Results 1 to 10 of 10

Thread: Muscle cars were slow

  1. #1
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    The Land of The Edentulites
    Posts
    21,730

    Muscle cars were slow

    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.


    Yawn.


    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.

  2. #2
    Senior Member grouch's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Posts
    1,823
    They were fast compared to the average car back then. Basic econoboxes today run fast compared to the old stuff. On the other hand, when you drive a vintage muscle car, you DRIVE it. Newer cars, including the hotter ones like the Mustang you mentioned, aren't really a drivers car. You are just along for the ride actually. Cars today are too easy to drive.

    Porsche at least remembered that their customers actually LIKE to drive. That's why Porsche, which is not know for being a cheap car, still offers a manual transmission. Try getting one in a domestic car or truck today? None of the big three offer a manual transmission in their 1/2 ton trucks. Period.

    I see a few manual trnsmission starting to creep back into American cars (Cadillac and Buick both offer them, I think). When you get down to it, the old muscle cars had souls. The new ones, well, I'm sure they're nice cars but they really don't have much character.
    Honk if you love Jesus.

    Text if you want to meet him.

  3. #3
    Administrator Ken's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Location
    Lincolnshire, United Kingdom.
    Posts
    3,002
    Quote Originally Posted by grouch View Post
    ................ Newer cars, including the hotter ones like the Mustang you mentioned, aren't really a drivers car. You are just along for the ride actually. Cars today are too easy to drive. ...............
    How very true. I recently took a good long test drive in an almost new Toyota Avensis. I was expecting great things from it in terms of handling, braking and feel compared with my lovely old Carina E SE, was offered a good deal and had the cash ready.

    I took the car back feeling very disappointed and told the sales guy 'Thanks but no thanks.' The car had no feel, I felt totally isolated from the road and got no feedback as to what the car was doing at all - apart from the visual aspect of the road moving past the windows. I was cocooned, cosseted, isolated and protected in what felt like a silent, upholstered, blancmange. If this is what the 'modern' driver wants they can keep it. I want a car I can drive. Now thinking in terms of trying a Golf GTI, VW Passat or a Mazda Speed 3.

    In the meantime my 1997, 128 K miles, 1.8L Carina performs as faithfully as ever, uses no oil between services, returns around 36 to the gallon on a run and has required absolutely minimal expenditure in terms of anything other than routine servicing costs.

    Ken.
    Die dulci fruimini!
    Ken.
    Wolds Bikers, Lincolnshire, England.

  4. #4
    Senior Member misterdecibel's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    Little Rock, Arkansas
    Posts
    3,408
    I think Eric's assessment is accurate. And with '60s/'70s brakes, tires, and suspension, you wouldn't want them to be any faster, they'd have been death traps.

    But it didn't cost very much to get a lot more horsepower out of them.

  5. #5
    Administrator Ken's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Location
    Lincolnshire, United Kingdom.
    Posts
    3,002
    Quote Originally Posted by misterdecibel View Post
    I think Eric's assessment is accurate. And with '60s/'70s brakes, tires, and suspension, you wouldn't want them to be any faster, they'd have been death traps.

    But it didn't cost very much to get a lot more horsepower out of them.
    That's what made it so much fun tuning up the old cars. It is how we learnt about suspension, damping, anti-roll, negative camber, wheel size choices, tire choices, brake boosters, brake pad and shoe choices, steering ratios etc, etc, etc. We learnt that if you make it go faster, you have to make it stop better. If you make go faster you have to make it handle better. We learnt that Ford Cortina valve springs bits could be advantageously fitted to tuned up Minis, that manufacturer's parts could be swapped between the various models and a host of other things that made the 50s to 70s such a great time to be alive. Plus there was no NSL back in those heady days of my youth.

    Ken.
    Last edited by Ken; 10-14-2011 at 12:05 PM.
    Die dulci fruimini!
    Ken.
    Wolds Bikers, Lincolnshire, England.

  6. #6
    Senior Member misterdecibel's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    Little Rock, Arkansas
    Posts
    3,408
    Quote Originally Posted by Ken View Post
    That's what made it so much fun tuning up the old cars. It is how we learnt about suspension, damping, anti-roll, negative camber, wheel size choices, tire choices, brake boosters, brake pad and shoe choices, steering ratios etc, etc, etc. We learnt that if you make it go faster, you have to make it stop better. If you make go faster you have to make it handle better. We learnt that Ford Cortina valve springs bits could be advantageously fitted to tuned up Minis, that manufacturer's parts could be swapped between the various models and a host of other things that made the 50s to 70s such a great time to be alive. Plus there was no NSL back in those heady days of my youth.

    Ken.
    But none of those are 400 cu. in. V8s...

  7. #7
    Administrator Ken's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Location
    Lincolnshire, United Kingdom.
    Posts
    3,002
    Quote Originally Posted by misterdecibel View Post
    But none of those are 400 cu. in. V8s...
    Not the ones I was interested in, no. Overall they were not suited to our twisty winding country roads. But the 'big cubes' did have their devotees over here there were quite few big engined lumps around and there were a few dealers in American cars. Admittedly most of them were used for posing, rather than for serious motoring, but there were still a few boys who stripped, lightened, balanced, rebuilt and tuned their big engines, and modified their cars, usually for the track. Most of us, playing around with our road cars, were just aiming at the 100+ bhp/liter target which, in those days for road use, was about as good as we could get without supercharging. Capris, Classics, Cortinas, Anglias, Minis, Coopers, Imps and the like in the 850 to 3000cc range were our usual mounts plus, of course, quite a range of fibreglass bodied kit cars. The all alloy 3 liter Rover V8 I recall, properly sweetened, went very well in a Cortina or Anglia.

    Ken.
    Die dulci fruimini!
    Ken.
    Wolds Bikers, Lincolnshire, England.

  8. #8
    Senior Member misterdecibel's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    Little Rock, Arkansas
    Posts
    3,408
    A GM engine in a Ford? Eww!

  9. #9
    Administrator Ken's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Location
    Lincolnshire, United Kingdom.
    Posts
    3,002
    Quote Originally Posted by misterdecibel View Post
    A GM engine in a Ford? Eww!
    No one cared, engines and bits and pieces were swapped around all the time. The only thing that mattered was the end result - the 0-60, the top speed, the quickest lap of the local 'racetrack', or road rally, driving skill test or autocross results. The Rover engine was a good one as it was so much lighter than the Ford cast iron lumps and, even in a small car like the Anglia the weight distribution could be set to give a good car balance and, with moderate tuning, more than adequate performance even on a race track.

    Ken.
    Die dulci fruimini!
    Ken.
    Wolds Bikers, Lincolnshire, England.

  10. #10
    Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Location
    Rose Hill, Ks. area
    Posts
    36
    Absolutely correct, those 60's to early 70's stock Muscle Cars are, for the most part, no match to the overall performance of the stock modern New Muscle Cars produced today.

    The biggest difference I see, is in the fuel economy, handling and traction department, followed by the ergonomics of the cockpit, and as far as power, sure, the new ones got it too, but the traction is what sets them aside from the old ones, as the old cars would have hit good numbers on the 1320 in stock trim (along with a good tune up - gain up to a full sec - versus factory settings), if they had the same suspention engineering and comparable tires (suspention mod work can do wonders on them now).

    And as far as that modern power, it's available for a lot less cost than to gain the same additional power, then to increase the power on the New Muscle, and simpler to boot. Whats it cost to add another 40 to 60 h/p on that 305 factory h/p 6 banger, for a 67 to 72 Pontiac 400 person, simply flip the pistons in it, 180 degrees in the bore, gain 40 to 60 h/p on that 2 degree offset correction.

    Add a streetable cam kit, intake, headers (new muscle car exhaust is almost header type already), carb and ignition upgrades and it will cost far less, and be far easier to accomplish than all one has to spend and do to make the new cars systems work right.

    My best time, @ 1800 ft above sealevel, in stock street dress (L60 coker firestone's rear tires), was a 1 time run 0f 12.93 @ 116 mph, with my normal time in the 13.20's @ 112's +/-, 1970 LS6 Chevelle (still drawing looks of surprise a couple of blocks from the lights from a few of the new muscle types).

    Of course, our 1995 Z-28 Vert does far better, but then it's setting with a 383'ed LT4, 10lbs of boost through a dual air cooler with the D60 Pro Charger, and gobs of green in the computor and ignition systems and reworked 6 speed and good ole 12 bolt 3.73 posi.

    I can rebuild / mod a 70 to 73 LS5 big block to LS7 (550 h/p +/-), high output spec's for the costs of a full rebuild just on the 6 speed that allows it to survive the engine mods on the Z28, where the M22 needs none.

    But still nothing can beat the feeling we get driving the 69 RAIII GTO, 70LS6, SS396/350 h/p Camaro, 69 428/390 h/p Bonnieville Vert or the 427/385 h/p powered 67 Impala, it just feels right, almost impowering.

    Now all I need to do is find my old 70 SCJ 429/370 H/P (snicker), "Drag Pac", Mercury Cyclone Spolier to help complete the spell, it ran 13.70's in stock street trim (thats with the factory installed Quadrajet instead of the Holley), and with the "Taladaga Bar", handled very well too.

    Yes, Ford used the Quadrajet on a couple of engines in the early 60's, as well as some 1970 and 71 429's in Cyclone and Torino's. (I think a few made it into some 429 stangs too, not the Boss's)

    Rex

Similar Threads

  1. Replies: 6
    Last Post: 12-30-2010, 02:01 PM
  2. Money and muscle cars
    By grouch in forum Grouch's Garage
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: 11-01-2008, 09:46 AM
  3. Fast cars in a slow world....
    By Eric in forum Motor Mouth
    Replies: 31
    Last Post: 09-01-2007, 02:42 PM
  4. Under-appreciated muscle cars?
    By Eric in forum Performance/Muscle Cars
    Replies: 22
    Last Post: 04-25-2007, 12:08 PM
  5. Under-rated muscle cars?
    By Eric in forum Performance/Muscle Cars
    Replies: 9
    Last Post: 03-06-2007, 12:42 PM

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •