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60s-70s big Chevrolets vs. big Fords



  • 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: 1,742
    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: 44,404
    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.


  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 21,848
    ...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 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: 1,742
    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: 44,404
    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!


  • 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: 44,404
    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?)


  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 21,848
    ...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 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.
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