Muscle Cars Were Slow . . . Part II

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I wrote a column a couple years ago (see here) that mentioned an unspeakable truth: Relative to now – classic muscle cars were slow. Back in the day, when the typical passenger car took 10 seconds (or more) to get to 60 MPH, a car that could get there in seven was faster-than-light.scoop

Today, it’s Camry Speed.

Today, the performance (0-60, quarter mile, top speed, etc.) delivered by most factory-stock ’60s and ’70s-era V-8 muscle cars has been equaled  – or bettered – by family cars with V-6 engines. Today’s V-8 performance cars completely outclass the V-8 “performance” cars of the classic era . . . stock vs. stock.

Ah, but there’s the out. The catch.

Stock – vs. stock.

What about modified vs. stock?

One of the many things that was – and still is – appealing about the classic stuff is how easy it was (and still is) to amp up their performance.

And, how inexpensive they were, relatively speaking.burnout

Let’s compare some apples and oranges.

My muscle car – a 1976 Trans-Am – doesn’t rate much when compared with even the base/V-6 powered versions of today’s muscle cars. Though it came with an engine packing more cubic inches (liters, in today-speak) than any of the new stuff (excepting the Viper, but that’s not fair because it’s got a V-10 and my Pontiac’s only got a V-8) the power output and performance – delivered in stock trim – was feeble. Or rather, is feeble – relative to the performance of today’s stuff: Zero to 60 in about 7.2 seconds, a low 15 second quarter mile – top speed (mechanically limited, due to the axle ratio and non-overdrive transmission) about 118 MPH.'76 TA exhaust

But, Pontiac gave me a lot to work with. And – when the car was new – for about the cost of a current-day base V-6 powered sporty coupe. This opens some doors that are shut when you buy a new muscle car. If you can afford to buy a new muscle car.

My car’s sticker price, back in ’76, was about $5,800. Adjusted for inflation, this is equivalent to about $24,000 in today’s dollars (see here), which is almost to the dollar what Chevy asks for a brand-new (base trim/V-6 powered) Camaro: $23,555.

A V-8 powered Camaro SS stickers for $33,335 – about ten grand more, in real dollars, than my ’76 TA cost when new.

Stock vs. stock – and apples vs. oranges – the new Camaro V-6 is stronger/quicker – and much faster – than my old Pontiac was when it was new.

The V-8 Camaro SS even more so. It is literally no contest.

The 455 in my Trans-Am only managed 200 hp – out of 7.4 liters! . . . in stock trim. The new Camaro’s 3.6 liter V-6 (half the size of my TA’s V-8) makes 323 hp and the car can get to 60 in the sixxes. The Camaro SS’s 6.2 liter V-8 makes 426 hp and gets the car to 60 in 4.8 install

Very impressive.

Even more so when you factor in that the new car is wife-drivable (none of the really quick classic stuff was) has air conditioning, and you probably won’t need to touch much (other than oil/filter changes) for the next decade.

But, here’s the difference – Now vs. Then:

My Trans-Am, when it was new, was much more accessible. In the same way that a new V-6 Camaro is accessible. But when my TA was new, you got a V-8 Trans-Am, not a base trim V-6 Camaro. And that V-8 had tremendous performance potential locked up inside all those cubic inches, easily – and inexpensively (compared with today) accessed.

A new V-6 Camaro is – effectively – hyper-tuned. The as-delivered engine is optimized, or not far from it. The 455 that came in my TA was de-tuned. Deliberately crippled, in order to slide by the government’s emissions rigmarole, which was making it hard for GM to sell a V-8 at all, however gimped.'77 TA engine

“Fixing” this – de-gimping the big V-8 – was the first thing most of us did, once we got our hands on something like the Trans-Am. We usually started by hacksawing off the factory exhaust system – which in those days garroted the output of the engine by 20 percent or more, due to the restrictive plumbing. Simply replacing the factory system (cast iron manifolds, narrow diameter – and often crimped – pipes, primitive catalytic converter) with headers and a good set of duals – sans the catalytic converters – freed up serious hp. And gained serious performance. For very little money. Even today, a set of headers for an old muscle car’s engine, a pair of free-flow mufflers and – if you must – a couple of modern high-flow catalytic converters (stand-alone units, they don’t need 02 sensors, because the car has no computer) will cost you about $1,000 or so.

And installation is DIY-doable, with hand tools.

This mod – along with some tuning work (adjusting the carburetor, ignition timing) which is free (or nearly free; replacement jets for the carburetor might cost you $20 or so) will make the TA perform better than a new V-6 Camaro. The horsepower number might not be as high – yet – but the big V-8 already produced a great deal more torque than the small V-6 in the new car. And the old car is much lighter than the new car. With 240-260 or so hp (and 450-plus ft.-lbs. of torque vs. the new Camaro V-6’s puny 278 ft.-lbs.) the otherwise stock 455 Trans-Am will be quicker than the new V-6 Camaro.

But wait, there’s more.Two F cars

Spend another $300 or so – today’s dollars, much less back in the day – for a high-performance camshaft, also easily installed with hand tools – and without having to remove the engine, as you would in the new Camaro.

Now you’re in the 300-plus hp ballpark.

Maybe go ahead and pull the engine – very easy to do – and build the bottom end to complement the new camshaft. High-compression pistons, for instance. You could give the 455 – any classic muscle car V-8 – a mechanical makeover for a couple thousand dollars in parts and machine shop work.

And now, you’d be able to go toe-to-toe with a new Camaro SS.

For not much more than you’d have spent to buy a new Camaro V-6.old TA pic

The new stuff comes ready to rock out of the box – provided you’ve got the wherewithal to afford the box. The old stuff was maybe a little tepid as it came, especially the mid-late ’70s stuff like my car, which bore the full brunt of Washington’s frontal assault against classic muscle cars. But one could buy them without breaking the bank – and have money left over to massage the potential Pontiac, et al, managed to smuggle past the gate.

And that’s the big difference, Then vs. Now.

Throw it in the Woods? 

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  1. Good article Eric, and worthy of this muscle car owner’s 2 cents. I have with in my flock a new Camaro 2LT SS, stock 455 HP, $300 to bolt up a cold air induction, bingo 470 HP. All flywheel HP numbers. But here’s where the new muscle cars beat the old school muscle cars by a big distance. Lower weight and handling, the handling alone is huge, your TA can’t hold a candle with my 2LT SS on a twisty road and then I can hold a much higher speed going into the corners because my Camaro has much, much better braking, a huge racing key, brake performance. Yea, yea, yea your TA has some real earned class that is always of a second and third look when one is in sight. I see Burt Reynolds and Jackie Gleason whenever I see the big gold eagle on a black TA. My 2020 2LT SS doesn’t hold that nostalgia but it’s still family!

  2. This article is just stating the obvious…. Anyone with half a brain
    knows that a particular man made device whether its cars, computers, planes, ships, etc. are going to out perform their predecessors from 40 years ago. Its like comparing the newest Intel processor to a Pentium II. Just because an uninspiring and boring 2016 V6 Camry will accelerate just as fast or faster or handles better then a factory stock muscle car from 40 years ago doesn’t negate the prestige, historical significance, personality, and worth of those cars. I doubt a Camry or Accord will be highly sought after 30 – 40 years from now. Furthermore, how many of those muscle cars are stock now anyway??? I’ll take a 1970 Chevelle 454 LS6 any day over the new Camaro SS or Hellcat.

    • Hi James,

      Did I write that muscle cars aren’t cool? Historically interesting?

      I love muscle cars (and own one; have owned them all my life). The article was just a reality check about the performance they offered.

    • Love it, Bob!

      A couple or three years back, I saw a profile piece in one of the magazines – might have been Hot Rod – about a guy who’d smuggled an entire Corvette drivetrain into an old Volvo 240 wagon!

      • eric, a Buick station wagon with a 350 back in the early 90’s was a real sleeper and it was bone stock. They had that centennial version of some sort in ’96 with plenty of HP, bigger wheels and tires, all sorts of suspension mods, a Boze sound systems and options very few higher priced cars had. They’d haul ass and get good mileage to boot. I almost bought one about 10 years ago from a mechanic who was going to sell the very type I described after he got all the Corvette drivetrain and suspension stuffed under a Nomad wagon for his wife. I just never checked back with him although I should have. This is called hauling ass under the radar with your family and dogs and the kitchen sink and getting good mileage to boot. Yep, I’m a station wagon guy as well as an El Camino type but I always had lots to haul. I certainly wasn’t above putting some really serious HP in a stock looking Silverado and doing some serious cross country times with those either. A white Silverado with all those aftermarket suspension pieces and larger high speed performance tires was nothing to sneer at but wasn’t much to look at either, just a fancy looking pickup like Mom might drive.

        A friend used to buy a Silverado about every 3 years(4WD’s), replace the stock wheels and tires and simply remove the stock engine and replace with the local engine builders exotic engine. Since the exhaust would be replaces and simply dump out in front of the bumper, there was nothing to show it wasn’t a plain Jane truck…..except when you stomped it and smoked the tires.

        Even when GM came out with the Duramax setup, a friend would by a 4WD version complete with headache rack and toolbox and aftermarket wheels and tires and with some tuning on that engine and tranny, smoke the hottest muscle and pony cars on the street. And yes, he’d use 4High and burn all four on the start…..but what a start.

  3. It should be noted that your car didn’t need to be a “muscle” car to increase horsepower. Nor did you have to be much of a gear-head to do things to your car either. It was something just about everyone did then. My 4 door ’76 Chevy Malibu (the downsized Chevelle) was no muscle car, not by a long shot. But it did have the bulletproof small block V-8. Granddad bought the car new, and had to give up driving about the time I started driving in the late 80’s.

    It was the perfect car to learn to drive on. It was either that or dad’s Renault Alliance or mom’s Dodge Caravan (the folks have very strange habits when it comes to buying cars, they would buy the coolest car one year and a dog of a vehicle the the next, at that time they had dogs) . It was a easy choice.

    Also when I got it insured, they made a mistake, a big mistake in my favor. I believe the car left the factory with 140 hp. But on the insurance form, they had the car at 40hp!!! I didn’t bother with correcting that mistake. I had very low rates for a teen guy with a car with a V-8.

    Little did they know what we had done over the years under the hood. I knew a retired Chevy mechanic who loved to work on cars. He probably saved me hundreds if not thousands of dollars since he never would take any money for the work he did. Its also the reason that car stayed on the road as long as it did too. Probably learned far more from that guy about cars then my dad or gramps.

    Cops never gave it a second look, and my brother thinks I have a sixth sense when it comes to sniffing out speed traps, and not doing stupid things in front of the fuzz. Believe it or not, the only ticket I ever got with that car, was a expired plate.

    By the time that car got totaled (t-boned by an old guy running a red light), the car was probably pretty close to 400hp. I had no trouble keeping up with a friends new (then) 5.0 v-8 fox body Mustang, in spite of an automatic and being a bigger car (he had a stick shift and knew how to use it). I know I had far less money in my car, ha ha. Plus the old guy mechanic wouldn’t touch a Ford.

    • Good point, Rich.

      Back in the day, rear-wheel-drive/V-8 cars were the norm – and Grandma’s Nova with a 350 could be made into a screamer just as easily as a Camaro… but for a lot less money – and less notice from the porkers.

      A good friend of mine had a hopped-up Maverick and we had all kinds of fun in that chocolate brown sleeper!

      • I’ve always liked sleepers.

        Back in the day a friend of mine had a 1965 Rambler Classic with a mildly hopped-up 327 V8 (Nash, not Chevy) and Rambler’s twin-stick floor shift which, with sufficient flicks of the wrist, would yield 5 forward speeds. All in a unibody shell that weighed in at about 3,000 pounds.

        On the outside it looked like a typical old man’s car of the time but would take off like a raped ape from a stop light, much to the amazement of guys in their more sporty jobs. Of course it couldn’t really outrun a GTO or a Corvette, but the element of surprise made for a lot of dropped jaws on the street.

        • Hi Jason,

          I’ve got a weakness for oddball/off the beaten path stuff (I’ve got an orange Trans-Am and a 250 CC triple Kaw, among other things). That ’65 Rambler must’ve been fun!

          We are lucky to have been born on time to know an age when V-8/RWD cars were the rule, not the exception – and thus, accessible even to high school kids working on a summer lawn mowing/fast food job budget.

          Good times..

      • My dad had a Maverick too! Long gone before I drove, he had it new. Imagine an “economy” car today with a V-8! Three speed on the column, I think they got rid of it because mom couldn’t drive a manual.

        Missed out on most of the “fun” cars they had over the years before I was around or too young to care. A Galaxie 500, a Vette, a Jag, an MG of some sort. How he ended up with a Alliance by the mid 80’s, or a Dodge Aspen for that matter, I don’t know, because he could (and still does) really pick a real turd too. Or that New Yorker he got cheap, but could never get the smell of the cigars of the first owner out of it. Yuck……….

        They had a nice Cutlass convertible a few years ago. Too bad he can’t pick up the habit of locking the doors…………. parked it somewhere where the top shouldn’t have been left down, gone………… Still leaves cars unlocked with the windows open ughhhhh. I will take a hot car over a gone car anyday……..

  4. Several things to nitpick here:

    Rant on

    1) tires have improved greatly since the early 70’s so the old magazine times are not a good basis for comparison. For example, we had a stock 68 camaro SS/RS with the 350hp variant 396. The magazines claimed mid 14’s but the car ran consistent high 13’s on modern radials (not slicks or DR’s, slicks actually slowed the car down because it needed a higher stall converter) and 93 octane premium with a splash of race gas. The carb jetting and timing curve had been optimized but that is all.

    2) performance cams –
    it is misleading to claim that dropping a performance cam into a mid 70’s V8 (complete with low CR pistons and crummy smog heads) will net a respectable performance increase. More often than not, performance will be decreased because compression hasn’t been raised to accomodate for the larger camshafts increased overlap and generally poor low rpm response not to mention the heads quit performing north of 5000 rpm. By performance cam I am going to say anything with more than 214 degrees of duration measured at .050″ lift.

    3) magazine published times –
    I was at the dragstrip when Car Craft (IIRC) brought out their newly purchased 400+ hp Camaro SS for testing. Most of the times ran were in the low to mid 13’s, with one pass tipping into the 12.9x’s. Experienced driver, well prepped track, lots of stick time, etc. etc. etc…. yet many magazines make it sound like these are solid 12 sec. cars.
    I’ve seen times for the new 300hp V6 Stangs published as high 13s but have beat them in my 240hp Buick grocery getter that has never gone quicker than 14.38 @ 96.5 mph. Hmmm…
    I don’t care what the car might run in perfect conditions (i.e. altitude corrected times), way more interested in what they actually run in the less than ideal heat/humidity of summer time.
    4) peak hp numbers –
    don’t mean shit unless you are a car salesman. Think area under the curve (torque>hp for dragracing purposes) and look at the rpm the motor will operate in. Something the rag mags rarely if ever do.

    Rant off

    • Hi Bob,

      I agree that classic-era cars were traction limited (part of the fun!) but the problem here is two-fold:

      * Using modern tires means they’re not stock.

      * Testing – to be accurate – would mean finding a not-modified, totally stock 40-plus-year-old car, original engine, as it left the factory, not meticulously rebuilt by hand, with its original ignition (and so on) and then testing it with modern tires.

      This is the quibble I have with people who insist that the classic stuff was routinely running high 12s (and quicker).

      I have no doubt almost any muscle car can do 12s – or better … but not just by slapping on a modern set of tires….

      • I have to disagree with you on the tires making the car not stock, but it is definitely a factor in performance. Those old bias ply tires sucked.
        There’s also the fuel question, pump premium ain’t what it used to be and new cars are far more forgiving of crap gas.
        – which reinforces my point, the old published times are a poor basis for comparison.

        I could also argue that a stock rebuild is just as “stock” as all original, within reason.
        NHRA is much more forgiving of this than I am. Ever seen a “stock” 78 Dodge Ram with a 318 and auto trans run low 13’s? I have. Not that I would call it stock but the tech inspectors said it was ok after tearing the engine down. That motor had a cranking compression of only 75 psi :/

        There are a handful of all original muscle cars out there but good luck getting the owner to allow it to be dragstrip tested…..

        Plus, I would hardly say that all the old muscle is 12 sec capable, even with modern SLICKS. Perhaps a select few could pull it off but not the majority. The insistence probably stems from the multitude of stock appearing muscle running those times.
        Recall I said high 13’s from the Camaro, which is hardly ‘top tier’ muscle from that era, more like middle of the pack.

        The new muscle is indeed impressive, right up until you have/want to work on it. Then I might choose some different words to describe them.

        • A huge factor is weight – the new stuff is shockingly heavy. IIRC, the current Challenger weighs something like 4,200 lbs.


          My buddy’s ’73 Maverick was very quick – with just a mild 302 – because it weighed about 3,000 lbs.

          On the rest: If it has modern tires, especially larger tires – on larger wheels – then by definition, it’s not “stock.” I agree it’s not a major mod – but it’s a deviation from as-built/as-sold. Hence, not “stock.”

          One of the things I love about the new stuff, by the way, is the have your cake and eat it, too of overdrive transmissions that let you run an aggressive axle ratio without killing the car’s highway cruising capability.

          I put one in my Trans-Am and it transformed the car. I could drive it anywhere, even with 3.90 gears in the pumpkin!

          • Eric,

            As you indicate in the post above:

            If one reduces the vehicle weight, then one can use a smaller and more economical engine with no loss of on demand performance.

            My 1980 Corolla had a 1.8L (75hp 93ft/lbs) engine. Not much of an engine, but it was adequate to move the 1900lb car with other traffic. With a 2.0L 140hp/147 ft/lbs (2007 nissan sentra) engine it could fly and still get decent mpg.

            • Yup!

              Another amigo of mine owned a much-mocked ’78 Mustang II. Remember them? His had the optional V-8, an emissions-strangled, two-barrel 302 (5 liter) that, in factory tune, made something like 120 hp. (No, really!)

              But, it was still a small-block Ford V-8, same basic layout as a 289 Hi-Po and very receptive to mods. With just a little tweaking, we breathed real life into it – and because the Mustang II was extremely light relative to the “big” Mustangs that preceded it, the thing really got going with not all that much hp under its hood.

              Another case in point: The ’74 (last of the line) GTO.

              It was the butt of jokes for a long time, but if you check the stats you discover that the car was about as quick as some of the “collectible” ’60s-era GTOs. Because it was so much lighter…

          • Good point on the larger wheel/tire combinations. A larger footprint is more of an advantage at the starting line. FWIW the 68 was rolling on 235/60-15 all season radials with the factory rally wheels.

            I really hate that new cars are generally heavier though the old A bodies (Chevelle/GTO/Cutlass) were no lightweights. Even cars like the VW Golf have really packed on the pounds compared to earlier models.
            Try V8 swapping an early 80s S10 sometime. Last one I did only weighed 2940 with very minimal weight reduction (different seats and no tailgate).

            • A few months back, I tested/reviewed the Fiat 500 – which I dig. But lawdy, is it heavy! The thing weighs 800 lbs. more than an old Beetle.

              Clover will cry – but it (the Fiat) is safer. Well, sure. But I’d rather have lighter – and quicker. And also a lot more economical.

              Last week, I drove the new “triple” Ford Fiesta. It manages low-mid 40s on the highway and gets to 60 in the mid-high eights. Pretty solid.

              But if it weighed 500 pounds less….

              • Yep cars are bloated now. Look at a 1996 Porsche 911 versus the present day. Or even a 2005 one. Theyre as fat as americans now.

          • eric, not to compare apples and oranges but old stuff, like ’70 and older had huge power. Naw, they wouldn’t get it to the ground right off so that getting to an actual speed of 30 mph was a handful and a half. It was insane all the tire smoking and trying to get some traction. Now let’s forget the 0-60mph figures and install a rolling start, 20mph or more. Those cars(the ones not hampered by huge weight)were extremely fast. I had cars that would get from 30mph to anything above that in very fast times. Car Craft, Car and Driver, and it’s forebearer, Sports Car Graphic would consistently show their ET’s in getting from 30mph to various other speeds were extremely quick. 425 hp is the same now as then only more common in terms of muscle cars. I’ve owned cars that would go from 30mph to stratospheric speeds(I never liked the low geared cars preferring the high speed rear ratios)extremely quickly. Getting that 36-3800 lb car to 30 mph on those skinny bias ply tires was a slow process, even though those of us in the know would buy Pirelli and Michelin radials even back then(not many people knew of radials but they did exist)and those cars would turn into not only much faster accelerating but much better handlers.

            Even before discovering radials, my old Malibu Sport would do some serious mph around curves with Goodyear Polyglas GT tires, well above the norm for tires at the time.

            I realize people who didn’t live then have no way of knowing what there really was available. Even some of the American tire companies made some really sticky tires but because they didn’t ever show up on showroom stock vehicles it’s never included in the conversation. 425 hp pushing 3400 lbs is the same no matter what year model and above 25-30 mph that old stuff would scream. Yeah, you could eat your burger and fries trying really hard(and it seemed the harder you tried, the more time it took)to get to a point of traction but those times from when one hooked up to however fast it would run would be impressive.

            Another note to this, stock was a laughable word them since a car might come so many ways with the same engine and transmission they weren’t very comparable. 375HP 302 GM’s(Camaro’s) came with tube headers in the trunk and another leaf for the springs to be installed by the dealer. Nobody said back then you had to keep the same exhaust or anything else so those stock cast headers with 2.5″ exhaust could really turn on with a 2.5″ exhaust piping and low restriction mufflers. And brazing a 3″ pipe coupling with a plug in it right where the exhaust pipe began to curve to align with the bottom of the vehicle often resulted in a huge high rpm advantage(as well as lots of shit from the badged crew although back then, most of them were into it too and would sometimes stop you simply to admire your car). Well, keep it down and get that exhaust closed up was a common refrain after stopping you and not even ticketing you. My, how the times have changed.

            • Hi Eight,

              There are two sides to this coin, I think.

              The first is that the hp ratings of many of the really fast/powerful cars of the mid-late ’60s and early ’70s (up to about ’71) were deliberately lowballed for various reasons (insurance, to keep the competition off balance). Thus, something like a 426 Street Hemi really made a great deal more than the advertised 425 (IIRC, this is off the top of my head and it’s early) hp.

              The second is that the hp ratings were exaggerated in most cases – due to their being (pre-’72) SAE “gross” – engine on a stand, not fitted with a production exhaust or accessories, etc. – as opposed to the SAE “net” – in the car, with accessories – that’s been in force since 1972.

              It’s pretty much a He said/She said situation today – because we’re talking about cars that are now pushing 50 years old and very few of the ones around today are still in as-built (by the factory) condition, not modified, with owners willing to subject their car to a dyno pull to determine exactly what hp was being produced.

              One thing that’s objectively verifiable, then vs, now, is the CFM airflow capability of most production heads. Huge advances have been made. Such that today, pushrod, two-valve, naturally aspirated V-8s of relatively small displacement (5.7-6.2 liters) are producing 400-plus completely docile, wife-drivable hp. That was a rare – perhaps nonexistent – thing back in the day. An L-88 Corvette was very quick, but also basically a bracket racer that was marginal on the street.

          • eric, you got it. Back in olden times before the earth cooled, we’d look for OD trannies…..and find them, out of European cars. Problem was, they couldn’t stand American muscle so those few fast shifts and extra speed came at an extreme premium. I recall a company though I don’t recall the name that made a two speed(it wasn’t BrownLipe, maybe Hone) although I wished I had tried one, gearbox you had to rig behind your transmission to get an OD. I never knew anyone who was happy with them though and getting someone to get your driveshafts of the correct length was also a pain. Don’t try this at home may have been their company motto. They worked ok for gear splitting in light trucks but certainly had their power limits. Back in those days some people with machine shops and experience would try to shorten axle lengths in 2 speed rear-ends and use them as performance car rears but they took a lot of time to shift and very few people wanted to try to perfect up and down-shifting with these units in a car. They always required an 8 or 10 hole to 5 hole adapter you had to make yourself or custom made axles.

            Dirty, I knew a young guy a few years ago who had a fuel injected 383 he’d had built stuck in an S-10 and that was a screamer.

  5. Those cost effective DIY mods to early muscle cars sound nice and all. But didn’t the owners run into a world of hassles when it was time to get those cars smog re-certified?

    • In CA, maybe – not in my area!

      Remember: The standards for those cars are much more relaxed (compared with modern stuff) and the smog equipment much simpler.

      • Oh god, don’t even get me started on CA. I am lucky enough to live in Alpine county (less people per square mile than AK, no traffic signals) but man on man these cretins in Sacramento are the worst. I sold an ’80 BMW m535i to a friend of mine a few years back. Very rare car, bmw’s first M-series run. All leather interior with recaro seats, four door, 3.5 liter slant six, five speed manual. Quite fast but needed work. CA’s law was that vehicles 25 yrs. or older were exempt from smog check. Well they decided to up it to 35 yrs. or older. My friend got screwed but luckily found an outlaw mechanic who “passed” it for him. CA has bi-annual smog checks but luckily they “let” us rural folk off and only require smog on transfer of ownership. Oh, come registration time if you want to park the car for a year (non-op) you still have to pay the mafia; I mean dmv about half of registration fees. Very harsh dui penalties too. I am on the east side of the Sierra Nevada mountain range so geographically we are proned to do all our shopping, business, etc. in Gardnerville NV so that’s my evil little smile that CA does not get me on sales tax.

    • not always, there is always the option to keep the “stock” setup and swap it in right before the inspection and swap it out after you get a new sticker on your windshield.
      plus a lot of the older cars only need to pass a visual inspection, for example you must have a catalytic converter but that doesn’t mean there is anything inside, it is essentially a test-pipe.
      and even early fuel injection cars with ecu’s can either have different tunes or have 2 ecu’s, one for inspection, one for fun.

      • I should tell you about the time I ‘beat’ an Aston Martin Vantage with my ’73 6cyl maverick…. except there’s the other time I beat that same driver in that same AM with my bicycle…

        Then there was the other aston driver who after I out performed him with my ’86 mazda 626 decided he had to show me the full power of his fully operational stat… er aston…

        anyway my point being is that on the street a lot of people aren’t racing and many just suck as drivers.

        • Just today, I got caught behind a King Clover…. in a Benz E-Class V-8.

          He was crawling in the left lane, at the head of a conga a dozen cars long. He needed a V-8 like Clover needs a copy of the Bill of Rights!

          • I get stuck behind these sorts very frequently. Very expensive, very powerful, very fast car being driven inside the performance envelope of a base 6cylinder ’52 Chevy four door sedan… sometimes they don’t even match what I can do on a bicycle.

    • RE: “when it was time to get those cars smog re-certified?”

      That seems like such a bully-thug idea. I thank my lucky stars “they” do not do that here.

      “smog re-certified” – I’m familiar with a Lot of revenue generating schemes, but wow,does that Ever take The cake.
      Next up: outdoor grill permits. After that: wipe your butt permits. In-between, mothers will be thrown in prison for allowing their children to do fun things.

      …Just another damn day living under an empire of pathocracy, from the bottom to the top.

      • That’s among the reasons I fled to The Woods!

        At least out here, I am not “required” to get my vehicles “smog re-certified.”

        For the moment…

  6. With cars like the 707HP Challenger, we’re in a new golden era of muscle cars. Just at a higher price point.

    They’re not affordable by the average Joe, like your Pontiac was. But you don’t have to be Warren Buffet, either. They’ll be in the used market in a few years anyway, and that might be the best time to buy one.


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