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60s-70s big Chevrolets vs. big Fords

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  • I liked the looks of the panel and it certainly offered more room than just about anything, but if I remember right, the radio controls were on the driver's left and high, impossible for a passenger to reach. Can't remember where the HVAC controls were, but if they were on the driver's right, the passenger would need to lean back and over to see to adjust them.
    Of course, the passenger could be sprawled out all over the front of the car, legs crossed, not a care in the world. The car offered so much room in the front.
  • ab348ab348 Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, CanadaPosts: 1,874
    Interesting... just caught an old "Car & Track " episode on Speed Channel from 1969 where they tested the '69 Impala, a Custom Coupe. They were pretty easy on it but still had some complaints. They said that the 396-2 barrel engine would have had trouble punching thru a wet kleenex. 0-60 took over 13 seconds. And they complained about the soft suspension. The handling shots on the test track showed unbelieveable understeer and the outside front tire was rolled over right to the rim. I remember dad's '69 as being way too soft so this was probably accurate. Their braking test from 60 mph resulted in the car swapping ends too! Still, in the end they liked the car but seeing this film from 30-odd years ago it makes you remember what boats fullsize cars were back then.

    2011 Buick Regal Turbo, 1968 Oldsmobile Cutlass S Holiday Coupe

  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,805
    The level of incompetence of large American cars in braking and suspension back then is pretty shocking, especially when you consider that we certainly had the know how to do better, or we could have bought the talent from Europe. I mean, Ford did exactly that to race at LeMans.

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  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 21,959
    ...that the Chevy did that badly. Back then though, automakers were terribly inconsistent. One car could roll off the asembly line the epitome of perfection, where the very next could be a nightmare. For instance, my '67 Catalina isn't THAT different from a '69 Impala, and I've never had any complaints about its handling. Any problems that it does have are more a result of the tires (215/75/R-14) than any fault of the car itself. I've had to nail the brakes a few times, from high speed, and never had the car swap ends. I even had one rear wheel that tended to lock up prematurely, but it wasn't that much of a problem.

    What the hell was wrong with the car that it took 13 seconds to do 0-60? A heavier '72 Impala, with a 165 hp 350-2bbl, could do 0-60 in about 12-12.5 seconds, and that was with much more conservative Consumer Reports testing it!

    I also had a '69 Bonneville, and while it had its problems, handling, acceleration, and braking were not among them. Its 400-4bbl would move it from 0-60 in about 9 seconds, I guess. It handled pretty well for a car shod with 75-series tires (225/75/R-15). Braking wasn't bad either...it had disk up front, drum in the rear. Basically the typical full-size RWD car as it existed up until around the mid 90's, just in a more swingin' 60's body shell.
  • ab348ab348 Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, CanadaPosts: 1,874
    Yeah, they complained constantly about the lack of power from the 396, which shocked me. Maybe the 2-barrel versions (which I didn't even know they made) were just too choked off, or maybe it had a very low-numerically ratio rear end.

    We forget how easy it is to lose control in a full-lockup panic stop if you don't have ABS. I've swapped ends twice in my life and all it takes is for one wheel to lock up before the others.

    As for the handling, I think Chevy went to full-soft settings in '69 based on my dad's car and now seeing this one. If you ordered the F-41 suspension it was much more capable.

    2011 Buick Regal Turbo, 1968 Oldsmobile Cutlass S Holiday Coupe

  • speedshiftspeedshift Posts: 1,598
    Chevy softened the ride in '57 and stayed with it for years. But the Impala I rented recently had a borderline harsh ride, much like the Sable I drove two years ago. I can't believe Ma and Pa Consumer go for that. Maybe that's why Buicks sell well.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,805
    60s---too much power for too little tires is one big issue. Ever see a slow motion shot of what happens to those old fashioned tires when you apply power. Pretty scary!

    MODERATOR

  • Hate to say, but at 36, I've been looking at getting a Mercury Grand Marquis with the huge rebates available on them. However, with the redesign of the suspension for 2003, many many people on message boards are now saying the suspension is now much too harsh.

    Detroit forgets who buys their cars, and instead thinks what car reviewers say is what everyone wants. Never been a Buick man, but who knows. Bonus on the LeSabre, it has about the lowest insurance rates, and lowest theft rate, of any mass produced car available.

    I know Mercury's are kind of also-ran cars right now, but weren't kind of the same way back in the 60's? Didn't Ford outsell them by a huge multiple back then?
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,805
    I remember the slogan for the Mercury "Caliente"--it said:

    "It's as hot as it looks!"

    (which can be taken two ways, don't you know?)

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  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 21,959
    ...until you mentioned it, ab348. I looked in one of my books though, and see it was rated at 265 hp. Just for comparison, the 350-2bbl was rated around 250 hp in 1971, and then 165 hp in 1972. I'm guessing that the 396-2bbl wouldn't be much more than 175 hp net.

    When did Chevy finally phase out the Powerglide tranny? Did they still have it in 1969? I know it was available in '68, and probably part of the reason that Chevies that CR tested usually did so bad. They tested a '68 Impala 307 with the Powerglide, and it took something like 14.5 seconds to hit 60. Maybe that '69 with the 396 was stuck with a Powerglide?
  • speedshiftspeedshift Posts: 1,598
    I can't find a mention of a 2v 396. The base 396 had 325 hp with either a Rochester Q-Jet or Holley.
  • ndancendance Posts: 323
    (besides buy back all of my now-expensive ex-cars) is spirit back my 1970 Galaxie interceptor (P-code 428). Big as the Queen Mary but actually didn't run or handle too badly...it would really be interesting to take that thing and plunk on some good sized modern radials along with a suspension and brake rebuild. I seem to remember it handling and stopping suprisingly well considering the bulk.
  • I'm going to check out a '68 Mercury with the P-code 428 Police Interceptor soon. The original owner says he got it up to the 140 calibrated speedo limit.
  • speedshiftspeedshift Posts: 1,598
    What's the 428 PI? I remember the 390 PI had a solid-lifter cam. Any info on it? What else was different? Heads, exhausts, bottom end...I've never run across a description of this engine.
  • ghuletghulet Posts: 2,628
    IIRC, '68 was the last year for Powerglide on full-sized Chevies with V8 engines, though I'm pretty sure it was offered in big Chevies with sixes (which are relatively few and far between) and I know it was offered in Novas with any engine (including the 307) until like '70-71. I do remember my neighbor having a '68 Impala convertible with a 307 and powerglide, while my stepdad had a '69 Impala four-door hardtop 350/2v with a TH. My usual 'guidebook' lists PG as available through '70 on any car with any V8, though. I don't think you'll find many big Chevy V8s with Powerglide, in any case, even if it was technically available, made after '68.

    This same book also lists a 265-hp 396 (RPO L66), available in '69 only, which I assume is the two-barrel (cost $68.50). I'm guessing they didn't sell all that many, as the four-barrel 350 (RPO L48), with 300hp at $52.50, was also available.
  • argentargent Posts: 176
    I can look up more info on this when I have access to it, but this was basically a low-production police version of the 428. It was also used in the '67 Shelby GT-500. It had an aluminum manifold, single 4-bbl carb, stronger crank and con rods, and a hotter hydraulic cam.
  • speedshiftspeedshift Posts: 1,598
    Interesting. Maybe the 427 Low Riser manifold and 390 GT cam.
  • grbeckgrbeck Posts: 2,361
    I recall reading that, in some Spanish dialects, "caliente" is slang for "streetwalker." Which makes that slogan for the Mercury Caliente all the more interesting.

    As for Powerglide and its availability on full-size Chevys - I thought the 396 engines were only available with Turbo Hydramatic. I can't imagine Powerglide being strong enough to handle the torque of that big engine. This was one area where Plymouth had a definite advantage - all engines, from the slant six to the biggest V-8, were available with Torqueflite, which was far superior to Powerglide.
  • speedshiftspeedshift Posts: 1,598
    A heavy duty Powerglide was used behind 396s. It's apparently the same one used behind the 409 and earlier 348.
  • How WIDE the 69 Chevy was? You could land a plane on that hood. I just let my 65 Galaxie 500 XL go last year (literally). Every time I drove it, I was just amazed at the interior room in those old cars. And, BTW, I believe the climate controls on the 69 Ford was also on the Drivers side of the panel, locking out the passenger from the Radio and the Air. But it was a striking Dash to be sure.
  • ndancendance Posts: 323
    (remember, this a 1970 model) is a non-Holley carb (Autolite maybe?), painted intake manifold engine (likely to be iron).
  • argentargent Posts: 176
    The 428 Police Interceptor had an Autolite 4300 four-barrel. The Police Interceptor had an aluminum manifold only through '68. It was not the same as the 427 manifold, I don't think, but it was similar. After December 1968 it was switched to a (presumably cheaper) cast-iron manifold. I couldn't find cam specs, but rated power and torque (SAE gross) were 340 hp @ 5400 rpm and 459 lbs-ft @ 3200 rpm. (I also saw a 360 hp rating at the same RPM, but that may have been for pre-'67 engines without the Thermactor.) Thermactor-equipped 390 GT engines rated either 320 hp ('67 and '69) or 325 hp ('68) at 4800 rpm and 427 lbs-ft of torque at 3200 rpm.
  • speedshiftspeedshift Posts: 1,598
    I did some research too and the 390 PI seems to date from '61-3. The block is apparently the High Peformance 390 block with two bolt mains but with more webbing, larger oil galleries and "a pressure relief valve at the end of the main oil gallery to direct more oiling back to the crankshaft (especially on cold start-up)". This sounds like the right block because "since only mechanical camshafts were used in these engines, they have no lifter oil gallery passages". The block has HP cast behind where the generator is mounted.

    I also see a reference to a "hi-perf and police original equipment" crank, identical to the regular version but with grooved mains and larger harmonic balancer, available after 1/15/62.

    The 390 PI used the same rods as the 390HP, 406 and '63-4 427. '66-70 PIs used a rod with a slightly thicker beam and rod bolt, shared with the hydraulic cam 427 ('68 only) and 428 CJ.

    It looks like the early mechanical cam in 390 PIs was C3AZ-6250-T with "only" 282 degrees duration, .440" lift and 54 degrees overlap. Compare that to the Medium Riser 427's 306/.500/78, pretty manly specs. I can't tell what later PIs used but the hydro GT cam would be a good bet.

    My source says the PI intake manifold is the same as the "special order" 428 CJ aluminum version, although the regular 428 intake is identical but cast iron. The CJ used a 735 cfm Holley. IIRC the Autolite 4v came in 480 (small block) and 600 cfm (big block) versions and the latter may be the 4300 used on the 428 PI.
  • speedshiftspeedshift Posts: 1,598
    Here's some horsepower ratings:

    '61-5 390 330 hp @ 5000
    '66-9 428 360 hp @ 5400
  • speedshiftspeedshift Posts: 1,598
    Tariks's El Camino reminds me of a '68 Caprice coupe I saw a few days ago--it's the taillights in the bumper. I still remember the first '68 I saw. I thought it was really radical for a Chevy and it still strikes me that way today. Huge chromey grille with hidden headlights (Caprice), traditional six taillights but set in the bumper.

    This one was very clean, kind of a grey blue with black vinyl top, and with the Caprice roofline that says "personal luxury car" (or maybe it's "rich Corinthian leather"). It certainly got my attention.
  • grbeckgrbeck Posts: 2,361
    Those Caprices were pretty classy for a (relatively) low-priced car.

    The family who lived almost directly across the street from us owned a 1968 Impala Super Sport fastback with a four-speed. I still remember the sound of that engine (the exact engine escapes me). At the same time, my grandmother's "gentleman friend" had a 1968 Bel Air four-door sedan with dog dish hubcaps, a three-speed on the column and a six cylinder engine! Kind of amazing to think how versatile the full-size Chevy was even in the late 1960s. It could be a stripped family sedan, luxurious coupe or sporty fastback.

    In many ways, I think the Caprice and LTD undermined Cadillac and Lincoln. By the early 1970s, there really wasn't anything on a Cadillac or Lincoln that you couldn't get on a properly optioned full-size Chevy or Ford.
  • rea98drea98d Posts: 982
    "By the early 1970s, there really wasn't anything on a Cadillac or Lincoln that you couldn't get on a properly optioned full-size Chevy or Ford."

    Except maybe the snob appeal of driving a "real" luxury car...
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 21,959
    ...I think I'd actually prefer an Olds 98 or a Buick Electra over a Caddy DeVille. Somehow, the interiors of those Buicks and Oldses almost end up looking ritzier than the Cadillacs!

    I know that nobody buys these kinds of barges for performance, but it also seems that an Electra or 98 with its corresponding 455 V-8, and lighter mass, might be a slightly better performer than Caddy with a 500. But then, you still lose the snob appeal!
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,805
    The Cadillac 500 was kind of a dog, at least in relation to its CID. I think it was only pumping out something like 190HP (Class, compare and contrast to HP per cubic inch of a '57 Chevy fuelie). It had lots of torque though, as befits anything with large displacement.

    MODERATOR

  • lemkolemko Posts: 15,162
    ...a 1975 Cadillac Sedan DeVille in Georgian Silver with a dark blue top and dark blue leather interior. It had the 500 cid V-8 (8.2 litre). It was rated at 210 hp, still a dog for its displacement, but the car still had a lot of power and accelerated quickly. It did have enough torque to tear a giant redwood out by its roots.
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