Archive for 1968. TOP TEN

The Authentic Classic Muscle Car Era; 1964 – 1972

Posted in Classic Muscle Cars, The American Consumer with tags , , , , , , , , , on October 3, 2009 by novawizards

Born in the 50’s I was fortunate enough to be blessed with so many gifts that we just do not see today. Things I have done that were “pushing it” (stupid) riding a bike down a steep hill at night time, peddling as hard as I could, wearing no protective gear whatsoever, no reflectors or lights on my bike and waving both arms/hands over my head yelling like a madman. At the bottom of the hill a car came and I only had a front wheel break lever on the handle grip. My rear wheel break had worn out and I just had not replaced it. BUT I was going to. When I saw that car I knew two things for sure; the driver of the car does not see me therefore I am screwed. The second thing I knew for sure was that I would be airborne in about 0.3 seconds. Sure enough the driver never looked my way. (I was positive about this because as I was sailing of the car I looked and their thoughts were completely on something else) Getting to the “airborne mode” was very simple; Hands down to the handlebars at lightning speed, pull on break lever as hard as you can and don’t think about the consequences but hope for… anything but death. When I landed I remember the side of my face and shoulder were kind of like skimming a stone across water but this was my skin on tar. I once again knew two things for sure; this is going to hurt tomorrow and my Mother is going to kill me. Well, as it turned out I only knew one thing for sure but I was close to the second. After this experience I couldn’t wait to get a dirt bike. A Yamaha 360 enduro which could outdo most… the operator on mine though was usually in the way of these achievements. Cruising down a country road on my Yamaha early one warm summer evening, not quite dark but dusk, I was thinking about nothing but what a great warm summer night it was. I wasn’t wearing a helmet, gloves, or any type of body protective gear. Not even a tee-shirt. In fact, all I was wearing were shorts and sneakers. I saw a huge open hilly field to the left of me and thought what a great place to ride. Without a second thought I turned towards the field, gave it all the power I could and the next thing I knew was me and the bike were rolling together on the ground being wrapped up in barbed wire. I went through a barbed wired fence but never saw it. When the “wrap n roll” came to an end the exhaust pipe was resting on my ribs and just above my… where the tops of my legs come together. Since I was under this mess, the best I could do was kind of hold the bike off my body with one hand and with the other hand I was grabbing stones, sand, pebbles, anything I could lay my hands on and would throw at cars that went by hoping I would hit one, they would stop and save me. I was in the country, it was now night time and a car went by about every 10 minutes at best. I hit the third car and as predicted he stopped. He jumped out and was running aimlessly as I was yelling I’m over here. After a five minute search from this bloodhound he did find me and just stared at me. I finally suggested that he help me out here and get me untangled. His reaction was; “Boy, how could you be so stupid and live! There’s something about kids like…” All the while I am thinking two things; This really hurts right now and my Mother is really going to kill me over this one. Once again, only one thought was correct but the second one came the closest to being true ever. There are countless other wonderful memories followed pain and near death experiences that I will share from time to time. The point now is how we lived back then. The era, the pop culture we were creating, the styles, the attitudes, the music, the movies were the best ever, Clint Eastwood was cool but Steve McQueen was way more cool. Bullitt was released in 1968, and to this date has the best two car chase scene ever. The cars were a 1968 Dodge Charger and a 1968 Mustang GT both modified. Hence the Muscle Car was shaping it’s persona. Young people took noticed and there was just something about these cars that you had to have. They were fast, they were loud and they were reckless. But man, were they fun! The first true Muscle Car was the 1964 Pontiac GTO.
The authentic original Muscle Car ERA was 1964 – 1972. Here is a list of the top ten Muscle Cars that we wanted. Once 1972 rolled into 1973 the auto industry in America changed. Whether it changed for the good of the consumer or not (my personal opinion there were probably a couple of other directions the auto industry may have been considering at the time. Man, did they pick the worst one possible. Today people still view American cars as junk. And they’re not authentically american cars. Many of the parts are manufactured overseas/china and shipped here. That’s the short list of it anyway and I will cover this another day. Getting back to the good stuff, the TOP 10 MUSCLE CARS during the 1964 – 1972 MC ERA. Starting with number 10 and rolling backwards to number 1 Muscle Car of all time.

# 10 – 1966 Buick Skylark GS
The Skylark GS (Gran Sport) appeared back in 1965 when Buick decided it was a good idea to put a 402ci (6.5li) V8 in the front. They were right of course! It was a success for Buick and carried on into the early 70’s with the GSX, a 454ci (7.5li) engine developing over 400bhp and 500lb.ft torque!

# 9 – 1969 Oldsmobile 442
Oldsmobile were the second company to offer up a massive engine on a mid sized platform. In the case of the 442, it was a 310bhp 330ci (5.4li) V8 which was a Police spec engine. The 442 came from the name 4-4-2, referring to the 4 barrel carb, 4 speed box and twin exhaust system. It was also known for it’s good handling, which is rare for muscle cars.

# 8 – 1966 Chevrolet Chevelle SS
This was the response to sister company Pontiac’s GTO. The normal SS only had 300bhp, so this SS model was upped to a more respectable 375bhp 402ci (6.5li) V8. Sadly, it was known to be terrible under breaking and didn’t like going round corners, to much extra weight in the front with that massive engine. Over the next few years, the suspension and brakes were tweaked to massively improve this. In 1970 the ultimate SS came out, the 427ci (7.0li) 450bhp and 500lb/ft version.

# 7 – 1971 Dodge Challenger R/T
The late comer to the muscle car party. After the success of the Charger, Dodge released the slightly larger Challenger R/T (Road and Track) with either a 427ci (7.0li) Hemi with 425bhp, or a 440ci (7.4li) producing 390bhp, the Hemi was the one to go for of course. This has also just had a 2008 revival with a modern day Challenger SRT-8 launching. We all wish they’d make the Challenger SRT 10 though.

# 6 – 1969 Plymouth Roadrunner
The name for this car cost $50,000, which in the 60’s was a lot of money. Plymouth bought permission from Warner Bros to use the Roadrunner name to help people know it was fast. It was, 14 second quarter mile for $4000 is very cheap! There was a 335bhp 385ci (6.3li) or the bigger 425bhb 427ci (7.0li) V8 options, both were fast and popular.

# 5 – 1967 Pontiac GTO
In 1964, Pontiac released the GTO which is regarded at the first Muscle Car. Pontiac took a 389ci (6.3li) for a bigger car, and replaced the 326ci (5.3li) in the tempest, and thus the GTO and muscle cars were born. Interestingly, one of the men behind the GTO was John Delorean, who later formed and designed the Delorean DMC12 of Back to the Future fame.

# 4 – 1969 Chevrolet Camaro SS
In 1966, GM had to watch the Mustang come out, and sell, oh did it sell. It’s to this day one of the fastest selling cars, and the fastest selling sports car. To respond, the year after they released the Camaro. The Best of the early models was the Z28. A small 300ci (4.9li) v8 which was race prepped to 400bhp was the engine to go for, if very hard. The SS got the 427ci (7.0li) 425bhp engine, which was easier to get, and still awesome.

Down the stretch and the top 3 Muscle Cars of the Muscle Car ERA;

# 3 – 1968 Ford Mustang GT390 Fastback (Bullitt Baby, Bullitt)
The Mustang is the biggest selling, which also makes it the most common and therefore not the best. This particular model was made famous by one of the greatest car chases of all time in Bullitt. The GT390 was a 427ci (7.0li) 390bhp V8, not the biggest engine, but 30bhp more! It was and is a legend car.

# 2 – 1970 Plymouth Barracuda (427 HEMI, this car was an animal!)
The ‘Cuda was actually released before the Mustang, but due to the popularity of the Mustang, and the Barracuda’s under powered engines, it almost bombed. However, in 1970 it got a restyle, and a new range of engines, the Hemi ‘Cuda was born. The Hemi being a 427ci (7.0li) 425bhp monster.

And the number one MUSCLE CAR of that ERA and my personal favorite by far was and still is;

1969 Dodge Charger R/T (Someday, someday I’ll rent one)
The daddy of muscle cars. The 69 R/T is a legend car that many around the world dream of owning. Yes, being the General Lee in The Dukes Of Hazard, and also being the bad ass car in Bullitt helped a lot. But look at it, it was always going to do well. It’s evil, especially in black. The original Hemi was rated at 425bhp, but it was more like 500bhp! It’s a shame modern day car makers don’t do it that way! The R/T was slightly less powerful, but was massively more reliable which meant it could offer up a 5 year warranty.