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. Check Coles Catalogue and Woolworths Catalogue.

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?



  1. The biggest reason older cars with high power engines were slower is due to the crappy tires back then. Bias ply skinny tires aren’t exactly conducive to traction and acceleration. As an example, if you take a 427 AC Cobra with something like Toyo Proxy R888s on it, you can run low 10s in the 1/4 and not many modern cars will touch it. Pretty much anything with a big powerful engine and deep axle gearing with tires that actually HOOK UP will be quick.

  2. back in 1979 my sister bought a used 1977 Chrysler Newport, all the electrics, an ex cop car. 440 motor, auto. It had cracked heads. After my brother and I replaced the heads, we took the car out on I465, and hit 120 mph with no sweat. It got 17 mpg on the road. But had a very stiff ride.

    • Hi Joe!

      Those 440 Chrysler cop cars were fast. If I recall correctly, late ’60s/early ’70s variants were capable of 150 MPH on top… quite something for a brick with a three-speed automatic!

  3. They may have been slow muscle cars, but they sure had the looks and character that made them so envied. And each car model so distinct from its brothers.

  4. I’m wondering how many of these older vehicles use new tires to perform. Technology for tires has gone a long way. Tires make an immense difference right now. Only a few tweaks, like maybe a tuning and some new tires to an older car and I think the numbers will shoot up. Best still, place some of the older tires on new vehicles.

    • Hi Speed,

      It’d be interesting to test some verified factory stock vintage ’60s and ’70s muscle with modern tires. I bet they would be quicker – but I doubt they’d be as quick as modern performance cars because the old stuff didn’t have the horsepower the new stuff does. Even if you don’t adjust the old SAE “gross” horsepower standards to be in line with current SAE “net” standards, only a few of the old muscle car engines claimed to make more than 400 horsepower, which today is on the low end for V8 performance cars. The current Mustang GT’s 5 liter V8, for instance, is rated 460 net horsepower. Under the old SAE gross method, this engine would have advertised close to 500 horsepower. And it’s a mild, mass-produced engine… capable of getting the GT to 60 in 4 seconds and through the quarter in the 12s.

      • We had a stock 68 Camaro SS; 350hp 396, th400, and 4.10s. Magazine tests from the time claimed 14.6ish in the 1/4 mile. With a ‘modern’ (late ’80s) all season radial it ran 13.80s in ~2500′ DA conditions. This car was actually slower with slicks (bog) due to the stock torque converter. The old man didn’t want to alter the car so he just ran it on street radials.
        The right stall converter and slicks would have pushed that car into the low 13’s easily. Throw in some headers and I wouldn’t be surprised if it ran high 12s.
        The old man was an experienced drag racer, but I know nothing about the driver for the magazine test(s). It’s entirely possible a better driver could have improved on the mid 14 sec. passes. Another unknown is how well (or not) the test track was prepared. I know the track received a lot of attention when we were racing the Camaro.
        Traction and average torque (area under the curve) trump (peak) horsepower in 1/4 mile racing. I’ve beaten many faster cars that couldn’t pass me before the stripe…

  5. I’m going to say this was a nice report that captured the times of the quarter-mile as they were reported in the past. However, it would be difficult to look at those old cars and say that they are sluggish, especially 35 years after the event.

    • Hi Speed,

      In their day, those muscle cars were quick! Back in the ’60s and ’70s, a car that could get to 60 in 6 or even 7 seconds was very quick… relative to the typical car that took 10-11 or even longer. A 14 second quarter mile was very respectable and if you got into the 12s, you were moving!

      The old stuff also felt faster – all that tire squeal and engine noise. Modern performance cars are much faster, but seem less so because they go very fast so easily – and quietly.

      A V6 Camry runs the quarter faster than two-thirds of all original V8 muscle cars – but I’d much rather be driving the classic V8 muscle cars!

  6. As an original owner of several muscle cars back in the day and having raced most of the rest Eric, I’d say your article is right on the money. There was a book published in the 80s (can’t find my copy right now since I moved) titled HOW FAST WERE THEY? and in that book all the times the various cars ran were listed along with the equipment on each car including the tires. Not all the cars were tested with stock tires. Some were even tested with slicks. All of the manufacturers supplied “ringers” to be tested with the exception of American Motors Corporation. AMC didn’t care all that much about performance. It cared about fuel economy, safety and sound engineering.

    They were tiny compared to the Big Three. Yet they built better (though often uglier) cars. Their factories were small and outdated even then. So their cars didn’t get factory floor installed power options. Their power options were installed by the factory trained dealer mechanics. AMC considered their dealerships extensions of the factory floor. If you ordered a Service Package for your Rebel Machine, it was installed by the dealer before you got it. It pumped out 472 horses and did the quarter in 12.73 seconds. They said they’d cancel your warranty if you did that but they never did.

    If you’d ever visited an AMC factory you’d see exactly why they had to use their dealerships as extensions of the factory assembly lines. They were extremely tight for space. Tighter than any other manufacturer and they were penalized in the market place for that in many ways. Even here by you Eric.

    The Rebel Machines they built in 1970 had brakes superior to most braking systems today. 4 piston, double reservoir. It was the only muscle car ever you could order 4 wheel disc brakes on. The Machines came with standard with options other muscle cars didn’t even offer. No Machine was offered with drum brakes but they did come with beefy sway bars and very heavy springs. They all handled like sport cars and were the only muscle cars to do so. They could do the jumps without breaking. All that happened were dents in the bottom of the headers from the landing. You had better have been wearing your seat belt.

    Compared to modern cars, the Machine is no slouch. As for highway travel, I crossed the continent in mine several times. It had a 390, 850 Holley, 3:54 Twin Grip rear end, Machine intake, clutch fan, dual point ignition, Thorley Group 19 headers and did 13.5 at 107 in the quarter on street tires – Big Daddies. It would do 90 mph all day on the Trans Canada without breathing hard and still getting pretty good gas mileage. In 1971, I drove from Toronto to the gates of Jasper National Park in 48 hours. I drove from Calgary to Toronto in 36 hours. Thought nothing of it.

    The Chryslers were tin cans by comparison and most had drum brakes and handled like the landing barges they were. Fords were boats and GMs were better but when they needed repair, you’d better have deep pockets. To change a GM heater in a core required the removal of the entire front clip. In a Machine you drained the anti-freeze, took out a few bolts and removed the core. At every corner, AMC was better engineered and still stands up today.

    Besides having access to nearly 500 hp with the Service Package on pump gas (Sunoco 260) Machines were (still are) supremely comfortable to drive. So good the rumour was their bucket seats were designed by a back doctor. I don’t know about that but I do know what a former owner looks like after years of being parted from his Machine to finally sit in one again. You don’t see that in today’s cars. I can’t even sit in a Toyota without serious back pain.

    Using a Mustang as an example of a Muscle Car is misleading and wrong. Mustangs, Cougars, Camaros, Firebirds, Challengers, ‘Cudas, Rambler SC/Ramblers, Javelins and AMXs were never considered muscle cars. They were pony cars. Different weight class. Vettes were sports cars with big engines that fit no class.

    The Intermediate sized cars were the real Muscle Cars and they included the Chevelles, Roadrunners, Coronets, Super B’s, GTOs, Fairlanes, Torinos, Eliminators and so on. The Superbirds weren’t Muscle Cars, they were all out race cars detuned for the street. Everyone knew that.

    And yes the horsepower ratings changed in 1971 and the gas quality went south soon after; all thanks to the insurance industry and it’s war on muscle cars. That combined stopped engine technology in its tracks quickly. It took until the Buick Grand Nationals for the muscle car concept to stumble back to respectability.

    To argue that old muscle cars were in any way superior to modern engineering is fantasy. That would be denying the advances made in small engine modern technology. But just imagine those advances made to the strongest domestic engine block of all time: the AMC 390/401.

    However, today’s muscle cars are still pony cars, not muscle cars. Camaros, Mustangs and Challengers are all pony cars. The cars produced by Toyota, Nissan, Kia and the like are not muscle cars. Different class of car. The Vipers, Ferraris, Lambos and Vettes are in a wholly different class too.

    The modern Charger is one of the few but it has four doors. A muscle car wannabe. Same for Impala. Ford has no entry I can think of. No foreign makes either.

    But then we get to the Tesla and others of that ilk. Fast, powerful and beyond anyone souping them up in their backyard. The fun is gone.

    Buy and old muscle car and build it yourself and learn. Have fun and don’t worry about traction control. That’s what we have line locks for and posi-trac rear ends. After that you develop skill.

    Modern sports cars are becoming more like riding in a bus all the time.

    As good as a Hemi or a 455 or a 454 may be, ounce for ounce, the block itself in an AMC is superior. It’s harder by far due to the high nickel content. It’s why AMCs are still competitive today. They go longer between rebuilds and are light years ahead of modern engines in that respect.

    As well, AMC engines may be one of the easiest group of engines to work on and extract power from. Nothing modern compares to them. So as well as horsepower, AMC has staying power in the complete absence of any corporate support or tooling (which currently resides at the bottom of Lake Michigan). Does that sound like illegal dumping?

    So when you talk about how fast and powerful those old muscle cars were, there are many more factors involved than just horsepower.

    Can any of us imagine trying to restore a modern “muscle car” 50 years from now? Would anyone bother? Will anything be left? The computer systems in today’s car alone make the notion pretty well unthinkable. Today’s cars are disposable rather than iconic.

    Will any one modern car hold the number of land speed records amassed by the Craig Breedlove AMX? I don’t think so.

  7. The author of this article conveniently forgot to mention that the tires on performance cars today are infinitely superior to the tires used in the 1960s, both in tread width and in the rubber compounds used. So comparing the acceleration times for the muscle cars of the 1960s to today’s cars is like comparing apples to pineapples. A good example: a friend of mine raced a 1963 Ford Galaxy with the 425 horsepower 427 cubic inch engine in it in “A” Stock class at the drag strip in 1963. It typically turned 13.3 seconds at 113 mph on the 7-inch tread width tires used back then. The miles per hour is a much better indication of the engine’s horsepower than the elapsed time. That same car with the wider tires and better rubber compounds used today would be without a doubt, turning in the high 11-second bracket at the drag strip, about 1.4 seconds quicker than it did in 1963. When you factor that fact in, those cars were not really as slow as the author is stating, compared to the cars of today. If we’re going to make a reasonable comparison, let’s be realistic and fair. If you put 1960s tires on the performance cars of today, they would be significantly slower on zero to 60 and quarter mile acceleration because of the harder rubber and the narrow tread widths used back then.

    • Hi Griz,

      What does “stock” mean to you?

      To me, it means as delivered by the factory. On the tires it came with. I quoted the 1/4 mile times posted by stock/as-delivered muscle cars.

      I didn’t quote quarter-mile times of new performance cars on drag slicks, either. How much quicker do you suppose a new Mustang GT would be on tires made for optimum bracket racing performance? On street tires, this car runs high 12s. Right off the showroom floor, bone stock. And the Mustang GT is a run-of-the-mill modern muscle car (see final comment at the end of this post).

      Also, you assert an 11 second quarter mile (“would be without a doubt”) out of an otherwise stock 13 second car just by changing tires.

      Let’s see the proof. Not what you think. What a stock – as made by the factory, not carefully rebuilt and tuned to perfection – car from that period runs on just a set of modern tires.

      Then let’s compare what it does with what something like a new Mustang GT does on slicks.

      Let’s be fair?

      Ok, how about re-adjusting ’60s-era SAE “gross” hp numbers to today’s SAE “net” measure? And how about the reverse? What do you suppose the SAE “gross” hp rating of a current 485 hp SAE “net” Chaellenger 6.2 Hemi would be under the old standard?

      Do you really believe 1950s-era V8 technology is competitive on a power-per-liter basis with modern V8 (and otherwise) technology? Have you ever compared the CFM of a stock current GM LS V8 head with the CFM of a typical muscle car cylinder head?

      PS: A 427 Galaxie is not typical of most muscle cars. A typical muscle car – something analogous to a modern Mustang GT (produced in fairly large numbers, street drivable, not primarily meant to be a bracket car with license plates) would be something like a GTO with a RA III 400 or a 396 Chevelle. And they were 14 second cars.

      • eric, it was all relative as you say. I read an article yesterday in Hot Rod where they began by say “consider your average Honda sedan would blow the doors off the hottest street racer from the muscle car era”.

        Boy, would I ever have thought I was tripping if a Honda sedan had eaten my lunch back then. I’d be stunned for days, might not ever have recovered.

        Back then, those Polyglas GT’s were as good as it got for tires. You could get radials back then and every one of them was made in Europe so getting a wide tire wasn’t possible. Even in the mid-seventies you couldn’t get a wide radial and they were SO much better than bias ply anything.

        The first radials in this country really got started in ag country. I worked for a guy who had radials on his new ’72 Silverado. He farmed a lot of corn and was always ruining tires on field stubble during harvest when you might have to go out to a piece of equipment and work on it. Once he put on those radials he quit ruining tires. It convinced me but I still didn’t buy my first radials till ’76.

        • Hi Eight,


          And today, you can drive around in completely docile 500-plus hp car that runs 12s, right off the dealer’s lot.

          Even if a classic-era car could run 12s (on slicks) it was on the ragged edge of street drivable.

          This is not a slam of those cars. I love those cars. But I also remember those cars.

          • That still blows my mind. You can barely hear them run too, just a slight whir from under the vehicle.

            Last year on a cool evening a guy pulled up beside me in one of those Holden GTO’s. It wasn’t a factory color I don’t think but it looked showroom new. It had a lump in the idle and good bass note to the exhaust. I almost flagged him over to ask about it. I wonder what sort of power he was making. It had some much larger tires on the rear.

            That was an aluminum Chevy engine wasn’t it?

            • 8S the Holdens here had some pretty powerful engines. And the brakes and suspension to handle those engines. The small block V8 was made here, but the bigger motors came from USA. With the demise of Holden, those cars are not being made now.

      • Your article title is “Muscle cars were slow” without any qualifying information included. It’s misleading at best, and simply wrong at worst. If your article had read “Muscle cars were usually slow compared to modern cars if both are in 100% showroom form”
        Who races 100% stock crap at the track? Talk about a boring life. Bolt on tires of equivalent size and compound and see how the old cars compare to your modern stuff. What performance car do you race? Do you build vehicles or just buy them?

        • Hi Dan,

          The fact is most run-of-the-mill stock muscle cars from the ’60s and early ’70s ran 14-15 second quarter miles – which was quick for the era but slow by the standards of our era. That was the point I was trying to make.

          A 2022 V6 Camry, for example, is quicker than most V8 muscle of cars of the ’60s and early ’70s – and much faster, because the Camry isn’t gearing limited as the old stuff was (e.g., a typical muscle car with a four speed manual and 3.73 gears was screaming near redline at 120 MPH… the Camry is just stretching its legs at that speed. I know. I have driven both – many examples of them.

          You say: “Who races 100% stock crap at the track?”

          Well, stock (i.e., a production car) is how you rate the car’s performance as it was made. It is how you compare it with the cars made before – and later. Modified cars are not representative of production cars and so quoting their performance numbers is not relevant to what the factory built cars were doing.

          You may then say: But those old muscle cars were quicker than you say – even in stock trim. But they were limited by the low traction of 14 and 15-inch tires. Maybe. But the times posted are what they were as produced – not modified.

          And that was my point.

  8. 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.

    • 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.

      • 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.

        • Rick,

          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.

      • 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.

        • 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.

      • 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.


        • 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.

          • “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).

            • 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!

              • “…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.

                • 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!

                  • 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?

                    • 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…

    • 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.

      • 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.

      • 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.

        • 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!

        • 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.

          • 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”.

          • 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!

            • 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.

              • 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!

                • 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?

                • 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.

    • 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.

      • 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!

    • 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.

      • 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!

        • 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.

        • it’s funny how the publisher of this article said the boss 429 couldn’t really be used as an argument because of it’s production numbers but how many 2016 hellcats were produced if you compare it to the current driving population of today…..probably the same ratio as in 1970……I owned a 69 GTX with a 440. 1/4 times were published at high 13’s but with a tire change and granted a pair of headers which took and hour and a half to replace I had the car running consistent 12.80’s. And another thing there are some great videos on youtube called muscle car of the week…very informative about 1/4 mile times. I just recently sold a 454LS6 chevelle and whenever I would pull up alongside a modern muscle car or sportscar it is me who is getting the thumbs up not the other way around

          • Hi Cleve,

            Ok – let’s talk about a plain ol’ Mustang GT. Mass produced; not the “exotic” version of the Mustang. It is quicker and faster than any stock muscle car excepting perhaps ultra low production and extremely iffy on the street models like the L-88 Corvette and so on.

            And you know as well as I do that driving an L-88 in traffic or taking it on a 500 mile road trip was not a good idea. The new mustang? No sweat. Literally. It has AC and all the comforts. And still runs a high 12 second quarter in as-built/stone stock trim. On street tires.

            The fact is a four cylinder turbo Mustang is quicker and faster than probably 90 percent of all ’60s/early ’70s muscle cars, as they were built (in stock/not modified condition).

            I am not slamming classic muscle cars. I love them (and own them). I think they have more style and character than the new stuff. They are – to me – more fun to drive.

            But they are 50 year old technology and are outclassed by the new stuff.

            It is like comparing a WWII P51 with an F16.

            • Yep, one you fix when it breaks, and the other you throw away. Pointless discussion in my opinion… You will not see any 40 year old cars from the present era. The wiring and little black boxes will have died long before that, no matter how they are treated. Like comparing Bics to Zippos… depends on your philosophy.

              • Hi Pil,


                I like your example. A Bic lighter (like a modern car) could be “restored”… in the sense that it is technically feasible. But – like a modern car – the complexity/hassle preclude doing on economic as well as practical grounds.

                I know Brent disagrees with me.

                It’ll be interesting to find out, 20 years from now, who was right… assuming we’re not all in camps, of course.

              • 60s and 70s cars get restored because the malaise era resulted in more people desiring these cars that would have normally occurred. That puts the money there so its done.

                Lets say the modern cars electronics fail. There are already numerous aftermarket control systems. So that takes care of the engine but then there’s the body. People replace their dashboard setups with Ipads and the like as well. It’s already being done. If there is a restoration market and if this proves to be a trouble area, there will be future electronics that will be at the very least affordable if not cheap that will drop in and do the job.

                The question is, will there be a market for today’s cars 40 years ago. That’s what matters most.

    • 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.

  9. 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

    • 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.”

  10. 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.

  11. 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.”

    • 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.

    • 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.

      • 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.

    • 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 !!!!

      • 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!

    • Eric,
      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.

      • 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? 🙂

        • 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.

          • 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!

      • 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.

        • 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!

          • “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.

          • Great article and I totally agree with you. The classics are great but modern cars just perform better and are much more reliable. I was watching “What’s My Car Worth” and was surprised to find that the L88 wasn’t that fast 0-60. How could a car with over 500HP take 6.8 seconds to 60? I have a 2009 Maxima with 290HP that does it in 5.7 (1/4 mile in 14.3). Then I realised that the L88 only had a 3 speed auto with very tall gears. That car was meant more for top end speed. I think classic cars could have gone a lot faster if the gearing was changed and had the 5, 6, 7+ speed tranies we have today.

            • Hi Fifty7Chevy,

              Well, one factor is that the way horsepower was rated (and advertised) back in the ’60s was different. “500” hp in 1968 using the old SAE Gross Horsepower method (engine on a stand, without a full production exhaust/accessories, etc.) would probably be around 420-440 using today’s SAE Net Horsepower method.

              Maybe less – maybe more. Those advertised numbers were notoriously inaccurate!

              It’s still a big number, but today’s performance car engines make that and more without being on the edge of street-drivable, as an L-88 Corvette was.

              Also – in re the L-88’s 0-60 time: Those cars were severely traction limited. Your Maxima prolly has at least 17 inch wheels/tires and prolly 18s.

              The Corvette had 15s.

              Very hard to hook up 500 hp (or even 400) on 15×7 or 15×8 wheels/tires!

              The coolest thing (in my mind) about the old V8s was that you could often achieve tremendous hp gains for very little money. A set of headers, cam swap and a tune would work miracles.

              However, most of those classic V8s became hard to live with as daily-driver engines once the power got serious (over 400 honest SAE net hp). The limitations being airflow (1950s technology, for the most part) and flat tappet cams.

              I recently drove a 707 hp Dodge Hellcat and it was as easy to drive as your Maxima!

              • Thanks for the reply. My Maxima is actually running on 19s. It’s also (unfortunately) a FWD car which probably helps with traction. I’d love to drive a Hellcat. So, did you have the 500 HP key or the big boy 707 HP key? 😀 I heard it’s hard to get traction on those as well with all of that power. I know I would go through some tires.

        • 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.

  12. 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.

    • 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!

      • this is sort of like who’s better the 96 bulls or this year’s version of the golden state warriors…..that’s why the internet is fun so we can debate these topics. I do see a tendency at car shows that the younger crowd is drawn more so the muscle cars of the 60’s and early 70’s, so sometimes speed isn’t always a deciding factor

    • 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.

      • 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.

        • 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.

      • 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.

        • 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.

          • 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.

          • 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!

      • 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!!

      • 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.

        • 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.

  13. 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?

    • 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.

      • 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.

    • 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….

      • 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.

    • 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.

  14. 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…………….

  15. 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.

  16. 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.

    • 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.

      • 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.

        • 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.

    • 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.

      • 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.

        • 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.

  17. 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).

  18. 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.

    • 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.

      • 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.

        • Totally agree. Made the same comment about the tranies a few posts up. Gearing makes all the difference.

    • 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.

      • 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.

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  20. 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!

    • 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.

    • Actually some of the old cars had fuel injection. As you know, it’s been in use on non-diesel cars since the 50s.

      • Yup – Rochester mechanical FI was used in a few ’60s small block Corvettes and IIRC Chrysler had something similar, too.

  21. 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?

    • 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.

  22. 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.

    • 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.

      • I was surprised by the weights of old cars as well. They look like they would weigh 2 tons or more but often weigh less than new cars. My Maxima is just under 3600 lbs and ’57 Chevy 2-door hard top was under 3300 lbs. Crazy. Most of it is the addition of all the safety gear required today like 10 airbags, etc. and all of the sound-deadening material they use to keep the cabins quiet. Not to mention all the added weight to the complex engines.

        • My ’76 Trans-Am was considered a porker in its day, but it only weighs 3,700 or so pounds. Given a 7.4 liter cast iron V8, that’s not bad….

          A new Dodge Challenger weighs around 4,200!

  23. 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

    • 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.

  24. 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.

    • 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.

  25. 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.

  26. 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?

    • 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.

  27. 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

  28. 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.

    • 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.

    • 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.

      • 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.

        • 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.

          • 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.

            • 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.


          • 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.

            • 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!

          • 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.

            • 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….

          • 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.

  29. 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?

    • 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.

  30. 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.

    • 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!

  31. 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.

    • 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.

      • 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.

  32. 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.


    • 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!

    • 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!

    • The thing I hate about these articles on slow times is no one reminds the readers those cars were running on skinny pias ply tires, not known for good hookup

      • Hi Noel,

        Yes, absolutely. But it’s also true that few of the original-era muscle V8s made more than an honest 350 horsepower. Which is not much by today’s standards.

        • @Noel – supposedly the slicks from the late 60s/early 70s were only about as good as a modern DOT radial (I wasn’t quite old enough to drive in those days).
          I’ve watched plenty of modern muscle run amusinlgy crappy 1/4 mile times on on street tires – “12 second” cars unable to get out of the 14s and such.
          @ eric – I don’t usually concern myself with horsepower so much as track times (and not just 1/4 mile stuff). I’ve found factory horsepower numbers need to be taken with a large grain of salt, some lime and tequila. The old muscle cars can still hold their own in the 1/4 mile. Our stock 68 camaro 350hp 396 auto was .8 faster than published 1/4 mile times on modern all season tires…
          Add headers, stall converter, slicks and tuning…might see some 12 sec. timeslips and not be a trailer queen.

          • Hi Bob,

            Ah, some car talk!

            And, yup: A new Hellcat can run 10s – with AC – on street tires. It can be driven to work in heavy traffic, as comfortably as a Camry.

            My Trans-Am’s 455 makes maybe 350 honest hp. That with a fairly bumpy cam and a tendency to run hot. I love my car, though, because it sounds and feels like a 10 second car… even though it is maybe a high 13 second car.

            • A better comparison to a hellcat is a ZL-1 car (vette/camaro). At least a ZL-1 would have a chance in a drag race.
              All the hellcats I’ve seen at the track spend most of the time with the hood up (cooling off between running mid 10 sec passes). Kinda like a race car lol. Haven’t seen any hellcat owners run eliminations yet – all looking for that 9 sec. timeslip I guess.

              I have three friends with big poncho motors in daily drivers; a TA, Firebird, and GTO.
              The TA and GTO both run high 10s and have full interior. The TA is a 455/th400 with 3.23s and the GTO is a 421/th350 with 3.00s.
              The Firebird is a 464″ stroker w/aftermarket heads, 4.10s and a 4spd that runs mid 11s.

              • Hi Bob,

                Love the ZL-1 but as you know that car was barely street driveable. The Hellcat is as easy to drive as a Camry. I know. I have driven one.

                Stock Mustang GTs are 12 second cars. With AC and an automatic.

                My TA could be daily driven, too. But it doesn’t run 11s. With the RA III cam in the 455, it is already on the edge of daily-driverness. At least, with a flat tappet cam and iron heads/Quadrajet. I could probably get Hellcat-ish power/performance and daily driveability with a modern roller cam, aftermarket aluminum heads and a high-flow TBI, etc.

                But I have yet to see any classic muscle car with stock/period engine parts that runs 11s and is as daily driveable as a Camry. Not sayin’ it doesn’t exist. Just that I haven’t seen it!

                • “barely street driveable” is subjective and depends upon many things…if it has 2/40 ac, heat, wipers, lights etc., then it is ‘street driveable’ to me.

                  The guys running stock/period parts are few and far between. Those are the cars I almost never see. What I do see are tons of 10-11 sec. street cars that drive to the track. Old school and new.
                  Many of the quicker old school cars are quite tame, many are not…

                  As far as your TA:
                  ported iron heads > stock aftermarket castings
                  get a custon grind flat tappet from Jones Cams (or similar)
                  Blueprint the motor and try to get some compression and quench.
                  Lose the factory rods (if you haven’t already)
                  Send the Qjet off for recalibration
                  Get the car to hook.
                  Or just enjoy it the way it is lol.
                  You really should 1/4 mile it some time.

  33. Eric,

    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

    • 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.

      • 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.

        • 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!

            • 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!

          • 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!) 😉

  34. 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.

    • ‘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

    • 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.

      • 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

        • 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.

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

    • 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.

      • 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.

        • 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.

          • 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.

            • 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.

        • “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!

          • 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.

          • 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.

            • 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.

          • 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.

          • 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.

            • 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.

          • 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

  36. 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

  37. 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.

    • BLZ,

      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.

      • 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.

        • 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.

        • 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.

          • 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.

            • 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.

        • 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.

          • Exactly!

            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.

        • 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.

          • 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.

            • BLZ,

              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…

          • 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.

            • 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!)

          • 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.

            • BLZ,

              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!

            • 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.

          • 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.

            • 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.

          • “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.

  38. 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.

    • 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.

      • 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.

        • 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.

          • 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

          • Yup!

            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!

  39. 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.

    • Exactly!

      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….

  40. 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.

    • “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.’

      • Tre,

        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.”

        • 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.


        • Cap’n,

          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!

          • 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.

            • Cap’n,

              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?

          • “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.

            • “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.

          • 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.

        • 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.

      • 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>

    • 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!

      • 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 🙂

  41. 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…

  42. 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

  43. 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.

    • Yup.

      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.

      • 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

        • 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.

          • 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)

            • 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.

          • 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 🙂

            • Sigh.

              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!

            • “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.

          • 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

            • Cap’n,

              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.

          • 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.

            • 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!

          • 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.

          • 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?

            • 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.

          • 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.

        • 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.

  44. 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.

    • 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”.

    • 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.

      • 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.

  45. 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

  46. 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″ …

      • 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.

        • 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

          • Cap’n,

            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?

          • @ 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.

  47. 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

    • 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.

      • 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

        • 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.

        • Cap’n,

          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?

          • 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.

        • 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.

          • 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?

          • 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.

  48. 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.

  49. 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

    • Morning!

      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…..

      • 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

  50. 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.

    • 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….

    • 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.

      • 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.


  51. 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.

    • 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.

      • 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.

      • 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

      • 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 🙂

        • 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.

          • 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.

          • 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.

          • 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

            • Cap’n,

              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.

          • 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.

          • 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!

            • 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…

      • 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.

  52. 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.

    • Deuce,

      “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.

      • “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?

        • 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.


          • 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.”


          • 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 🙂

  53. 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?

    • 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.

  54. 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.

    • 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.

    • 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