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Thread: 1970... again?

  1. #1
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    1970... again?

    The original muscle car peaked around 1970; outside factors (insurance costs, higher gas prices) began to put the pinch on both the automakers as well as potential buyers. By '73, only a couple of genuinely high-powered cars were still available. By '75, they were all gone.

    I have a feeling we're getting near the summit again - with a steep downslide awaiting us.

    As before, there are outside factors that are already making it harder for the automakers to build powerful cars (CAFE legislation; potential "greenhouse gas" legislation; declining profitability generally, etc.) and for consumers to buy - and own - them (extortionate fines and fees for driving even a little bit fast; $3 per gallon fuel, etc.).

    Now we have the mortgage lending crisis - and the severe downturn in the housing market, which is having a ripple effect throughout the economy, esp. in terms of consumer spending on "fun stuff" like high-powered cars (as opposed to essential stuff like rent and food).

    Things also appear to be heading toward a crisis in Iraq (and Iran). We could very easily see $4 or $5 per gallon anytime in the next year. That would put the kibosh on high-powered cars as mass market items - and be lethal to the prospects of the 2009 Camaro and cars like it.

    Enjoy the party while it lasts... which I'm beginning to suspect won't be much longer.






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    Re: 1970... again?

    Eric

    With great sadness, I agree with your assessment that it's 1970 for cars all over again. The downturn 1971 - 1972 and then the massive suffocation of power of 1975 are just right around the corner. The legislative front over the next few years and the current high gas prices are a disaster waiting to happen.

    The mortgage lending crises has only begun. We haven't even hit the bottom yet, there will be many (in my opinion) defaults before things normalize which means a lot of financial pain for those who were tricked into buying a house with teaser loans. I went out house shopping back in 2000, I looked at different homes. Every house I was interested in, sold the first day or days it hit the market. It was a massive buying frenzy and prices were skyrocketing. I decided to bow out and to continue to pay rent and stay where I was. I figured the frenzy would stop by 2002 and we would see a slight housing recession after the big buying spree, and then I would buy. However I never anticipated the continued artificially low (Federal Reserve) mortgage rates and then the teaser loans. When I saw people who were buying houses 8 to 10 times their yearly family income (with these teaser loans) starting 3 years ago, I realized we were in big trouble when the bubble bursts. Now the bubble has burst and everyone is running for cover. It's not a pretty picture. I am so glad I did not follow the stupid advice of others and buy a home at the top of the market.

    The Carpenter's famous hit from 1970, sums it up best - "We've Only Just Begun".... and when it's done, it's not going to be a pretty picture.

  3. #3
    mrblanche
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    Re: 1970... again?

    Quote Originally Posted by Disco Man
    Eric

    With great sadness, I agree with your assessment that it's 1970 for cars all over again. The downturn 1971 - 1972 and then the massive suffocation of power of 1975 are just right around the corner. The legislative front over the next few years and the current high gas prices are a disaster waiting to happen.

    The Carpenter's famous hit from 1970, sums it up best - "We've Only Just Begun".... and when it's done, it's not going to be a pretty picture.
    I think 1974 was actually the worst year of the strangulation theory of emissions control. In 1975, the catalytic converter appeared and almost everything else was removed (except the AIR pump, which was used to inject air into the converter on some cars). I had a 1975 Omega, and it had virtually none of the spaghetti plumbing under the hood.

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    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Re: 1970... again?

    "I think 1974 was actually the worst year of the strangulation theory of emissions control. In 1975, the catalytic converter appeared and almost everything else was removed (except the AIR pump, which was used to inject air into the converter on some cars). I had a 1975 Omega, and it had virtually none of the spaghetti plumbing under the hood."

    In 1974, though, there were still at least a few decently powerful cars on the road - the 290-hp SD-455 Trans-Am, 240 hp L-82 Corvette, etc. After 1975, and through the early '80s, finding a car with 200 horsepower or more was a toughie. And none (that I'm aware of) offered more than 230 hp through about 1985). The '77 Z-28 was a sad sack with all of 185 hp spat up by its low compression, no-cam 350 with single exhaust!

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    Re: 1970... again?

    Cool. Then a few years after I can pick up a Pontiac GTO or the new G8 for $1500.00. Yipee!

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    Re: 1970... again?

    Eric,

    The funny thing about the 1977 Z28 was that the LM1 350 V8 (185 horsepower) its only engine for 1977, was a low level performance engine option on the '77 and '78 Firebird. However on the '77 and '78 Firebird the LM1 was only rated at 170 horsepower when it was same LM1 found in the Z28, it was clear GM was playing with the horsepower figure to make the Z28 LM1 350 look different than the same engine in the Firebird. The '78 LM1 350 was rated at 185 horsepower again in the Z28 for 1978. For 1979 the LM1 was no longer available as an option on the Firebird, and it's interesting to note the horsepower figure of the LM1 in the '79 Z28 dropped to 170 for the automatic and 175 for the manual transmission. Any which way you slice it, back in the late 1970s the Trans Am beat the Z28 silly in every performance catagory. Even the lighter (GM flagship sports car) the Corvette played second fiddle to the W72 Trans Am back in the late 1970s.


    swamprat,
    Not too sure about the G8's fate, I venture to think it will be a big hit. Many are looking forward to its release, and its styling is appealing. However the 2004 - 2006 GTO is another story, it was nothing short of a flop so I think it will not have strong resale value and it could be possible 10 or more years from now that you can purchase one for peanuts.

    I liked the GTO's LS1 powerplant (2004) and especially LS2 powerplant (2005-2006), interior, and handling. However its exterior styling left something to be desired. The exterior styling looked like an import/hatchback. If they could have stretched the car in the back 8 to 10", and made the beltline more muscular looking, it would have sold better.

    To illustrate my point, check out the 2005 GTO (blue) down below notice the import styling (has the same exact shape of the Honda Civic concept car below it:



    Honda Civic Concept Car


    Now look at this late 1990s GTO concept car, which is what the GTO should have looked like when it returned. Notice the modern look but with a muscular beltline and retro styling cues. This car is a winner:


  7. #7
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Re: 1970... again?

    "The funny thing about the 1977 Z28 was that the LM1 350 V8 (185 horsepower) its only engine for 1977, was a low level performance engine option on the '77 and '78 Firebird. However on the '77 and '78 Firebird the LM1 was only rated at 170 horsepower when it was same LM1 found in the Z28, it was clear GM was playing with the horsepower figure to make the Z28 LM1 350 look different than the same engine in the Firebird. The '78 LM1 350 was rated at 185 horsepower again in the Z28 for 1978. For 1979 the LM1 was no longer available as an option on the Firebird, and it's interesting to note the horsepower figure of the LM1 in the '79 Z28 dropped to 170 for the automatic and 175 for the manual transmission. Any which way you slice it, back in the late 1970s the Trans Am beat the Z28 silly in every performance catagory. Even the lighter (GM flagship sports car) the Corvette played second fiddle to the W72 Trans Am back in the late 1970s. "

    I've owned both - so can personally attest to the 'Bird's superiority! The Camaro of that era also had a really cheap-looking interior compared to the Firebird; and in '79, Chevy really bolixed it up by changing the Camaro's dash layout to something that would not have looked out of place in a Malibu. Ech!

    I did like the "air induction" functional hood scoop on the '80-81 Z28, though. It was similar to the early TA's functional shaker. At WOT, a vacuum switch would let the doors open up, admitting cooler outside air to the engine, etc.


    "Not too sure about the G8's fate, I venture to think it will be a big hit. Many are looking forward to its release, and its styling is appealing. However the 2004 - 2006 GTO is another story, it was nothing short of a flop so I think it will not have strong resale value and it could be possible 10 or more years from now that you can purchase one for peanuts. "

    I am less optimistic about the G8... Pontiac (let's face it) isn't in the same league as an "image brand" as, say BMW or Acura - the brands it will need to pull customers from. The blue collar types, on the other hand, might want to buy a G8 - but can they afford to? Especially as the mortgage market implodes and with gas prices likely to sail right back to $3 (or even $4) Per gallon atany moment?

    "I liked the GTO's LS1 powerplant (2004) and especially LS2 powerplant (2005-2006), interior, and handling. However its exterior styling left something to be desired. The exterior styling looked like an import/hatchback. If they could have stretched the car in the back 8 to 10", and made the beltline more muscular looking, it would have sold better. "

    Having driven all the late-model GTOs, I can't fault their performance. But I'd still much rather be driving my old TA!

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    Re: 1970... again?

    Right on the money, the interior design especially the new dash layout for the 1979 Camaro was just aweful, it was cheap looking and ugly. Chevy should have kept the '70 - '78 dash layout/design, it worked well. Pontiac was smarter than Chevy they had a great dash layout and design in the 1970 Firebird/Trans Am and they kept it essentually unchanged until 1981.

    Here's the 1979 Camaro Z28 dash layout:



    Now compare that to a Trans Am's dash layout around the same time period:




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    Re: 1970... again?

    And the interior for the new 1982 Z28 was an improvement, but it still paled in comparison to the 1982 Trans Am which looked like an airplane cockpit:

    1982 Z28 dash (remember the cheesy speedo that had two needles one that showed mph the other on the other side showed kph:





    Here's the interior of the 1982 Trans Am which looks much better in my opinion:








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    Re: 1970... again?

    It is beginning to look like 1971 again. Notice that GM is only getting 362 HP out of a 6 liter V8 that is going on the G8 as opposed to 350 HP from a 5.7? Something smells fishy to me. In 1971, it took bigger displacements to get the same or slightly less HP than it did in 1970. This became apparent to me around a few months ago and I've been sounding the alarm.


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    Re: 1970... again?

    swamprat,

    The new optional 6.0 liter V8 (L76) in the G8 , does have displacement on demand (DOD), which does cylinder deactivation for better MPG, so some detuning of the motor had to be done in my opinion. The current LS2 6.0 liter V8 produces 400 horsepower but does not have DOD. Both the L76 and the LS2 use the same GM LS block. The L76 does meet the new stringent Euro III emissions requirements so a horsepower drop had to happen. When you take this into consideration you can see how it's possible a 362 horsepower L76 6.0 liter V8 will produce 38 horsepower less than the 400 horsepower 6.0 liter LS2.

  12. #12
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Re: 1970... again?

    Absolutely great pics, Pete! (where did you find the '79 Camaro ad copy? I'm jealous!)

    I had a '78 with the "old style" curved dash that dated back to 1970. It was very sharp and while not as neat as the Trans-Am's, still had its own personality and fit the car's image. The '79-'81 "breadbox" on the the hand, was no improvement; if anything, it took away from the car.

    On the upside, the '79 Z-28 got a real hood scoop (though not yet functional) instead of just a decal and by '80, aluminum rims and air induction made the car a nicer package, overall.

    But of course, the Trans-Am outclassed - and outgunned the Z28 - and by a considerable margin!

  13. #13
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Re: 1970... again?

    Agreed!

    The third gen 'Bird was quite sharp; the off-center hood blister was neat; the "aero" mags were wild-looking and really unique when they first appeared. And Pontiac did an amazing job tuning the exhaust sound of those early TBI 305s...

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    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Re: 1970... again?

    I just read an interesting article in Pontiac Enthusiast about a stock rebuild/dyno tune of a RA IV 400... it put out 400-405 hp, according to this story... that's "all stock," with just the factory internals, a slight overbore and some carb/ignitiontuning... .

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    Re: 1970... again?

    Quote Originally Posted by Pete
    swamprat,

    The new optional 6.0 liter V8 (L76) in the G8 , does have displacement on demand (DOD), which does cylinder deactivation for better MPG, so some detuning of the motor had to be done in my opinion. The current LS2 6.0 liter V8 produces 400 horsepower but does not have DOD. Both the L76 and the LS2 use the same GM LS block. The L76 does meet the new stringent Euro III emissions requirements so a horsepower drop had to happen. When you take this into consideration you can see how it's possible a 362 horsepower L76 6.0 liter V8 will produce 38 horsepower less than the 400 horsepower 6.0 liter LS2.
    The horsepower drops of 1971-1982 had to happen as well. EFI and the fact that emissions standards stayed constant from 1981-1994 enabled continuous improvements in HP. HP was also able to increase due to the fact that gas mileage requirements have stayed at 27.5 mpg for two decades.

    In the meantime, 2010 will mean even stricter gas mileage standards and the morons in the Senate and House want to saddle automekers with a 35 mpg fuel economy standard. All things being constant, the first mile or two per gallon will be painless. The next 6 will be near impossible to meet with a normal vehicle fleet.

    Adding safety requirements and tightening emissions regulations will make it extremely difficult to increase gas mileage whether or not you retain any performance. The auto industry faced this in the 1970s, although back then, they could shave off pounds. I'm not so sure with today's cars. I just hope that we don't go back to the wheezing, coughing, and sputtering vehicles that we had back then. Of course, If I have to swallow a poison, I'll take sputtering vehicles over a national speed limit any day of the week.

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    Re: 1970... again?

    Eric,

    Thanks for the heads up on the Ram IV article, I'll check it out. About the '79 Z28 dash picture, I linked to a picture on the Nasty Z28 site, which is a great 2nd generation Camaro resource. Here's the 1979 brochure page on that site (click on the "interiors" link to see the interior pictures):

    http://www.nastyz28.com/camaro/1979/79broc.html

    Also here's their 1979 Camaro info page:

    http://www.nastyz28.com/camaro/camaro79.html

    And here's the front page to their 2nd generation Reference site:

    http://www.nastyz28.com/camaro.html

    It's easy to spend hours there reading all the 2nd gen. Camaro reference info.


    swamprat,

    Very well said! The first drastic downsizing in the late 1970s and 1980s cost many untold lives. Higher CAFE figures will only mean smaller cars with smaller displacement motors - not a pretty picture.




  17. #17
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Re: 1970... again?

    Cool links, Pete - thangyaverymuch!

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    Re: 1970... again?

    Pete -

    Interesting point about the first round of downsizing costing lives. Between 1977 and 1981, there was an increase in the overall U.S. highway fatality rate. I attribute that to two factors - Smaller vehicles being in the mix and intensive enforcement of the 55 mph speed limit on interstate highways. Since the speed limit was the same on interstates as the rest of the road system, there was little incentive to drive on an interstate highway. When the speed limit was raised to 65 mph in 1987, states that raised their limit all experienced a drop in their fatality rates as traffic transfered itself to the interstates. The increase in interstate miles driven did increase rural interstate fatalities, however.

    The one good thing about the smaller vehicles is that they they were more maneuverable than the large cars, therefore could keep you out of an accident. When an accident happened, however, the results were pretty bad.

    I don't like the triple threat we are facing form our government. Higher fuel economy standards, tightened emissions regulations, and stringent safety standards. They are going too far, and I won't buy a new car as a result. The one good thing about this country is that there is no shortage of available transportation, some of it high powered.

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    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Re: 1970... again?

    Quote Originally Posted by swamprat
    Pete -

    Interesting point about the first round of downsizing costing lives. Between 1977 and 1981, there was an increase in the overall U.S. highway fatality rate. I attribute that to two factors - Smaller vehicles being in the mix and intensive enforcement of the 55 mph speed limit on interstate highways. Since the speed limit was the same on interstates as the rest of the road system, there was little incentive to drive on an interstate highway. When the speed limit was raised to 65 mph in 1987, states that raised their limit all experienced a drop in their fatality rates as traffic transfered itself to the interstates. The increase in interstate miles driven did increase rural interstate fatalities, however.

    The one good thing about the smaller vehicles is that they they were more maneuverable than the large cars, therefore could keep you out of an accident. When an accident happened, however, the results were pretty bad.

    I don't like the triple threat we are facing form our government. Higher fuel economy standards, tightened emissions regulations, and stringent safety standards. They are going too far, and I won't buy a new car as a result. The one good thing about this country is that there is no shortage of available transportation, some of it high powered.
    I doubt I'll ever buy anything newer than my '98 Nissan. When it croaks (or gets retired to Farm Use) I will probably just get us something old and cool like a VW Thing, or maybe a big boat from the '60s....no EDRs, no ABS or EFI~!

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    Re: 1970... again?

    Eric,

    I agree with you on that. However this only works as long as the legislators don't decide to go after old cars. This is starting to happen in California, where they are now starting to point the finger at older cars as being the source of all their problems. The recent ending of the rolling exemption of cars 30 years or older in CA is the sign of things to come.


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