In the 70s and 80s, many a hot-rodder’s first muscle car was a ragged-out old Chevelle SS396. It’s not surprising, when you consider that Chevy built over 70,000 copies of the SS396…of course now, they’re pretty scarce and super desirable, but that’s a different story.
Chevrolet introduced the 396 big-block V8 in ’65, as a replacement for the heavy, boat-anchor 409 V8. The 396 had big valves and a lumpy cam, with an odd valve configuration that provided better gas flow and more efficient exhaust scavenging. It paid off, with the base L35 engine producing 325 horsepower – the L34 built 360 horsepower, with the iron-head L78 building 375 horsepower.
Perhaps the most desirable of the Chevelle SS models for ’66 is the Z16, which featured the L78 engine and upgraded ...[more]Read More
The Charger is one of the most recognizable silhouettes of all the muscle cars of the 60s (its roles in the movie “Bullitt” and the TV series “The Dukes of Hazzard” didn’t hurt), and it was also one of the biggest –selling muscle cars of the ’68 model year. Of the 100k or so Chargers sold for ’68, well over 17,000 of them were R/T models. So what makes a Charger an R/T?
- Front anti-roll bar
- Heavy-duty front torsion bars
- Heavy-duty shocks and rear leaf springs
But most importantly…the 440 V8.
The Charger was entirely restyled for ’68, with a slick coke-bottle profile and concealed headlights, and the 375-horsepower 440 Magnum V8 was also pretty f ...[more]Read More
The Sixties were a golden age for performance cars and sports cars, as technology blossomed and stylists were given free rein to come up with sexy-looking, sleek body styles. Maserati was no exception, with its V8-powered Ghibli two-seater. The Ghibli has since been named as one of the top ten sports cars of the Sixties (in the magazine Sports Car International), and outsold its contemporaries the Lamborghini Miura and Ferrari Daytona. Giugiaro designed the Ghibli’s body, with its low, shark-shaped nose and low profile; under the hood was a 330-horsepower 4.7 liter V8 engine.
The Ghibli could sprint to 60 mph in 6.8 seconds and top out at 154 mph – not so impressive by today’s standards, but remember that many of the mechanical features common on today’s cars were introduced 40-plus years ag ...[more]Read More
Along with all the womanizing, drinking, fighting and spying that James Bond does, the other thing he’s always been really, really good at is driving. Bond’s been through a lot of cars over the years, including some ones you wouldn’t expect…like a Ford Galaxie and an AMC Hornet…but we picked out three of our favorites:
- Sunbeam Tiger – This one dates back to the ’62 film “Dr. No”; in the early 60s, Carroll Shelby took the cute, mild-mannered little Sunbeam Alpine roadster and jammed Ford’s 260 V8 into it. Bond put this little sleeper to good use, of course.
- Toyota 2000 GT – Featured in ‘67’s “You Only Live Twice,” Toyo ...[more]
Although the Stutz Motor Company was only around for a little less than 25 years, their cars made history with some forward-thinking advances. Early Stutz models featured things like a 4-cylinder flathead engine with four valves per cylinder, safety glass, a low-slung chassis for improved handling and center of gravity, a hill-holding manual transmission, hot-water heating, an oil cooler and a supercharged straight-8 engine. Their multi-valve engine was one of the first of its kind, and was Stutz’ answer to the “cylinder race” of the early 30s, when manufacturers were scrambling to produce V12 and even V16 engines for their cars.
In 1927, a Stutz set a speed record, averaging 68 mph in a 24-hour race. Stutz’s development engineer doubled as team driver, prompting the company to expand their line f ...[more]Read More
Performance cars had to start somewhere, and there were so many obscure, low-production makes before about 1925 or so, it was inevitable that some higher-performance models would come along. The Mercer Raceabout was one of those.
Mercer was founded by two engineers, backed by a significant amount of capital. Their first cars were handcrafted touring sedans, but by about 1910 they had introduced the Type 35R Raceabout. This early race car featured a 293-cubic-inch four-cylinder (pistons the size of gallon jugs!), developing 55 horsepower and capable of propelling the Raceabout to over 90 mph. The Raceabout took five of six races in 1911, losing only at the Indianapolis 500.
In the 1914 Corona Road Race, driver Eddie Pullen set a new speed record of 86.5 mph, breaking the previous speed ecord of 78.72 ...[more]Read More
By the early 60s, the era of tailfins and chrome had come to a close, and early 60s full-size Chevrolets featured cleaner, boxier lines and more modern-looking interiors. Under the hood, the Impala was available with anything from a straight-six to a big-block V8 for real performance in a big, heavy car.
By ’63, the problematic 348 V8 was gone and the big-block 409 was on its way out. Chevrolets were starting to see real competition at the tracks, however, and the Z-11 was the answer to the big-inch V8 cars coming from Ford, Dodge and Pontiac. Chevrolet took the 409 engine and bored it out to 427 cbic inches, along with special heads, valves and a new intake manifold topped by two 4-barrel Carter AFB carburetors.
The Z-11 was built for one thing and one thing only: racing. That meant it was a no-frills ...[more]Read More
So…what’s a good plan for a small, lightweight British sports car with a steel tube frame and aluminum body panels? Shoehorn a Ford 427 V8 into it, of course!
The 427 Cobra started life as the AC Ace, a cute little roadster powered by a British straight-six (and later a Ford four-banger). In the early Sixties, American hot rodder Carroll Shelby and Ford were looking for a car that could compete with the Corvette on the race tracks. Shelby approached AC Cars, an agreement was reached and the first versions of the Cobra featured the Ford 260 V8, which had also been used for the Sunbeam Tiger , another Shelby brainchild.
An intermediate model used Ford’s 390 V8, but its nose-heavy weight distribution and lack of suspension tweaks made it almost undriveable in competition. The subsequent mode ...[more]Read More
The mid 60s were a different time for the automotive industry. Performance cars had been around for ten years, but were mainly large, heavy sedans with powerful engines, without the suspensions and brakes to really enable a driver to push the envelope. That all began to change with the ’64 Pontiac GTO, however.
The GTO started as a performance version of the lightweight Tempest, available in coupe, hardtop or convertible body styles. What you got with the GTO package, however, was a 389 V8 and 4-barrel Carter carburetor, dual exhausts and dress-up parts like chrome valve covers, yielding 325 horsepower. The GTO also offered sharper handling with a larger front sway bars, wider wheels and stiffer springs; options included a four-speed manual, two-speed automatic, more powerful “Tri-Power” carburetion (thr ...[more]Read More
Chrysler’s entries into the muscle car sweepstakes were heavier midsize coupes that relied on sheer pavement-pounding horsepower to deliver performance, and the Plymouth GTX was one of the earlier examples.
The GTX was introduced in ’67 as a performance version of the Belvedere, although the Belvedere body was restyled considerably for ’68. The GTX came standard with the 440 V8 and automatic transmission, with Sport Satellite interior trim (it was marketed as a “gentleman’s muscle car”). Its stablemate the Road Runner was a more bare-bones version of the Belvedere, with a lighter curb weight for quicker track times.
The GTX was also available with the legendary 426 Hemi V8; in stock form, the 426-powered GTX could run through the quarter mile in a blistering 13.5 seconds ...[more]Read More