. However for this to stay fun for me, I dont have the time to prepare a proper dissertation of fault tree analysis and I have never won many spelling B contests. HOCKED ON PHYONICS WOKED 4 ME. LOL>

        • dom
          September 3, 2012 at 2:01 am

          Hey Brent, this thread got all jacked up because Eric deleted a bunch of posts from Captain427 who kept talking out his ass. The order is all messed up now. Note to Eric, when deleting leave a place holder to prevent confusion.

          • September 3, 2012 at 10:03 am

            Will do – apologies to all!

    • September 2, 2012 at 10:32 am

      Hi Brent,

      That’s it, exactly.

      Back in their day, muscle cars were scaldingly quick… relative to the typical car of the time. Back in 1970, if you had a car that could do 0-60 in 7 seconds and run the quarter in the low 14s or high 13s, you had a rocketship compared with the typical car. Because the typical car took 15 seconds (or longer) to reach 60 …

      Today, most new cars – and here I mean standard family sedans, economy-minded compacts and so on – routinely do 0-60 in 7-8 seconds. The doggiest new cars – and there are only a handful – take about 10-11 seconds to get to 60.

      Cars capable of running the quarter mile in the 14s are commonplace.

      And today’s performance cars are even quicker than that.

      Which makes them significantly quicker than almost any factory stock, mass-market classic-era muscle car!

      • Jake (aka) captain 427
        September 2, 2012 at 5:30 pm

        man, i can’t even take you guys seriously after that “hotrod 301” comment

        lol this is an amazing thread.

        just wait till i post the link to this site in all the musclecar forums…

        for now, i don’t want to spoil my fun :)

  36. carsarefun
    September 1, 2012 at 4:26 pm

    If you read magazines like Super Chevy, High Performance Pontiac, Mopar, Corvette Fever, Muscle Car Review, etc., they all have, over the years, done many objective tests on those old engines, on the dyno, and rear wheel horsepower tests of documented originals. Engine builders and high end restoration shops dealing with concours quality jobs also have found out a great deal and busted many myths, such as:

    “The engines were underrated.”
    Unless you think measuring an engine’s output by totally ‘cheating’ is legit, that is gross horsepower, then a few maybe were. But then maybe then we should convert the new engines to gross as well. Take a new 3.5 or 3.7 V6, domestic or foreign, does not matter, put it on a dyno, no alternator, no water pump, perfectly shaped headers that would never fit under the hood of a car, no mufflers, no emission controls. Then tune the engine for maximum power and perfect air fuel mixture for that setup. What will those little engines make? 400 horsepower? And forget the V8s, way more. Rear wheel horsepower tests were done for most of the top 1960s and early 1970s engines. Most made 270 to 300 rear wheel horsepower, even with manual transmissions. The 426 hemi – 315 at the wheels. 454 LS6? 282 hp at the wheels with automatic, so with a manual probably about 300. All would be less than 400 net.

    “The horsepower ratings were advertised at a lower RPM, and they made more at higher RPMs”
    Tests have shown that few of the engines continued to make power over 4500 rpms in factory stock form. Only the solid lifter engines did – but even they tended to top out at 5000 to maybe 5500 rpm. The hemi tested made 315 rwhp at 5000 rpm, and the same amount up to 5500. Then it dropped off.

    “The compression ratios were so high that they needed higher octane fuel than is available today.”
    Well, yes and no. Engine builders have found that none of the pre 1971 high compression engine actually had the advertised ratios. When taking apart the engines and taking measurements, they were all a point or a point and a half lower than advertised. For example, the ZL1 and L88, advertised at 12 to 1, I think, actually calculated to 10.8 to 1. Those advertised at 10.5 to one were more like 9 to 1 or 9.25 to one. Then why did they knock and ping with lower octane fuel? Poor combustion chamber design when compared to today’s engines. And today’s fuel, like sunoco ultra 94 octane, is not as bad as you think. The measured octane differently then as well, so the numbers appear higher then if using the method they use today, so the 102 octane then is more like 96 octane today.

    “1 hp per cubic inch…”
    Well, not a single American engine had 1 net horsepower per cubing inch before the 1980s. Some foreign engines had way more, like late 1960s 4 liter (244 cu. in.) ferarri V12s with 352 HP DIN, which is like net hp. I can’t remember which is the first US engine to have more than 1 net hp per cubic inch, was a turbo 4 or turbo V6, like 1984 SVO mustang, or 1986 Buick Grand National. Normally aspirated? Not sure, probably late 1980s Olds Quad 4, don’t remember.

    That being said, those old 1960s performance cars are some of my favorite cars. So are 1950s finned cars. And classic 1920s and 1930s cars. None of this diminishes the historical value of these cars or their design artistry. After all, a 1914 Stutz Bearcat is not worth a million because it is so much better than what came after it. You could not even do a 0 to 60 in that…

  37. Tre Deuce
    August 31, 2012 at 7:53 pm

    Just read your whole post, Jake,

    Regarding: “back in the day, musclecars were cheap” New? Hardly! Clapped out used in the mid to late seventies, certainly.

    “everyone loved them” Not everyone, the general public had a dim view of these cars.

    “real men who had the mechanical know how could make them go even faster” True, but most brought them to their local tuner/builder with a chassis dyno.

    “I’d rather pocket that $40, $50, $60 or even $70 grand, and spend a third of that on my musclecars” Proving once again, Jake, that you have no real knowledge of the hobby. You couldn’t buy one of those early Muscle cars for the money you have stated, and an untouched, $23,000 V-6 Camaro could hold its own against most of the totally stock, as delivered, cars you have mentioned in this thread.

    And before I step out of this charade, I have been building cars, engines, transmissions, rear ends, chassis, bodies since I was fourteen(1960).

    My shop shelves are still full of aftermarket and factory parts from the day, though, I don’t mess with 1/4 mile stuff anymore, actually not since the early nineties when I sold my Altered to my son. My interests since the early seventies has been road course racing, sailing, and building sleepers and phantoms.

    Jake, just yesterday shipped one of my new sets of rare TRW ‘#L2211AF-30’ forged pistons to a friend and still have a couple of new OEM large journal 3″ Sm. Blk cranks covered in cosmoline and wrapped in oil paper/boxed, standing on end on the shelves, with the rods to go with them. I know, you haven’t a clue as to what they would be used for, but there is a recent clue in this thread.

    I could go on and on, but suffice to say, I don’t push paper, but I am spending way too much time on Eric’s fun little blog.

    You hang around Jake, you help Eric out with page views for his blog.

    Regards …Tre

    • dom
      August 31, 2012 at 8:00 pm

      He’s like “the frog in the well.”

  38. Tre Deuce
    August 31, 2012 at 7:00 pm

    Hemi Cudas can bring big money, as much as a Million dollars. L88’s run up to the half millions. ZL-1’s …More$$$

    All of these cars bring stratospheric prices these days, I have lost track of the current pricing. Could be much higher with some exotics and classics going over 12 million recently.

    Some of the cars Jake lists were basically factory ‘works’ racers, the rest, slightly detuned works racers. Sold to the public to meet minimums required by class racing.

    • September 1, 2012 at 12:49 pm


      Even a low-po, fairly run of the mill car like my mid-’70s TA in any sort of presentable condition will cost close to $20,000 or more nowadays.

      If my car were a 455 HO or SD455, it’d be a $30,000-plus car, at the least.

      Point being: Almost any middle of the road/mass produced classic-era muscle car that’s in nice condition (good mechanicals, good cosmetics; doesn’t need major repair/restoration) will cost at least as much to buy these days as something like a new Mustang V-6 or Camaro.

      And if we’re talking any of the really powerful/quick highly collectible stuff from the ’60s and ’70s like a RA III GTO, SS 396 Chevelle (let alone a 454 Chevelle)… well, forget it. One of those in #2 or even $3 condition will typically cost as much as (and usually, much more than) a new Mustang GT or Camaro SS.

      Very few teens/young guys can afford a car like that. Hell, very few middle-aged guys can, afford a car like that. (You can’t finance one at zero percent interest, either.)

      My bet is Cap’n has either (like me) had his ’68 Firebird for a long time – bought it when they were still affordable… or, it’s just a standard model Firebird (not a Firebird 400, let alone a RA II equipped Firebird 400) in ratty shape into which he’s put a worked-up 400.

      • Jake (aka) captain 427
        September 2, 2012 at 5:12 pm

        nope, would you believe that I am a 21 year old cnc machinist and programmer, that recently bought the ’68 firebird for $4500?

        It is the 400 firebird with 160 mph speedo, and factory 400 hood with tach…

        all original with a few cosmetic flaws… I’m in the middle of doing exhaust, and she’ll be ready to kick some ass at the pure stock drags.

        about 75% condition…

        yup, affordable on a machinist’s budget :)

        I’ve been gone a while, i missed you guys

        -Cap’n out

        • Tre Deuce
          September 2, 2012 at 5:26 pm

          LMAoff! That explains a lot…all hat…..

          And good luck with that “pure stock” racing, Jake.


          • Jake (aka) captain 427
            September 2, 2012 at 5:32 pm

            hey tre, go look at your “hotrod 301” comment

            oh what? me 21? schoolin you?

            thats whatsup :)

        • September 2, 2012 at 5:57 pm

          Hi Cap’n,

          I know the second generation cars better, so I can’t say this for certain about your ’68 – but I am 99 percent sure the 160 MPH speedometer came standard in all versions of the Firebird that year, from the base six to the top-line Firebird 400 – as it definitely did (until the advent of the 100 MPH speedo in ’75) in all second generation Firebirds.

          It does not mean you have a rare or special high-performance car. Neither does having the 400 hood/tach – which anyone could have added later on.

          The question is: Is the car an original Firebird 400? If yes, which engine did it come with stock? PHS can readily tell you this by decoding the VIN. Or, I can. I have the material. What is the VIN?

          $4,500 is a great price for a decent driver base model Firebird that came originally with the in-line six or the standard peformance V-8. Which perhaps now has a 400 (and 400 hood) built by you or added by someone else (not Pontiac).

          $4,500 is not a believable price for an original Firebird 400 – unless the car was in very rough shape, but still restorable. After spending another $4,500 times two or three.

          $4,500 is inconceivable for an original, documented RA II or III car – in any condition. “75 percent”? BS. Unless your car was formerly your Dad’s car.

          • Jake (aka) captain 427
            September 2, 2012 at 6:45 pm

            if I’m lying, i’m dying. nope 100% mine, bought it from a dude that had it in storage since 1994, (i was born in ’91 to put it in perspective) trust me eric, its original, I’m not just some guy, i do have alot of experience with these old things. 400 motor and th400 trans all original to the car, it has the deluxe interior, I’m not to familiar with pontiacs (my first one, chevy through and through) but it is the most unmolested car i’ve ever owned. It has the 400 hood, it is not the functional ram-air hood, but the same style. and yes I am well aware of “part swapping” and “car cloning” it is however, all original, and runs fast, and a/c blows cold (now with a small r-12 charge)

            • September 2, 2012 at 7:27 pm

              I know old Pontiacs. Been into them longer than you’ve been around. Here’s some history:

              The Firebird 400 was the top-performance version of the Firebird until the debut of the first Trans-Am in ’69. These are today highly collectible cars that command top dollar. It is simply not believable that you bought a “75 percent” (which I take to equate to a solid Number 2 condition) original Firebird 400 for $4,500. (Mid-late ’70s low-performance Camaros – not Z28s – are going for that – or more – these days.)

              You mention that your car has (factory?) AC, so it cannot be a RA II car as AC was not available with that engine. The fact that you don’t have the functional ram air hood strongly suggest that you have – at most – the L74 400, rated 335 SAE gross hp. This was not a radical high-performance engine. Just a strong street engine, with a mild hydraulic cam, Quadrajet – and 5400 RPM redline. Modern dyno testing of this engine shows it produces about 300 hp, SAE net. About the same as the current 3.7 V-6 in the 2013 Mustang (though the V-8, obviously, makes a great deal more torque).

              Motor Trend tested this car – with the same TH400 as you’ve got – and put down a 15.4 second quarter mile at 94 MPH. Four speed equipped cars were considerably quicker because in those days, there was much more hp loss through the driveline. Manual versions of any given muscle car were always significantly quicker.

              I congratulate you on having a very neat old Pontiac. But you don’t have a 13 (much less 12 second) Pontiac. Not if it’s a factory stock Pontiac.

          • Jake (aka) captain 427
            September 2, 2012 at 7:41 pm

            I challenge your motor trend stats, come and visit on the 14th and 15th.

            like i said, come visit me at the track, you are more than likely to watch her run, and you can do your own inspection. since you are a qualified pontiac technician in all, i trust your prognosis to be accurate… based on wiki articles that is. come see for yourself dude. you can find me in the pits, I’ll even put up a banner that says “welcome eric”

            look for the mean green pontiac firebird, and the stud driving it :)

            • September 2, 2012 at 7:50 pm


              They’re not “my” stats, Captain. And they’re not just Motor Trend’s, either.

              They’re also GM’s.

              GM – Pontiac – published their “best case” numbers. Derived by using tuned ringers (look up Jim Wangers and read about him a little bit) to get the lowest-possible ETs… and even these were not “12s” but mid-low 13s.

              So, according to you, we must accept that all the instrumented road testing done back in the day was done ineptly, or deliberately lied about; that GM didn’t care about this – notwithstanding that in those days, a car’s performance bona fides were everything and cars either sold or didn’t sell depending on how quick they were, or could be claimed to be…

              You – by your own admission – know not very much about the early Firebirds. Yet you’re telling us you know your not-stock, modified car is representative of the performance of stock, not-modified cars from 40 years ago, decades before you were even born!

            • September 2, 2012 at 8:44 pm

              “I challenge your motor trend stats, come and visit on the 14th and 15th.”

              Ok. Bring a verified stone stock, never touched ’68 Firebird 400/automatic (not Ram Air) to the track and we’ll see.

              But you can’t can you?

              What you can do is bring your modified (rebuilt, tuned) car to the track. Which tells us exactly nothing about the as-delivered performance of the factory stock production car.

          • Jake (aka) captain 427
            September 2, 2012 at 7:47 pm

            oh and, what was the torque on that wiki stat?

            you see you rate in hp.

            did you know that hp is a derivative from torque?

            so you forget that these torque monster musclecars could heave these all steel amercian marvels of the past down the track with impressive ease.

            remember that old racer adage?

            horespower if for show, torque is for go?

            once again… (dare i say it…) the captain emerges victoriously once again.

            and p.s.

            eric, come on now, play fair, don’t delete it just cause it destroy’s your argument

            • September 2, 2012 at 8:41 pm


              Your 400 – if it is stock, as built by Pontiac – produced 430 ft.-lbs. of torque at 3,300 RPM. That’s the SAE “gross” number – which overstates the actual number by about 10-15 percent. Real output – using the current (since 1972) SAE net standard would yield about 366 lb.-ft.

              Doubt this?

              In 1972, the 455 HO – a longer stroke, larger displacement and more aggressive engine than your mid-performance, not RA, 400 – rated just 415 lbs.-ft. SAE net. The same year (’72) 400 4-BBL rated 325 lbs.-ft. SAE net.

              These are realistic numbers, Cap’n.

              Honest numbers.

          • Hot Rod
            September 2, 2012 at 9:36 pm

            Hey Eric very impressive that you know all this information and stats. The young guy has to understand that you’re the authority on this stuff, but he’s pretty impressive in his own right. Hey Jake if us old guys take the time to correct you, its a sign that we probably like you because it takes a whole hell of alot of energy to try to argue. Something we don’t do for dumbshits understand? Definitely fun for me to get a schooling as an old guy 😉 from Eric on cars, its not a sign of weakness or youth to admit that you might not know something and ponder the information you want to reject. Someday soon you’ll get your turn to be the authority of knowledge, fact is that you’re pretty advanced yourself but no use picking a fight with someone who is an expert and has a few more years under his belt.

            • September 2, 2012 at 10:10 pm

              I know ’60s and ’70s Pontiacs (especially Firebirds) pretty well. Owned several; worked on and driven many – including 400 and 455 Trans-Ams, a ’70 RA III 400 Formula, ’71 GP SSJ and a ’68 350 convertible. I have a pretty extensive reference library, too.

              Having driven (and owned) many classic-era muscle cars – and also driven virtually every new performance car on the road – I feel I have pretty decent sense of what does what. But, I didn’t go by my anecdotal experiences; I just quoted the data. And made observations based on the data.

              I like that Jake – a very young guy – is into cars that are decades older than he is. I don’t like that he can’t grasp (or just won’t concede)the straightforward fact that a car is modified if its original engine has been opened up and overbored, probably given some port work, gasket matching, etc… if it has been carefully tuned for optimum performance; if the carb has been jetted/adjusted; if the ignition and/or tires have been upgraded. If the transmission has a shift kit in it. And so on.

              If, in other words, it is in other than as-delivered, as-built condition.

              I’ve tried my best to avoid opinion and anecdote and stick with facts. For example, quoting the instrumented road test data from 40-plus years ago, when these cars were new. And as-built, on the production line – not owner-rebuilt, tweaked or tuned or otherwise modified.

              Jake appears to have difficulty with that distinction.

              And round and round we go!

          • Hot Rod
            September 2, 2012 at 11:42 pm

            I wish I had got into building hot rods or rebuilding older cars in my younger years. The only thing that wrinkles my skin is hearing that a 90’s car is old. I remember thinking the same of the 60s and 70s cars. In the 90’s I heard “That’s so 80s” and I was like what was wrong with the 80s? God forbid I now hear “That’s so 90’s”. Soon I suppose I’ll hear that so “turn of the century”. I’m still in a time warp it still feels like the 90s to me. Is it just me or do you think there were that many revolutionary changes in cars at least in appearance from the 90s? I don’t see it really. I could sure though say the 50’s with the tail fins were must different from the 80’s box and economical cars. I hate to say it but its a shock to hear a 21 year old talking about not being here in the 90’s. Well I have to say they have turned out pretty smart, these guys support Ron Paul’s future and are very knowledgeable in cars they are secure future for us.

          • Hot Rod
            September 3, 2012 at 2:08 am

            Eric I was wondering if Jake supplied his VIN # if it was looked up in the GM manual of VIN #’s if it would settle the engine issue. I know my S10 was cross referenced and in a VIN manual and it even told where the engine block was manufactured (Canada). Maybe this would convince Jake to give it up as it would probably give the details on his car?

            • September 3, 2012 at 10:02 am

              Nope! But he did provide a few key details, such as that the car he has has AC and does not have Ram Air (this is Pontiac-talk for functional hood scoops). These two facts indicate the car cannot be the highest or even second-highest output/performance ’68 Firebird – if it is a factory stock, unmodified car. Because the highest performance version of the 400 V-8 that year was not available with AC – and would have come with functional Ram Air. What this means is his car is just the middling-performance version of the ’68 Firebird. If it is stock, not modified. If he had a factory RA car, with the same year GTO’s high-performance 400, with a four-speed manual, his car might be runnning mid-low 13s, which is what such a car was capable of in factory stock condition.

              But his car – if it is stock – has a milder version of the 400, with much less hp. It’s also an automatic, which in those days meant it was slower than an otherwise identical car with a manual.

              Which means: His car is a 14 second car, maybe. If it it stock.

          • BrentP
            September 3, 2012 at 3:13 am

            When I’ve seen things like this in the past details important to those in the know are never given. It’s always just good enough to fool people who aren’t geeks on the subject, but if there is a geek on a particular car about name calling and other distractions are used.

            It’s an interesting dynamic the way people BS about cars and how they act when someone in the audience knows the facts. Worse is when the BSer is female. Then a bunch of guys will go ‘white knight’ to defend her.

            • September 3, 2012 at 9:54 am


              I’ll give Jake somewhat of a pass in that he’s just a young kid and still going through his “tough” and “cool” stage.

        • BrentP
          September 3, 2012 at 2:42 am

          I was thinking 63 year old machinist but now that you say you’re 21 it makes for a much different impression.

          In my area $4500 buys a rusted stripped shell of anything remotely of interest these days.

          When I have heard these tales on the intertubes from teenagers and 20 somethings in the past the car turned out to be either a fantasy or the kid’s dad’s car.

  39. Jake (aka) captain 427
    August 31, 2012 at 6:11 pm

    lol, i just saw your list of cars at the top… pathetic, you are comparing the modern top dogs against mid range muscle cars…

    the 427 l88 corvette… where is that data?

    the 427 camaro? no where to be found?

    the 454 ls6 chevelle? please, thats a given

    426 hemis? I’m a chevy guy, but come on, play fair eric!

    seriously, this article is rubbish.

    the cars i just listed will hang with your “modern top dogs”


    XD checkmate.

    I think you all have learned something here. you cannot deny the facts about tires, and your article is completely biased in the fact that you chose the medium range musclecar. lets do apples to apples here.

    aaaaand lets not forget the price range as well.

    sure, you can get a fast car nowadays, i never denied that fact, I just do not prefer them, because the horsepower to $$$$ ratio, is in off the charts.

    back in the day, musclecars were cheap, and everyone loved them. real men who had the mechanical know how could make them go even faster.

    nowadays, your “modern top guns” are left to the few little rich punks and soggy old men, that have a fat wallet and no mechanical common sense. My apologize for assuming anything.

    I’d rather pocket that $40, $50, $60 or even $70 grand, and spend a third of that on my musclecars, and you know what? your top guns wouldnt even be able to touch it :)

    so all in all: many will come to the conclusion, that you two (tre and eric) and just a couple of paper pushers who spread rumors about stuff that they don’t even know.

    -Cap’n out.

    • BrentP
      August 31, 2012 at 6:44 pm

      Price to horsepower? Have you priced these antiques recently? In stock form? They cost as much or more than the new cars.

    • BrentP
      August 31, 2012 at 7:03 pm

      I missed the ‘top dog’ comment. The modern top dogs have essentially been absent from this discussion. The equals to the old super rare low production specials are not being invoked. But rather we are hearing of what would be, in terms of the antiques, in the class of a ’69 351W4V mach one mustang marketing wise. So in fact, it’s the other way around. Today’s mid range to yesterday’s top dogs.

      Bring out the modern Mustang GT500KR and so on. The new Shelby tribute mustang… those are a couple of today’s “top dogs”.

    • Brent Kinstler
      September 6, 2012 at 12:21 am

      I would like to correct you on the statement muscle cars were cheap back in the day. This confirms that you are only 21. I can tell you that I dont care how much time you have in them, in my opinion at 21 you still have a lot to learn even about them. Muscle cars were not cheap back in the day. In fact, “back in the day” they were relatively expensive. Do the math. Back in the day a wage of 10K a year was probably equivalent to 70,000 today and that is based on a 7% inflation rate. I can remember “back in the day” when my father was a regional manager for metropolitan insurance. He was an executive, with a brand new house, brand new vehicles, and a farm of horses to boot. His wage was $9k a year. He owned a brand new lincoln every year. Was he living beyond his means? That may be a different story. Look at my 69 charger “back in the day.” This car loaded with a tank of gas delivered was just over $4k almost half of his yearly wage. Same goes today. People are willing to pay $55k for a new diesel pickup when they make less than $100k a year. Now I’m not an old timer but speak with them frequently. They all say the same thing. “Things were cheap but no one had any money.” My retirement planner says that in 25 years if I want $40k to retire from age 63-78 I’ll need 3. something million nest egg. Im probably going to be a little short (lol). That $40k a year will be equivalent to $212k a year. I called my dad and explained to him how crazy that was. Boy did I get an education! I soon found out that a great middle class income was somewhere around $8-10k a year “back in the day”. This wasnt long ago. If you dont believe me ask you dad. Well in your case ask your grandfather. You need to understand the past before you can qualify it from that of today and I can tell you have a lot to learn with all due respect but what do I know. I still just 41 and have much to learn.

      • September 6, 2012 at 10:32 am

        Hi Brent,


        The GTO Judge, for example, was intended to be a bare-bones (cheaper) version of the GTO, which had become much too expensive for the typical younger buyer. Ditto the Plymouth GTX and the Olds Rallye Cutlass, to name a couple of others.

        The high profile muscle cars such as BLZ mentions (COPO Camaros, SD-455s, etc.) were equivalent in their time to something like a new GT500 today.

  40. Brent Kinstler
    August 31, 2012 at 5:17 pm

    Amazing – I think we need to move on. Obviously he is just having fun at our expense. The argument is moot. And yes I have raced and LOVE to see the cars of new be stompted by the classics which happens 99% of the time at the drags who qualify even under many stock classes. However the only shot these older legends have in doing so is the addition of modern technology or tuning/ tweaking. I would go a little futher however and say that you can take your big block chevelle (if you had one) with headers and a STREET carburator with an orginional 411 rear and even mild electronic ignition. The person in this Chevelle will get an education against the new mustang 500 and by the way I only use the mustang because I hate fords! NO WAY NO HOW. Look at the information and technology from the inception of an idea of a car through the manufacture of the car and compare the two eras by talking with your age group who were there building them. Many times they interchanged and used whatever they had to keep the assembly line rolling. CMON

  41. Tre Deuce
    August 31, 2012 at 5:14 am

    Now Jake, there you go again. You don’t help your credibility when you say stuff like this ” at least 50k of those miles @ 6500+ rpms.”

    The real rev king of the of SB Chevies was the Hot Rod 301″ …

    • Jake (aka) captain 427
      August 31, 2012 at 5:54 pm

      lol chevy never made a 301. try 302. your an idiot

      • dom
        August 31, 2012 at 5:56 pm

        Hmm… Bore a 283 out to 4″ and you have a 301 & 327 4″ bore block with the 283 crank and you also have a 301.

        Just Sayin’

      • Tre Deuce
        August 31, 2012 at 6:22 pm

        Ah! You took the bait.

        You failed the test of your hot Rod knowledge and thereby your credibility, Jake.

        Any true Hot Rodder of the day would know about the “Hot Rod 301″ The term applied, ‘Hot Rod’, signifies the common home built ‘Hot Rod’ 301″ SM Blk. Usually built by boring out a facilitating block to 4.00″, or applying a 283″ crank to a sm journal 327″ block. GM later created the 302” using this concept.

        You have proved yourself a buffoon, now go away and let reasonable people have a fun, productive conversation.

        • Jake (aka) captain 427
          September 2, 2012 at 5:24 pm

          buffoon? here is a formula for you… to help better understand….


          bore x bore x stroke x .7854 x # of cylinders = CID

          lets do some math.

          327= 4.00 bore

          283 crank = 3.00 inch stroke, lets begin

          4.0 x 4.0 x 3.0 x .7854 x 8 = 301.593

          OR what g.m. called the 302.

          idiots, i’m 21 and i have to school you on this…

          anything els you wish to learn?

          i’m actually embarrassed for you guys… damn

          • Jake (aka) captain 427
            September 2, 2012 at 5:26 pm

            look it up, don’t take my word for it.

          • September 2, 2012 at 5:50 pm


            No more name-calling – or you’re done here. .

            Now then. You mentioned you’re 21.

            That means you’re far too young to have had any personal experience with a stock, as-built muscle car. Tre (and others here) do have that experience. And their experience corroborates the performance stats published back in the day, when these cars were new.

            Your youth and inexperience explains a great deal.

            But, again, the facts speak for themselves. You just aren’t willing to face them for some odd reason. The fact that most muscle cars were only middling quick by modern standards in no way diminishes them. They were great performers in their time – and they are no less cool to see (and drive) today.

            Acknowledging that, in the almost 50 years since the start of the muscle car era in 1964, engine design has improved to the point that horsepower numbers that were inconceivable in a streetable, reliable car are now commonplace is no smear of the cars of 50 years ago.

            PS: You never told us whether your ’68 Firebird is a factory Firebird 400 (or RA II or III). If it is, how much did you pay for it? And did you pay for it?

          • Jake (aka) captain 427
            September 2, 2012 at 6:29 pm

            @ eric

            It never fails to amaze me how you old timers fail to give respect to younger generations.

            did i pay for my firebird?

            your condescending comments seem to be the norm, however, yes, I did pay for my own car, the parts and everything in between.

            see? no respect, you assume that I’m am some snot nosed little punk that has his daddy buy him everything. BUT before i even mentioned my age, you (eric) assumed that I was an old school hot-rodder. now, kinda funny how the attitude has changed eh?

            here is the truth

            i went to school with new age guys like yourselves.

            I live in a yuppy town where mommy and daddy buy these little punks fast “out of the box” cars. new camaros, mustangs, corvettes, some new euro-trash cars that have names that are hard to pronounce, anyway,

            I am in no financial situation to get ahold of one of those cars, and yes they are fast.

            here is the difference: I work on my own stuff, never once had a car in the shop. i know what every part on my car does. its all old-school. I don’t own a vehicle that is younger than me.

            even being a “youngster” i have an extensive knowledge of these old cars, countless hours of my time goes into these old things.

            the payoff: cheap, dependable cars that you can work on.

            “musclecars are expensive” …riiiiight. go search craigslist.

            killing high end cars with my beater camaro gives me a texas woody >:)

            before everyone throws a fit, and reply’s “THATS NOT WHAT THIS THREAD IS ABOUT!”

            please note that the above novel is just some personal experience that i wish to share with everyone here.

  42. Jake (aka) captain 427
    August 31, 2012 at 3:32 am

    eric, your argument is weak… again with information that has no factual origin. You’ve out done yourself this time, this is a new low even for you… trying to tell me what my car will run, based on some internet “facts”….

    well I’m offering you the opportunity to see it in person. here is the link, check us out on sept. 13th

    come see my firebird and chevelle.

    I’ll even let you inspect my cars with a fine tooth comb to see if they’re the real mccoy :)

    is that factual enough for you?
    enough with this namby pamby internet bs. lets hash this out on the track, shall we?

    bring that T/A, if it passes insp. line em up, I know even a soft palmed guy like you could have a good time.

    Imagine… after you venture on far beyond your cubicle, into the real world, I guarantee you will be embarrassed with this piece of rubbish that you call an article.

    oh and btw, you left off the 70 chevelle ls6 454 on your wiki facts at the top

    -Cap’n out

    • BrentP
      August 31, 2012 at 4:09 am

      Get a load of the ‘pure stock’ rules:

      My Favorite part:
      “BANNED FROM THE RACE RULE! Starting in 2011, if we suspect that you are using lightweight internal parts in your engine or elsewhere in the drivetrain, or we have any other issues with your car, you will be asked to tear down prior to the next year’s race for complete inspection. If you refuse to do so, you will be banned from the race until you do.”

      Yeah… that sounds like some people have been anything but running stock.

      • Jake (aka) captain 427
        August 31, 2012 at 4:23 am

        lol nothing will ever satisfy you pigs. the rules are strict and legit. its the closest thing you can get to factory bone stock, unless you have a time machine, which i guess will be your next argument… “well, its been repainted, so it’s not stock… so take me back to 1967 marty mcfly style, and we’ll just see how fast your car is!”

        everyone of you is more than welcome to come up here to michigan and see for yourself. its a fun weekend, just save the trash talk and settle it on the race track

        • Brent Kinstler
          August 31, 2012 at 5:48 am

          the problem with your argument Capt is that your car is a bracket stock car. It has been tuned and peaked and raced and tuned and peaked. I do not believe this is the argument that Eric has been presenting. I dont understand what is so hard to understand about this thread. What we talking about is a factory 454 chevelle leaving the assembly line directly after quality control vs. that of the new camero leaving the factory after quality control. Take both out and put them on the track. There is no way that you could imagine that the Chevelle would in any way out perform the Camero of today. In addition to wiping the chevelles ass in the 1/4 with the ac and radio on with factory exhaust – the camero is just starting to really perform while the chevelle is on the verge of complete shutdown. How in the hell can you really even justify your arguement. Your not performing on biasply tires and you are not running a single point distributor that has even at that been worked over to run hot for 100 miles like they used to do. My father used to race in the 60’s at wentzville MO every weekend with a HP 289 mustang. He raced everything back in the day. Back then if you had a powerglide – they laughed at you – called them slop boxes. Look at what they have done with them today. But at that we are not talking about the powerglide of yesteryear which is the equipment Eric is talking about. Until the end of the 60’s the Hemi reighned whether it was the wedge 413 or the elephant 426. They were not streatable by any stretch of the imagination. Try running a six pack back in the day without the invent of locktight. Get my drift. You need to quit changing the origional point of the forum. Hell I can make a fiesta run faster than anything with enough time and money. Keep it stock to stock with all components of the timeframe stock to stock. You cant change the rules of the forum but you continue to try. I have also tried to give you the benefit of the doubt but there is no need for your non-professional aggression. Look at the early sixties for gods sake if you ran an automatic you were going to be beat. Today if you show up with a stick you havent got a chance once again in STOCK STOCK STOCK STOCK STOCK STOCK configuration. Get it or hit the road jack! Im starting to wonder if you even have a car.

        • August 31, 2012 at 9:47 am


          It seems all you’re able to do is insult people and hurl accusations, as opposed to responding intelligently to points made and facts presented.

          I have referenced the quarter mile and hp numbers from back in the day, when these cars were new – and stone stock, as delivered from the automaker. Your position amounts to: All those numbers are completely inaccurate (despite the fact that these were the result of multiple, independent and instrumented road/track tests done by professionals… not “Wikipedia”) and we should ignore/dismiss them but accept as representative of the performance of stock, as-delivered muscle cars the times posted by highly individualized, owner-built, finely tuned and invariably modified in some way bracket racers.

          Does this make sense to you?

          Are you going to deny that the owners of these cars – you included – tune/tweak the carbs and ignition? Are you seriously going to claim the carbs are set up exactly as they left the factory? That the ignition – the (usually) points ignition, in most cases – is set to exactly what it was when it left the GM or Ford or Chrysler line back in ’68 or ’70? That the engine was not rebuilt with great care, paying close attention to tolerances? No port work (including gasket matching)? Has the cam been degreed? Are you running the as-delivered 14 and 15 inch rims with bias-ply OE tires?


          Note carefully: No one (not me) is denying the tremendous capability of a classic-era muscle car. That you could make one run like a bat out of hell with a little work and tuning. But that’s not what we are talking about – and it’s not what the original article was about.

          Stock equals = a factory production car, the engine untouched by the owner or anyone else after it left the factory assembly line. With all the factory parts in place and functional – from the tires to the points in the distributor. Carburetor not re-jetted. Ignition not “tuned.”

          Are such cars being bracket raced by you? Anyone else? If they don’t meet those criteria, Cap’n, then they are no longer stock – and no longer representative of what the stock car’s as-delivered performance was.


          And yeah, if a car has been repainted, then it is no longer considered original. Have you ever been to a car show?

          • Jake (aka) captain 427
            August 31, 2012 at 4:41 pm

            eric, I aint’ even mad. Your condescending reply’s are just a futile attempt to mask your perpetual ignorance.

            Like i said, the crowning glory is when you try to tell me what MY car will run, based on internet BS. You never fail to amuse me, and I’ll give you that.

            The bottom line is, you will never know for sure, unless you grew up in the sixties and seventies and actually saw these cars run.

            The pure stock drags… that is THE CLOSEST thing you can get. my cars have a factory bore, stock rear gears.

            like i said, come watch on sept. 13-15th.

            Where exactly did you get your information?

            post the links, i wanna see where you are pulling this garbage from.

            I like that nickname, catain 427 :) i think i’m going to get a small decal that says “Cap’n 427” and put it on my old chevelle, and when I run a 12.5 and quicker, I’ll be thinking of Mr. peters, every time my chevelle thunders through the finish line.

        • BrentP
          August 31, 2012 at 1:35 pm

          Close only counts in horseshoes, hand grenades, and thermonuclear war. Engines bored 0.070 over are not stock. And that’s just one of the many modifications allowed under those rules.

          The car is stock except it has rear gears never offered, it has had it’s transmission replaced with one from a rarer model, it has an aftermarket shifter, the stock air cleaner has been lifted off the base,the engine has been bored 0.070 over, the compression increased 1.5 points, the pistons are aftermarket competition parts, the carb has been jetted differently and the metering changed, the valve springs have been changed, the cam has been finely ground to optimal settings within the allowed variance from stock, the mufflers are low restriction but stock-looking, the points have been replaced with electronic ignition, and more… but it’s “stock”.

          These are not street cars straight from the dealer’s lot. Not even close. Anyone who showed up that event with such a car would be down near the bottom of the rankings at the end of it.

          • Jake (aka) captain 427
            August 31, 2012 at 4:54 pm

            you havent even been, or raced in such an event mr. brent. what makes you an expert? more internet research? do you even know what it takes to run your car at such an event?

            you know, every new ss camaro and corvette i see STOCK only runs 13’s. i’ve seen a few break into the 12’s… barely. even so.

            …And no, I don’t have any wiki articles that i derived my numbers off of, I really don’t care if you believe me or not.

            like i said, visit your local race track, look at the new cars that some idiot has driven straight off the lot and down to the dragstrip. i guarantee you will see 12, 13 and 14 sec. passes.

            does that sound pretty close to your old school numbers?

            and remind you, all those musclecar tests were done using narrow bias ply rubber, and even with your wiki facts and cheap rubber, they would still be right there with these “superior” new cars.

            what happens if you run cheap bias ply rubbers on these new cars?

          • BrentP
            August 31, 2012 at 5:18 pm

            Jake, you shuck and jive and change the subject as good as Clover. You also make irrelevant statements like your opening paragraph. Like Clover you think personal attack is a substitute for an actual argument.

            You put up a cite about modern day ‘stock’ drag racing of pre-1974 cars. Obviously thinking I was too lazy to read it. I read it. I replied with what I read. You took offense so I went further with what is in rules of the racing you cited for the performance you kinda sorta loosely quote.

            Obviously if you had actually attended and participated in that sort of drag racing you would have known the rules without me quoting them to you. So either you lack the experience or were lying. I really don’t care which.

            Now that we have established that the performance numbers you are throwing around for pre 1974 cars are not stock, but rather sorta-kinda-stockish looking cars you change direction.

            It’s rather trollish, sad and pathetic.

            Anyway it’s nice to know that ‘some idiot’ I suppose referring to someone who doesn’t know what they are doing drag racing wise can get 12s out of a new car. You’ve just admitted the point of the article. Right there. Some idiot can just buy a new car and do 12s at the strip. Not some professional drag racer, not even a well experienced amateur, but some idiot.

            Now let’s see some idiot do that with your old car and not put it into the wall trying.

  43. Tre Deuce
    August 31, 2012 at 3:11 am

    D3 | SEMA 2011 Special Project Vehicle

    D3 in conjunction with General Motors launches the Special Edition 2012 CTS-V Coupe

    Key Points:

    800HP/TQ While Using Alternative Fuels
    5:1 power to weight ratio
    Track Prepared CTS-V Coupe Available Through Dealership
    Limited Serial Number Builds

    Signal Hill CA, August 23th 2011, The D3 Group in conjunction with GM has begun the building of a special edition 2012 Cadillac CTS-V Coupe. This is a purpose built vehicle designed to bridge the gap between Cadillac’s racing efforts and the cars consumers can purchase off the showroom floor. Currently referred to as PROJECT WHITE, the official name and debut of the car will be unveiled at SEMA 2011.

    PROJECT WHITE will present to the public a new and alternative way to look at the Cadillac CTS-V automobile. With the push for global decrease in the use of fossil fuels, yet the focus to create something that would still appeal to performance minded customers, D3 must look at alternative options. The focus of this special vehicle is to use Alternative Fuels in a competitive setting without compromising overall vehicle performance. The vehicle utilizes all of the latest performance advancements from D3 in terms of thermal efficiency, suspension/chassis, aero, and powertrain while still making well in excess of 800HP & 800FT Lbs. Vehicles will come equipped with DOT R Compound Toyo R888 tires and said to be targeting 1G on the skidpad. Extensive upgrades have been done to the vehicle to offset the overall weight of the vehicle. Painstaking details such as exclusive light weight Recaro seats have been added to reduce the overall weight while focusing on overall vehicle performance and handling. The target goal is 5:1 power to weight ratio.

    Along with the staggering performance numbers this vehicle will produce. D3 has also taken the time to make sure they implement all their latest in aerodynamics and ground effects. With the attention to high speed handling and design, great detail was taken on designing active aero for the underside of the car. Integrated ducts and air channels ensure the vehicle stays securely planted to the ground at speeds over 200MPH while providing copious amounts of air flow to numerous heat exchangers under the vehicle. The vehicle has been outfitted with active and functional chin splitter, side skirt extensions, functional rear diffuser, and a carbon fiber underbody tray with integrated air ducts.

  44. Tre Deuce
    August 31, 2012 at 3:01 am

    Oop’s! Excuse me Eric…’Eric’ I have a friend named Eric who goes by Ric.

  45. Tre Deuce
    August 31, 2012 at 2:44 am

    Hi! Ric,

    You don’t have to ‘imagine’, you can have one with the help of ‘D3’.

    Yes, the CTS-V is quite the car. It is pretty amazing car for a Cadillac. And I’m hoping they do something similar with the ‘ATS’.

    Maybe we could get some rational conversation out of Jake if he were to get behind the wheel of a CTS-V.

    I was invited by Cadillac to a big tent event they had in Vegas for Cadillac fans, and got to get in a couple of laps in a CTS-V wagon(My choice). As a result of that I was given a couple lap ride in a ‘D3’ modified CTS-V coupe, and then was allowed a few laps behind the wheel. Those are the kind of automotive experiences you don’t forget. On display was a D3 CTS-V ‘Le Monstre’ coupe, that puts out 1,000+HP and 1,000 pds. of torque, and is street drivable.

    Previous to that I had a test drive of a coupe on the highway and surface streets, including the locally famous ‘Skyline Drive’ in Portland Or. But, I sure wouldn’t mind having one for a week.

    Years back, Cadillac did deliver a new Allante to my door and let me have it for several days. I tried to talk them out of it as I really wasn’t in the market, but they insisted and it showed up anyway.

    Took it for a nice weekend on the Oregon coast…Wife really grew fond of it, but I reminded her that she really did need the back seat of her Turbo Coupe.

    My first car was a 48′ Cadillac ’62’ series Convertible with a flathead V-8, and quite a few followed that first one. No Cadillacs currently, but I have a 27′ Tee, with a 39′ Cadillac flatty in it.

    Cadillac’s and I go way back, Eric.

    Thanks for the note

    • August 31, 2012 at 10:01 am


      Yup, I’ve been lucky enough to have the opportunity to partake of similar fun!

      I agree that the Cap’n might change his mind if he had a chance to experience the performance of a car like the CTS-V. The everyday performance, especially.

      There was nothing from the classic era with remotely close to the power/performance capability of a car like the CTS-V that could also be driven – comfortably, reliably driven – in traffic, every day, year ’round.

      Even the fairly mild original-era stuff was marginal for use as everyday transpo.

      I once took care of a buddy’s original, stone stock ’70 RA III 400 Formula. Had it in my garage for several months. The RA III is a fairly mild engine – as you probably know. Hydraulic cam and Quadrajet on a medium-riser dual plane. You could drive it on the street, in traffic. But it was a a handful. Of course, that is part of the appeal of these cars. They are animals – wild, uncontrolled.

      But, step up to one with a solid lifter cammed, Holley fed on a high-riser single plane… and forget about it, as far as street driving.

      The genius of the new stuff is it delivers better performance than the most brutal classic-era stuff… but at the same time, remains completely daily drivable, something the really quick/fast stuff from back then never was.

      I suspect guys like Capn’ just don’t like the new stuff – chiefly because of the more complex layout, the higher cost and the government-mandated “safety” stuff that detracts from the feral experience these cars would otherwise deliver. I get that. But not liking the modern performance cars ought not to impair one’s ability to accept what they can do. Nor gloss over what the old stuff could not do (or not do well).

      No doubt, the bark of an old muscle car firing up is a sound (and sensation) few if any new performance cars can equal.

      But then again, you can drive the new performance cars on a 100 degree summer day, in stop and go traffic, with the AC on and the (excellent) stereo playing. Head out on the highway, set the cruise at 75 or 80 … with the engine barely turning a fast idle, thanks to the deep overdrive gearing.

      Contrast that with taking a dual quad Hemi ‘Cuda out on a 100 degree summer day…. and trying to negotiate stop-and-go traffic for 45 minutes or so… or out on the highway, with traffic running 75… and your 4:11 geared ‘Cuda screaming along at 3,500 RPM at 60…..

      • Tre Deuce
        August 31, 2012 at 4:53 pm

        Hi! Eric,

        If the HiPer car had any serious ‘factory’ compression, they were a bitch to live with as a daily ride.

        I used to have to tune my 69′ El Camino_396″/375Hp every Saturday morning if I wanted to have it running decently for a date that night. That damn thing went through caps, rotors, points, condenser, and plugs, every week, and wires every two weeks or less. Electronic ignition made these cars livable and perform better.

        I briefly had a 68′ roadster with the L-88. When I went to look at the car, the owner was so disgusted with it he handed me the keys at the front door and never came out to discuss the car. The car was two years old with just over 7,000 miles on it and in that time he had developed a serious hate for it. I bought the car for next to nothing as he just wanted it out of his sight. I had to trailer it back to the shop, cause the wiring harness had issues.

        I fixed the harness, tuned it, and tried to enjoy the car for a few weekends. The car was never intended to be a daily driver. Finally trailered it to the strip one weekend, put a for sale sign on it and made a few light runs to give it some exposure, and sold it later that week.

        Had I realized how rare these cars were I would have kept it, but I thought everybody was buying them. Back in the day we didn’t general know how many of a type were being sold. Today you can get on the net and find out just about anything you want.

        A historical note. The 68′ Corvette had some serious build quality issues as GM was having labor problems and it showed up in the cars.

        And, personally, I didn’t like the C3 Vettes, it took years for me to come around too appreciating them, and today I wouldn’t mind having an 81’/82′ 4-speed model converted to a 5-speed for Summer trips. Just wish they had made a coupe with out the T-top.

        Regards… Tre

  46. Tre Deuce
    August 31, 2012 at 12:19 am

    A little personal Muscle car history from the day.

    I was at the Puyallup drag strip when Van Cleve Ford and a couple of Ford reps showed up with the new ‘Boss 429’. Everybody crowded around this new contender for the crown of top dog. As it turned out, I drew it for its first run that night.

    I expected to see nothing but its tail lights, but it wasn’t to be. I left that Stang, breathing hard and short of the lights when my 68′ Charger tripped the lights with a low 13″ quarter mile.

    The Boss 429 with suspected 500+ HP was a dog, not even breaking into the high thirteens that night. A few events later, with gears and tires it managed some high thirteens, but still wasn’t living up to expectations and Van Cleve finally quit running it for a while.

    My brother and cousin(Ford Guys) decided to go up to Eatonville to see if it was for sale and talked me into going. While there I got into a conversation with their tuner/mech. and he mentioned that it just pooped out after 4,000 RPM. I mentioned that I had a similar problem on a 428″ Ford that I had built, and after much head scratching and chasing dead ends, I deduced that it had to lie in the new cam as everything else was nearly the same except for the cam and springs. Sure enough it was the springs. To tight so full lift wasn’t achieved. He said he doubted that Ford would make that mistake.

    A few weeks later the Boss showed up again and ran a low thirteen on its first run. I walked over and asked him why it was performing better. He remarked that the springs were the wrong ones and were to tight. I had a secret little laugh.

    Later that night I bested the Boss again, but it was right on my heels.

    PS! When running High lift cams, always check your spring height and valve piston clearance. The Springs you select for your cam may not match up with your spring seat heights and lift. A spring seat cutter is a handy thing to have for a serious builder.

    Note; 68′ Charger/440″/Auto/Six-Pac_Cam/headers/4.10/drag slicks.

    • August 31, 2012 at 12:29 am

      Good stuff, Deuce!

      A couple months back, I got a new CTS-V Caddy to play with for a week. 556 hp. Real hp. SAE net. Stone stock, as delivered. That’s 56 more than the “suspected” 500 (SAE gross) Boss 429.

      The CTS-V will make you a believer. 12.2 seconds at 119 MPH. Yet absolutely docile. Mild idle. Not much noise (until you get on it). Drive the thing to work every day (if you can afford the gas). 100 percent wife drivable. My wife drove it.

      Just – incredible.

      Now, imagine what that car would be capable of with some tweaking and drag slicks….

      Meanwhile, imagine trying to drive that Boss 429 to work, in stop and go traffic, on a 98 degree July day….

    • BrentP
      August 31, 2012 at 2:11 am

      Boss 429… One of the cars that I couldn’t have because I was just a little too young to have bought one when they were cheap(er). Saw one in the flesh left outside a speed shop in Harvey Illinois when I was about 15 or so. My dad wouldn’t stop to look at it. arg. Never knew if it was for sale, didn’t get close enough to find out. It sat there long enough. Probably could have gotten it for six or seven grand if it was and needed work. (again, never got close enough to see, but perfect cars aren’t left outside in chicago’s weather)

      BTW, the Boss 429 was rated at 375hp gross. My performance mustang buyer’s guide from the 1980s references a car life road test from 7/69. 0-60 in 7.1 seconds, 1/4 mile in 14.09@102.85mph. My ’12 GT will leave it sucking dust.

      • Tre Deuce
        August 31, 2012 at 2:59 am

        Hi! Brent,

        Regarding the ‘rated’ Hp of the ‘Boss 429’. The big three at that time, published ratings far below the actual gross Hp of the engines from 68′ on. They were in big trouble with the insurance companies and the push for lower hp for safety and emission issues.

        Back in those days the war was on horsepower, not drugs. The public was upset about all of the mayhem caused by guys severely lacking in common sense and car control. Kind of reminds you of today, with all the Youtube hooners.

        The Boss 429 at the time, was thought to have well over 450 HP, as was the L88 and ZL-1.

        To bad you missed out on that Boss. That motor was really an impressive sight shoe horned into the Stang. They actually had to move the suspension towers to get it in.


  47. Tre Deuce
    August 30, 2012 at 10:43 pm

    New, anybody can buy, COPO Camaro runs 8.88 out of the box with a 327″ engine/blown. Also available with a 427″ NA.

    On pure numbers and performance it is hard to beat modern technology, might not be as much fun for some, but there is no denying the results.

  48. Tre Deuce
    August 29, 2012 at 9:45 pm

    Sigh! Indeed, and unfortunate, Eric. He thinks he can get away with it/BS, because in his world, nobody challenges him.

    Speaking of ‘LS’ motors, if I took him for one lap around ‘PIR’ or ‘Thunder Hill’ or any track in my Seven ‘type’, powered by a bone stock LS-3 with the new factory 50Hp cam for a total of 480 factory ponies and 475 ft. pds. of torque from only 376″ cu. inches, he would be puking all the way home in his beater Chevelle with its clapped out 396″. My apologize for assuming anything.

    I could drive this car(Seven ‘Type’) to pick up my grand daughter at school or go on a road trip getting pretty good mileage, while capable of 0-60 MPH in 2.8 secs. It is basically a track/hill climb car, but I did license it.

    We have seen tanks, repeated, over 30 MPG in my bothers LS-3 powered 2008 Corvette on long trips to SoCal from the NW. And he consistently runs his bracket at the bottom of the twelves with his air conditioning on.

    The only thing I miss about the old engines is the exposed engine and dress’up. Love the look of deuces lined up and finned valve covers.

    Regards ….Tre

    PS! You can buy an LS-3/480Hp crate motor for only $6,600 with LOL! 2 year warranty*.

    So V-8’s are not dead, they just get better and better.

    *Subject to warranty restrictions.

    • August 29, 2012 at 11:32 pm

      Worse – he may even believe it!

      I get a fair amount of similar hate mail, so he’s not alone. The weird thing is I never derided the original stuff; just dared to quote the actual performance as delivered. That’s apparently enough to paint me as a hater of muscle cars – notwithstanding I have owned several, driven many – and written lovingly about them for decades.

      I would not trade my old Trans Am for a brand new ZL1 Camaro – even though the Camaro’s 580 hp mill would stomp my 455 (maybe 360 or so honest hp) two or three feet into the ground if it came down to it. Why? Because – for me – it’s not just about the numbers. I love the way my old TA looks and feels and sounds; that it’s free of any modern electronic nannying – and so takes more skill to launch and drive all out than the new Camaro does. It’ just more alive – even if it’s not as quick.

      An analogy that pops to mind is the WW II-era battleship vs. a modern missile frigate. The frigate is a far more destructive ship, but the sight of a 70,000 ton battlewagon with 16 inch guns is just awe-inspiring.

      Captain 427 is missing a lot by not appreciating the new stuff for what it is – and the old stuff for what it was.

      • BrentP
        August 30, 2012 at 12:12 am

        Of course they believe it. It is their belief system.

        It’s the exact same thing seen on the political side of things.

        Things in the automotive world got stifled for a long time, which is why those cars ruled for so long in acceleration. If the stifling had never occurred these cars would have never recovered from being old gas guzzlers few wanted.

      • Tre Deuce
        August 30, 2012 at 4:49 am

        You just have to love cars, all of them(fun ones). It’s an irrational love, but all over the top love is. Ain’t it fun…COL!

        And yes, Brent, they are missing a critical gene, or have one that disables critical thinking and doesn’t protect them from self delusion. Or maybe it is just an atrophied cerebral cortex. Emotion rules…religion, politics, unsupported opinions…..and allows righteous justification for anything..scary

      • captain 427
        August 30, 2012 at 7:41 pm

        Eric, I’m confused? you delete my comments, that have a solid argument because they are “just rants – illiterate rants” then you go on to “quote”, my “rants” if you have to tell other readers what i said, to justify deleting them, why not just let them read what i said, instead of telling them what i said.

        you delete anything that does not help your cause.

        i suggest you turn some wrenches before opening your mouth :)

        • August 30, 2012 at 8:30 pm

          Cap’n –

          I deleted one post – a post that was full of personal attacks and embarrassing grammar errors. No facts. As distinct from “what you said.”


          Show us the facts backing up your statement that 600 hp (real, SAE net hp) was produced by any mass-produced, factory stock muscle car engine.

          For the sake of discussion, I’ll admit it’s conceivable a small handful of the highest performance units (L-88s, dual quad Hemis, etc.) may have approached that figure. But these were far from the typical muscle car powerplant. Still, I want to see proof. Not “what you said.” What’s proof? A dyno report from back in the day – or of a verified bone stock, never touched/tuned original production engine.

          And what was typical?

          Typical was something like the GTO’s 389 or 400, the SS Chevelle’s 396/402 – or the Z28’s 302/350. The Mustang’s 390 or 351. Or the ‘Cuda’s 383/440. Etc.

          600 hp? C’mon. Even 500 is massively optimistic.

          Some – a very few – of these engines might have made 400 – maybe. Probably much closer to 350 or so (using the current SAE net standard) for the vast majority of them.

          I’ve got a pretty extensive library of periodicals from back in the day. These include instrumented road tests of virtually every muscle car, back when they were new cars. As delivered – without “tuning” or “tweaking” – most ran in the 14s. A few in the 13s, some in the low 15s.

          Virtually none did better than low 13s – and the few that did were very high-strung, low volume cars not representative of the typical muscle car’s power/performance. They were good for bracket racing. That’s it. Forget driving one regularly (or even occasionally) on the street.

          Today, you can buy cars with 500-plus hp (real hp) that run 12s… with the AC on. That don’t overheat in traffic. That can be used as commuters, if you want, in stop and go driving, year ’round.

          Yeah, Capn’ – that really sucks ass.

          I’m just re-stating facts, Cap’n. Not looking through rose colored glasses, as you seem to be.

          • BrentP
            August 30, 2012 at 9:13 pm

            Thing is there are still factory drag racing cars made today.

            So on an apples to apples comparison, it should be bracket racer to bracket racer. Not old bracket racer to new stock street car. But then again these sorts of arguments are often not apples to apples, they are whatever keeps a belief system intact.

          • dom
            August 30, 2012 at 9:36 pm

            Doods, I bet my ’96 Electra Glide with a 111 cubic inch tuned to the gills bike will eat any new hog’s lunch… And it’s a 1996! Wait better yet, I bet my bike will beat Eric’s Pontiac car… Reminds me of that old school bus with the jet engine.

          • Jake (aka) captain 427
            August 30, 2012 at 10:33 pm

            If you spent half the time worrying about my grammar, and invested that time in doing some research, maybe you would have realized that your THEORY on slow musclecars, is flawed. have you ever been to a pure stock factory musclecar race? maybe you should visit michigan, and you would see.

            those cars run 11s and 12s all day long. factory, bone stock.

            don’t take my word for it, google “pure stock factory drags”

            the more you post, the more prominent your ignorance becomes.

            those “13 second strictly bracket racers” did not exist. you could drive your car down to the track, and run an 11 sec quarter mile. don’t believe me? visit the pure stock muscle car drags :)

            you talk like some bigot, bent on twisting history and destroying the reputation of musclecars based on some wiki-articles that have some joe-blow “factual” information. Yet,you masquerade as a “muscle car enthusiast”

            your a joke, and you have probably never even turned a wrench on that poor trans-am of yours. I wish i could rescue the poor thing from its grammatically correct pilot…

            its been a pleasure serving you today, now i’m off to build exhaust on my ’68 400 firebird. feel free to bring some of your modern garbage by, I’ll be more than happy to show you what a stock bird with 68k original miles in UNRESTORED condition will do.

            -Cap’n out

            • August 30, 2012 at 11:39 pm


              It’s not my obligation to research your argument. You claim it was typical/routine for factory stock muscle cars to run 12s. So, prove it! Show us some timeslips from back in the day; some published figures from, say Motor Trend….

              I referenced the published hp and quarter-mile performance stats from back in the day.

              What else should I have gone by? Your opinion? The hp/performance of modified cars?

              On your ’68 Firebird: Is it a RA II 400? If so, then it’s pretty quick – capable of a low 13 second pass (Motor Trend’s number, from 1968). But it’s only slightly quicker than a new Mustang V-6, which can run the quarter in 13.8 seconds.

              The 2013 GT runs the 1/4 in 12.8 seconds.

              Now, if your car’s not a RA II car, then it isn’t running low 13s – not if it’s stock.

              The RA II engine is a pretty rare animal. It added $631 to the car’s MSRP back in ’68 – equivalent to $4,100 today. So, to be fair, you’d have to compare your (I’m assuming it’s yours) RA II not with the run-of-the-mill GT Mustang, but with the Boss 302 – which runs in the high 10s.

              If you just have the regular (L74, 335 hp) or W66 base 400 (320 hp), which is what the majority of these cars had – then you’ve got a 14 second car, if it had the manual transmission.

              15s, if it had the automatic.

              There’s some research for you.

              PS: It’s “you’re (as in you are) a joke. Not “your” a joke.

          • dom
            August 30, 2012 at 10:39 pm

            Hey Jake, cite your sources with urls to prove your point. Anyone can say google anything and can find just that, anything… I had my doubts about Eric’s wrenching skills when I first met him too. He has, can, and does wrench.

          • Brent Kinstler
            August 30, 2012 at 11:58 pm

            You know I can use an analogy. Now granted my grammar is probably not the best but here is a good analogy. At the time of inception the Atari 2600 gaming system was completely the cats meow. However look at the new technology that is out today and I’m not a gamer. Same deal! I think part of Capt’s failure to see reality can really be attributed to what I call the “antique fad.” When you turn on your TV today you have “pawn stars, American Pickers, Storage Wars, etc. etc. etc.” Antiques have been around for years so why the rather large popularity today? The answer to that question to me is simple. Its not really about the antique as much as it is the idea; meaning how those items bring happiness and a feeling of connection to the golden years (50s,60s,70s). Its very difficult to deny that these years weren’t “golden” for to many reasons to list here. I would bet the Capt agrees with this idea so much so that it may have clouded the his stats (with all due respect Capt – its easy to do). Listen personally I hate the fact that these new plastic cars are faster and more reliable. I wish it were not true passionately! But Eric unfortunately has you way out gunned on reality. Once again I’ll share my pipedream. Im 41 but wish I could have been 35 in 1970. Why? so I could have experienced new car smell in my 69 charger,for a time when people used lawn chairs to sit together, before political correctness, to see Evil jump, to experience a world without the technology we have today, to watch the moon landing, to experience what a dollar was really worth (and I know that is relative due to people not having money back then). I could go on and on and on but I guess I’m talking about the “quality” of life during those years. Muscle cars represent so much more than what the cars were in and of themselves – they represent in large part that era and freedom we have lost today. Capt – my advice to you is to try to separate the two. Another quote from Merle Haggard and I hate to keep doing this – “are we rolling downhill like a snowball headed for hell – are the good times really over for good?” Eric, I don’t have to like it but you’re right on track!

            • August 31, 2012 at 12:03 am

              Thanks, Brent!

              I’ve tried to explain to Cap’n that admitting 40 (50, really) years have passed – and (not surprisingly) engine technology has improved since then – in no way diminishes the coolness of classic era muscle. But it’s silly to deny the reality that modern performance cars have more than caught up in terms of the raw numbers – even if they don’t rate nearly as high when it comes to intangibles like looks, feel, sound and personality.

              I’ve driven all the new stuff – but my old TA does it for me in a way those cars just don’t, no matter how much quicker they are. There is something animal about a huge (7.4 liter, in my case) V-8 sucking air through a four barrel and exhaling through no-cat exhaust. About the uncontrolled – yes, dangerous – fury of all that torque trying to grab hold of the pavement through 15 inch wheels and totally overmatched tires…

      • Jake (aka) captain 427
        August 31, 2012 at 4:07 am

        I’ve seen 2ss new camaro’s at the strip. ALOT. most only muster mid to low 13s unless its been modified yaaaawn. 425 hp in a new camaro that weighs 3700 lbs… the chevelle in 1970 was doing that with a 450 horse 454… at about the same weight.

        LS= expensive to work on

        old school= plentiful and cheap.

  49. Tre Deuce
    August 27, 2012 at 6:26 am

    Not only were they slow compared to today’s hottie’s and appliances, they wouldn’t stop or turn.

    I owned a bunch of those cars new, and later, used, and have several now. Without gears, tires, a good tune, and a good technique, these old behemoths were just fire and smoke and scary at anything over 120MPH. Many were scary well before that.

    I recently picked up a 64′ Galaxy 427″ ‘Light Weight’ factory racer for a friend and drove down to the local truck stop to ship North. The short five mile trip reminded me what tanks these were.

    You have to plan your stops, and hope nothing gets in your way that you didn’t plan for. The roll-on acceleration of this pristine piece of automotive history was robust, but hardly earth shaking.

    My 2000′ Cobra ‘R’ and 2004 ‘SVT’ Cobra are both faster then the race Galaxy, run cleaner, handle, stop, and one has air, cruise, and a great stereo. And both are a bit slower then a new Camaro ‘SS’ or Mustang ‘GT’. That’s progress.

    My fear is that progress for performance vehicles will be denied, especially for ‘IC’ powered cars. I think the future of performance cars, if there is one, is EV cars. My Dad predicted this in the mid-fifties.

    What’s missing in the new cars is that raw, visceral feel the old Muscle cars gave you. They are so tame you never feel threatened by the situation, and that is a problem for anyone who thinks that the new cars will deny physics..they won’t, and the bite can be severe.

    • August 27, 2012 at 9:34 am


      “What’s missing in the new cars is that raw, visceral feel the old Muscle cars gave you. They are so tame you never feel threatened by the situation, and that is a problem for anyone who thinks that the new cars will deny physics..they won’t, and the bite can be severe. ”

      This is it, exactly.

      I, too, have owned and driven the old beasts. And I have also driven pretty much every current/recent performance car, too. Get in something like a new CTS-V. Docile … smooth, quite idle. No shaking, no drama. You could be driving a Camry. Except for the 556 hp V-8 under the hood. This car is much quicker than my Trans-Am, which has a fairly built 455 that’s at least as strong as a factory-stock RA III 400 or 455 HO.

      My car feels – and sounds – more ferocious, though. The lumpy cam profile (reproduction of the RA III grind) and vacuum-sucking sounds coming from the Q-Jet. And of course, there’s no traction control. And 15 inch wheels/tires. So when you launch, it is not the no-fuss experience it is in a car like the CTS-V.

      And that’s the difference.

      Those old behemoths were a lot of fun, but in factory trim, they are limited by the technology of the 1960s. Without aftermarket (modern) cylinder heads, which flow much, much better than the originals – or extensive modification, using modern technology, of original heads – it is just not possible to achieve the heroic hp numbers that are routine with modern engines without also ending up with an extremely high-strung, borderline undriveable car. Same with cam profiles. Use the original-era flat tappet designs and streetability is out the window once you get into the really radical profiles. Many of these engines are also just not strong enough to reliably make 500-plus hp. Their bottom ends, cranks, rods and so on were not made to be able to deal with it. Sure, you can use aftermarket rods and cranks – etc. Roller cam profiles – etc. But then, it’s not a factory-stock 1960s/early ’70s engine anymore.

      • Jake
        August 29, 2012 at 2:08 am

        “Many of these engines are also just not strong enough to reliably make 500-plus hp”

        forged steel cranks and forged rods in a big majority of v8’s back in the day. not to mention nickel alloy iron blocks coupled with 4 bolt main caps. a mid range to high end musclecar came standard with beefy internals. idk where you got your info, but you are mistaken.
        these engines can take any amount of power that you throw at it.

        …and furthermore, most performance cars nowadays use a means of forced air induction, driveability and dependability get blown out the window.

        for instance: my friend’s 1991 mk3 toyota supra turbo… vs my camaro that is packing a naturally aspirated 327 small block chevy. both had 3.73 gears out back, his was five speed stick, mine four speed. both made 400+ horsepower. race was dead even until his turbo pipes blew off…

        now mind you, mine is naturally aspirated making similiar amounts of power to a turbocharged motor.

        what happens if you turbocharge the little 327?

        • Tre Deuce
          August 29, 2012 at 5:31 am

          Hi! Jake,

          Eric, correctly stated ‘reliable’ HP.

          In the ‘day’, the ultimate prize for a serious engine builder was an aftermarket or factory forged crank and rods. The foundation of a ‘reliable’ high out put engine.

          The cast cranks and rods simply could not take the high levels of additional torque or high RPM horse power from a ‘built’ engine, unless you were running it in a very light weight vehicle like an altered roadster. Even then you risked catastrophic consequences.

          Serious builders even pulled the factory SD parts and replaced them with aftermarket parts, unless they had proven themselves or they were not going to be supercharged.

          Add supercharging and the reliability was out the window even with a mild pump at factory compression ratios.

          Nearly all of the goodies you mention came later on or were special duty parts available at the parts counter or out the back door if you lucky enough to be favored by your local dealer or district MFG. rep.
          And the, as shipped, production parts in assemblies mounted to production vehicles for sale to the general public, were meant to increase reliability at factory rated horse power levels, and were driven by warranty considerations, not engine builder considerations. Build that engine and your warranty was void.

          As for adding turbo boost to a 327″ _been there, done that_ and the HP gain is commensurate with the cubic inches. The Supra only has 180″ Cu, inches, stock.
          For a time, I had some smart young guys leasing a portion of my shop who specialized in building the Toyota ‘7M-GTE’ engines, and they never blew any parts off the engines while running eleven’s and twelve’s at the strip after picking their kids up at daycare. But I do have the banged up hood of a Supra hanging from my shop ceiling the result of a hasty test drive past the shop at 140 MPH that lifted the hood about 100 ft. in the air.
          I did the same thing forty plus years earlier(before these hooners were born) after putting a new engine in my 63′ Stingray. It was supposed to be a slow ride down the the park, but my brother was goading me into getting on it and I forgot about the hood when a couple of pretty grrl’s walking down the street were part of the equation. The hood lost a little paint with no other damage.

          Your vaunted 327″ is a great motor. My favorite was the ‘275/300 HP’ issue..decent performance and mileage. But when your talking raising the HP by
          50% or so, with boost, your going to need severe duty parts. Hand grenades are to expensive, for a few moments fun.

          Glad your still enjoying performance cars, Jake.


          • August 29, 2012 at 9:47 am

            Hi Deuce,

            I threw Captain 427’s posts in the woods. They were just rants – illiterate rants. “My big block kicks ass your (sic) full of shit…” etc.

            No time for that here.

            If he’d been a bit more coherent, I’d have agreed that, sure, you can get 600 hp (and more) out of an old big block. Perhaps his big block does make 600 hp.

            But I’d have pointed out that very few (if any) muscle car V-8s made that kind of power as delivered, back in the day – and if they did, they were marginal as street cars.

            That was my original point – which he ignored.

            It’s not about “how powerful (and quick) can you make an old muscle car?” It was simply: How powerful (and quick) was the typical muscle car back in the day, in factory-delivered, stock trim?

            And the answer – not my opinion – is: Most of them were making in the neighborhood of 300-370 honest (SAE net) hp and ran the 1/4 mile in the low 15s, mid-high 14s. A few did high 13s. Very, very few, did better than that – and if they did, they were (again) very high-strung and set up for bracket racing. They were all but unusable for normal street driving.

            Those stats reflect instrumented testing (dyno and drag strip) done back in the day. Excellent performance at the time – when the typical car needed 15-plus seconds to reach 60. Mediocre today – but that’s no insult. The late 1960s happened more than 40 years ago. Holding ’60s-era performance cars to the standards of today is like comparing the performance of an F4 Phantom with that of an F/18.

            There were only a small handful of factory-stock muscle cars back in the day with engines making 400-plus honest (SAE net) hp. And these were on the edge of being not street drivable. Let alone reliable 100,000 milers.

            Today, 500-600 hp factory-built cars are fairly common – and completely streetable. AC, every power accessory. Mild idle – wife drivable.

            And the V-6s versions of today’s pony cars (Mustang, Camaro, etc.) are quicker and faster in factory stock trim than most of the original-era V-8 muscle cars were/are in factory stock trim.

            This in no way diminishes the coolness of classic muscle cars or makes them inferior to the new stuff. Captain 427 seems to think it does, though. To him, “new stuff sucks” and “classic muscle rules.” The LS1 “sounds like shit” and you should “run you’re (sic) car not you’re (sic) mouth.”


          • Jake (aka) captain 427
            August 31, 2012 at 3:49 am

            tre, standard big block chevys, with cast cranks and SD parts will take 600 hp no problem, i know a guy that runs cast stuff in a chevelle pushing 620 hp and 570 ft/lbs of torque in a 454 with factory SD internals.

            surprisingly, GM had a wide variety of heavy duty parts that came in anything from pick’em up trucks to corvettes, and everything in between. granted not every motor has forged internals, but either I’m just extremely lucky, and have managed to fill a garage full of steel cranks, forged pistons, and even the infamous 4-bolt main engine blocks… i’d say that a high percentage of v8’s back in the 60’s and early 70’s had strong forged parts in em.

            i’ve never broke a small block chevy. over 100k miles on a 327 with at least 50k of those miles @ 6500+ rpms.

            neat little revvin SOBs those 327s :)

  50. brent kinstler
    August 27, 2012 at 4:38 am

    Well Im still hoping for a comment on the older v8’s in trucks of old vs. these hemi and new 5.7 small blocks. They run hotter than hell (scream at 700 RPMS) but have no torque or pulling power. Properly build an ol carbed 350 and race a hemi truck. the hemi will most likely beat you or you may even tie. However = hook a trailer with a load to the old carborated 350 and you will be at the top of the hill making lemonade waiting on the newer computerized small block. I know this is off of the subject but I find it amazing when comparing same cub inches of today vs. yesterday. TO get the hp today in these trucks its all about high rpms and no pulling torque. I loved my 07 hemi 1/2 ton but sold it because with trailer it was a screaming rpm headache to get it to pull. The 350 or even the 383 of yesteryear will out pull them any day of the week – no problem. Now I do know that the newer diesels have pretty much eliminated this issue but the price on these trucks is outragous. Probably not the right fourum but its cool comparing old to new. Some of the old was better than the new – you have to admit old muscle cars were cool – real chrome individual parts and a lot of them. These new cars sure are faster but you cant work on them and they are mostly plastic. But things change – how many of you can remember when you bought a lincoln with a 460 and big hood not so much as a power factor but as a safety factor in a head on collision? They were effective at that. No one talks about that anymore. Hell there is a chrysler that is exempt from demolition derby because of this (imperial?). THe new – All plastic with some airbags. How about the little map lights, individualized rear ashtrays (i dont smoke) and things like rear defrost by blower – or the big cars with the float factor with big blocks – craftmanship and real chrome everywhere. Now a days you wont find many 16 year olds wanting a license much less taking pride in a ride – maybe its because everything looks the same? How about the days when you filled out 3 pages of options you wanted on YOUR new ordered car. Forget it today. Speeds great and I sure do not argue with the moderator because he is dead on in comparision but in my opinion we have lost much more than we have gained overall. “wish a ford and a chevy would still last ten years like they should – merle haggard – are the good times really over for good?

    • August 27, 2012 at 10:02 am

      Hi Brent,

      I love old muscle cars – I still own one (and have owned several others). On style/personality/curb appeal – just the experience – it’s hard to beat them, even if you can beat them in a drag race with a new performance car.

      On torque vs. hp in truck engines/pulling power. I agree. As an example, the 5.3 V-8 in the current Chevy 1500 is rated 335 lbs.-ft. of torque at 4,000 RPM (and 315 hp at 5,200). In factory stock trim, a 455 Pontiac from 1976 – the weakest 455 Pontiac ever made – gave you almost the same torque (330) at just 2,000 RPM. Go back a few years, to 1972 – when the engines were still “hot” – and that 455 was pounding out 415 lbs.-ft. at 3,200. That’s nearly 100 lbs.-ft. of torque more than the current 5.3 Chevy – almost 1,000 RPM lower in the powerband.

  51. carsarefun
    August 26, 2012 at 7:01 pm

    Jake, you said:

    “once you bought your musclecar new, you immediatley tuned and made it run like gangbusters. try tuning some modern garbage”

    He was not talking about modifying and tuning the engine – he meant they were slow when compared to the new performance cars in totally stock condition as they left the factory. And the “new modern garbage” can be tuned to far more power than any of the old stuff. That includes both domestic and foreign cars. You must be completely ignorant of the unbelievable power today’s LS- series V8s can make. Or turbo 4 cylinders making 800 to 1000 horsepower, never mind the 600 you mentioned. These are all tuned by computer to make the perfect air-fuel ratios at all engine speeds and have sensors adjusting boost, and even sensors checking allowable cylinder wall warpage. And those all wheel drive cars, like WRXs and Lancer Evos are almost unbeatable in a street race becaus of perfect traction and balance. Those turbo 4s can make 600 hp to the wheels – not 600 hp on an engine dyno – and still have a drivable street car that gets acceptable gas mileage, and actually handle and have 200 mph top speeds, unlike the old muscle cars that run out of steam at 120 or 130. And the LS- series V8s or mustang 5.0s? Try 1500 to 2000 horsepower with turbos. Those are just the cold hard facts of technology, engineering, and physics. The old muscle cars are important historical parts of our culture, and were amazing for their time, but everything new is way better than the old stuff. Even old ferraris from the 1960s are no faster than a lot of V6 cars are today, except in top speed. Just like the most incredible 1930 Duesenberg could barely keep up with an ordinary V8 car of the late 1960s and early 1970s, a performance car of the 1960s could barely keep up with a new V6 car, in totally stock form.

    • August 26, 2012 at 8:13 pm

      Thanks for the back-up!

      As you note, today you can drive a streetable 600 hp performance car that runs 11s and is capable of double digit gas mileage.

      There may have been a handful of honest (SAE net, as installed in a production car) 600 hp muscle cars back in the day – but these were all extremely low-production models built for bracket racing and all-but-undriveable on the street.

      The typical mass market muscle car had a V-8 that produced around 350-370 or so SAE gross rated hp. Engine on a stand, without a production exhaust or accessories – and often, “tuned” for best results. The engine as installed in the car typically produced 270-320 or so honest SAE net hp – hp as it’s measured and advertised today (and since 1972).

      The quarter mile numbers (and they’re not culled from Wikipidia. ) jibe with the advertised/rated hp, too. Most factory stock muscle cars were in the low 15s/high 14s out of the box. Some (but a much smaller number) of the quicker ones got into the 13s.

      Excellent performance then. Mediocre, by current standards.

    • Jake
      August 28, 2012 at 11:27 pm

      yea, didnt read. like i said, I run my car, not my mouth. ls-1 blah blah blah. Ls-1s sound like shit, and I’d put a big block chevy against it anyday. and yea, you can make new cars go fast… but how much money does it take to get there? I had an old 81 camaro, built out of junkyard parts. the car was worth about 1500 dollars… and my little junkyard camaro powered by a 327 with iron heads mops the floor with any of that new shit. ive taken cars such as your “unbeatable all wheel drive wrx” your a joke dude, i bet you’ve never even raced a real musclecar. run your car, not your mouth

    • Jake
      August 28, 2012 at 11:31 pm

      oh, and that 600 horsepower i mentioned, is naturally aspirated on pumpgas. I’ve heard the turbo argument before… do you know what happens when you turbocharge a bigblock chevy? ’nuff said.

      • August 29, 2012 at 12:28 pm

        Jake –

        I won’t challenge your assertion that you built a 600 hp engine. What I will challenge is your assertion that the typical factory stock classic-era muscle car had anywhere near that kind of power.

        They didn’t. And that fact is reflected by their performance – as measured by instrumented testing done “back in the day,” when they were new. Not restored – with hand-built, balanced and blueprinted engines. Stock. As delivered by GM, Ford or Chrysler.

        Low 15s, mid-high 14s was typical quarter-mile performance. A few of the higher-strung models managed low 14s/high 13s. Very, very few ever did better than that – in factory stock trim.

        The small handful that did do better than that were low-production and not representative of the typical car’s capability. They were also too high-strung for normal street driving. As Bob Dole once said: You know it, I know it – the American people know it.

        Now, we can talk about the performance – and capability – of modified stuff all day long. But it’s neither here nor there as regards what the factory stock stuff was capable of – and delivered.

        So, unless you can show me hard data – instrumented testing – of untouched, completely stock muscle cars that shows they really ran 11s and 12s and had 600 hp engines…

        PS: Your earlier post, which was full of insults and grammatically gimpy nonsense was thrown in the woods. This site is for intelligent back-and-forth, not “you suck” name-calling.

        • jake
          August 30, 2012 at 5:23 pm

          “Your earlier post, which was full of insults and grammatically gimpy nonsense was thrown in the woods. This site is for intelligent back-and-forth, not “you suck” name-calling”

          yea, you are a joke dude. you delete facts that you have no argument for. and for your “you suck” name calling, you do more of that than anyone on here. your childish posts are simply a means to “ruffle one’s feathers” or troll, or whatever. i get it man, keep driving your modern trash, it makes my old musclecar look even better. (and faster 😉

          • August 30, 2012 at 6:07 pm

            What facts, Jake?

            Show me – actual verifiable facts, not your opinion, not “what you did,” not “what you know” – that factory stock muscle car engines routinely or even occasionally made anywhere close to 600 hp (real, SAE net hp – as measured today).

            Perhaps a few extremely low-production exotics like the ZL-1; maybe an L-88. Maybe. But these were far from typical (and far from being streetable). In any case, show me dyno tests – or even claims made by the automaker – of 600 hp. Or anything close to that.

            Put up – or shut up.

            Show me the instrumented tests from when these cars were new that have them running much quicker than low 14s/high 13s – in stock, as-built, as-delivered trim. Not restored, with hand-built, blueprinted engines. Stock, as built by GM or Fiord or Chrysler.


            Let’s see who’s the joke.

          • captain 427
            August 30, 2012 at 7:34 pm

            lol look at factory stock bracket racing…

            • August 30, 2012 at 8:20 pm

              But are these “factory stock” cars?

              Who built the engines? The GM assembly line? Or the owner, carefully blueprinting the thing, degreeing the cam, tuning the ignition and carb…

              Are they equipped with OE points – or aftermarket MSDs?

              Factory stock wheels/tires?

              If not – they’re not “factory stock.” They’re modified.

              And modified is irrelevant for purposes of this debate – which is a debate about what factory stock muscle cars typically delivered, in terms of 1/4 mile performance and hp.

  52. Jake
    August 26, 2012 at 3:20 pm

    “muscle cars are slow”

    typical butthurt mazda owner would say that.

    anyone who agrees with this article has never been behind the wheel of a 600+ horespower big block powered true american muscle car.

    these wikipedia “stats” are a joke.

    horsepower ratings were lower to comply with safety regulations at the time. once you bought your musclecar new, you immediatley tuned and made it run like gangbusters. try tuning some modern garbage… you’ll be takin it to autozone and asking some claude to bring out his little computer and tell you wut went wong.

    not to mention tires. those wiki-facts you pulled down are rated using bias-ply 1960’s tires. if you put a set of modern tires under an old musclecar, you would have… well what everyone has today. musclecars that run 10’s all day long with factory available parts. visit your local race track, and you’ll see what I’m talking about.

    keep your jap scrap, and euro trash, you won’t find any seat warmers or plastic body panels on a real man’s car.

    when i see you on the highway or race track, we’ll let the car do the talkin.

  53. brent kinstler
    July 30, 2012 at 3:59 am

    Another thing about these new horsepower ratings I would like to discuss. I just sold a 09 hemi 1/2 4×4 that boasts 345 hp. Im sure it has it. No problem. The problem is when you hook a trailer to it. NO torque – pulling 5 bare engine blocks down the road – come to a hill and it wants to get its 345. where does it get it – well at 6500rpms. These new high hp motors are fun to drive but they will not pull well in trucks. The new diesels have that market pretty much handled but thats a different story. I ended up selling the dodge and rebuilt an 86 silverado 4×4 that now looks like brand new. It has a 700r so my overdrive is covered. It was the last of the carberated engines so I can work on it. I set it up with aluminum heads – 10:5 comp ratio – put a holley vacuum sec dual fed carb (edlebrock really a carb? lolol….just joking)- forged pistons – forged crank – 75 4 bolt main block and ceramic coated headers. Here is the results – This truck chained to the back of the new dodge in opposite direction will pull it around the neighborhood with the driver of the new dodge crying. I know a little dramatic. I guess what I am saying is – in my opinion to get these BIG new HP numbers means high RPM’s and not a lot of torque and there is a big difference between the two. And Dennis trust me – I have a 69 charger like new with 3:23’s. Before I put the overdrive in it – If I tried to stay up with 270 traffic in the left lane – within an hour I would be broke down on the shoulder and over heated with mopeds passing me and that engine is built better than the one described above. Thank god for Gear Vendors – I can put the 69 in the left lane where it deserves to be. One thing I have learned because Im pretty patriotic and very nestalgic (“I wish a buck was still silver – it was back when the country was strong”). —Never retry to recreate your youth – you will be very dissappointed – things when young were more colorful-advanced-cool-and better than what they really ever were if you try to compare them to anything today. With that said I would go back in a milisec if I could lol.

    • July 30, 2012 at 9:29 am

      Great point, Brent!

      One reason for this is displacement. Back in the day, 400-plus cubic inch V-8s were common. Those big V-8s made a lot of torque – at almost-diesel RPM, too. It was necessary to get the big, heavy cars of that era (which also typically had “highway” rear axle gearing) going. One of the legends was Cadillac’s 8.1 liter (!) V-8. It was just the ticket for getting two tons of Eldorado moving…!

      The typical 5.7 liter-ish V-8 of today is small by the yardstick of the ’70s. A full-size truck back then might have a 460 (7.5 or so liters) under its hood.

      Some of the famous “torque monster” V-8s of that era, like the Buick 455, could deliver 500-plus lbs.-ft. of torque with fairly mild cams – and fry the tires for 50 yards, if you wanted!

  54. brent kinstler
    July 30, 2012 at 3:44 am

    With all that said – and I agree with EVERYTHING eric is saying, however it was interesting to see in St. Louis last year at the mopar nationals – the drag races. You would see all of the old and all of the new. We really expected to see the challenger 426 and the vipers and some of the pickups do well. WELLL – in the 1/4 mile against the stuff of old with new cam profiles and rebuilt auto trannies and new ignition, I can tell you this. The challenger, mustangs, and viper v10 – didnt even stand a chance at beating a 70 dart 340 car. It was funny. Now im sure that the newer cars were just warming up when the race was over but it was embarrassing for the newer cars. I realize these are not stock as they came from the factory – they were modified but some of them only lightly but had gearing in the 4:11 and up. I couldnt wait to see the new challenger just put them to shame. The new hemies were being beat by 2 and 3 car lengths. I wasnt expecting that. These were vintage racers – not blown alcohol cars. Cars with 454’s and power glides – funny stuff there.

    • July 30, 2012 at 9:36 am

      Hey Brent,

      No doubt! I’ve seen that, too.

      Modified – roller cam profiles, modern (reliable/accurate) ignitions and so on can – and do – really wake up the old muscle. And – here’s a surprise (though not for you; I’m betting you know this):

      The classic era stuff is light compared with the new stuff. Check the curb weight of the Dart you mentioned against a new Challenger. Or an old Nova/Ventura against a new Camaro….

      If you start out 500 pounds less at the starting line, it’s a a big advantage….

  55. Ron Bingham
    July 17, 2012 at 7:03 am

    My Camry hybrid runs almost at the same clip as my 1965 Plymouth Satellite 426 wedge did. From many runs at thr now closed Fremont drag strip the old Satellite ran anywhere from 15:20 to 15:80 when I did not blow up the street tires on launch. This was good enough to beat all the 64 & 65 GTO two speed autos that seemed to make up B stock. A 4 speed GTO was about an even match. I think this was really the normal street muscle type car you would run into. The Melrose Missels were not what you ran into on Saturday night on First St. In San Jose. Skip forward to 2012 and the Camry hybrid runs 0-60 in 7.4 seconds and runs the quarter around 15.2 or a little more while delivering 38mpg in town, not 10mpg. And like the girls in my life in those years, I would like to spend one night with my rude, crude Satellite.

    • July 17, 2012 at 9:21 am


      And most current-year V-6 powered sport sedans will do 0-60 in the high fives.

      A few months back I tested out a Hyundai Genesis 5.0 R Spec. 429 (real) hp – which would probably be 500-plus advertised SAE gross under the old standard. So, more than a 454 SS or 426 Hemi – and completely docile, too. Meanwhile, the 454 and 426 were marginal on the street; they were bracket race engines not suited to daily driving. You know the rest!

      I love the old animals, too – but they were animals. And they weren’t as quick as many people think they were.

  56. Tom Parker
    July 11, 2012 at 8:14 pm

    Gotta say, most of the muscle cars by the ’70s were neutered. The real power was in the 1966-1969 period. No smog devices, no crappy unleaded gas, no low compression engines, those cars hauled ass. I would like to see some of their stock version times compared to today’s models.

    • July 11, 2012 at 8:57 pm

      Hi Tom,

      That’s true, but there were some cars made from circa 1970-’74 that were actually quicker than the earlier cars. For example, the ’73-’74 SD-455 Trans-Am (and Formula).

      These cars ran low 13s – outstanding performance for that time (and also relative to the mid-late 1960s).

      Bear in mind this was 40-plus years ago. Technology has advanced greatly since then. For example, check the flow numbers of a modern mass-produced V-8 cylinder head and stack that up against the typical ’60s-’70s era muscle car V-8 head. Today, there are also roller cams – which allow much more aggressive profiles without killing driveability.

      Today, it is routine to see mas-produced V-8s making 400-plus real (rear wheel, SAE net) hp – something very few classic-era muscle cars ever achieved. And they do it without being borderline undriveable – as most of the really quick ’60s-era stuff was. I’ve driven some of them, so I can vouch for that. An L-88 Corvette was not a car you’d want to drive in stop-and-go traffic. But you can do that every day of the week in something like a Cadillac CTS-V, which has nearly 600 real (SAE net) hp.

      This in no way diminishes my love or respect for classic muscle cars. Holding them up to current standards of power/performance is as unfair – as silly – as putting a P51 up against an F/A 18.

      • john bozic
        July 17, 2013 at 4:37 am

        thiis is a fact with todays cars posted several times by engineers over 20 years . ford plays with the gross or net system to help guys with insurance issues or sellability issues. 2. todays cars are tested with better computer curves dialed in for better performance and if anyone who wants to talk bs about todays cars he or she should post a legitimate time slip or can it.I will admit that my car is modified but it is a good example of what could have been done to a classic to live today it stops well, corners well 2100 rpm at 75 on the highway and get comparable mileage to todays cars when used in performance mode and by the way physics do not change just because cars are new or are imports and my car is lightened but you cannot see it, it is engineered from the frame up and i do this for a living and my car was only 400 hundred to buy plus about ten thousand to build total.

        • July 17, 2013 at 9:28 am

          Hi John,

          I’ve also modded my ’76 Trans-Am and with an overdrive transmission, it also runs about the same 2,100 RPM at 70 as your car – even with a 3.90 rear.

          But, the debate wasn’t over what muscle cars can do when modified. It was about how they ran when in as-delivered, factory stock condition. And the point stands that very few of them ran quicker than mid-13s (most ran in the 14s or slower).

          I’ve taken a lot of flak for stating this, as if it somehow disparages muscle cars to mention their actual ETs back in the day.

          I don’t get it.

        • BrentP
          July 17, 2013 at 2:12 pm

          $10,000 Counting your labor at zero dollars per hour, your research time at zero dollars per hour, your engineering time at zero dollars per hour, with free tools, shop space, etc and so forth. Oh and the free knowledge base of 40+ years of trial and error by thousands of people. What you should really put forth as a price is what you would charge someone else for it. That’s the real comparable price.

          It’s nice that these old cars can be updated with the benefit of modern technology and manufacturing while having details so carefully attended to that they are absolutely perfect, but that’s not how they left the factory back in the day or what era appropriate modifications would make them.

          I went to a local ‘car show’ last week… well two of them. The first one as I am getting there I am stuck behind some ’71 or so Chevy that is just pumping out blue smoke with a thick smell of HC. Now that’s the sort of modified car I remember from ~1978. Well except for the body… in 1978 they wore a mixture of rust, primer, and paint by Earl.

  57. brent kinstler
    June 27, 2012 at 10:06 pm

    Well Im going to put it to the test. 69 r/t charger with msd ignition, gv overdrive along with the 3:23s, aluminum radiator, 9:5:1 compression, holly vacuum sec dual fed 750, lunati cam, working origional ac (after many headaches and a converstion to 134 – wonder if 12 would have been better. My mechanics say the conversion hype was a sham – they all can be converted). On a 100 degree day with black interior it will keep you comfortable on max high but not cold. It blows at 50 degrees. I wonder if it was always that way and the ac thing was kind of a luxury highway option back in the day. around town – doesnt work as good. I also have aftermarket fan on condensor. O origionally tried flowmaster 40’s and then even 50’s – but were to loud for that car (megaphone effect). I finally went with a cheap turbo muffler that sounds great at idle and down the highway pretty quiet. Any thinking of taking to the grand canyon from MO. Could be fun. Could be a disaster. The biggest headace with old mopars is not the mechanics you have problems with. It is the wiring harnesses. Im still using the origional under the dash. The engine harnaess I made new. Do your self a favor if your going to restore one and buy all NEW wiring. Its expensive but well worth it. I think with the GV I will also get 15mpg. Could be awesome trip. Could be AAA disaster but thats what makes it an adventure right. Love the site

  58. Brent Kinstler
    June 27, 2012 at 2:51 am

    This is an amazing forum and a lot to take in. I guess you would call me handicapped because Ill never know how my 69 charger (as good of shap as I have it) smelled when it was new, drove when it was new, or how reliable it was when new. Its just something I have to depend on by stories or the cold hard facts as have been stated here. All I can say is that I was born too late. If you bought a 69 chevelle with a say 396 and wanted to drive it accross country was it as reliable as the cars are today. I mean get in a newer car or even a car with 60K miles on it and drive it accross country. The last thing youll likely think of is whether or not youll have car problems – probably the last thing youd contimplate. I also once had an older gentleman who was very instrumental in the development of the big block chrysler tell me that the 440 was much more effiecent, more reliable, more comfortable, and less likely to have a problem at 3500 rpm than it was at an idle. Pretty hard to wrap my mind around that one. He also stated that many people drove these cars with stock exhaust like earlier stated and had no idea the engine was in as much strain as they sound wrapped out now. The shame of it is that ill never know. Again – I understand the moderators point which he has stated several times. There is a big difference in a highly modified older engine and one that was a stock “muscle car” or old. Another theory I have heard on reliability now is that no matter how much we try to recreate, overhaul, and performance modify reliability is just a factor of old age now. Some might disagree however my dad says “old iron is old iron.” I am also very much aware that when you try to recreate your youth based on what was cool or wicked in the days of old – you will always end up disappointed. A good example of this is the Atari 2600 gamming system. Remember how much fun we had with those. Try playing one today and compare it to the games of new. I recently restored a full size pac man machine. Little kids come flying in around it – spend 2 minutes looking at it and then reply “is that all it does.” Times have changed and I think the same holds true for cars. No one – no one can appreciate the classics like I can. If I had one wish it would have been to have been born to experience the cars of yesteryear when they were new. BUT – to say that they are even in the same bracket as the newer overpriced, middle aged crisis hot rods of today. No comparison. Apples and Oranges. I think Im pushing close to 500hp with 3:23s in a 69r/t highly modified. Would I go pink slip to pink slip with a new V8 SUV. I dont think Im that Im that uneducated. The case is closed. Were they slow – no – where they as fast and as figured out as they are today – apples and oranges. I still just seem to think that the overdrive thing could be more. Maybe a collabrative effort on the part of the gov, auto makers, parts supplers,etc. to wear cars out quicker to sell more cars and use more gas. am I on to something?

    • June 27, 2012 at 10:44 am

      Hi Brent,


      The cars of the Golden Era – 1960s and ’70s – weren’t as reliable (generally) as modern cars. For example, it was pretty common to get a flat tire. That is much less common today, because tires are just made to a higher standard now. Also, the cars from the Golden Era typically had points-type (and relatively low voltage) ignitions that both needed more frequent adjustment and just weren’t as reliable as modern (transistorized/high voltage) ignitions. The old cars also had carburetors – lots of fun (and great sounds) but, as with the old-style ignition systems, they needed more frequent adjustment and had their own set of issues that have been pretty much done away with now that EFI is universally standard.

      But, there was an upshot.

      The old stuff was much easier to fix – and modify. Cheap, too. The average person could, using basic hand tools and a $20 manual, perform most if not all the necessary maintenance. Also, you stood a good chance of being able to fix it by the side of the road if it crapped out on you.

      Modern stuff works much better – when it works. But when it stops working, it is probably beyond the ken (and tool set) of the average person to deal with.

      So, what to do? Do what I have done – and take advantage of some of the modern technology – such as overdrive transmissions and electronic ignition – and adapt them to an older car. My ’76 Trans-Am drives very much like a “modern” car in that it starts immediately, never stalls – and can trundle down the highway at 75 with the 455 V-8 barely turning a fast idle. But it’s still got the sounds and sensations of a ’70s muscle car – and it’s still a very simple car that can be easily (and cheaply) fixed and kept up.

      • Dennis
        July 21, 2012 at 6:03 am

        Well yeah ..sure todays stuff is better more relible, and yes again the old stuff you could work on yourself. I have owned several 60s and 70s cars and when you opened the hood you actually saw the engine. But also gotta admit the old stuff had much more character than todays stuff. Ever driven a 69 mustang 390 4 on the floor in some back parking lot? Feel the jolt as you pull and spin wheels effortlessly through 1st 2nd and 3rd. And the sound is music to your ears. Its like flying a ww2 p-51 Mustang compared to a modern day fighter that flys itself via computer.

        • July 21, 2012 at 9:58 am

          Agree – and yes!

          I have owned and driven several muscle cars – SS Chevelles, a 440 GTX, Ram Air III 400 Firebird, L-82 Z28, 455 Trans-Am, 400 Trans-Am, Buick GS – so , yeah, I know what they are like. And they are tremendous fun.

          But – they’re also far from being everyday drivable – the really quick ones, anyhow. If you know these cars, you know that, too.

          A new Camaro SS or Mustang GT can be driven in traffic, back and forth to work, every day – with no more difficulty than a Camry or Corolla.

          A ’69 Z-28 or Boss 302 on the other hand….

          • Dennis
            July 29, 2012 at 6:52 pm

            Well I have a 2011 Camaro 6 spd manual. and yeh…it smoother, easier handling, but that said, it just goes with the times. Those in 1965 who cut their teeth on a 25 Ford will say the same thing in 65. About a 40 year difference in technology yet in 1925 the cars worked just fine then. A 69 Camaro compared to mine is a bit crude. But even then driving one even with a 4:11 rear was no problem.

            • July 29, 2012 at 7:06 pm

              Dennis, c’mon!

              Driving a 4:11 geared, non-overdrive muscle car on the highway at 70-75 MPH is doable – but also extremely unpleasant. Such a car is built to do one thing: Run the quarter mile. Putting it on the highway and expecting it to cruise at 75 for any length of time is mechanical abuse – and (as just mentioned) also extremely unpleasant. The engine will be screaming along at 3,500-plus RPM.

              Also: Let’s recall that in many cases the cooling systems these cars came with were not the greatest. Run the car at 3,500 RPM-plus for any length of time and overheating was likely. And if the car had AC, spinning the compressor that fast for long periods was not the ticket for long life, either.

              Back in ’69, the speed limit was 70-75, too – so if you notched it down to say 60 or so to keep the engine speed within reason, you’d be getting passed by most of the other cars on the road. Kind of embarrassing – and silly – when you’re driving a powerful V-8 muscle car. And even at 55 (post ’74) a car geared that aggressively was pretty compromised on the highway. That was the reality back then. You could choose quarter-mile quick – or highway legs. But both didn’t come in the same car.

              Before I replaced the non-OD transmission in my Trans-Am, the 455 with 3.90 gears and 15-inch tires was turning about 3,300 at 70. Really hard on a long stroke V-8, hard on your ears – and hard on your wallet, too!

              With the OD transmission, RPMS at 70 are now closer to 2,200 – and the car is much more pleasant to drive.

            • July 29, 2012 at 7:22 pm

              A lot smoother! I’ve driven all the new (and recent) performance cars. Your Camaro with the six-speed is turning a fast idle (around 2,000) in top gear at 70-75 MPH. The steep overdrive gearing enables that very powerful, very quick – and very fast – car to get almost 30 MPG on the highway, too – if you keep your foot out of it and let it burble along in OD with the engine running a fast idle. And even at 100-plus MPH, your car will not feel (or sound) like it’s working very hard. It is barely stretching its legs at 100. AC on, stereo humming… no fuss, no muss. Do it for hours on end.

              A ’69 Camaro with 4:11 gearing would feel – and sound – like it was running very hard at 75 or 80. Because it was! You’d be within 30 MPH or so of the car’s mechanically limited top speed – getting single digit fuel economy and probably overheating, too.

              There’s no comparing a car like yours with an old school muscle car in terms of driveability.

  59. Brent kinstler
    June 25, 2012 at 4:40 am

    I would really like a realistic comment on this. When I ask the old guys about why no overdrive now they scratch their head agree that overdrive existed on earlier cars and then say cheap gas I guess. It’s hard for this 41 yr old to understand. Even with 3:23s. And a modified 440, before the gear vendors it was very uncomfortable knowing I was pushing my engine that hard and embarrassing because I had fiats passing me. I even had a motor home pulling a small car pass me. Of course the gear vendors changed all that. I mean should a 69 charger be in the left lane instead of holding up traffic.. Now I run 80 at 2800. The ac seems to work better also. And what I found even more suprising this wasn’t a small time frame deal. No big block Chrysler overdrive ever produced ever. There was always the elusive wives tale about a 727 INTERCEPTOR that the hwy patrol used but I could never find anything more than just an overblown tale.

    • June 25, 2012 at 10:06 am

      Hi Brent,

      I’m with you!

      I have a Trans Am with a built 455 and 3.90 rear gears. The thing was tedious to drive on the highway, with the enghine screaming at 3,000-plus just barely doing the speed limit (65). I added an overdrive transmission back around 2003 and it transformed the car. Like you, I can now cruise at 75-80- with the engine turning around 2,000 RPM. It feels a lot like a new Mustang GT or Corvette – really long legs now. I wouldn’t try it with the stock suspension and (much worse) the best-you-can-get with fifteen-inch wheels BFG Radial T/A tires (rated for appx. 115 MPH) but if I had proper V-rated or better tires and a suspension set up to deal with it, I bet the old beast could hit 150-plus on top now.

      So, why no factory OD transmissions during the original muscle car era? Probably cost. Overdrives were available – I think there were some dealer conversions. But they were expensive. And back then, gas was cheap. Remember that the vast majority of cars during the era were not muscle cars or even performance cars. So, they had “highway” gears (think 2.41 or so) and low-RPM, big -torque V-8s. Most of these cars didn’t even have tachometers. In any case, they could handle 70 MPH highway speeds without feeling (or sounding) like they were straining. So, along with cheap gas, there was no real incentive to mass produce overdrive transmissions.

      The relative handful of aggressive cars with gearing in the 3.23 or higher range wasn’t enough to justify overdrives.

      Bear in mind also that during that time, performance was mostly defined as how quickly did the car run the quarter mile? Top speed and so on were not considered nearly as important by most people back in the day.

      • Tre Deuce
        August 31, 2012 at 8:04 am

        Regarding ‘Why no overdrives in the old muscle cars’

        Because they were weak and could not stand up to the torque of a large displacement or HiPer engine.

        The NA OEM OD’s of the day, used a planetary gear system and were designed to be used behind low torque/HP engines.

        Because of the lack of an adequate ‘OD’ for the heavier, more powerful cars of the day, the big three offered a cruiser model in the sixties that used a relative large displacement engine with a 2-barrel and a very low ‘ratio’ rear gears in an attempt to get better mileage from the big cars of the day.

        The intended market was traveling salesman. They weren’t offered long. As I remember, Olds, Dodge/Chrysler?, and Mercury, each had their version of the turnpike cruiser type. They didn’t sell because the weren’t marketed adequately. Most people didn’t know they were available

        Now days, we have the 5-6-speeds, which help, but the 6-speed is really just to get a better EPA MPG rating. You generally will not get better mileage or go faster with the 6th OD gear and stock differential gearing. Raise the differential gearing ratio and the 6th gear becomes relevant.

    • Dennis
      July 21, 2012 at 6:13 am

      Ahh shucks..I had a 69 Ply RoadRunner 383 that I had for 13 or 14 years. But mine was just a 3 spd auto stock with a 3:26 or 3:27 rear I beleive. I could cruise all day at 85 and 90. Never had any engine problem even when I sold it with 130 something thousad miles. I dont get your comment about the engines wearing a 60k miles. Are you not changing your oil?? The typical enging back then would easily go 150k miles with proper care. Sure they were leaking oil at 60k but should be just broken in. Engine failures were not that common back then. The trans would go to maybe 70k miles or so before a rebuild.

      • July 21, 2012 at 9:50 am

        If you cruised all day at 80 or 90 with a 3.23 gear, you were burning through a lot of gas! At that road speed, with that final gearing (no OD) the engine was probably turning around 3,500-3,800 RPM, right?

        What was the redline on the 383? About 5,500?

        Pretty brutal!

        My TA – with 3.90 final gearing (before I put in the OD) would run around 3,000 at 65-70-ish… which made the car very unpleasant on the highway. Plus, very hard on the engine. And of course, it drank gas like Elvis popped pills!

        • Dennis
          July 29, 2012 at 6:23 pm

          My 67 Ford Pickup 6 foot bed stepside, had a 4:11 rear, I rode the highway all the time with no problem. Had side exhaust coming out just in front of the back tires. I cruised at 75 or 80 and the sound was music to my ears. This was in the late 70s and early 80s. High RPMs in a v8 didnt effect people then. The annoying High RPMS came in the 80s with the Japanese buzz boxes.

          • Tre Deuce
            August 31, 2012 at 8:45 am

            Lol! Sorry Dennis

            Some people are profoundly deaf and/or have no sensitivity to machines.

            I wouldn’t even drive my Charger to the track with 4.10 gears. I swapped rear gears at the track, 2.78’s for 4.10’s or 4,57’s, and then back before going home.

            Driving around at ’75 to 80′ with 4.11’s, is pure mechanical abuse, unless your were running very tall tires. Not likely with a toy box.

            My GMC 2500 Crewcab with 4.56’s is never taken over 60 MPH, I typically run it at 50-55 MPH with a load.
            I don’t like to burn money and I’m congenitally lazy, so abusing motors that will need to be fixed, and burning fuel to excess offends my delicate sensibilities, Dennis.

            • August 31, 2012 at 9:26 am

              For a while, I had 3.90s in my TA with the stock (non-overdrive) transmission. It really limited what I could with the car. Short hops on secondary roads, mostly. On the highway, it was very uncomfortable. Anything much faster than 60 and the engine was really working. Long stroke 455s don’t appreciate sustained high RPM, either. So I put in an overdrive transmission. Night and day difference. Now the car is highway drivable. But with 3.90s – forget it!

    • Dennis
      July 29, 2012 at 6:38 pm

      My 69 383 Roadrunner could cruise all day at 80, 90 mph with no problem with the stock 3.2something rear. And I sure as heck had no Fiats passing me. I got it up to about 115mph before backing off. Burying the needle probably was no problem so I cant see why your 440 had issues.

      • July 29, 2012 at 6:59 pm

        Hi Dennis,

        Sure, but your 383 was probably turning around 3,500 RPM at 80 – and close to 4,000 at 90. The engine probably had a redline around 5,200 RPM or so – so you’d be running that thing hard! Here’s an RPM/road speed calculator:

        Back in the day, performance cars were set up to go quickly 0-60 and through the 1/4 mile. They sacrificed top speed as well as highway driveability to achieve the quickest times. They had aggressive axle ratios to help them launch hard – but no overdrive gearing. Three speed autos and four-speed automatics.

        I’ve owned (and driven) many cars from that period and none were much fun on the highway. They’d do 80 or 90, sure – but the engine would be screaming – and you’d be stopping for gas every 150 miles or so.

        Overdrives are a godsend. They make it possible to have the best of both worlds – very quick acceleration and comfortable high-speed cruising.

  60. Brent kinstler
    June 25, 2012 at 4:28 am

    I think he has made the point very clear and very hard to disagree with. I mean really he has the facts. My question is this; I have a 69 440 charger with modern ignition, and about everything u cam buy from a race catalog. I’m 41 and have also owned new mustangs and cameros. He is right on. Back to my question though – I’ve added a gear vendor unit to 3;23 rear to get in the left lane. My dad swears back in the day when the speed limit was 75 everyone ran 80. Until I added the gv I was running 65 at 3700rpm and everyone was passing me. Did they really drive them that fast on the interstate? How could they be reliable if so? And why was there no overdrive back then? Gas cheap? Why. My dad also states that his 47 or 49 mercury he got when he was 13 did have some sort of overdrive. Why no overdrive. No wonder these engines were worn out at 60k. I know when u look back things seem to be faster and cooler than they really were. I’ve tried creating my youth several times. But a 440 with 3:23s driven brand new from Missouri to California even make it back then at 4300 rpm’s. Really?

    • June 25, 2012 at 10:14 am

      Hi Brent,

      Yes, those cars did handle 70 MPH speeds – because they had “highway” gearing. You can check this out yourself by driving a car from that era – if you can find someone who has a stock example and who’ll toss you the keys. The difference is startling – especially when you compare a performance-optioned version of a given car with a non-performance version.


      I have a friend who had a stock/unmodified 1979 Trans-Am with the 403 Olds V-8 and three-speed (non-overdrive) TH350 automatic. This car came with a 2:41 rear axle ratio. At 70, the engine would turn about 2,300 RPM or so – very comfortable. Now, of course, it was a dog off the line. But it was very much an “everyday” driver.

      I have another friend who owned another 1979 Trans-Am. But this car had the high-performance 400 and 4-speed manual combo. Which also came with 3:23 gears. Much, much quicker car off the line. But on the highway, at 70, it was obvious the engine was working much harder.

      Basically, you had to choose: Do you want a quick car for quarter-mile runs? Or do you want an everyday driver?

  61. Dennis D. Meniss
    June 3, 2012 at 6:52 am

    Not really a smartly written article. Cars then had power and were not slow because of lack of power. The e/t times you list are actually skewed. The E/T times that most sources list are factory show room time complete with the street tires and no headers though some have carb adjustments. That being said the street tires did these cars no justice. The factory were not the best traction tires in fact the rubber compound given the days technology were no where near as sticky as todays rubber compounds therefore most cars the were spinning out almost all the way through first gear which killed E/Ts. The writer of this article should know that if he is a car enthusiast or if he has even ever driven an old muscle car. Another factor is transmissions of the day were either a 3 speed auto or 4 spd manual. Todays cars are 6 speed close ratios where very little power is lost between each shift like an old 3 spd auto. The 4 speed was a bit more efficient in laying power down but the top end suffered compared to a 6 speed. Adding slicks with a good bite would sometime knock a whole sec. of E/Ts of these oldies. C’mon Eric lets get the facts straight and keep it in context.

    • June 3, 2012 at 9:51 am


      I quoted the well-documented, instrumented test results of the day. What else should I have quoted? “Jim’s car runs 12s!”…. “I know a guy with a 440 Charger….” ?

      You can theorize all you like about how quick they might have been if this or had that been done… which is just speculation.

      Not fact.

      Then you go on about how they’d perform with modern tires and overdrive transmissions. Which would make them modified cars – not factory stock – right?

      Who has his facts straight here?

      Would a ’60s-’70s muscle car run quicker with an updated (modern) electronic ignition (rather than points), a carefully jetted and tuned carburetor, modern high-performance tires on modern wheels – etc?


      But that’s not relevant as regards how these cars ran “back in the day,” is it?

      And the fact is, we’ll probably never be able to know how quick a ’60s or ’70s factory stock car could have run with the above mods – because to make the test objective, we’d need an off-the-production line car as the starting point. Not a carefully restored car (hand-built engine, etc.). Where shall we find a zero miles original, off-the-line ’69 SS 396 Chevelle or ’72 455 HO Trans-Am?

      I love muscle cars, Dennis. I’ve owned several – driven many – and still have one.

      But they are what they are. And by modern standards, the mass produced ones were only so-so quick (mid 14s) and the really quick ones (in the low 13s) low-production models that were in most cases marginally street drivable. If you know these cars, you know that, too. Ever drive an LT-1 Corvette? A 426 Hemi Charger? I have. They’re ferocious – but outside of bracket racing situations, a real handful. Solid lifter cams with aggressive profiles and multi-carbs (or big Holleys) equals a car that doesn’t like to idle in stop and go traffic and can be a real bitch to even get started on a hot (or cold) day.

      Meanwhile, any current-era performance car – including cars like the almost 600 hp (real hp, SAE net – not SAE gross) Cadillac CTS-V are as docile and everyday drivable (other than gas mileage) as a Camry.


      • Dennis
        July 21, 2012 at 5:48 am

        Quoting a document does not give the statement anymore truth than if I say my 13 second 1/4 car beat a top fuel dragster in a 1/4 mile race because that top fuel dragster was not running slicks but was running skinny 14in street tires because he forgot to bring his slicks. With his 14in street tires his dragster simply spun out all the way down the track so I beat him. Does that make his car really slower or just not properly equipped? Yeh..thought so. Same goes for the 60s and 70s factory hot rods. The power and torque is there, but the tires to handle traction and the gearing in many cases is not there to efficiently get that power to the ground. If you dont mind getting 9, 10 or 11 miles to the gallon those same engines nd cars matched to modern transmissions and modern rubber and suspension would be street killers today. Probably why they still sell the same carburted engines today as crate motors for street racers.

        • July 21, 2012 at 9:40 am


          I’m quoting instrumented road tests. They’re not just numbers pulled out of my ass. They are the actual times posted by the actual cars back in the day. You can argue all day about what a hypothetical car might have run if this or if that. I quoted what the actual cars actually ran.

          • Dennis
            July 29, 2012 at 6:32 pm

            Yeh…I assumed you were quoting something. My comment to you I guess is the use of the word slow. A car with a very powerful engine can be called slow if not setup to lay down the available power. Put 2 flat tires on a 12 second racer I guess could also be called slow if it cant get the power down.

  62. Jon
    May 22, 2012 at 3:50 am

    The performance stats on a 2007 Mustang GT are:

    Zero to 60 mph: 5.1 sec
    Zero to 100 mph: 13.0 sec
    Zero to 130 mph: 25.6 sec
    Street start, 5-60 mph: 5.6 sec
    Standing ¼-mile: 13.8 sec @ 103 mph.

    Big deal. And mind you, these cars are much more expensive and harder to afford than the old muscle cars were for the average buyer. Thus talk about the greatness of a $50,000 GT is particularly absurd. In fact, though few were made, a 69 Camaro with the ZL1 aluminum block 427 (factory rated 600 hp) and with an automatic transmission ran a 12.2 quarter, the ‘Vette with slicks and a 4-speed 11.0. The 2011 Shelby GT 1/4 mile a whopping 12.4. Oooo….scary :-(

    Has anybody mentioned the fact that real power belongs to $15,000 sport bikes? A 9.5 1/4 mile run and more excitement than a million dollar 1,000HP Bugatti will give you. Also, they require more balls. But I digress….

    As for the ways HP was rated back in the day, yeah it was at the fly wheel. BUT, then the HP was often underrated when finally made “official” by the various car makers. For example, the 426 Hemi was really closer to 600 hp than the official 425 hp. And if you don’t believe it, pull that pretty little panzy GT alongside one at the next stop light. And watch the tail lights of a ‘cuda, charger, road runner, or even super bee. (Incidentally, if it helps make you feel better, keep in mind that these cars typically weighed less than they looked–and felt via real metal and chrome).

    • May 22, 2012 at 10:31 am

      Hi Jon,

      One thing to keep in mind is that very few of the original era muscle cars ran quicker than 14 second quarter miles (as mentioned in the original story). A mid-low 13 second quarter was exceptional back in the day. It is commonplace today.

      The current (2012) V-6 Mustang runs 0-60 in 5.6 seconds; the V-8 GT does the deed in 4.8 seconds. The typical mass-market muscle car did the zero to 60 run in 6-7 seconds or so. Not my opinion – these are the published numbers, based on instrumented road tests. They are what they are.

      That said, there were original-era muscle cars that ran 0-60 in less than six seconds, and the quarter mile quicker than high 13s/low 14s – but they were not mass-market. They were cars like the ZL-1 and Yenko Camaro, Hemi ‘Cuda and so on. So, you’d have to compare their numbers to current elite muscle cars like the GT500 – which is a 4.4 second to 60 and 12.4 second 1/4 mile car. You’re right that an original Yenko Super Camaro, or ZL-1, or maybe a Hemi ‘Cuda would run with a new GT500 zero to 60 and 1/4 mile-wise. But, if you know those cars, you know they were marginal outside of bracket racing situations. They were certainly not everyday drivers. They had lumpy cams and extremely choppy idle quality; they usually had very aggressive final drive gearing that resulted in a fairly low top speed (120-130 at mechanical redline) and made any highway use extremely uncomfortable. At 55 or so MPH, the engine would be taching 3,000-plus RPM with the typical 3.73-4:11 gear ratios and non-OD transmissions these cars had.

      I don’t think any came with AC – and many lacked sufficient vacuum/stable idle to even operate basic power accessories such as power brakes. They were factory-built bracket racers, built with an almost single-minded emphasis on running the 1/4 mile as quickly as possible.

      Mind, I love those cars. They were animals! But massively impractical – like taking a full-blood wolf for a romp down at the local dog park.

      Cars like the new GT500 can be driven everyday – easily. Other than sucking gas, they’re incredibly mild-mannered given what they are capable of. I can vouch for this personally. I’ve driven pretty much all of them (just as I have driven – and owned – a lot of original-era muscle). At 80 MPH, the engine will be turning a fast idle. The AC’s on and you can cruise for hours this way.

      I agree with you on price. Not only is the cost of a new muscle car considerably higher, the peripheral costs – especially taxes and insurance – are preposterously high.

      So, bikes. You can – as you’ve written – get a machine capable of a 9 second quarter mile for about $12,000 – brand new!

    • carsarefun
      May 30, 2012 at 6:58 pm

      The ZL-1 engine from 1969 was tested with complete factory parts as installed in the car with exhaust manifolds and mufflers. It made 376 NET horsepower. The factory rated it at 430 GROSS horsepower. 600 is only possible with open headers, and lots of modifications. The 426 hemi makes about 350 to 370 net horsepower, if you want to compare the engine to the way they rate power today. The only hemis that had 600 horsepower were the heavily modified ones in NASCAR race cars.

      • May 30, 2012 at 7:21 pm

        Exactly – and meanwhile, today, you can get 556 honest hp in a Cadillac CTS-V and 420 honest hp in a new Mustang GT. In mild “street” tune. These engines, when slightly opened up, can deliver 700-plus hp.

  63. BrentP
    May 16, 2012 at 12:58 am

    Except a modern mustang in capable hands is faster than 13.2. The GT500 considerably so.

    Updates, even tires, means the car isn’t bone stock anymore.

    Mustang to Mustang comparos have been done in the car rags for decades.

    Plus people often have very liberal interpretations of ‘stock’.

    Can a carb and points engine make 400-500 hp? certainly. Good luck at putting up with that ancient monster every day. I got stuck in quite a traffic jam in the ’12 on sunday. I don’t think it would have been very pleasant in a ’69 w/428 SCJ and 4spd toploader and 4.30 rear end. Even my ’73 mav with 250I6 is a beast in traffic like that compared to the ’12. Zbar clutch… loads of fun even with 6… have it push the monster 428’s damn… And that is the big deal.

    There’s a reason why these big block cars generally survived with low miles if they weren’t crashed. Few people could deal with driving them every day and many of the rest gave up after awhile.

    As to Shelby’s personal Cobra… he made a second one for this guy:

    • May 16, 2012 at 10:41 am

      I am into old Pontiacs. I’ve owned several – still own one (the 455 Trans-Am). It is very tough to get more than about 400 streetable hp (honest hp, as measured today) out of a stock-block, stock-heads, stock crank and rods Pontiac V-8. I doubt any of the factory production engines ever produced that much power. Possibly the RA IV or V. But these were extremely low production engines (or crate engines, never installed in a production car). The strongest factory-stock Pontiac V-8s were in the honest (SAE net) 260-370 or so hp range.

      Even at that level (400 hp) you will need a very aggressive cam that, while sounding tough, will make the car difficult or unpleasant to drive regularly – especially in stop-and-go traffic, or on hot (or very cold) days. It will be hard starting, poor idling and not work well with power accessories such as AC. Unless the cooling system has been upgraded, it will probably overheat. It will suck gas, too. If teamed with a manual transmission, you’d better have a very strong left leg.

      Now, you’ve just barely reached par with a new Mustang GT or Camaro SS.

      To get an honest 500-plus SAE net hp out of a stock-block, stock heads Pontiac is certainly possible, but the engine will be heavily stressed and not likely to last long. It will also be an animal, extremely choppy idle, poor vacuum at idle, etc. Driving a bracket racer in traffic is no fun. I’ve done it. It sucks ass.

      The Pontiac V-8 engine, much as I love it, is literally 1950s-era technology. Airflow, for example, is pitiful compared with what a modern LS-series V-8 achieves. That’s because no real development work was done on the Pontiac V-8 after the early 1970s – and the engine has been out of production since 1978 – which is 34 years ago. It was a great engine for its era. But V-8 engine technology has advanced a great deal since then.

      Now, 400 hp is still a good number. But keep in mind: That is heavily modified and marginally street driveable. A new Mustang V-6 produces 303 hp. The V-8 GT makes 412 hp – effortlessly. It is not even close to its peak potential. The current Chevy small block is similar. Effortlessly making 430-plus hp (556 in the Caddy CTS-V). Under the muscle car-era SAE gross way of rating hp, these engines would be rated in the 500-620 hp range.

      Mind: These are cars that can be driven every day, in all conditions – and still rip high 12 second quarter-mile passes with the AC on.

      Sure, with modern aftermarket heads (which flow far better than the rarest, highest-performing factory heads) and similar upgrades (including modern ignition) you can achieve performance comparable to that of a new Mustang GT or Camaro SS. But it’ll still be rude and crude – and more to the point, no longer stock – and thus the “old vs. new” debate is pointless.

  64. Jon
    May 16, 2012 at 12:16 am

    Dude, I’ve seen a bare stock (not even headers) 73 455 Firebird beat a modern 13.2 second Mustang. I saw a old beat up 454 (albeit it with 2 four barrels) Nova blow its doors off. The problems with muscle car quarter mile times taken from that era, include 1) Poor tire traction (compared to today), moreover 2) those tires actual melted, since 3) first gear and maybe even second gear were useless in many cases. And especially when something akin to a 4.11 rear end was in the mix. I used to believe the garbage you’re writing. My buddies with modern Mustangs convinced me. That is, until I saw actual races. Additionally, you can find ETs of old muscle cars today but with new tires and you’ll get much better times. For example, I of a know Trans Am collector who got a high 13 second run out of a ’73 SD 455 Trans Am. Sure, a 455 sounds impressive. But by ’73, and rated at 310 HP, it was by no means representative of the fire breathing variety of just 3 years prior. The same fellow ran slightly higher times (I believe low 14 sec.) in a vintage/stock ’69 Trans Am (with the factory 303). However, first and most of second gear were spent smoking even the modern tires via its 4.11 rear end, much as would have been the case with the 302 powered ’69 Z28. The ’69 Vette with the LT1 427 and a 4.11 posi ran an 11 second flat quarter even back in the day. But, that was with open factory headers AND MOST IMPORTANTLY it ran with slicks. IN the same vein, Shelby’s personal Super Cobra (rated at 800 HP) ran a 3 sec 0-60. Anyway, enough said. Obviously, fuel injection and computers haven’t and can’t advance modern auto performance as much as many tend to think.

    • May 16, 2012 at 10:17 am

      Hey Jon,

      Everything you’ve written is anecdotal. “I’ve seen…” etc. What I wrote was based on published, instrumented road tests. What am I supposed to do? Go by “Jon saw”? Or “Fred says” – vs. instrumented road tests?

      Yes, the old muscle cars would be quicker with modern tires (larger tires) and traction aids. But then they are modified cars, aren’t they?

      PS: The ’73-’74 SD-455 was stronger than the earlier “fire breathers.” The car was quicker than the 455 HO and the RA III 400 TAs of 1970-’72. Facts. And the SD was – like all the really quick muscle cars – a low production model. Most muscle cars – the mass produced ones – were not “fire breathers.” They were quick for their time – mid-high 14s. About as quick as a new Subaru WRX (just the regular WRX, not the STi).

      This whole “debate” is silly because it’s not based on facts. If you can show me documented, instrumented timeslips – posted by stock, as-built cars – then we can have a discussion. Otherwise, this is pointless.

  65. BrentP
    March 17, 2012 at 11:20 pm

    Today’s cars are much better. But then again most products are.

    Sometimes better increases costs because customers can afford more and spend more. Sometimes better comes at no cost because of productivity improvements. Sometimes productivity increases so much better and lower cost go together. But that’s in a constant unit of measure. We don’t have that. We don’t even know the real change in our unit of measure because the way the rate of change is determined keeps changing.

    Cars today all have power windows because power windows are cheaper than manual windows. Power windows are definately cheaper than offering manual and power windows. Many things in cars are like that. Productivity gains have made having the features cheaper than not having them. Go try to buy a new 286 computer. Can’t do it. The new stuff is better -and- cheaper because of the productivity gains. This is the natural progression of product. The bankers and government stifle this for their own benefit and the benefit of those close to them.

    With automobiles how much went to the bankers inflating, how much goes into a better product, how much goes into government regulations and forced sales of equipment we will never be able to accurately calculate and that’s the way the system wants it.

    Let us say that the automobile was left untouched by government mandates. Let’s say the market drove most safety items into existance and left the absurd ones at the wayside. Let’s say that like most products manufacturers tried to hold the same price point and that inflation did not exist. What would today’s better product cost? It’s a guess that’s for sure. I’m thinking one to two rank drops. That what got yesterday’s top of the line version would get the second to top of the line but would be vastly better car.

  66. March 17, 2012 at 9:09 pm

    I think we are comparing apples to oranges on the 60 vs today cars.

    Sure today’s cars are faster, quicker, etc. What do you expect?

    Back in the 60’s most engineers were using slide rules and doing drafting on actual drawing boards. Cad / Cam programs were just beginning to take on a life of their own in the 80’s. The machinists of the day, didn’t have access to CNC machines and the like.

    Today’s cars are largely built on the computer. There are much tighter tolerances today, especially building engines. Better material control, quality control, better metallurgy, the list goes on and on what car makers have today, they didn’t back in the 60’s. Better tire design, materials, better a lot of things concerning tires.

    The cars were awesome for their day. Most anyone could easily work on their own car back then. Today, you can barely figure out how to empty an ash tray.

    This is sort of like comparing WWII aircraft to today’s Stealth Fighters.

    Too much has changed since 69, including the over regulating of cars by government. We were a much freer country back in those days. I long for the days of freedom .

  67. Fred
    March 7, 2012 at 4:28 pm

    This is for you ERIC! Your mighty 2010 Camaro SS GEtting its ass handed to him by a fricken OMNI! This is what happens to guys like you who dont know shit about cars!

    OH and the times??
    CAMARO SS@ 12.20
    Omni? : embarrasses the shit out of the modern day musclecar

    I bet you dont have the balls to post this!

    I didnt take much to tune the omni bc you said nothing in the 80’s had speed either except the Grand National! Your such a turd! Am i educating your dinosaur ass of a brain yet? LOL!

    • That One Guy
      March 7, 2012 at 4:36 pm

      Pop the corn folks!

    • March 7, 2012 at 5:57 pm


      Where to begin?

      “My” mighty 2010 Camaro SS? Don’t own one, sorry.

      So let’s see: Someone else’s 2010 Camaro got beaten in a drag race by a highly modified Omni? So?

      What does that have to do with the performance of a factory stock ’60s/’70s muscle car? Or a factory stock ’80s-era Omni GLHS? Yes, I remember them. They ran high 14s, low 15s, stock – quick for the day. And yes, with some tweaks, you could get them into the low 14s or even quicker. Really modify them and sure, you could get one to run 12s (or quicker).

      Again… so?

      I have a highly modified old (’70s) Kawasaki bike. It has a big bore kit, pods, etc. It is quicker than that 2010 SS Camaro, too.


      It tells us nothing about what my bike was capable of in factory condition, some 40 years ago.

      Your posts are incoherent, addled and profane. That’s why they don’t get through.

    • BrentP
      March 7, 2012 at 8:00 pm

      Back in the day Fred your precious muscle cars got their asses handed to them by modified Ford Pintos. The rules were changed specifically to end this.

      Gapp & Roush used Maverick and Pinto to win.

      Your video of a modified dodge Omni is just another expression of that theory. It’s meaningless as far as the discussion is concerned.

      I skimmed this, looks to have the history:

    • BrentP
      March 7, 2012 at 10:39 pm

      Hey Fred… how about this news:

      That’s a Mustang Cobra Jet, a 2010 model, doing the 1/4 in 7.96 seconds at 172mph.

      • March 7, 2012 at 11:16 pm

        Here are some figures from Michael Lamm’s Fabulous Firebird (see here ). This is one of the most authoritative texts on the 1967-81 Firebird/Trans-Am:

        1969 Trans-Am (RA III 400, 335 SAE gross hp) 14.1 @100.78 MPH
        1970 Trans-Am (same engine) 14.27 @100.925 MPH
        1973 SD-455 (290 SAE net hp) 13.8 seconds @ 103.6 MPH

        These represent the strongest-performing normal production Firebirds from that era. Pontiac did offer a RA IV engine in the Firebird, but this was an extremely rare engine and built for bracket racing. It was not a street engine. Same with the RA V – an all-out race engine sold in crates, not available as a RPO.

        For their era, the performance these cars delivered was excellent. The typical (non-performance) car was much slower than the typical (non-performance) car is today – so a high 13 second quarter-miler was (comparatively) a rocket back in the day.

        Today, a high 13 second quarter is on the slow-ish side for a performance car – the point I tried to make in the article Fred objects to so vehemently.

        I’m just quoting the published performance numbers from back in the day, Fred. What other source should we use? Recent tests using modified cars? (That is, cars with non-stock tires, traction aids, etc.) Supposed “stock” cars that have been carefully restored (including balanced/blueprinted engines; modern cam profiles, owner tuning, etc.) and no way to verify what was done?


        Fred takes my pointing to the published performance times of classic-era muscle cars as some kind of assault on muscle cars. It’s bizarre. The paint quality back then was also nowhere near as good as it is today. Does mentioning that fact also make me a know-nothing a-hole who just hates muscle cars?

  68. Fred
    March 6, 2012 at 2:28 am

    ERIC YOUR A BIG FAT COWARDLY PUSSY! I will make sure i stick on your ass like a fly on shit whenever your articles come up! You cant sensor all the blogs! And im sure you dont have that much power! Guys like you dont deserve to drive these fine machines much less comment about them! YEAH EXPERT YOURE NOT!

    • dom
      March 6, 2012 at 3:04 am

      I guess people get upset being overseas. Which I guess is understandable. I lived in Japan for 10 years, but I had fun and enjoyed it. Tell me Fred, does everyone in the Philippines act mentally handicapped? Or just you?

    • Don
      March 6, 2012 at 3:05 am

      LMMFAO! Now THAT shit is funny. “Sensor”?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!!?
      I almost spit up my Jack and coke reading this.

      There are more grammatical errors here than in Forrest Gump’s senior thesis.

      Thanks for the chuckle. Is Fred a marine? LOL! Oh shit, like shooting fish in a barrel.

      • dom
        March 6, 2012 at 3:12 am

        Not sure. I’ve always thought marines act out physically, not digitally. Are there more than just marine bases in the Philippines? I’m really hoping he’s not our local representative of “the few, the proud!” Say it ain’t so Fred!

        • Mithrandir
          March 6, 2012 at 3:52 am

          What would they do with a clover? Maybe I’d rather not find out.


          He could be a monk. Don’t they use their sensor often?

          Fred’s comments could be applied to several in government.

    • BrentP
      March 6, 2012 at 4:20 am

      Fred, you’re just plain wrong.
      The current Ford factory race car, the 2012 Mustang Cobra Jet simply eats anything, and I mean anything, including Boss 429s for lunch.

      I have a number of mustang and general Ford books published in the 1980s and prior. Thus they are free of revisionist crap by those like you who just can’t let go of illusions.

      “Illustrated High-Performance Mustang Buyer’s Guide” by Peter Sessler, 1983 lists the performance figures of several of the top cars.

      1968 Shelby GT500KR, 428CJ, 4spd manual 3.50:1 Tested by Car Life in Oct 1968: 0-60 in 6.9 and 1/4 in 14.57 @ 99.55 mph. Today’s GT500 makes that car look like it’s going backwards.
      Road and Track has the 2011 at 0-60 in 4.4 seconds and the 1/4 at 12.6 @ 118.9mph. The 2013 will be even faster.

      The Boss 429,. tested by Car Life in July 1969, 0-60 in 7.1 seconds, 1/4 mile 13.6 seconds at 102.85 mph. The Cobra Jet, today’s factory mustang drag race cars does the 1/4 in 8s and 9s.

      Even the ’69 mach 428SCJ was 5.5 seconds 0-60 and 13.9 1/4 mile.

      Today’s V6 mustang with an automatic is doing a 1/4 mile with a time like that!

      And don’t show me modern drag race results with these old cars because not a one of them is going to be bone stock like it left the factory or the dealership back in the day. Even the guys claiming it’s ‘all stock’ with impressive times have done something that just can’t be easily checked.

      Don’t believe me? Ask the guys at “Mustang Monthly” who’ve been into old Mustangs since they were nothing but worn out gas guzzling used cars with practically no value:

      • March 6, 2012 at 10:42 am

        Wrong I can deal with. Belligerent dicks – illiterate belligerent dicks – not so much!

        As you’ve done, all I did was quote the published ETs for these cars from back in the day. Like you, I have numerous reference books on hand (and piles of period magazines). The published numbers are what they are. Not an opinion – the record, from back in the day. So either you have to take the position that all the magazines that did instrumented tests at the track and all the figures quoted by the car company PR arms were grossly wrong (either to deliberately understate the actual performance or because all these people were incompetent and could not drive the cars properly, or didn’t know how to operate the stopwatches, etc.) . . . or the published stats reflected the actual performance these cars delivered, as delivered.

        Would the times be improved with drag slicks or even modern street performance tires in 17 or 18 inch sizes vs. the 14 and 15 inch stuff these cars came with? Certainly. Would they be quicker with a modern high-output ignition, a blueprinted engine and careful tuning? Of course. But that’s not factory. And so the times would irrelevant as a gauge of how those cars ran “out of the box” back in the day.

        For a current road test of, say, a new Mustang GT, one runs the stock, as delivered car through the quarter. One does not run a prepped car through the quarter and then quote that as reflective of the as-delivered performance of the factory-stock car.

        Fred is not educable. He knows what he knows. And we’re (pardon the Fred language) …. BALL SUCKING aholes for telling “there” story otherwise.

        I’m not engaging. One Clover is enough.

        • BrentP
          March 6, 2012 at 3:08 pm

          I understand not wanting to deal with belligerence. But sometimes it’s fun to hammer them with facts and watch them get even more so. Still gets tiresome after awhile.

          A little something I found looking for a now removed video of a ’69 mach 1 road test from ’68:

          A 2008 drag race between a 351W mach 1 and a 427 Nova.

      • March 6, 2012 at 11:57 am

        High Performance Pontiac magazine is pretty authoritative in re classic Pontiacs. They frequently do engine builds. The upper limit for a street engine, using stock parts (especially stock cast iron heads) for the old-school Pontiac V-8 seems to be around 450-500 real hp.

        Mind, this would be a heavily modified engine, with an aggressive cam, some head work, carb tuning, etc. Not at all reflective of what the typical production Pontiac street performance engine made back in the day. Even the very low production, ultra-performance engines (RA IV 400, etc.) weren’t in the 450-500 hp (real, SAE net hp) ballpark.

        Beyond this level (450-plus real hp) you begin to run into durability problems (factory cranks, rods, etc.) as well as streetability problems. To get significantly higher hp usually means giving up streetability and durability – or using aftermarket heads (which flow much better than the factory heads, including the ultra-rare RA IV and even more rare RA V heads), cranks – and even blocks. Also modern-style roller cams – etc.

        I have a 455 in my ’76 Trans-Am; I hopped it up to approximate the power of a ’70 RA III 400 or ’71 455 HO. It uses a very similar cam (an aftermarket version of the factory RA III cam) and a better exhaust (factory repro headers with mandrel-bent 2.5 inch pipes and Flowmasters) and more aggressive (3.90) gearing. Granted, the heads (6X, for Fred’s benefit) are not as good as the RA III’s round port 48s or the 455 HO’s. But they are ported.

        Now, this combo is right on the hairy edge of street driveable. A bit more cam and forget it. Yes, you could probably still drive it. But it would be unpleasant. Probably unreliable, too. Without upgrades to the cooling system (aftermarket high-capacity radiator and water pump, etc.) such an engine would likely overheat in traffic. It would not pull much vacuum at idle, so unless you add a vacuum tank, power brakes could be off the menu. Forget AC. And you’ll still have a very choppy idle and probably poor part-throttle, low-speed operating characteristics.

        Now, you can build a streetable 600 hp engine – with a bevy of aftermarket parts. But that’s not what Pontiac built back in 1970.

  69. getch36
    March 4, 2012 at 5:40 pm

    I used to street race almost every night in my brand new 88 Mustang Lx which I ran a best of 14.0 bone stock .This was pretty fast for those days and I rarely lost.I raced just about everything and the only old muscle cars that where fast included the following.Big block Corvettes (especially 427’s),440 mopars (fast, didnt have to be a 6 pack either ,the 4 barrel cars where fast too),455 Buicks(stage 1’s even faster).That was about it,everything else was pretty slow .One car that really impressed me was a 70 Dart gt or gts 340 ,that car was fast.

    • methylamine
      March 4, 2012 at 8:24 pm

      My dad and I did a full-on race rebuild of a 1981 Toyota Corolla. It started with a pushrod 1.8 liter four-banger; distinctly pedestrian stuff.

      But TRD sold race parts “for offroad use only”; we took full advantage.

      Bored that little motor out to 2 liters. Stuck in nearly full-race cams, blueprinted everything, decked the block, ported, flowed, and five-angled the heads. Stuck on a pair of Mikuni side-draft carbs and righteous 4-into-1 headers with primaries big enough to breath a Corvette. Race clutch, featherweight flywheel, racing-tight suspension.

      Stripped out everything that didn’t contribute directly to going, stopping, or turning; I bet the thing weighed less than 2,000 pounds when we were done.

      SUMMARY: imagine a 190-hp, 1900 pound Corolla with an 8000 RPM redline. Looked bone stock except for the lowered suspension, big wheels, and giant tattle-tale tach on the driver a-pillar.

      I gave a very nasty surprise to dozens of Mustangs in the late 80’s with that little Corolla.
      My god it was fun! Pull up next to victim. Blip the throttle a couple times; Ferrari sounds coming out of a Corolla got their attention. Drop the clutch at 5,000 and come out of the hole sideways, grab second at 8,000, briefly go sideways again and just ride that insane wave through 2nd and 3rd.

      Most of the vanquished Mustangs found a really compelling reason to turn into the strip-mall parking lot before the next light; to, you know, do some shopping or something. And not go to the next light, you know, right then.

      Best eight grand we ever spent, Dad and I.

      One day I’ll do it with my son, regardless of whatever idiotic laws exist at the time…

      Fade away to the strains of Rush’s “Red Barchetta”

      • March 5, 2012 at 3:24 am

        Sleepers like that are (to me) more fun than the obviously fast factory performance cars. Not just the fun with others, either. You’re much less visible to our porcine pursuers. And your insurance company doesn’t think you’re driving more than (as in your case) a beater Corolla.

        I should have found a way to acquire that Maverick I was telling you about. Chocolate brown, vinyl roof, whitewalls.

        • methylamine
          March 6, 2012 at 3:51 am

          Speaking of sleepers–guess what handed my ass to me a few months ago?

          Yep–a two-liter turbo VW GTI. Thing had an intercooler the size of the heat exchangers in a skyscraper’s AC unit, but being somewhat of a dumbass I hadn’t scoped said Behr intercooler in my rearview mirror. Guy pulls up next to me; now I’m going to make an excuse, it was unseasonably hot even for Houston in November, and M’s don’t like the heat.

          We both stood on it off the light, about half a mile from the freeway entrance ramp. That damn thing just WALKED me to about 90 when we both had to back off. I don’t know how he’d do in a triple-digit duel on the highway, but I’m living proof those 2.0T’s are deadly serious at less-than-lethal speeds!

          Get a regular Golf/Rabbit whatever they call them and stick that turbo kit on it, now THERE’S a sleeper!

      • getch36
        March 6, 2012 at 1:59 am

        That’s beyond a sleeper,who would ever suspect that.No one likes a sleeper more than me…..

    • March 5, 2012 at 3:36 am

      The Dart was quick because it was light. One thing that’s pretty interesting in re this: The final-year (Chevy Ventura-based) 1974 GTO didn’t get a lot of respect because it only came with a 200 hp 350. But it was right there, 0-60 and 1/4 mile wise, with several earlier (and heavier) GTOs with bigger, stronger engines. It ran low 15s, which is about what a stock ’64 389 GTO ran. Hop up that 350 a little and you had yourself a hot little car.

      Years ago, Hot Rod did a funny article called Caddy Hack. They took a circa mid-late ’70s Sedan de Ville ( think it was) and systematically took off sheetmetal until they had it down to the frame and seats, by which time it was running supercar quarter miles!

      • getch36
        March 6, 2012 at 1:53 am

        I remember that in hotrod,great article.GTO’s are a great example of the effects of weight on performance.They grew fatter and slower every year.I think every 100 pounds is a tenth of a second in the quarter mile.I remember reading when 1998 R1 came out,that Yamaha realized it was much easier to lose weight than add horsepower.

      • Brent Kinstler
        August 31, 2012 at 6:12 am

        One thing about the Dart. According to the Old Mopar guys when a Dart 340 showed up at the Friday night street drags – the weighted hemi guys and the pontiac all seemed to want to go for a coke break. Its important to remember that the 340 was a hell of a monster. What seperates it from all other chrysler engines is that it was the only mopar engine that was totally created with performance in mind. The theory was that it could be underated in HP based on RPM to fool insurance companies but yet give the customer a light lethal race ready affordable street hell raiser. and it sure fullfilled that quality.

        • August 31, 2012 at 9:30 am


          Another one that was kind of like that was the last GTO. The ’74 Ventura (Nova) based model, with the 200 hp 350. Surprisingly enough, this car performed much better than people expected it to. In fact, it was as quick as many stock ’60s-era GTOs. Reason? It was much lighter. Now, tweak that little 350 to say 350 hp – very doable with a few off-the shelf parts – and you’d have had yourself a real sleeper!

  70. BrentP
    March 3, 2012 at 9:36 pm

    So I am reading a mustang forum and started scanning a V6 thread. In it is a time slip for a 2011 V6 auto trans. 13.868 1/4 mile. That’s the six. The base car.

    • March 4, 2012 at 12:08 am

      I don’t doubt it. The current 3.7 V-6 rates 305 hp. Zero to 60 in about 5.6 seconds. So a 13 second quarter seems about right.

      Back in ’95 I spent a week testing a Cobra R – the competition model Ford only sold to racers. 351 V-8. 300 hp. The regular GT 5.0 (and later 4.6) of the same era (’90s) was rated in the 215-240 hp ballpark.

      Seems pathetic by current standards!

  71. dom
    March 3, 2012 at 8:10 am

    Hey Fred. Apologies for losing all the comments you made the other evening. We had a server crash and everything from that day (including your comments) got wiped out mang.

    • March 3, 2012 at 8:23 am

      I thought about replying to Fred but I’m just too tired to deal with illiterate, ALL CAPS profanity-laden gibberish from someone who is either slightly deranged or a 14-year-old boy with lots of posters all over his wall and too much time on his hands. One Clover is enough, gnomesayin’?

      • dom
        March 3, 2012 at 8:51 am

        Thought you might say that. I hear ya though. It’s been one hell of a week! I’m about head on down to Skip’s Speed Shop down the street and see what options there are for tightening up my engine on the hog. Thinking about going .10 over, increasing the compression to around 9.5, and maybe getting the heads tuned a bit.

        • March 3, 2012 at 8:57 am


          I’m nearly ready to bolt the S1’s cases back together; got the rebuilt crank the other day. I just need to double check a few things before I glue it all back together!

          On the Hog: If it’s like my Kz, the main issue with higher CR is probably heat. Are you running an oil cooler?

        • March 4, 2012 at 4:31 am

          He’s got issues. First, he has reading comprehension problems. I never wrote that you couldn’t make a classic-era muscle car run quicker with modern equipment, especially modern tires. But in stock, as produced trim, back in the day, the quickest muscle cars (that weren’t very low production, such as the aforesaid L-88s, AC Cobras, ZL-1s, “tuner” models like the Bobcats and Yenkos, etc.) ran in the mid-high 13s.

          See here, for instance:

          Notice that only six broke into the 12s – and every one was a barely street drivable, low-production virtual race car:

          427 Cobra
          427 Corvette
          454 Chevelle
          440 Charger
          454 Chevelle SS

          I love these cars – but forget about daily driving. Anyone who drove them knows they were made for racing, not street driving. In traffic, they’d overheat or foul plugs. On the highway, with no overdrive and aggressive rear gears, they’d be screaming 3,300 RPM-plus at 60 MPH. In winter, they were difficult to start. Etc.

          The majority of muscle cars, the mass-produced, street-driveable ones (e.g., the less aggressive small blocks; mid-level, milder-cammed big blocks) were slower. 14s-low 15s, typically.
          (That is, current Subaru WRX, V-6 Mustang territory.)

          Not my opinion. The published times. Including the times touted by the car companies’ press people. And auto PR people are not prone to understating the capabilities of the cars they’re hawking.

          For their time, classic-era muscle cars were quick. Because circa 1970, the typical car was a dog; not like today – when even economy cars routinely make it to 60 in 8 seconds or less (vs. 12-15 seconds or more for a six-cylinder or base 2BBL V-8 economy car circa 1970). But compared with what’s available in a performance car today – a mass produced, everyday driveable performance car – the typical as built classic-era muscle car isn’t even in the ballpark.

          Fred wants to caveat this by comparing a classic-era muscle car outfitted with modern equipment. Well, fine – but then it’s no longer a fair comparison because the cars have been modified. Even if we’re talking just putting on a set of modern tires, you’d still need to somehow establish that the car (the muscle car) was otherwise absolutely factory stock – no modern ignition systems, no nothing that wasn’t put on the car when it went down the line back in a 1969 or whenever. Unless you have a documented low miles survivor car to test – or rebuild a car to exactly “as built” 40 years ago – comparisons are meaningless because, again, the car is no longer stock.

          He’s also got writing problems. I prefer to keep these boards free of sixth-grade-level rhetorical poo-flinging.

          So, long story short, down the poop shoot he goes!

          PS: In case he’s reading for the record my ’76 TA’s 455 is not stock. It’s got higher CR heads (from a W72 “T/A 6.6” 400) a reproduction RA III cam, RA III cast headers, a Edelbrock Performer intake and Cliff Ruggles’ worked Q-Jet. 3.90 gears out back. It makes at least as much hp as my friend’s bone stock 1970 RA III Formula 400 (335 SAE gross hp).

          Is it fast? Yep. Faster than a new Boss 302 or Camaro SS? Hell no! Those cars run high 4s, 0-60. That’s 427 AC Cobra territory – and the Shelby Cobra was far from typical.


        • methylamine
          March 6, 2012 at 3:44 am

          Dom, you’re such a reasonable guy. But those giant air compressors they repurpose as “engines” on those bikes…c’mon, friend, go Rice like Eric and you’ll never look back!

          That sound of a liter bike wrapped around the tach at 12, 13, 14K; REAL power getting made the way God intended, with four small furious little pistons wailing up and down 200 times a second, ignition events so fast it’s just about a turbine engine…makes my knees weak just thinking about it.

          The best part? No pushrods klunking up and down like a James Watt-era steam engine!

          P.S. all tongue in cheek, Dom–to each his own, live and let live. You’re always welcome to share a road with me, sir.

          • March 6, 2012 at 10:13 am

            In defense of some pushrod engines: The transverse twin in my ’83 Honda has ’em and it also has a 9,000 RPM redline! The thing likes to rev! (Also see the current GM LS series V-8s; similar story here.)

  72. February 26, 2012 at 4:17 pm

    Hi again Eric! (I came from LRC as well)..

    It’s true. Plus many of those cars were heavy. I had a built 440 Charger that only ran 12.90 due to just being so heavy. And that was a bad car. Then cars jus began to suck, like all of them, period, and now the technology’s finally online to get fuel efficient performance. Now i’ve found my thrill in an e36 m3 and i remember the first time driving a late-model BMW after never driving one before, and it was like having driving being given back to me after all those years. M3’s and Acura NSX’s is when i started paying attention to cars again.

    My fastest and wildest vehicle ever was my old rd400 tho, 12’s outta the box, i had it doing low 11’s. Ruined me for bikes when they stopped making 2-strokes. 2-strokes is for ridin’, 4-strokes is for pullin’ trailers an’ shit.. 😉

    • February 26, 2012 at 4:27 pm
      • February 26, 2012 at 6:20 pm

        A KH400, very nice, don’t see too many of those.. get the Denco pipes!

        • February 26, 2012 at 6:50 pm

          S1250C, actually – with a front end from a parts bike S3400!

          I also have a ’76 Kz900, an ’83 GL650 Silverwing (Interstate), a 2000 KL250 and an ’03 ZRX1200R.

          I know, I know…. I need to get a few more to have a decent collection….

          • February 26, 2012 at 7:03 pm

            Yes you need to round it out some :)

            OH but i almost forgot, i AM an honourary Kawi person because i had a KH750 front end on my built RD! It needed the twin discs and longer rake to hold the front down under acceleration. I balked when the person told me about it, sounded like a franken-RD but it wasn’t, it handled better than the “all Yamaha” version i thought.

            • February 26, 2012 at 7:14 pm


              I did pretty much the same thing for the same reason. The S1 originally came with a drum front brake and really pitiful forks. The S3 had a much better single disc set-up and also beefier fork tubes. Otherwise, though, this bike is being restored to stock. I usually make a few little improvements here and there to improve everyday rideability; but most of these tweaks are so subtle only someone who really knows these bikes would be able to tell the difference.

              I want – no, I need – an H2750. Next to a Vincent Black Shadow or Dark Prince, the hairiest beast on two wheels ever conceived by the mind of man!

  73. Kurt
    February 17, 2012 at 6:51 pm

    The entire comparison is bogus because the tires used for the original times were complete trash compared to modern tires. Find some of those old cars, put some good modern tires on them and you will be blown away. I had a 72 Cuda with modern tires, a 340 (not even a 383, 440, or 426 hemi) 4speed which was mostly stock and I regularly blew away modern cars. Of course this was in the 1980s and 1990s when the modern cars weren’t up to current cars but even so I’m sure that with soem minor tweaking that car could still hang with the current new cars. Now factor in that those cars were so easy to modify and getting a lot more power out of them was very easy.

    I’m sure car salesman like to tell everyone that the new cars are far superior and they are in a lot of ways, just not performance, especially if you consider cost. Remember that a huge part of the muscle car fad was that they were affordable. What performance can you get for a $20k – $25 car now? Not much.

    • February 17, 2012 at 7:15 pm

      Yes, tires are a factor. And I love the old muscle cars (I’ve owned several; own one now). But most of the classic-era stuff, even with modern tires, would not be as quick as the new stuff. Even under the old SAE gross hp system, very few of the ’60s and ’70s stuff was rated at 400 hp or more. If you’ll recall, most were in the 330-370 hp (gross) range. Granted, these engines were often under-rated, but you started out with a measurement that wasn’t realistic – i.e., engine on a stand, with headers rather than production exhaust, no accessories, often “tuned” to extract max power, etc.

      Today, using the much more honest SAE net way of measuring hp, we have 400 hp V-8 production cars – and 400 hp is middle of the road (on the higher end, a Caddy CTS V has almost 600 hp SAE net). Using the old SAE gross standard, many current V-8 performance cars would be rated 500 hp or more. When factory-stock muscle car engines are dyno’d today and rated the same way as modern production car engines are, most come in around 270-310 SAE net hp. This lines up with the typical low 15 second/high 14 second quarter mile times posted by these cars.

      And then there’s handling – which sucked. That’s not arguable. Same with regard to brakes. They sucked. And everyday driveability, too. Which sucked. Compare a new Mustang GT – zero to 60 in the mid-high fours, low 13 second/high 12 second quarter-mile times, 150 MPH-plus on top… but idles smoothly, with the AC on, pulls plenty of vacuum, doesn’t overheat.. etc.

      Ever own/drive a solid-lifter, high-compression, Holley-carbed muscle car? Lots of fun, sure. But forget everyday driveable.

      Now, you’re right that the old stuff was (and is) cheaper/simpler to hop up. I agree that’s the chief thing we’ve lost with the new stuff. Back in the day, V-8 performance cars were accessible even to high school kids while today, V-8 performance cars are mostly middle-aged guys’ cars.

      On the other hand, the FWD/AWD 4 and V-6 sport compacts are accessible – and most will outrun (and easily outhandle) any mass-produced factory-stock ’60s or ’70s muscle car… .

    • BrentP
      February 17, 2012 at 10:46 pm

      Car magazines have done old vs. new test comparisons many times. The old car always gets the benefit of modern tires. If one were to be done right now model to model, old is gonna lose big time. It’s not the 80s and 90s anymore, struggling to get back to the previous peak. Well beyond that now.

      I consider 1969 to be the peak of the original muscle/pony car era. In that year mustang came in the form of standard mustang, mustang E, GT, mach 1, GT350, GT500, BOSS 302, and BOSS 429. Today, mustang comes in standard, GT, GT500, and BOSS 302. Compare them head to head. No way 1969 is gonna win, modern tires or not.

      • February 17, 2012 at 10:57 pm

        One reason being how much air a modern cylinder head flows vs. what even the best of the best could do circa ’69. The numbers are just incredible. It’s also why some old muscle cars owners opt for aftermarket heads. For example, the alloy heads Edelbrock sells for the Pontiac V-8 flow so many more CFM of air than even the best, highest-performance (and rare and super expensive) factory round port Ram Air IV/V heads that it’s just not worth messing with the old ones, unless you want to keep it stock for originality’s sake. Also cams. The old engines all used flat tappet designs that were inherently inferior to the roller type now in use.

        GM is pulling an effortless 420-500-plus hp out of the current generation small block. These are mass-produced, fully warranted, docile engines a 14-year-old girl could deal with. Any original-era muscle car V-8 that was making an honest 400 hp (and there were very few) was typically a near full-on race engine, barely streetable, with a choppy idle, not much vacuum, prone to overheating and fouling plugs that did not deal well with anything other than WOT.

        I love muscle cars – but that’s the reality. It’s been 40 years. Times have changed. Technology is much improved. A new Mustang or Camaro would mop the floor with a factory stock 1969 Mustang or Camaro in every category of performance. The old cars had style and character. And they are fun to work on/easy to work on. But anyone who claims they’ll run with a modern performance car without significant refitting is someone who hasn’t driven the new stuff, I suspect.

  74. Peter S
    January 19, 2012 at 11:27 pm

    The really hot car for the 60s and early 70s and before and after was the Corvette. It hauled and few if any cars could run with it unless they were heavily breathed on.

    • January 20, 2012 at 12:15 am

      With one exception! I have to mention this, as a Pontiac guy: The ’73-74 SD-455 Trans Am (and Formula) was the quickest factory stock American production car available after 1972 (and well into the mid-1980s). Also, a “T/A 6.6” 400 77-’79 Trans-Am with the W72 package would run right with an L-82 Corvette – and handled better!

      • Peter S
        January 21, 2012 at 1:33 am

        By 73-74 it was all over for hot cars. A bunch of also rans. My 6 cyl Volvo with Fuel Injection and overdrive ran away from a Pontiac Trans Am V8. Made the Cop very angry when he finally cought me at a stop light. That was an expensive ticket. About $13,500.

        • January 21, 2012 at 10:10 am


          There were a few exceptions… I mentioned the ’73-74 SD-455 Trans-Am/Formula. These were low 13 second cars, stock. With some mild tuning, they’d run high 12s. That’s damn quick, even today.

          And: Chevy still offered the L-82 option in the Corvette all the way through the ’70s. This engine was a detuned version of the famous LT-1 of the early’70s. It no longer had the hot solid lifter cam and Holley carb, but it did still have the high-performance heads, a decent cam and (depending on the year) gave a rated 210-240 hp – enough to get you into the 14s.

          A stock ’77-’79 “T/A 6.6” W72 Trans-Am or Formula also had 200-220 hp and was capable of excellent performance with a few simple mods, such as replacing the stock single-cat exhaust with duals (and no cat). That and a little ignition/carb tuning would get you solidly in the 14s – again, performance as good or even better than most factory stock ’60s muscle cars and better than almost anything else on the road at the time.

          The ’77-81 Z28 could also be easily warmed up.

          That was one of the good things about ’70s-era stuff. Sure, they were not so impressive in factory condition, but with a few very simple (and cheap) modifications, one could restore much of the performance.

          I’ve owned these cars, incidentally, so I’m speaking from personal experience!

          • Shane
            November 16, 2012 at 6:08 pm

            Mopar still had the low compression 340 Duster/ Dart in 1973. In 1974 they went with the 360, which was still available in the cuda’ till 1974. 1978 came the Volare/aspen with roadrunner and R/T badges. They also had the Lil’ red express pick up. The pick up wasn’t bad for the time. They were able to leave some of the smog stuff off because it was a truck. None of these are barnstormers but it was all they were producing. They also replaced the 383 with the 400 in the B- bodies (Roadrunners/ chargers in1972.

  75. Peter S
    January 19, 2012 at 11:25 pm

    My move to the muscle car was to special order a White Plymouth Grand Fury Convertable with a 440 Tri Pack and 4 on the floor. Red Leather and what other tricks you could put on it to make it classy, as I was going to use it as my road car for my sales job.
    Got cold feet when the dealer called to say it was in and told them to keep the $100 bucks and sell it someone else. They were shocked. I just decided I would get too many tickets if I got it. Still got the tickets but, not at 120 MPH.

  76. carsarefun
    November 29, 2011 at 4:59 pm

    You are absolutely right about all of what you said, but it needs a bit of perspective. Think about how much faster the 1960s cars were than what came before. The 1950s cars, except for the fuel injected corvette, were so much slower that it’s not even funny. Most “performance” cars then, with optional larger V8s did 0-60 in 10 seconds and 17 second quarter miles. The 1955 Chrysler 300 barely had 200 net horsepower, judging from it’s acceleration. And don’t even bother with the 1930s and 1940s. Many did not even get to 60. And in the 1920s and 1930s, manufacturers with engines 500 cubic inches and bigger with only like 70 horsepower. Maybe another article about the pre-60s cars? Would be interesting.

    • November 29, 2011 at 7:09 pm

      Good point!

      And – you can apply the same to current cars, only in reverse. Today, there are only a handful of cars that take longer than 10 seconds to reach 60. The average – including economy-type cars – is in the 8 second range. That would have been considered blazing speed as recently as the late ’70s (and even into the ’80s). And of course, today’s performance cars are faster and quicker than most any exotic built before the mid 1980s: Zero to 60 in less than 5 seconds and 150 MPH top speeds are almost common now.

      • carsarefun
        December 2, 2011 at 3:50 pm

        Yes, that it true. Having read car magazine road tests from the 1950s until today, it is amazing what new cars can do. Today, all cars are “fast”. The difference between the fastest cars vs the slowest it not that much, only a few seconds. But before the 1990s, there were pathetic 4 cylinder cars that took 18, 20, even 25 seconds to do 0 to 60. And at the same time, there were 1960s V8 cars driving along side them that did 0 to 60 in 5 or 6 seconds. So there was a huge difference in automobile acceleration capabilities when pulling out on the highway and passing. So if someone got their drivers license during the late 70s or early 80s, and only drove newer economy cars, they were used to the feeling of pushing the pedal to the floor and waiting a long time for speed to build up, with hardly any feeling of acceleration. Then they got into a pre-emissions V8 car, even one that was not a high performance V8, and it felt scary how mush faster it was. If today’s young people would drive that same old V8, they would complain how ordinary and slow it is.

      • Kurt
        February 17, 2012 at 6:54 pm

        Not by a long shot “Zero to 60 in less than 5 seconds and 150 MPH top speeds are almost common now” if you are looking at medium prices cars. Remember that muscle cars were for ordinary working folks who couldn’t afford a ferrari or porche and they cost only slightly more than a plane jane sedan. How many modern cars go “Zero to 60 in less than 5 seconds” and cost less than $25k?

        • February 17, 2012 at 7:08 pm

          A new Mustang GT starts at $29k and does 0-60 in 4.8 seconds. You can get a MazdaSpeed3 for $24k that’s a 6 second car. A Subaru WRX starts at about $25k nd does 0-60 in 5.3 seconds. All will do 140 or more on top.

          These are not exotic cars.

          Meanwhile, only a small handful of factory stock muscle cars from the ’60s or ’70s delivered 0-60 in less than 6 seconds.

          Today, a V-6 Camry or Accord will do that – and either would outrun most factory stock classic-era muscle cars, as well as outhandle/outbrake them.

  77. RamAir Rex
    November 11, 2011 at 6:30 am

    I thought I had died and gone to heaven finding a blogger who was both an articulate libertarian and an old Poncho enthusiast! Whoo-hoo! Keep up the good work!

    You’re absolutely right, of course, about the old iron being more show than go off the show floor. But it could be made to go if you were willing to work at it and it was so much fun to do the mods. Those cars got into your blood and would never leave. I’ve owned a number of GTOs and TransAms over the years and my favorite, which I still have, is my supercharged RAIV 69 GTO with a 4-speed 700R4. Admittedly, it’s a bit far from stock but you would never know it by looking at it. Even the dash and interior vinyl are all original. However, I also own a 2006 GTO and, in discussions of modern supercars, this car is often overlooked. I have one of these too and absolutely love it. Though it’s not much to look at by the standards of the the original musclecars, it will eat them all for lunch including some of the new ones as well without alerting the fuzz. With a manual six-speed and quick steering, it still requires more concentration than your typical modern point-and-shooter but it hearkens back more to the spirit of the original 64 TriPower GTO with more of a sleeper appearance.

    Anyway, I’m still having fun with cars and there are still no clovers in my family…:-)

    All the best!

    • November 11, 2011 at 10:03 am


      This week, I have a new Camaro SS – quick as hell, but lifeless compared with my TA. Well, maybe not that. A different word came to mind as I drove the Camaro around yesterday: Easy. As powerful as it is, anyone could drive it. My mom handle it. Easy clutch; gentle engine. Great brakes. It’s fast but it’s not fierce, if you know (and I think you do) what I mean. That wildness was – is – part of the fun of the old stuff. That new SS may hook up better than my TA and is much more stable at high speed – all that. But in a very real way, it’s also a boring car, too.

      I’ll stick with the TA…

      And hey, there are more of us out there than you might have thought….

      • RamAir Rex
        November 12, 2011 at 6:14 am

        I know exactly what you mean. New supercars are actually engineered for performance where the musclecars really were not. They were big unruly engines in platform cars with underperforming suspension, drivetrains and brakes. That made for a lot of tense driving and worry over whether another burnout or race would break something. We seldom worry anymore about that but the fear made for vivid memories. Believe me, I know since I blew two engines and a driveshaft in my younger days. The upside was that I learned to work on cars. New cars make it easy and reliable and take most of the worry out so they seem almost tame by comparison. But there is no denying that the style and sheer joy of the musclecars will never be duplicated.

        Have fun with the SS nonetheless and push it towards the envelope now and then. Worry free muscle has it’s place. And thanks for standing up for freedom. It’s great to find the like-minded!

        • November 12, 2011 at 10:11 am

          Roger that – and, likewise!

          I only have one major complaint with the new Camaro and that is the interior’s really cheap looking and feeling. Not so much the design but the materials and feel. Now, back in the day, when a Camaro was a fairly inexpensive car, this was ok. But in a $35k SS – in the same price range as a new BMW 3 or Lexus ES (or hell, Caddy CTS) that’s not right. Either get the price of an SS back to $25k or so – or class up the materials and workmanship!

  78. 454monte
    November 1, 2011 at 9:30 am

    Great Blog…Immediate CTRL+D ;-p

    I tried to do politics and car stuff and couldn’t quite seem to pull it off on my own site, it never seemed to work very well for me…you have accomplished what I couldn’t very well. Congrats.

    • November 1, 2011 at 9:43 am

      Thanks 454!

      PS: I’m a big fan of GM intermediate muscle; love the Monte SS (and its cousin, the Pontiac GP SSJ).

  79. Charlie
    November 1, 2011 at 6:37 am

    Sorry I’m late to this post but just had to add a bit of my history.
    My first brand new car was a 1969 GTO special order with heavy duty rear axel, 3.90 rear end, Hurst 4 speed, hood tach, no Air Conditioning, no door protectors, no vinyl top, and no hub caps. It was not the JUDGE. It was a stripped down no frills machine.

    I regularly ran 12.20 in the quarter mile at the NHRA drag strip in Roswell New Mexico (circa 1970) at about 4 to 5,000 feet elevation (forget exactly) but that supposedly added 1 full second to our time. I ran ET class and the only thing that ever beat me was a Chevy pickup truck that I had to spot about 4 seconds. I can still remember setting at the starting line waiting for my green light while that damn pickup got smaller and smaller in the distance. He beat me by the bumper guard on his front bumper; the 69 GTO didn’t have one.

    You are correct about the hard work driving the monster. After a day at the races I would be completely worn out, and usually have a headache to boot.

    Damn I loved that car. I think I got $800.00 for it when I traded it on my new family car. I had trouble with the hood Tachometer that went out twice.

    • November 1, 2011 at 9:32 am

      Hey Charlie,

      Great car – and, good times, too!

      Welcome to the site; good to have you with us.

      • Charlie
        November 2, 2011 at 2:19 am

        Forgot to add that I was able to get respectable times because my good friend Gordon did a bang up job tuning the beast and I learned real fast that too much throttle out of the traps resulted in a loss. I actually held my RPM to 2000 until the car was rolling. I beat several drivers in the ET bracket that had more HP because they made lots of smoke while I was moving on down the track. My friends watching from the stands claimed that I burned rubber in all 4 gears – don’t know if that was power or poor shifting.
        I also owned a 1966 GTO convertible – was actually a better-looking car in my opinion.
        Great column on the older cars.

        • November 2, 2011 at 12:13 pm


          My TA is no bracket racer; just a mild-street 455 … but it puts out so much torque that anything more than half throttle up to about 25 MPH will incinerate the skinny (by current standards) 245-60-15 BFG radials. It’s fun to light ’em up, but not much good for the ETs!

  80. October 26, 2011 at 7:35 pm

    Having earned a mechanic’s certificate at the local community college, and having passed the 8 ASE “Master Mechanic” exams twice, I agree with the observations about the old muscle cars. The newer cars really are faster, better and more efficient. I own a ’66 GTO with Tri-Power, a 5-speed transmission and some “juice” in the engine. The car weighs almost 4,000 lbs. and is typical of its genre–way too heavy and inefficient. BUT–

    There is nothing like the tire-smoking, body-wrenching, fuel-sucking, hood-lifting, death-rattling, screaming, thundering, godawful TORQUE that just slams one back into the seat while the front end seems to go so high it is hard to see the road out the windshield, and it feels like you are gonna black out from the acceleration! It will slam that ponderous 4,000 lbs. down the road pretty quickly, and it is just remarkable that there were thousands of such engines built for the masses that would haul such uselessly heavy loads so incredibly fast!

    Yes, they were horribly thirsty and inefficient, but there is no 4-cylinder nor V-6 built today that can compare with that memorable V-8 experience!

    Wat Ellerson
    PO Box 90
    Hadensville, VA 23067
    (804) 457-4243

    • October 26, 2011 at 7:58 pm

      Hey WE,

      I’m with you! I own a ’76 Trans-Am with a mild street (.30 over) 455 that makes about 340 hp but probably 500-plus lbs.-ft. of torque. It will fishtail the tires if I punch it doing anything under 40 MPH and even then, the back will get loose as a goose and no traction control or ABS to save my bacon, either. I love that old beast – even if a new Mustang GT hooks up better and even though a new Camaro SS would destroy my car in a drag race.

      PS: I have a Kaw triple, too…!

  81. Bob
    October 18, 2011 at 4:50 am


    My friend is an expert classic benz mechanic and one of his 1959 220S (2.2L inline 6cyl engine) still could do almost 100mph the last time we tried, NEVER having work done on its engine.

    I had a 1966 Mercedes 200, 2L 4cyl gas engine and while I never tried its top speed it was rated at over 100mph out of the factory.

    A friend had two diesels of the same car as mine (heckflosse) and he could squeeze over 100mph out of them (eventually) driving in Germany in the 70’s and these things had more than 500,000km previously being taxi cabs. I don’t know how he did that as they’re rated for less than 140km/h out of the factory but he is an automotive engineer…

    These cars, mine at least, a 1967 (came out in 1959), has a 2.3l 6cyl engine with 120hp carburretted and 135hp with injection, has 4 wheel disc brakes (base models had discs up front), all independent suspension, unibody with crumple zones front and back, passenger safety cell, safety features unseen on cars of that era, and it’s still a daily driver, 80km per day in city traffic (though I’ve recently stopped driving it as I take the train now). These cars were champion rally cars.

    I asked a friend who wants to spend 250K on a Corvette from the same year and he, a former stock car owner, engine builder and racer, couldn’t tell me what’s special about the Corvette compared to my car.

    Not bad for a car that started production in 1959.

    When people were arrogant jerks about German cars in those days they truly had a reason to be so.

    Here’s a 1961

    • October 18, 2011 at 9:40 am

      The Benz cars of that period were magnificent – overbuilt to the nth degree, which is why they were so rugged and lasted as long as they did.

  82. Steve Valle
    October 17, 2011 at 4:56 am

    I am now faced with the prospect of rejuvenating my customer’s 25th anniversary Corvette. I build fucking fences! How lucky am I? It needs to have the gas tank dropped and drained, and a jump start, that’s it. It is inflicted with all the mid-seventies power-robbers, but it will still be one of the best projects I have been involved with. Sometimes, divorce is good. 😛

  83. holdover
    October 17, 2011 at 4:10 am

    hi just joined, Eric who is my neighbor invited me in.. About old time muscle cars, being old I got to drive them when they were new. At that time they were all we had and were very impressive. I remember well my first ride in a 426 street hemi, a 375 fuelie vette and many of the other HP cars of the day, remember racing against the first cobras both small and big blocks, loved them all and still do. Among my favorite was my ’68 428 CJ Mustang FB, 4 speed that I owned from ’69 -’73. being a car guy and a street racer(shouldn’t say that and do not endorse doing it, but 40+ years ago thought different)I had a couple of different rear ends that I changed depending what was going on that day you would be suprised how fast you could change a 9″ especially if you had a lift availabe, 3 series, 4 and even 5 series for 1/8 mile blasts. It was quick, rarely lost , BUT it would be wiped today by my 2012 Mustang GT, and it only got 8-10 miles per gallon with 3.70 gears, while my 2012 gets better than 25. But I really like them. Today I have a 65 289/271 FB 4 speed and a ’67 390 FB 4 speed as well as a ’92 GT 5 speed HB, if I was going on a short cruise of say 50 miles or less one of the classics would be fun, any farther no way, there also is the safety issue, there was no safety in those early rockets, trust me I have been in fire and rescue all my adult life and the injurys years ago were quite different than they are today,, keep them rolling!

    • October 17, 2011 at 4:26 am

      Hi Hold,


      My experience – and memories – are similar. I still have my old Trans-Am (mild street 455) and by the standards of the ’70s or even the ’80s and ’90s it’s powerful and quick. But the appx. 350 hp it’s putting out is barely lukewarm by 2012 standards and, as you say, a new Mustang GT (or equivalent) would eat the TA for breakfast… still, it has qualities the new stuff doesn’t. Maybe it’s just nostalgia, but the thing always makes me smile when i drive it. The new stuff is fun, too, of course. But it’s an entirely different kind of fun.

  84. October 12, 2011 at 11:37 pm

    Interesting to peruse those muscle car stats you posted. They seemed to be relatively more slow 0-60, and not quite so relatively slow in the quarter mile. (Except for the Z28 which seemed equally slow in both.) Perhaps this is explainable by their relatively poor traction (compared to today,) from a standing start?

  85. ekrampitzjr
    October 12, 2011 at 9:52 pm

    A couple of quick comments:

    As I mentioned on one of the forum threads, even the muscle and pony cars equipped with any V-8 were not as common as people remember. The majority had straight sixes, as do most of the survivors (including those that I see just sitting). That’s one reason the V-8s get a premium when selling.

    Reductions in rolling resistance are just one factor in modern vehicles not slowing as quickly when lifting the throttle. Another is that oxides of nitrogen emissions control has long required that the engine RPMs drop slowly instead of immediately when the driver takes his foot off the accelerator, so the deceleration is deliberately damped. This was particularly noticeable in the 1997 Ford Escort I once owned, which would actually jump up a few hundred RPM and THEN reduce RPMs when taking my foot off the throttle under most conditions.

  86. richard
    October 12, 2011 at 3:48 pm

    Interesting comments. Here’s mine. I remember Tom at Tom’s Pit Stop in NJ testing his 1966 TVR 200 on Rt. 22. Hi-po Ford 289. He wanted to duplicate TVR factory times of 0 to 100 mph and then back to 0 in 10 seconds. That’s right…10 seconds. American muscle couldn’t compete with that. Might still have problems. Each to his own, but that Brit TVR was unbelievable. Still is forty years later. Regards.

    • October 12, 2011 at 5:17 pm

      I had a buddy in high school whose dad had a Sunbeam Alpine Tiger; remember that one? Similar concept: Brit sports car with 289 Ford V-8. It was a cool little car and even better, a real sleeper!

      • Boothe
        October 12, 2011 at 5:58 pm

        Even my Mom’s Alpine with nothing but the four-banger it it was quick! Not like the Tiger of course, but impressive for an N/A 4 cyl. Gas mileage was decent too! There was the issue of frequently tweaking those dual Zenith-Stromberg carbs and English atuomotive electrical systems left a lot to be desired back in the day…..

        • June 14, 2012 at 1:47 am

          Dear Booth,

          Never owned a British car, but I loved driving the old late 50s early 60s British roadsters. The MGA, the Triumph Spitfire.

          The modest performance stats made no difference. It was the FEEL! You could drive like an old lady, and the exhaust note and wind in your hair would make you feel like Stirling Moss.

          I’m sure you remember the old joke: “Why do the Brits drank warm beer? Because they have Lucas refrigerators.”

          • June 14, 2012 at 10:27 am

            Our friends down the road have a Morris Minor (’68) that I work on. What a fun little buggy!

          • June 14, 2012 at 11:26 am

            Dear Eric,

            I owned an Alfa Romeo Spider Veloce 2000 for several years when I lived in LA. Bought it second hand.

            It was my chance to enjoy the classic two-seater roadster experience. I will never forget it. Just cruising along, not even pushing it, down the Pacific Coast Highway on a sunny day, was better than any “controlled substance.”

            It was considerably nicer than an MG or Triumph. But the truth is, I would have enjoyed a Spridget or Spitfire just as much.

            I hope to relive it once more with another roadster of some kind before my time on this mortal coil is up.

            The previous owner tweaked it quite a bit. Race ground cams. Twin Weber carbs. Recaro seats with five point racing harnesses. Wide-rimmed Momo wheels with Pirelli tires that filled the wheel wells with not an centimeter to spare. Roll bar. Momo steering wheel.

            The roll bar came in handy when I rolled it over at Willow Springs Raceway in California during time trials.

            A sad end to a happy period in my life.

            • June 14, 2012 at 12:03 pm

              Great car!

              In fact, I prefer such cars to the new stuff – in part because you can really drive the snot out of them and test your skills, whereas with the new stuff, it’s much harder to really push yourself because the car’s limits are so high. It’s almost boring to drive a new car fast. You have to be really moving to begin to test the car – and thus, yourself.

      • Erle
        December 15, 2011 at 4:53 am

        Wasn’t a 260? or 221?

        • June 14, 2012 at 1:30 am

          Dear Erle,

          I thought it was a 260 too. But I checked and apparently a later model, the Mark II, had the 289. Only a few hundred were made.

          I remember Maxwell Smart drove a Sunbeam Tiger in the TV series “Get Smart.”

          Basically it was stuff a Ford V8 in an AC Ace and get a Cobra. Stuff a Ford V8 in a Sunbeam Alpine and get a Tiger.

    • Dennis
      July 21, 2012 at 6:39 am

      Yeh ….I imagine that TVR was 500lbs lighter and thousands more in cost.

  87. Bryce
    October 12, 2011 at 3:37 pm

    There’s something else I forgot to mention: aerodynamics. Despite their mean, sleek appearance, 60s and 70s muscle cars weren’t aerodynamically friendly. There were attempts to make such cars more aerodynamic, such as the Superbird and the “Coke-bottle” shape of many muscle cars, but your average muscle car of that time, as compared to even the retro-styled modern muscle, has the wind resistance of a brick wall.

    Take a feel of the hood edge of a ’65 Mustang and a 2011 Mustang and you’ll notice the difference.

    • October 12, 2011 at 5:22 pm

      Yep – and here’s another: rolling resistance. They are putting a lot of brain sweat into this with new cars. You lift off the throttle and even trucks will only decelerate slightly (on a flat road). But try this in a car from the ’60s or ’70s. Back off the gas and they immediately begin to lose speed. Some of it must be tires; also the generally lower to the ground stance of modern stuff. And of course, superior aerodynamics. And steep overdrive gearing, which makes a huge difference.

      • Steve Valle
        October 17, 2011 at 4:52 am

        And yet, we must remember that the 1970 model year Plymouth Superbird and Dodge Daytona were banned from NASCAR after one year of competition because they averaged 30 MPH HIGHER TOP SPEED than EVERY OTHER CAR. American engineers got SOME things right!

        • October 17, 2011 at 5:22 am


          And then there’s the sick thought of all those slightly used Superbirds and Daytonas languishing on used car lots circa 1974 or so – when almost no one wanted “one of those old gas hogs” and you could pick one up for the equivalent of what a used Corolla goes for today.

          Here’s a true story:

          Back in the early ’80s, when I was a kid in HS, a buddy of mine (17 years old) was able to buy an original ’71 GTX 440 for … $2,300.

          • Pete Duffy
            May 29, 2012 at 9:38 am

            YO ERIC! I know you are comparing specs of the old cars, BUT the real power was in the (modified) HOT RODS. MY buddy had a ’67 Chevelle in 1979 that was so fast we smoked a Camaro by 1/2 a block. When he stepped on the pedal, you couldn’t lift your head off the headrest, and this wasn’t unusual for JACKED UP rods. The problem with the new cars is that the OBDII electronics won’t allow you to modify with bolt on parts, you’ve also got to reflash the computer. SO now you need a professional for just about anything. My point is that since the new cars (like my mustang) cost alot more to “JACK UP” these days, there’ll be a lot less cars out there that “you just don’t know what the’ve got” and that’s what made racing REALLY exciting…back in the day! [P.S. I liked your article man]

            • May 29, 2012 at 9:46 am

              Hi Pete,


              One of the many great things about old-school muscle cars was how easy and cheap it was to increase their hp. In particular, the mid-late ’70s “smog” muscle cars, like my ’76 Trans Am. That year, the 455 was rated 200 hp – pretty weak, right? Right. But, a simple cam change (and in a car such as this a cam change is simple), some tuning of the carb and ignition to match – and you could just about double the factory output and have a car that was quicker than a stock, pre-smog Trans-Am. Total cost, if you did the work yourself? A few hundred bucks, tops. Even today. No hassles with computer compatibility because there was no computer!

              Another thing in re affordability: The same basic layout (V-8, RWD) was common back then, so even if you were po’ you could usually still afford something like a V-8 Nova or Dart (buy a base six-cylinder Nova, swap in a 396 or even a 350, etc.) and the same mods worked just as well on them as they did on an SS Chevelle or 383 Charger.

              Today, V-8 performance cars are rich guys’cars – mostly rich middle-aged guys’ cars.

          • BrentP
            May 29, 2012 at 1:34 pm

            half-wit teenagers manage to flash their cars. It’s not that difficult.

            The problem is that now the manufacturer knows you voided the warranty. And the manufacturers do void it for changing the software because well half-wits often break their cars because of the software they loaded up which could come from anyone including themselves.

            Anyone who knew what they were doing mechanically should be able to the corresponding software changes provided he knows the parts he’s bolted on well enough.

  88. Bryce
    October 12, 2011 at 1:13 pm

    Another consideration was that many of the parts on 60s and 70s cars of even non-muscle genres had many heavy parts, which sapped their get-up-and-go.

    Case in point: the alternator on my ’68 Olds Delta 88 weighed about the same as the AC compressor on my ’02 WRX. And don’t get me started on what the Olds’ AC compressor weighed…except to say that I could have foregone the weight set and worked out lifting that.

    Many restoration and performance parts for the 60s and 70s stuff are now much lighter. A lot of the car nuts I’ve known have, in their old iron, replaced copper/brass radiators with aluminum units, ditched cast iron intakes and headers for aluminum, added alloy wheels, and some have even added lightweight suspensions.

    Today’s cars are made with less steel and iron and more aluminum, plastic, and carbon fiber, which makes a difference, and allows cars to be quick while being festooned with safety and anti-smog gear, too.

    • October 12, 2011 at 1:33 pm

      Oh yeah!

      The compressor in my ’76 TA has to weigh at least 75 pounds. The cast iron intake 40 or more…

      • Bryce
        October 12, 2011 at 3:22 pm

        I’m sure that there’s a mathematical formula out there to calculate how much faster you go for every unit of weight you cut, too.

        • dom
          October 12, 2011 at 3:43 pm

          I once heard every 100lbs is about a 1/10 of a second?

    • SojournerMoon
      October 13, 2011 at 12:17 am

      Ah, but many of those old muscle cars are still considerably lighter than their modern counterparts.

      1970 Camaro V8: 3,172 lbs
      2010 Camaro SS: 3,849 lbs

      1970 Dodge Challenger R/T: 3,402 lbs
      2010 Dodge Challenger SRT8: 4,170 lbs

      1970 Ford Mustang Mach 1: 3,240 lbs
      2010 Ford Mustang GT: 3,533 lbs

      Modern cars are so much heavier for a number of reasons. First, as suggested, they have a lot of mandated crap on them such as airbags, antilock brakes, tire pressure monitors, etc., plus a lot of additional stuff that didn’t have to be on the original muscle cars of the 60s-70s.

      Add to this the modern need to have bells and whistles to maintain competitiveness, with things like surround sound stereos, navigation, pushbutton starts, electric seats, electric this and that, etc., and you quickly add a few hundred pounds to the car.

      Lastly, most modern cars, due to economies of scale, are underpinned by a “platform” that is used in many different models. As a result, the sporty cars end up carrying around a lot of extra weight that is needed to use the same platform in the company’s SUV. It saves on development/engineering costs and, to some degree, on production as well. There is no reason, for example, that a 350Z weighs so dang much except that it’s the same platform that is used for a lot of other cars and SUVs in the Nissan and Infiniti lineup.

      Eric mentioned that a lot of the HP numbers were inaccurate, which is true. However, there were just as many underrated engines as there were overrated ones. In fact, from what I can see, there was a tendency to underrate power output for insurance purposes. You never really know, though, one way or the other. Hemis, for example, were almost always underrated. GM tended to stick a little closer to the facts. While it’s correct that before SAE net HP ratings, the engines were run naked with no accessories, even if you dyno them according to SAE standards, many are underrated.

      The main reasons I can see for the discrepancy between the old cars and modern car performance, despite modern cars being heavier on average, is the body and suspension engineering is much more advanced. They’re better able to put the power to the road. Computer-controlled engines permit broader power bands with more torque and better breathing while incorporating tricks such as direct injection, variable valve timing, etc.

      It’s amazing to me what modern engines can do, how well modern transmissions work, and how suspensions help the cars put the power down. It’s point-and-shoot performance. I often wonder how much better things would be if we didn’t have all these government regulations getting in the way. Would we have 100mpg cars capable of 0-60 in under 6 sec? Probably. Would they cost 1/3 of what current cars cost? Probably. Just look at modern computer development for a comparison. It’s a relatively unregulated industry, yet market demands are still making them more stable, more efficient, cheaper, and faster all the time.

      • October 13, 2011 at 9:28 am

        On the weight (and size) thing:

        Last year, when I had a new Camaro test car, I parked it next to my 1976 Trans-Am, which the Camaro dwarfed in every respect. It (the Camaro) was taller, wider and much heavier – which is startling. The mid-late ’70s F-cars were considered porkers in their day but my TA looked almost fragile compared with the hulking, bulky Camaro.

        Per your comment: “I often wonder how much better things would be if we didn’t have all these government regulations getting in the way.”

        Among other things, we could have a “basic” Camaro SS or Mustang GT, not equipped with air bags and so on – at the customer’s discretion – that would be several hundred pounds lighter and several thousand dollars less expensive.

        We cold have 1,600 pound economy cars equipped with 1 liter diesels that got 80 MPG.

        We could have $10,000 family sedans.

        Just for openers.

        On rated hp –

        Being a Pontiac guy and a Trans-Am guy especially, I can relate the following from direct personal experience:

        One of the quickest/fastest production cars you could buy in the late ’70s was the Trans-Am or Formula Firebird equipped with the W72 option “T/A 6.6” 400 V-8, which was rated 220 hp in 1978 and 1979. (Only the Corvette L-82 had as much or more rated hp at the time.)

        A T/A 6.6 TA was a low 15 second 1/4 mile car in stock trim, which was very good for the time and given the weight of the car. Just by uncorking the restrictive stock exhaust (two head pipes led to a single cat, then back to twin resonators) would put the car into the 14s – which was excellent for the time and about as quick as most of the pre-smogged, pre-catalytic converter-equipped muscle cars of the late ’60s, early ’70s.

        Anyhow, my understanding is that fir NHRA bracket racing purposes, the T/A 6.6 Trans-Am is factored to be putting out 260-270 “real” hp – which strikes me as a lot more accurate than 220.

        I doubt 220 hp could haul a 3,800 pound car through the traps in the low 15s without a JATO rocket strapped to the roof!

        • Brent P
          October 13, 2011 at 1:35 pm

          My 2012 Mustang makes my 1997 Mustang look small. I haven’t yet parked next to my ’73 Maverick to see how that looks. Should be about the same.

          I don’t think a lot of the stuff could be offered as optional in a cost effective manner. Much of it is now designed in and integral to the car’s structure or would create costs in production to not have them. The cost of carrying different versions of some parts may actually cost more per unit than the part being removed.

          Pretty much every ‘muscle’ or ‘pony’ car that ever was shared a platform with other models. Very few have been independent. Some ended up that way, being the last car on a particular platform. For instance the SN95 mustang is a modified fox platform car.

          • October 13, 2011 at 3:17 pm

            Yup –

            Most of the original-era muscle cars were just muscled up versions of mass-market intermediate coupes. The Tempest-based GTO being an example. Few, if any, were “dedicated” platforms.

            Also, they were really simple in layout. Most had a solid axle rear, two shocks and a pair of leafs or coils and – maybe – a sway bar. That was it. Up front, stamped steel control arms, coil springs and another pair of (primitive) shocks. Same basic layout you’d find in a truck of the same era.

            On the integral safety (and related) stuff in modern cars:

            Yes, but if the mandates went away and the automakers could design cars with such features as air bags as optional extras, the cost of the option would be high (as it should be, for those who want such crap) but it would cause the price of cars not so-equipped go down.

            When air bags first came out, they were expensive options and almost no one bought them. That should have been a signal to the car companies. Instead, the government made them mandatory – probably with the collusion of the car industry – so as to force people to buy that which they would not otherwise have bought on their own.

          • Brent P
            October 13, 2011 at 4:31 pm

            The automakers did fight the airbag mandate. The reason is because of the 1970s experience where they *KNEW* that setting them for an unbelted average male would injure/kill children and small adults. They did not want to be sued over it. If I recall correctly that is part of the reason the mouse belt option was in the law.

            The passive restraint mandate was right from the usual suspects, the followers of the Claybrook / Nader mentality. That the only reason they weren’t in cars was because the evil automakers wanted profit at the expense of killing people. Their complete lack of technical understanding wouldn’t allow them to see that automakers had offered airbags, most people did not want them at the time and that they were dangerous. The automakers did all the engineering to show that they were not a good idea the way the government wanted them done. Ultimately and unsurprisingly the engineers were proved correct shortly after the mandate went into effect. More blood on the hands of the usual “safety” crowd.

            The problem with an option is that once a significant percentage of people want it, it becomes cheaper for the automaker to offer it as standard equipment. The people who buy new cars with as few things as possible are a very small minority and most of them won’t forgo a new car because it has something standard they really don’t need. The amount of lost sales is way below the savings of putting it on all cars. Since much (the stuff that really adds weight) of what the government mandates the majority now want, there wouldn’t be much getting around it.

            Of the government mandated stuff I’d lose the tire pressure monitors, the dash bombs (air bags), seat belt buzzers, and other small annoyances. Most of what I dislike about government mandates is where equipment is -down graded-. Without government regs we could get better headlamps, better lubrication (for durability instead of mpg), more durable hard parts, full size spare tires, etc and so forth.

          • Dennis
            July 21, 2012 at 6:33 am

            The original Mustang was built on a Falcon Chassis. The Original Barracuda was Valiant, the original Camaro was an actual original with its own platform if I am not mistaken. I currently own a 2011 Camaro which shared the platform with several models including the Pontiac G8. Also must say that the new Camaro is one fine driving machine.

            • July 21, 2012 at 9:47 am


              Of course, when the second generation Camaro/Firebird appeared, it shared a lot of its DNA with the Nova. Nothing wrong with that. In fact, it makes the ’70s Nova a kind of poor man’s Camaro!

              On the current Camaro: It’s much too heavy and has some awful blind spots due to the low roofline. Very poorly packaged. Of the three – Camaro, Mustang and Challenger – I prefer the Mustang overall because it’s tighter, lighter and doesn’t feel so huge! (I say this as a Camaro-Firebird fan and owner, incidentally.) The Challenger is also a big car, but it has a much roomier interior (especially the back seats) and a huge trunk. The only reason I’d choose the Mustang over it is the poor quality control I’ve seen firsthand.

        • Erle
          December 15, 2011 at 4:47 am

          I bought a Factory Five Cobra replica for $1230.00 in 1964 coin. It has a 347 stroker/steel crank 4340 rods/ supercharger at 10-14 PSI boost/EFI/ blah blah. 550 HP
          It has no radio or much of anything. I had to add a folding top just for the unpredictable weather of Wisconsin.
          I do like the simplicity of the beast. I am a decent carburetor fixer although this is injected and I can learn that too even at my advanced age. It would be more fum with 200 HP less, but you take what you get.
          My driver is a base level Saturn Astra (Opel) that I got new on the cheap in 2009. Altogether I use far less gasoline than the creeps that chide me for having a gas guzzler.
          Some of us like minimalist cars. There is nothing much available unless one goes with the kit cars.

          • December 15, 2011 at 5:42 pm

            I used to know this guy who would whine about others’ supposed excessive use of precious natural resources. One day, he was whining about my doing track days with my motorcycle. He said it was “wasteful.” This guy also took an annual trip to Europe with his fambly. I asked him how fuel does a 747 burn doing an Atlantic crossing? How much gas do I burn doing a track day?

            We don’t talk much anymore.

        • BLZ
          September 5, 2012 at 4:06 am

          The weight thing is mostly in comfort or safety features. My 67 seats weighed almost nothing, my 76 seats were reinforced. The big safety bumpers entered in, The ironic thing is how much heavier the engines were then, but the rest of the car was much lighter. But still comparing old to new is not even the same ball park, the 60s is generations ago for cars. It would be like saying those fast cars in the 20s were nothing compared to the cars in the 60s. Its 40 years of every aspect of what makes cars and goes into cars being upgraded. But still the fastest cars I know are either new muscle mods, or old muscle mods. Every now and then someone makes a fast import which is cool, but to me just boring.

          • September 5, 2012 at 11:01 am

            Much as I like the looks, the style, the feel of the old muscle, they’re not very easy to live with everyday as transportation. Not without a lot of modern updates, anyhow.

            My TA’s modified 455 is very close to the edge of streetability. It has a Comp Cams version of the old factory RA III grind, a dual plane intake and a Q-jet. I have not dyno’d it, but given what’s in it, given its performance, the 455 probably makes somewhere in the neighborhood of 350 honest (SAE net) rear wheel hp. Now, I could get it to 450-plus … with aftermarket heads and a modern roller cam … and maybe keep it street driveable (sort of) with a TBI unit in place of the Q-Jet. But with ’60s-’70s-era speed parts (factory and aftermarket) getting the sort of power out of that old 455 that is routinely made by modern performance V-8s (which have vastly superior airflow, among other things) without also killing its driveability… well, you know (I hope) that’s an either – or – situation. Sure, you can build yourself a 500 hp 12 second (or quicker) classic muscle car. But you won’t have a street-driveable car anymore.

            The quicker classic-era stuff that was also streetable back in the day was running 13s – mid-high 13s.

            Low-mid 14s was more typical.

          • Brian
            February 3, 2013 at 12:08 pm

            I’ve tested how much more torque it takes to turn an engine over with the accessories off and on. It required only 3% more torque to turn the engine when the accessories were attached. Unless bearing friction became ridiculously high at higher rpms, I wouldn’t imagine adding the accessories back to the engine would make that much of a difference in hp and tq ratings.

            • February 3, 2013 at 4:05 pm

              SAE “gross” was measured at the flywheel – without accessories and typically without a production exhaust – and with headers. Often, these engines were specially tuned to deliver the best-case numbers, using such tricks as 100 octane race gas and the ignition wicked up to the maximum allowable. I’m sure you know all this.

              Even so, very few classic-era muscle car V-8s were given a hp rating (SAE gross) over 400. Most (mass market) were in the 335-375 hp range.

              Today, it’s routine for V-6s in the high 3 liter range to make 300-plus hp (SAE net). 400 hp V-8s are commonplace. Something like the V-8 in the current Cadillac CTS-V (556 hp SAE net) would surely have topped 600 hp using the old SAE gross way of measuring. Consider that. 600 hp. And this is not a choppy idling bracket racer that hasn’t got enough vacuum at low RPM to run power brakes… it’s a docile, wife-drivable street engine not even close to being stressed out or near its potential maximum. Probably, the CTS-V engine could be made to produce a still-streetable 650 hp… or even more. It’s incredible.

              All that said, the old stuff could typically be modified easily and inexpensively to produce significantly more power. A cam change was a Saturday afternoon job that cost maybe $150 and could up the output of an otherwise stock V-8 by 75 hp or even more.

              Because there were no cats, replacing an entire stock exhaust was just a matter of some tube headers and pipe. Maybe $300 for the whole deal vs. $300 today for one cat.

              Carbs and intakes were simple to modify – or replace. Cheap, too.

              The chief difference, Then vs. Now, is that back then, V-8 performance cars were cars that teenage boys and 20-somethings could afford to own and modify. Today, they are middle-aged men’s (and the sons of affluent middle aged men’s) cars.

        • BLZ
          September 5, 2012 at 4:12 am

          That was a big problem with the old stuff, was that they were not taking advantage of their full potential. The Boss 429s and 427s were so dumbed down for production, they actual trimmed hundreds of horsepower. Tires were the biggest problems, however I know alot of people who raced then, who made minor mods who ran mid 11s. The little old lady from pasadina, drove a 1964 max wedge super stock dodge. In that year those cars were running 11.7s. That is just an example of what those cars were capable of.

          • September 5, 2012 at 10:50 am

            Again: Ford 429s, Chevy L-88s and the like were barely street driveable in the tune they were in when they left the line. Modify them for more hp and they became even less streetable. Cars equipped with engines such as these were factory bracket racers, extremely compromised machines made to do one thing – go quickly in a quarter-mile. It’s disingenuous to compare them and their performance – “tuned” or “stock” – with a mass-produced car like a new Mustang GT or Camaro, which is a street car.

            Brent makes a fair point that if you’re going to bring up cars like the Boss 429 and so on as the basis of your claims about muscle car performance/capability, then to be fair you should compare them with the modern equivalent of those radically engined, not-meant-for-everyday street driving factory-built bracket racers.

            Which today are running 9s and 10s.

          • john bozic
            June 19, 2013 at 7:28 pm

            I agree with the statement above it depends how it was set up to run and thought out also. I recieved at statement from a person that said that my 71 cutlass is fake or is a fantasy? I have been doing this stuff for a living for 20 years and it takes experience and knowledge to get any car running right including todays that are very high priced also. I if anyone would not take any times posted to heart except for potential times,detroit has been doctoring times since whenever for sales obviously and profits. todays machines are nice but high priced also plus insurance rates are high. I go to the strip for fun 2 to 3 times a year and i drive my supercar built by me and the mileage is very reasonable with overdrive and proper gearing there and back.

      • methylamine
        February 12, 2012 at 9:04 pm


        Just look at modern computer development for a comparison. It’s a relatively unregulated industry

        Absolutely. The computer industry is the prime example of what an almost completely regulation-free industry offers:
        * rapid advancements through innovation via competition
        * excellent quality–remember Windows 95? Compare that to today’s Windows 7 (or Linux…speaking of competition)
        * compatibility–you can buy tens of thousands of different components for a modern PC, and they’ll just work. Ditto with software.
        * price deflation–the computer I use today is roughly 30 times faster than the one I used in the late 90’s…matching almost exactly Moore’s law of doubling every two years. And it actually cost less.

        The software industry is unregulated–one of the reasons I love working in it instead of medicine. I have no license; my peers and customers measure the quality of my work, and if it’s good I continue to be paid. If it’s not, I’m out. I fear competition only in so much as I’m lazy; if I’m not lazy (and fear of competition is a great motivator) I’ll stay ahead of them and keep my primo bill rate intact.

        I don’t go sniveling to some unctuous government bureaucrat for permission to work. I pimp myself and service the Johns, well–no need for a union or State pimp. I can do without the beatings and takings, thank you.

        The day regulation comes to this industry I can promise you it will come to resemble those charming bastions of “safety” and “protection” courtesy of the Mafia called the State–medicine, roads, postal service, law, insurance, and banking.

        • Tre Deuce
          September 7, 2012 at 8:05 pm

          Reality Check>

          Comparing the PC industry and products to the automotive industry and products is a very poor, even specious comparison.

          PC’s are not a public safety issue, vehicles are.

          The insurance industry drove the government mandated edicts. Partly because knuckleheads in Muscle cars were mounting huge costs to the industry.

          The fuel shortage and costs, drove the ‘IC’ efficiency gains. As a result we also got performance gains.

          Other developments, chassis, suspension, brakes, deformation/crumple zones, improved dynamic safety.

          All of those improvements gave us efficient, cleaner running, higher performance, safer vehicles, which allowed the insurance companies to insure these new vehicles, even the 400+ HP ones.

          So today we can own and enjoy them, while getting mileage even a VW Bug would envy. That adds up to a Win! Win! situation.

          I for one, am looking to the future, and my first ‘EV’ vehicle, and I guess that makes me a ‘Clover’ on this site.

          • September 7, 2012 at 8:13 pm

            Hi Deuce,

            I just got back from a very fun little jaunt on my Kawasaki triple… now that’s the ticket for relieving stress!

            I don’t disagree with the substantive points you make. My objection is to the underlying coercion – based on a collectivist premise. Translated: Joe the Idiot wrecks his car. He is able to foist the cost of his injuries onto others – via coercion. In response, the car industry is coerced to make “safer” (and much more costly) cars. The cycle continues – accelerating with each cycle.

            I’d rather leave people free to choose what best meets their needs as they see them. For good – and ill. Those who behave irresponsibly or unwisely should not be able to foist the consequences and costs onto others. Nor should they be able to use coercion to impose what amounts to prior restraint. (Case in point: Air bags and mandatory seat belt laws.)

            I’m just not a person who wants to interact with others violently – implicitly or explicitly. And I’d prefer that others return the favor.

            Live – and let live. Each to his own. No threats, no force – except in self-defense.

            That’s my 50 –

  89. James
    October 12, 2011 at 12:03 pm

    “Now, those first gen muscle cars had spirit – and balls, too. It took nerve – and skill – to really work one. That was a big part of the fun.”

    –and then–

    “(T)he tendency to regard the ’60s and ’70s stuff as the Most Brutal Cars Ever Made is no longer even remotely true, if the measure is 0-60 or 1/4 mile times…”

    Apologies, Eric, for suggesting that you contradict yourself here. If we remove the 0-60 and quarter mile metrics, the combination of raw engine power and especially the underengineered chassis of the original muscle cars probably do in fact make them some of the most brutal automobiles ever sold to the general public. They are, as you say, difficult to drive well. Said another way, the matter of 0-60 times seems to rarely come up when discussing the charms of old Goats, 442s and so on. Guys wax poetic about cross ram inductions and high rears, but almost never about the practical performance applications of such fitments…because they’re only driving these admittedly valuable garage queens to the Sunday shows.

    • October 12, 2011 at 12:34 pm

      No need to apologize!

      Maybe I should have used “rough” to describe the old stuff… .

      The new stuff is point and click. You mash the gas, the car bulls forward. Very little need to modulate the throttle to avoid loss of control as was necessary with the old stuff (no traction/stability control – and very little traction!). The clutches are all hydraulic assist and very easy to operate – nothing like the leg-press clutches you typically encountered in a ’60s or early ’70s big block bruiser.

      The old stuff was Hell on wheels just to drive it… the new stuff is Hell on wheels whenever you punch it!

  90. Tinker
    October 12, 2011 at 9:31 am

    1969 GTO 400cid w/ Hurst close ratio 4 speed, and 3/4 cam, got about 4 mpg in town, and 5 mpg on the freeway. You could bury the needle back at the zero stop pin, if you had the time. I bought it cheap ($600), sold it cheap ($900), after a year. This in 1977 or thereabouts.

    I used the money to buy my first motorcycle, which was not a half bad trade. Gasoline was getting up to 29.9 cents/gallon! 550K Honda 4cylinders got a lot better mileage, pretty fast off the line. College called…

    • October 12, 2011 at 9:45 am

      That 550k Honda was a neat bike!

      Quick, too.

  91. Steve Valle
    October 12, 2011 at 12:22 am

    Oh yeah, and the STYLE BABY!! :-)

  92. Steve Valle
    October 12, 2011 at 12:21 am

    It’s all true. In my youth my best friend had a ’72 Camaro with a 327 4-bolt main out of a Corvette that would completely obscure the other side of the street when he lit them up, but he would have lost out to the ’97 BMW Z3 I drove this past weekend (courtesy of a generous customer). He had half-tubs and “pizza cutters” up front, which rendered it useless in a turn, but I will never forget that car. It was the first real fire-breather I ever drove, and now, at the ripe old age of 40, I look back on it with rose-colored glasses. I would still happily take any ’69-’71 426 Hemi engined car and deal with the deficiencies in exchange for that low-end grunt!

  93. SojournerMoon
    October 11, 2011 at 7:18 pm

    Oooh. That’s quite a can o’ worms to be opening up.

    Still, you have a point.

    Furthermore, just think how tense you were/are driving a muscle car, or even a sports car of that era, over 100mph. You just hope and pray nothing comes loose on you, or you’re toast. Pulling the century in a Honda sedan is easy, and doing it in ANY kind of sporty car today is downright soporific.

    Makes you wonder what it was like for early car owners to be able to do 50mph back 100 years ago in those Stutz Bearcats and such.

    • October 11, 2011 at 8:14 pm

      I’ve owned (and driven) a bunch of classic-era muscle cars, including a 440 GTX, SS 396 Chevelle and of course, my 455 Trans-Am. And I’ve also driven every current muscle car, including the Mustang GT and Camaro SS. Either of which would mop the floor with any stock, mass-produced muscle car from the ’60s or ’70s.

      The really quick ’60s and ’70s stuff was maybe 5 percent of the total produced; and these models were very high strung. And even then, the fiercest of them were only about as quick as a new Mustang GT or Camaro SS.

      Now, those first gen muscle cars had spirit – and balls, too. It took nerve – and skill – to really work one. That was a big part of the fun. A new muscle car like the GT Mustang is easy to drive fast; almost anyone can do it. Not so a Hemi ‘Cuda or RA IV GTO.

      Each have their good – and bad – points.

      But the tendency to regard the ’60s and ’70s stuff as the Most Brutal Cars Ever Made is no longer even remotely true, if the measure is 0-60 or 1/4 mile times…

      • Joe Brackhan
        April 7, 2012 at 6:36 pm

        I’ve had a number of older vehicles from the 60’s and 70’s, some muscle cars and some of them really high millage. Your assertion that these cars would only last 50K miles before burning oil is simply false. Case in point, I have a 72 Grand Torino with a 351C engine, mostly stock with 99K miles and she neither burns nor leaks oil, none during the 3K to 4K oil change intervals. It’s how you take care of the machinery, like anything else.


        • April 7, 2012 at 6:46 pm

          Hi Joe,

          I was referring to the high-compression, big-cammed models; not the mild-performance ones such as your Grand Torino!

        • BrentP
          April 8, 2012 at 4:27 am

          But back in the day the lubricants, paints, coatings, etc weren’t that good. But with modern versions they more and more life.

          The highly stressed ones were probably not getting the lubrication they really needed. Now they can.

          As to a stock 351C those would last forever unless modified and/or abused/neglected. The car around it might rust away from road salt but the 351C would keep going and better lubricants along the way would only help.

          • April 8, 2012 at 8:59 am

            Yup – That 351 was a tough, well-built engine. The Chevy 327/350, too. Also Dodge in-line sixes.

          • BrentP
            April 8, 2012 at 7:34 pm

            should read ‘add more and more life’

  94. richard
    October 11, 2011 at 4:34 pm

    Hello, Eric. Came to your site from Lew Rockwell. Don’t know what I like more – your car articles or politics. Both are good – keep ’em coming.


    • October 11, 2011 at 5:16 pm

      Thanks, Richard – and welcome to our little club!

    • February 11, 2012 at 1:31 am

      Nice article, and many accurate observations. I’m amazed how much power they can coax out of these engines nowadays. However, I think much of what the old muscle cars could do was limited by the poor belted and biase ply marshmallows they ran on. I had a ’67 Corvette 427/435- and that car WAS scary- especially with the stock 15×6 tires. With the stock tires, it would ru in the low 13s at over 100. I put some later style Corvette wheels on once- just for laughs. Know what happened? Quarter mile times dropped into the low 12s- with 3:70 gears and no special mods. I think that would still smoke most new cars- 40 years later!

      • February 11, 2012 at 8:08 am

        Hi Pete,

        Thanks – and, I agree on the rolling stock. I still have my ’76 Trans-Am (with modified 455) and the stock 15×7 wheels with slightly larger than stock 60-series tires on them. I can only give it full throttle once I’m up to about 20 MPH and even then, the back end fishtails crazily and I’m abusing the tires more than picking up speed. With a set of wider wheels and grippier modern performance tires, I have no doubt the TA would be much quicker than it is right now.

        But burnouts and fishtails are fun!

        • john bozic
          June 19, 2013 at 1:45 am

          hey buddie you must not be much of a person who works on these classics. I have a 71 olds sx and the tires which was a big factor back then are excellent across the line. I built this car and performance is in the low 11.s for about 8800 hundred bucks and it is a total car period handling overdrive etc plus fuel mileage around 14 city and 20 highway. guys like you should not have a are a bad representation of them. I have drove these cars second hand plus raced them and i thru experience found how to improve them and cheaply and dependable also.

          • June 19, 2013 at 10:36 am


            I’m amazed that so many people can’t seem to read!

            I never wrote that the original era muscle cars didn’t have a lot of potential; that they couldn’t be made very quick with a few modifications. I wrote – clearly, I thought – that in factory-built/as-delivered stock condition, the typical late-’60s/early ’70s muscle car ran mid-high 14s – which today is what a V-6 Mustang is capable of running.

            Many of the mass-produced/milder-tune muscle cars were in the low-mid 15s. Only a handful ran mid-13s or quicker… in factory stock trim.

            Facts. Not opinion.

            Now, a mid-14 (or even 13 second) quarter was very quick indeed… in 1969. But today? Not so much. In comparison with the performance of even run-of-the-mill family sedans (V-6 Accord or Camry, etc.) a 14 second quarter is.. yawn… no big deal.

            Why do some people get so pissy when someone references the instrumented road test results of the era?

            Your car is heavily modified. Its performance now is not representative of what that car could do when it was brand-new and untouched.


          • BrentP
            June 19, 2013 at 1:37 pm

            Yep, they work out good once you replace lots of important bits with those made of modern materials and to modern manufacturing standards and utilize 40+ years of learning the failings of the original designs. That is if one stays in what is for some reason called ‘stock’. Then there is applying all sorts of modern know-how to get a lot more out of them.

            The result however is not the same car that came off the show room floor back in the day.

            Compared to today most materials the car was made of were poor, the lubricants were horrible, the fuel was bad, etc and so forth. The cars are great except for everything that sucked.

            It seems that most people are either too young to have memories of the 1970s or so old that they can only remember good things.

          • Eightsouthman
            June 19, 2013 at 2:00 pm

            john, you must not have grown up in the sixties working on these cars. OD transmissions? stock? I remember when the only fuel injection you could find was a Chevy item that was originally installed on a 283 Vette, not very tunable for a larger engine. I can cite you over a dozen ways those engines from then can be made much better. I was the guy you always saw nothing but asshole and elbows from while everyone else stood around and speculated. Hey, can you make my car as fast as yours? Sure, if you’re not married to that “brand”. At least you picked a GM product.

          • Tre Deuce
            June 19, 2013 at 6:45 pm


            I owned and ran the muscle in the day. My new cars included 1964 442 Convertible(4-speed), 1966 442 post coupe(4-speed), 1968 Dodge Charger ‘RT’ 440″ plus Six Pac(auto), 1969 SS ‘396’ El Camino(375Hp/auto). Only the Charger ‘RT’ ran under 14 secs. totally stock, as delivered, the El Camino, ran in the 14’s, the rest were all 15 second cars.

            My brothers 1968 Old’s 442 convertible was a real dog with its long stroke 400″, it could barely get into the 15’s. I had other cars that were used but just a year or two old that showed similar performance in as delivered condition.

            I even, briefly, owned a 68′ L-88 that only turned in the 13’s totally stock. All of these cars would have benefited from today’s tires, but not by much. With slicks, gears, tuning, better traction control, the old iron, stock, would run a lot better, but not in the 11’s or mid 12’s, not without cams , carbs, head work(P&P), headers, etc.

            Recently I was selected to run a newly restored, 100 point 67′ GTO(Tri-Power/4-speed) through its paces, even with its Coker ‘Radial’ Redlines, electronic ignition, and 3.89(?) gears, it ran in the mid 14’s. I was beat by a v-6 Genesis coupe on the last, best run, and a several other cars(FWD’S) including a 2003 Acura CL-S. I had prepped the owner not to expect anything more then 14’s.

            I always get … ‘Well they did this in the ‘SS’ classes back in the day. My response is, look at the rule book and see what was allowed, and that those cars were highly prepped/tuned with the best drivers of the day.

            I don’t meant to offend, but your 71′ Olds is pure fantasy.

            • June 19, 2013 at 7:34 pm

              Thanks, Tre –

              I think much of the controversy derives from the memories of that era – when a 14 second car felt brutally quick compared with the average car’s 12-15 second 0-60 run. Even a “slow” new car like the Prius C – which gets to 60 in about 11.5 seconds – is easily 3-4 seconds quicker to 60 than a stock VW Beetle, Corvair or other basic econobox of the ’60s.

              The old stuff also seems quicker/faster than it really is because of all the sturm und drang. The lumpy cam/idle; the booming exhaust; the ease with which the back end busts loose due to the inadequate tires.

              I am getting a CTS-V this week or next. This car will run a 12 second quarter – bone stock. With a smooth idle, relatively quiet exhaust – and without its ass end sliding all over the road.

      • BLZ
        September 4, 2012 at 12:33 pm

        I agree, most the problem was the tires. Tire technology was just not there at the time. I read an article on the 10 fastest ford muscle cars. #1 in this article was actually a stock Boss 429, that ran 12.1s in1970, it had slicks on it. #4 was a 1968 428 cj cougar that ran a 13.4 when Dino Don roasted the tires to get them as sticky as possible. A lot of rice lovers like to point out how their cars are so much faster, but the potential with very little modification does go right over to the muscle cars. Just by changing the back tires, can beat some new turbo modded car, Imagine putting turbos, tires, trans, suspension and other engine mods on older muscle cars. Oh wait they do and they run sub 10s.But its not just potential, its style. Those old muscle cars just look cooler, companies spent a lot more effort designing bodies then, not just common day cookie cutter stuff.

        • September 4, 2012 at 3:19 pm

          And the Boss 429 was an extremely low production factory built bracket racer. Not street driveable. Ask anyone who actually dealt with one of these things back when they were new. Ditto any of the other cars from that period capable of that kind of performance.

          The typical (still street drivable) muscle car was a high 13 second, low-mid 14 second car. The typical muscle car did not have a radical solid lifter camshaft, or dual quads, or Swiss cheesed panels or even 4:11 gears. The typical muscle car had a hydraulic-cammed mild-performance V-8 with a single four barrel on a medium-riser manifold.

          To make a fair comparison of the Boss 429’s performance with a current-year car that’s comparably not-representative of mass-market cars, you should stack that old 429 up against the current race Mustang, not the normal-production GT.

          It runs 10s, incidentally.

          Even so, the stock GT is still quicker than the stock ’70 Boss 429.

          And the stock GT can be driven anywhere, anytime – for the next 15 years or more, without needing much but gas, oil, brake pads and tires.

          The ’70 Boss 429? Not so much.

          None of this is a slam on the classic stuff. I find it fascinating that merely stating what these things were actually running (and putting out, power-wise) somehow makes one – in the eyes of some people – a “hater” of muscle cars. It’s retarded.

          • BrentP
            September 4, 2012 at 4:44 pm

            Americans love their illusions, their beliefs. They become emotionally invested in them and then they just deny reality. They get angry when confronted with reality.

            It doesn’t matter what the subject is.

            Politics or cars or computers or anything else. Busting illusions does not get a pleasant reaction.

            • September 4, 2012 at 9:04 pm

              Yeah, I know!

              The really weird thing in re this “debate” (such as it is) is that I’m being attacked as somehow mocking or delegitimizing classic muscle cars because I acknowledge what new performance cars are capable of relative to what the old stuff was capable of.

              Just bizarre!

          • BrentP
            September 5, 2012 at 1:04 am

            Same thing as pointing out the facts of what the US federal government does and being slammed for ‘hating america’. :)

            • September 5, 2012 at 11:11 am

              “Same thing as pointing out the facts of what the US federal government does and being slammed for ‘hating america.”

              Yeah – the Cap’n did that, too. Also mentioned (ta-dum) the French…

              As much as I revile leftist authoritarians, the flag-humping, love it (or leave it) idiot argot of right-wing authoritarians annoys me even more.

          • BLZ
            September 5, 2012 at 3:50 am

            Really Eric, your comparing and wetting your pants over cars with 40 years of new technology on the old stuff? I have seen plenty of the old, and modded cars (turbos) those cars are sub 10s with modded original engines. Yes they had to be modded, but all they do is give them all the benefits as the new stuff. The difference is the displacement. No replacement for displacement. In an American Muscle Car Dyno Shoot out on speed they power tested some of those old engines that came in those cars. These were set up with carburators – no power adders, no computer controls, just carbed engines. The results showed how underatted their horsepower was. The Chevy 409/409 ……………………..406 HP
            The Ford 427/425 Tunnel Port…………..637 HP
            The Pontiac 421/421 SD………………….488 HP
            The Chrysler 426/425 Street Hemi………820 HP
            The Chevy 427/430 L-88………………….527 HP
            While many people are in love with the new stuff, and who can argue, the technology is there, actually most of the technology involved is in making it less expensive to build custom engines. The Ford 427 SOHC, would not cost nearly as much to tool for or machine today. So yes obviously its like your bragging that your new computer is faster than the fastest computer you could get 15 years ago. Big deal, the only difference here is that by updating the muscle car with bolt ons, the old car is just as fast as the new one, and was built in a day when styling was not so boring.

            • September 5, 2012 at 11:06 am


              The numbers you reference were taken on an engine stand. What would the numbers be with these engines in the car, with all accessories and a full production exhaust (as opposed to open headers) hooked up? In stock production (not tweaked) tune? At the rear wheels? SAE net hp. I know you know the difference – or at least, I hope you do!

              Take those numbers you quote and adjust them to reflect the SAE net number. The above stuff would be in the high 300s, mostly. Those are good numbers, even so. Especially by the standards of the time, when most cars were far less powerful – and far less quick/fast. But they’re just not comparable with what’s common – routine – today. 400-plus honest, real SAE net horsepower – as delivered, in a mass produced car, with AC and all the accessories.

              As far as 820 hp (SAE gross or net) from a production dual quad 426 Street Hemi? Do you really believe that?

              I hope not… .

          • BLZ
            September 5, 2012 at 4:00 am

            Funny thing BrentP, but your typical tired out antiAmerican shit. I think that you see the reality everyday, and that anger makes you go into self defence mode where you have to feel better about yourself by setting up your own dillusions of how Americans are somehow inferior to whatever never to be significant country you come from.

            • September 5, 2012 at 10:53 am

              Ok, BLZ – this is your first warning: This board is for intelligent back and forth, using facts and reason. Not “your typical tired out antiAmerican shit.”

              Posts that are just diatribes full of personal attacks and non sequiturs gets thrown in the woods around here.

          • BrentP
            September 5, 2012 at 5:42 am

            BLZ, you’re delusional –

            Hang around here, I might eventually repeat the cars I have. Then you can feel stupid.

            Anyway, you’re yet another who is emotionally invested into a belief.

            As to your dyno shoot out. Lets say these rare cars (assuming the non-Fords are as rare as the Ford listed, I know fords mostly, not GM) were stock for this ‘shootout’. Never touched… So what? You’ve proven that today’s production V8 muscle and pony cars have power like rare top of the top way back when.

            Ford 5.0: 412hp (2011-12) or 420hp (2013+)
            Ford 5.4: 540hp (2012) 662hp (2013)

            But let’s go rare:

            Shelby 1000 (Ford 5.4) 920hp (street) 1100hp (track)

            I can go on with more ford engines or with chevy or dodge and it will be the same thing. The track shelby 1000 is probably a rough equal to the rare 427 cars in terms of market segment.

            When someone drags out rare vehicles to compare to production vehicles it’s clear he’s trying to hold to a illusion, a belief.

          • Mark
            September 7, 2012 at 1:36 am

            well Eric the Boss 429 actually was very streetable. Ford put a puny cam in them to make them drivable on the street. One of my good buds had a brand new one back in day, His old 69 Mach 1 428 Cobra Jet was faster than his new 1970 Boss 429. NHRA had a class back then called Pure Stock, and they really meant pure dee old as it came off the show room floor stock. The all time low et of any of the several classes of pure stock was by a 1968 Mustang 428CJ automatic at 13.2 I think. That meant the stock terrible tires also. Back to the statement that old muscle cars were slow. Everything is relative. Dad’s grocery getter back then only ran in the 18s or even 20s, so a 14 second showroom car was a flippin Saturn Rocket! happy trails

            • September 7, 2012 at 10:26 am

              Hey Mark,

              The 429 was “very streetable”?

              Yeah, if you didn’t mind the erratic, choppy idle or the poor low-speed/part-throttle response (and atrocious cold/hot weather starting, stalling out and overheating) that were part of the deal when you had an engine with huge ports designed for very high RPM breathing…. and which sucked ass (not air) at engine speeds under 3,500 RPM.


              This engine was purpose built to succeed at 1/4 mile drag racing. Which in those days entailed sacrificing streetability. It was never intended for use in a street car, for normal street use. It was street legal in a technical sense. But it was built for racing.

              Could you drive it on the street? Sure. You can also drive a Nextel Cup car on the street. Kinda sorta.

              It’s just not honest to say an engine like the Boss 429 was “very streetable.”

              It wasn’t.

              Very streetable, if language has any objective meaning, means the car could handle normal stop and go driving for extended periods of time; the heat of summer and cold of winter…

              Was the Boss 429 a car that could do that?

              PS: Though the factory rated the Boss 429 at 375 hp, this engine ( barely street drivable all-out race-meant engine) was reputed to make 500. That’s SAE gross, mind. A good number, for sure.


              A new CTS-V 6.2 gives you 556 SAE net hp. And AC. You can drive it everyday, anywhere.

          • Brian
            February 3, 2013 at 11:53 am

            I also think it might be fair to state that many of the modern cars that are making high horsepower numbers are getting them through a combination of higher rpm engines, supercharging for some, and variable cam timing that allows the engine to have a smooth running, small lift/duration cam at low rpm and change it into a high lift/duration cam at high rpms.

            With old cars, you only get one choice. You can’t change it while driving.

            • February 3, 2013 at 11:57 am

              Absolutely true.

              Modern performance engines are typically smaller displacement engines, but they flow more air – either as a result of superior head design (and so on) or turbo-supercharging.

              In my opinion – as an owner of old muscle cars – the best ones (as street drivers) were the medium-performance big blocks, because they had tremendous low-end torque to get those heavy cars moving, but weren’t too aggressively cammed such that they were rendered marginal for normal street driving.

        • Brian
          February 3, 2013 at 11:45 am

          SAE Net is still measured at the crank, not the wheels as with a chassis dyno.

      • john bozic
        July 17, 2013 at 7:21 pm

        I recieved a email today about the amount of time and dollars i put into my car and yes i do this for a living but, I cannot due personal work where i work and materials add up there. I did all of this at home in a garage 1and a half car garage exactly. I know todays cars are good but they also need some work,due you add that up also? The older platform was good and the parts are available to bring them up to todays standards and i do not believe in bench racing or magazine articles,I do it at the track with time slips or autocross events to prove it and enjoy it! I am not a poser but a realistic person and not for the glory of it or financial windfalls either. this car is built by me and for me and if someone wants to enjoy its features that is great! I tried in the past to set up a rented track with several people to pay and show up but bs is bs by them. I say cut the bull and enjoy them and by the way imports do not change physics eithier! I have seen a few imports trashed but they could be rebuilt too! I would like to leave a message here for 2014 fall to go and do it at the track and cut the bull and quit magazine racing and benchracing and get to it! I believe if all would set up a pay pal account 250 to 300 people around chicago il ,byron,41 etc and our own day we will settle this bs once and for all! I am booked through this fall 2014 looks excellent though is anyone ready to roll in 2014 we need 250 to 300 to make it worthwile for all no bs just fun! heads up no rules except safety no bracket racing also and talkers stay home everyone has to front there money after a large interest is shown email me!

      • Stevahhh
        May 29, 2014 at 6:16 pm

        I def agree with both of you, yes the older muscle cars were slow as balls compared to the muscle cars of today but a lot of that has everything to do with tires and traction control, if you updated all the high hp muscle cars of the 60’s-70’s with nice modern wide tires and traction control, they would run times compatible to today’s mustang GT and Camaro SS.

        • eric
          May 29, 2014 at 8:08 pm

          Hi Steve,

          It has to do with horsepower, too.

          Consider: In 1970, a 370 hp rating was considered very strong (few cars of that era were stronger). By today’s standards, 370 hp is so-so for a V-8; many current V-6s produce as much – or nearly so. And the 1970 370 hp was SAE gross – as opposed to today’s SAE net.

          Using today’s SAE net measuring methods – engine in production tune, full exhaust and accessories, installed in the car – that 370 hp from 1970 would probably be closer to 300-320 hp, net.

          Contrast that with the hp being produced by a current Z28 or Mustang GT.

          Even with modern drag tires, not many of the factory stock original era muscle cars would be running 12 second quarters. A few of the elite ones (Hemi Mopars, 454 Chevelles, RA IV GTOs) would get there – but these cars were marginally streetable. Unlike the new stuff – several of which will run a 12 second quarter on street tires with the AC on….

    • marijke
      August 2, 2012 at 11:28 am

      What is the green car????

      • August 2, 2012 at 1:06 pm

        Dear marijke,

        It’s a late 60s, early 70s Dodge. That much is obvious.

        Specifically which year and model however, I confess has me stumped.

        Charger? Coronet? Not sure.

        It’s the headlights. They don’t seem to match any year and model I know.

        • BLZ
          September 5, 2012 at 8:06 am

          So Brent you bring up new top of the top, and act as if comparing them to old top of the top is an insult to old. Anyway, it does not matter. I can see that you are trying to push an idea here to make up for something you are lacking. Funny but I seem to remember my friends 69 327 camaro running low 12s with not much more than an intake manifold, headers and tires. It cost him under $3000, But what really cracked me up was this show I was watching where this tool had this fast I believe high 10 Jap car (dont no what kind it was too boring to care) I thought thats pretty cool 10 seconds and all, then he said he had about 60k invested. What a joke. For 60k you could get a Pantera, and put a couple of turbos on its 351, Run in the 9s, and have a car worth what you paid for it until you were ready to sell it, while the jap car was probably worth 25k to someone who might part it out. But Things are as they are. Clearly you have a thing for imports, so you have to say anything to prove a point. Whatever, who cares.

          • September 5, 2012 at 10:30 am

            Here’s where you lose me, BLZ – mocking “Jap” cars and then making silly statements such as it takes $60k” to to make one as quick as a V-8 muscle car.

            It may just be that you’re not familiar with the performance capability of modern import sport compacts. I am. And believe me when I tell you that it does not take “60k” (or anything close to that) to get a factory stock 12 second WRX STi or EVO to run much quicker than mere 12s. And you will still have an everyday driver, with AC. So it can be your everyday car, to drive to work and back. You know – I hope! – that it’s not realistic to drive a classic-era muscle car capable of similar performance everyday. The only way to make it capable of being an everyday car is to pull the original engine and replace it with a modern V-8 (LS1, etc.) with fuel injection. Because that’s the only way to get 500-plus hp and still have a streetable engine. You’d also need a modern OD transmission – unless you don’t mind gimping along at 60 in the right lane with the engine screaming along at 3,000-plus RPM.

            I’m not a defender of “Jap cars.” I am a defender of reality. I respect what the new stuff – import and domestic – is capable of.

            And I do that while still having great affection for classic muscle cars – which, as you say, have qualities all their own.

            Why attack others who like cars – just like you (and I) do – on the basis of some prejudice about the type of car they happen to like?

          • BrentP
            September 5, 2012 at 3:50 pm

            I didn’t act as if anything. That’s all your projection. I just went apples to apples and made the every obvious statement to drag in vehicles like those with the Ford 427 is trying to desperately hold on to a belief. There weren’t all that many 427s put into anything and most of them were lower hp and went into Galaxies. The higher horsepower ones and 427s in lighter cars like Mustang and Falcon are like unicorns.

            I could take my lighter weight ’97 mustang and put a new 5.4L GT500 crate motor in it. I could take my ’73 maverick and do all sorts of things to it for even lighter weight and power. So what? This is a discussion of stock to stock.

      • Doug
        August 10, 2012 at 12:32 am

        That would be a 1970 Plymouth Barracuda.

        • August 10, 2012 at 9:44 am

          I love E bodies; wish I could afford one!

          Good buddy of mine back in the day owned something close: ’71 GTX, 440 Magnum. That car was hell on wheels!

      • BLZ
        September 5, 2012 at 8:19 am

        Brent those were production engines, just low number production much like the cars you are pulling out. Use your brain, there were about 1/4 the cars on the road back then which meant 1/4 the amount of sales. All those engines were considered production engines for which at least 500 units had to be made. The 427s were higher. It is clear you have no Idea what you are talking about. And yes I understand that new technology beats the old, But like I said Ive been in those old cars and it did not take much at all to make them fast. Just getting rid of those junky 7″ wide polyglass crap tires would lose over a second in most of the muscle cars. In the 80s for less than 5k you could have a 12 second car – typically a muscle car because the fit the bigger engines in them compared to the 70s and 80s cars. Saying that those muscle cars were slow does not really mean much. Most the posted quarter mile times were done without any prep, just gun and go, no warming up tires. Like I said Dyno Don, did 13.4s in a 428 cougar. That was a factory polyglass (roasted) car. With cheater slicks it would be in the 12s. 45 years ago in the 12s. New is better I cant deny, Old is more stylish, and depending on engine has as much potential for speed. 454, 426, 427, 428s were not all that rare. Besides if you want the new performance you are north of 35k, compared to the equally fast quarter mile time muscle cars that cost about 6k to build in the early 90s.

        • September 5, 2012 at 10:20 am

          Hi BL,

          You’re right that back in the ’80s you could buy a muscle car for less than $5k, do a little work to it and have a great street machine. I remember. Of course, the ’80s were 30 years ago – and today, finding a real (not cloned) ’72 or earlier muscle car in “driver” condition for anywhere near $5 is going to be a challenge!

          The main thing, though, is that while I agree (because it’s true) that you could have yourself a 12 second car back then for not much money – it’s all beside the point as regards what the performance of the typical muscle car was back when it was new.

          My article was not about the performance of tweaked and tuned LS6 Chevelles. It was about the performance of as-delivered, factory-stock standard-engine GTOs and the like.

          Modified is one thing – factory stock’s another thing.

          I spent pages trying to explain the distinction to Cap’n 427 – without success.

        • BrentP
          September 5, 2012 at 4:02 pm

          hundreds of units is rare. It is not production except under racing rules. And if you knew what you were talking about you’d know there were different 427s. The ones you want to quote aren’t what came in a early 60s galaxie from the dearship. Later I can dig out my books to get into the nitty gritty for you. Oh and my books were written in the 1980s or before when people didn’t have today’s delusions.

          Um, I’ve seen many a modern road test of old mustangs on modern tires since the performance started coming back in the late 80s. They aren’t all that much faster on modern tires. But I notice you not only double replied like the resident troll but you’ve also changed the subject from horsepower to speed after changing it from speed to horsepower.

          I know what the cars cost 20 years ago. So what? That’s 20 years ago. Now the old men have spent their 401K money bidding up the prices. Buying one of your unicorns now is a six figure proposition. Even a run of the mill pony car will cost you new car money if it’s not a wreck. Furthermore the inflation since the early 90s is responsible for most of the difference between today’s mustang and the one made 20 years ago.

          • Tre Deuce
            September 5, 2012 at 7:15 pm

            What did we do, trade ‘The Cap’n for the Big Lazy Zealot?

            From the day… My new 68’ Charger with a ‘street tune’/’ST'(Factory Spec) ran a mid 14″/second time. With a ‘race tune’/’RT’ and lower tire pressure, I picked up a few tenths. But I was still in the low fourteen’s.

            After adding the Six Pack combo(Carbs/Cam), and headers, I hit the high thirteens(RT). With Gears, 4.10’s/4.30’s/4.57’s, and race slicks, I was finally able to run in the low thirteens/13″s in RT.

            Those cars off the showroom floor required very good race tuning and chassis adjustments to turn reasonably good times. The 440″ cars had serious traction problems, especially with as delivered tires and gearing. Radial tires helped, but not that much, maybe a tenth of a second.

            The usual hot rod manner of lowering the rear tire pressures down to 16-18 pounds and raising the front tire pressures, would give you maybe a tenth plus.

            Race tuning consisted of tightening the valve clearances and advancing the ignition for high RPM regimes, and jetting for more fuel and conditions.

            As regards cost. Since the late sixties we have experienced 1000% inflation, mostly due to the cost of unnecessary wars. This reflects on the cost of everything.

            They have effectively exported our inflation, with huge costs to the middle class and poor, but enabling huge profits and wealth building for the power brokers. As BrentP noted, this, to a large degree, has driven the cost of new vehicles. More content and technical sophistication has made up the rest.

            401K’s and other such contrivances were designed to pull the unaware into the market so greater profits could be made off of their contributions. The stock market is really only worth about 5500 to 6500, but like old collector cars, stocks have inflated because of all the inflated money seeking more stocks then are available to purchase.

            The new ‘COPO’ Camaro, turns 8″s

            Ford didn’t build the ‘Boss 429’ Kar Kraft did. Now days, Ford’s ‘SVT'(formerly ‘SVO’) bunch of loonies, build Fords extreme performance examples.

            And ‘BrentP’ …I’m and old guy who didn’t build my hobby or buy my nostalgic dream car with a 401K or my house equity, as many did.

            Years ago I followed the lead of and older friend and bought cars, cleaned them up, and sold them. Buy a car for $150.00 … sell it for $180.00 Ka Ching… $30.00 more for the next purchase. By the time I was 21, I was trading in Corvettes. After a few years, you have have enough to put a 365 ‘GTB’ next to your 57′ Cadillac convertible.

            I let my hobby create the funds to fund it(still do). A lot of ‘old’ guys I know did/do the same thing. We, for the most part, opted out of the craziness of the hyper inflation of collector cars. If it wasn’t already in our collection, we didn’t buy it at those crazy prices. Most who did/do, never owned these car in the day.

            And Eric, don’t let the negative comments bother you… consider the source. Yor dealing with guys ‘Who look, but cannot see. Who hear, but do not listen.’ There is no traction to be had in that situation. Don’t waste too much of your precious time, it will be unrewarding.

            Regards All …Tre

          • BrentP
            September 5, 2012 at 10:18 pm

            I wasn’t referring to you or anyone else in particular. Certainly not people who have owned their cars in time scales measured in decades. I was speaking of how the prices of these cars have skyrocketed in recent years. Well beyond inflation.

            It’s to the point where cars are being pulled out of junkyards by shops, restored/restomodded and turning a profit. When prices are so high that people can get their money back out of a project that far gone at the start and do it with professional labor (at cost) something is up.

            All I can think of is how this has paralleled the retirement of baby boomers.

    • Terry
      January 28, 2013 at 11:41 pm

      Finally an honest article,You cant beat the styling of classic muscle,but if technology has not improved in the last 40 years they shoul;d give up.Just to add some info I had a 70 LS6 chevel