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Over the years, these individual car lines came together, becoming more and more alike as time went by, and the engines were just one of the last things to become standardized and shared.
The divisions of Ford and Chrysler were formed differently, though. Ford did buy out Lincoln, in 1922, I believe, but it was a hopelessly outdated product at the time and was ultimately completely overhauled by Ford. But then when Ford tried to expand into uncharted territory, it just created new nameplates like Mercury and Edsel, by using mainly existing parts. Chrysler was similar. Although the company did acquire Dodge, an independent company, it created Plymouth, DeSoto, and Imperial from within, and again with mainly existing parts. They tried to differentiate the cars at first, mainly with bigger engines and more mass as you went up the price scale. But eventually the myriad of Hemi and Poly-head engines gave way to three basic engine designs...the A (273/318/340/360), B (350/361/383/400), and RB (383/413/426/440). I don't know why they felt the need to have two 383's, but I guess they were still trying to keep Chrysler unique from the others, as initially the RB's were only availabe in Chryslers and B's in Plymouths, Dodges, and DeSotos.
I know that Olds became infamous in the late 70's for using Chevy 350's. I heard that the reason this came around was that the Olds 350 was pretty much dedicated to the existing Cutlass Supreme. Well, the Cutlass ended up being much more popular than they had intended, so Olds used up their 350 supply on them, and had to put Chevy 350's the Delta 88. The 350 was also the standard engine on the 98, so I wonder if any of them ended up with Chevy units? I also wonder why they picked the Chevy 350 and not a Pontiac or Buick 350? A Buick or Pontiac engine should still mate up to the existing tranny, but I think if you used a Chevy 350 you needed to swap trannies, as well. Then again, GM probably got away with putting more 305's and 6'es into the Caprice/Impala and Malibu, while more Pontiac/Buick customers would've demanded something the size of a 350. So maybe they just had a better supply of Chevy 350's?
I've also seen Buicks with Pontiac 301's...mainly LeSabres and Regals. The Regals you can spot because they have a "4.9 Litre" badge on the fender. I think this was actually planned though, because I don't think Buick had an engine in the 301/305 CID size range. I think their smallest V-8 was the 350. A few years ago, I also saw a 1979 Bonneville with a Buick 350. I almost bought it, but passed because of the engine. I don't know...maybe the Buick 350 is an ok engine, but I just wanted my Pontiac to be a Pontiac at heart! Besides, I'd noticed that, at the local junkyard, most of the Buick engines of that era were shot, but it was much more rare to find a car with a bad Pontiac engine, unless it was a 301. I know, not the most scientific method to be sure, when it comes to picking a used car!
During that era, did any Chevies ever get engines from other divisions? I've also wondered too, are there any records or estimates as to how many Delta 88's got stuck with Chevy 350's? I wonder if, years down the road if these things become collectible, if it'll make a difference in their values?
The Buick small block is known as a durable engine. There was a 300 CID version they used in the '64-5 Skylark. Don't know why they didn't bring that out of retirement instead of messing with the Pontiac, but this was also when they stroked the Olds 350 to 403 cubes instead of using one of the many 400s they already had. Seemed like a good idea at the time, I guess. Economics or maybe the Olds was easier to smog.
Generally speaking it seemed to me that the Chevys and Ponchos had much nicer interior treatments than the Fords of the era. I recall dad looking at Fords each time before purchasing the GM products. He had good experiences with all of the GMs except for that '69 Impala, a butternut yellow sports coupe with black vinyl interior, which we were all convinced had the wrong springs in it because it was so wallowy and soft. The 2-speed autos weren't such a big deal with the lazy, torquey big engines they used back then.
Fords of the late 60s and early 70s had severe rust problems. In Canada there was a class-action suit around '74 or so because it was so bad. You'd get body perforation within 2 years. We bought a '74 Maverick new and I have never seen such ferocious rust -- a hole in the quarter panel within 18 months, the entire front lip of the hood rotted after 2 years. The car got sold by us after 3 years and I'm sure it only lasted another year or two.
Of all of them, I liked the Dodge the best. Not sure why, it just felt the most substantial and powerful. I wanted dad to buy a '69 or '70 LTD though... I just loved that swept-away dashboard. But mom took one look at it and said no way -- she wanted something to look at and touch, and hated the far-away Ford dash. I still think it looks cool. But nothing compared to the '67 and '68 Chevy dashes, which were pure 60s. Just beautiful.
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Fast forward to today, and it appears GM, Ford, and Chrysler are becoming truck companies that sell cars, rather than the other way around as it was in the 60's. Of course, Chrysler doesn't really exist anymore (R.I.P). GM's share of the automobile market is under 30% now, and it will fall further as Oldsmobile is phased out, and the next Cavalier will be designed in Europe, not the U.S. Plus every engine/tranny combo has to be tested and certified for the EPA, which adds expense.
Will we ever see a big Chevy again?
I doubt GM will produce another really big RWD car again. Perhaps the next Impala will be a bit larger, but I wouldn't count on it. In the 50s-60s-70s, there were lots of families with more than three children who needed really large cars. Those big families are less common now, and the ones that do exist purchase SUVs and vans for the most part.
I guess I've always wondered why they chose to use strip speedometers in some cars, and round ones in others. Cost considerations, or just styling? Or maybe with a big strip speedometer there, it draws attention away from the fact that they've usually replaced your real gauges with idiot lights!
Those big wide mid-60s GM strip speedos always remind me of when I was a kid and dad's cars. They all had the same sort of graphic look to them despite the GM brand it was in.
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My grandparents had a 69 Kingswood Estate (sort of a Caprice wagon), apparently it came with the wrong size tires from the factory (they put 14" tires on 15" wheels), which then were replaced with 14s several times. I guess grandpa couldn't figure out why that car ate tires so quickly!!
I'll never forget the day my dad was shopping for the Marquis and I opened the hood (naturally) and saw this shiney sticker that read "429--4V Premium Fuel Only"! It was one of the highlights of my youth!
If so, then how would today's cars compare on horses with the classics? Granted, there were lots of dynamic differences between my 64 1/2 Mustang, rated at 225 hp with the low compression 4V 289, and my 91 with the HO 5.0, rated at 225 hp, but there's no way the 289 was putting out the same horses the 5.0 was.....
Is there a sliding scale chart to estimate relative comparisons?
I have some old Motors repair manuals that my grandfather used to buy every year and they'd list the compression ratios, along with the hp and torque and what rpm it came at. Another thing I noticed too, is that an engine's peak gross hp doesn't always come at the same rpm as its net hp. I think net hp usually comes at a lower rpm. I'd have to dig out those old manuals to throw out some examples, though!
Chevrolet, for the standard 350 2v in 1971 listed horsepower as 245, in 1972 listed as 165.
As for comparing to newer cars, I think most newer cars would easily whump 95% of all muscle cars 0-60, and the ones that survived a 0-60 thrashing would certainly run out of steam over 100 MPH. Most of the old big blocks ran out of either air or gearing a lot sooner than a modern V-8 would.
There are, of course, notable and famous exceptions...some of the big brutes of days gone by...but even these cars rarely could top 125 mph, if for no other reason than their weight and aerodynamics.
They also tested a '79 Impala with the 305, 145 hp, I think. It did 0-60 in something like 15.5 seconds, despite being a good 600-700 lb lighter! I guess no matter how bad things can be, they can always get worse.
Sad thing is, once the 305 was back up to 165 hp in 1985, those Impalas, Caprices, and Parisiennes were only good for about 11-12 second 0-60 times. I don't know what gearing the '72 would've had, but I think the '85 full-size 305 cars had 2.56 rear ends.
Now magazines carp about sedans that 60 in the 8s. The newest Corvette Z06 gets to 60 in 4 seconds and through the quarter in 12.4 at 116 mph. Granted it's $50k but that's just the price of a new luxury car.
Plus new cars emit what, maybe 1% of the pollutants of '60s cars and with better fuel economy and reliability. It's mind boggling, especially to anyone who suffered through the '70s.
Another thing, just to show how times have changed, is under cons, CR noted for the Impala "none significant enough to mention." Now for CR NOT to find anything wrong with a GM product, you know they just weren't trying!
Earlier this year, I came close to buying a '76 LeMans coupe with a Chevy 250. I guess that would've been every bit as slow as that '77 Supreme, huh?
Or was that just the blue ones with "43" painted on the doors?
Reminds me of a '50s newsreel I saw recently about the opening of Britain's first highway, the M1. The announcer said that not every car could handle the new high speeds. They had a shot of English Fords by the side of the road gasping for breath.
I'm thinking I read somewhere that a 67 Full size Ford configured like mine (automatic, 390 v-8, 2.75 rear end) did 0-60 in around 9.5 seconds. For comparasion, Car & Driver got the 2000 Intrepid to do 0-60 in 7.9 seconds.
Newer cars are better for transportation in multiple ways over the 60's machines. However, I would never want a late model Sebring convertible in replacement for the XL I have now.
We also timed my '69 Dart GT, but with 4 people on board. 17.9 seconds. I could've done better, but this was from turning right at a red light onto the main road, so the turn probably cost a bit of time. It was interesting though, to see how little added weight affected that car. Consumer Reports tested an almost identical '68 with a 225, and got 0-60 in 14 seconds. I'm sure they don't test with 4 people on board, which was good for probably another 500 lb! Plus, I doubt their test car back then would've had a/c, which would've added weight, too.
As for my Intrepid, which is just a base model, I know my Catalina will whoop it from 0-60, and maybe even in the 1/4 mile. The Intrepid does much better though, say, accelerating from around 60 mph on up.
Didn't old Beetles back in the 60's do 0-60 in something like 30 seconds? It's amazing how far economy cars have come since those days. Still, I see them every once in awhile, and they seem to have no trouble keeping up with traffic.
On the flip side, that was *by far* the most reliable car I've ever owned, and the cheapest to fix (I blew the trans in 87, cost $500 to replace, including labor).
I saw one almost exactly like it (icky brown with tan vinyl) on ebay a few months ago (original old man owner, with something like 60k miles), for like $2k. I probably should have bought it.
I thought their '79 test was kind of whacked, though. I had a '79 Newport, equipped like their St. Regis. I never timed it, but it *felt* a lot quicker than 15.9 seconds. In fact, it felt a tad quicker than my grandmother's '85 LeSabre 307, which I've read had a time of 12.0 seconds. 1979 wasn't the best year for emissions controls though, so maybe they just got stuck with some bum models that needed tuneups.
I do remember the '77 Impala was Motortrend's Car of the Year, and the model they tested was a coupe with a 350, and it did 0-60 in 10.8. I just wish some of the more useful stuff I learned in college stuck in my mind as well as all this 0-60 trivia and the like!
Then again, it could have been the "variable-ratio throttle linkage" some automakers used, the kind that open most of the throttle in the first inch or so of travel.
It's funny how much faster cars are now, though I swear most of them don't 'feel' any faster. Perhaps it's sort of like a placebo effect, we have a V8, so we automatically assume it's fast. Most new four cylinder engines make as much HP as those V8s from the late 70s. As Speedshift mentions, the fact that there was at least a decent amount of torque made at lower RPMs helped, too.
Perhaps the lack of electronic 'middlemen' in those old cars made them feel faster. No electronic transmissions, traction control, fuel injection, etc. I dunno......
On the old vs new front. It is pretty amazing how fast the newer cars are in terms of 1/4 mile times. I don't have a lot of personal experience driving new muscle cars, but the ones I have (Mustang GT and Z/28 rental cars) just don't seem that quick.
The clock doesn't lie, so I imagine the illusion of older = fast comes from a few things...
. Modern tires and suspension system actually launching the car rather than performing street theatre style burn outs.
. Cars with standard transmissions feeling faster than cars with automatics. I've only driven four speed old cars and automatic trans late models.
. Noisiness. Since louder equals faster, all that racket that, say, an LS6 Chevelle produces (not just the carburator, but, man, those M-22's are LOUD) makes it seem faster than it is (in addition to the absurdly small stock rear tires spinning about a million miles an hour). For a bonus, you get the little door on the hood flipping up.
I'd wouldn't mind owning a newish Z/28, but I hate the seating position (too deep), the depreciation, and (while I hate to be snotty about it, well, maybe not) looking like an assistant manager at an Arby's or Sears automotive department. Darn it, why doesn't GM ship in a few of those Holdenesque things they sell in Saudi Arabia.
Sometimes raw horsepower can work miracles.
There's this thing called "naive aerodynamics", which means that because a car looks sleek, it has good aero, or conversely, because it looks bulky, it can't possibly. But interestingly, many cars that look very slick are not in fact, e.g., the Viper. Also, some clunky looking styling, like the kamm-back on the Corvette C5, are actually pretty good designs for airflow.
Besides all the reasons ndance mentions, there might be one more: both the 350 and 302 aren't known for their right now torque. A long time ago I read a test of I think a 327/350-hp that the tester called "sneaky quick". You end up going really quick without quite knowing how it happened.
Then there's NVH--noise, vibration and harshness--which is almost an endangered species these days but gave us that sensation of speed we miss now. However, both the Mustang and Camaro/Firebird are old platforms and the F body in particular can be pretty punishing, so the ponies still give you plenty of that good old NVH.
But that Formula was genuinely quick. When I owned it I worked with a guy who rode a big bike. He told me he followed me on a freeway on-ramp once and had trouble keeping up with me as I pulled into traffic--very surprising considering how fast big bikes are.
It was also the only car I ever drove so fast that I scared myself--in fact my legs were shaking. It was on a winding mountain road I'd driven way too fast since I was 16, but that Formula could go way WAY too fast.
At Discount Tire, they sell a set of 4 new "Arizonian" all season tires with a treadwear rating of 360 for $100 that fit a full size Ford - 215/75/15. I have to say since my car never sees the rain, they will work for cruising. As a daily driver, I'd would spring for better tires.
For comparasion, the cheapest tire that fits my Intrepid R/T is $105 each, original equipment tires are $178 each.
So that $100 a set vs. $712 a set. Wait, not sure if they are whitewalls, have to have whitewalls on a 67 full size Ford.
At 2,000-3,000 miles a year, it would still take at least 10 years to wear them out, and they still probably handle, stop better, and ride more comfortably than what came with the car in 1967.
Another rationalization to use on the wife to talk her into buying an old big Chevy or Ford, "Honey, the parts are cheap!"
P.S. Yesterday morning the hot looking girl that lives next door forgot she was dressed in her skimpy neglige' and stood in the door looking at my car. Another bonus to old cars!
As for tires, I think it's safe to say almost anything made now is better than almost any tire made in 1967--weren't most, if not all, tires bias ply back then? I think steel belted radials were invented in the early 70s.
In fact, didn't Pontiac make a big deal out of "RTS", back in the early 70's? All it stood for was "Radial-Tuned Suspension", but I'm sure to the unsuspecting public, it sounded exotic! Also, didn't a lot of people complain about radial tires when they first came out? Too rough, or too much tire noise, or something like that? In actuality, probably too much road feel? ;-)
One other observation, my full size 67 sits up higher than most modern cars. Not as high as an mini-SUV, but I'm a good 6-8 inches higher than many cars, including the Intrepid. I'm assuming due to either the drive shaft or the suspension design. The back end of the car is also a little higher than the front, due to the suspension.
There are four 67 Galaxie Converts for sale right now on E-bay, the most I've ever seen at once. I hate to say it, they look better with the OEM hub caps than aftermarket wheels.
Anyway, I did have a '69 Dart GT that had bias ply tires on it when I bought it. I swapped them out for some 205/70/R14's that made a world of difference. It rode a little rougher, but the improved handling more than made up the difference. Before, ruts in the road or those steel seams in bridges would make handling very squirrely if you hit them right. But with the lower-profile radials, they didn't affect it any more.
My '68 Dart and my '67 Catalina had radials on them when I bought 'em. Also had a '69 Bonneville with radials...225/75/R-15's, I think. For as big as it was, that Bonneville handled very well...probably all that weight in such a low-slung body. The Catalina's 215/75/R-14's just feel too small for a car that big.
I do have bias ply tires on my '57 DeSoto. 8.55x14 is the measurement of them. It doesn't handle worth crap compared to newer cars, which is kind of ironic, because the '57 Mopar lineup was supposed to be the best handling of the Big Three that year. It's comfortable though. You hear the bumps more than feel them, I'm guessing mainly because sound insulation wasn't as good back then. Also, with its long 126" wheelbase, it feels strange going over bumps, because it seems to take too long for the rear wheels to go over after the front ones! I'd be curious to see how a more modern tire would make that car handle. I think it has the same 4.5" bolt pattern that Mopar used for years, so I guess I could swap the 235/70/R-15 wheels of my '89 Gran Fury sometime, if I want to test it out.
Speedshift, funny you'd mention farm machinery...the only set of 215/75/R-14's I could find on Discount Tire's website were trailer tires! I've put maybe 10,000 miles on my Catalina in the 7 1/2 years I've owned it, so I guess something like that might actually work.
Oh yeah, one last thing about my Catalina. One of the rear wheels makes a clicking sound. Last time I had it in to the mechanic to check it out, he said it was the hubcap making that noise because of the radial tires. Something about a minor vibration that the radials versus bias ply causes, if I understood him correctly. That's on the driver's side in back. The other back wheel has a habit of losing hubcaps, so it's gotten to the point that I just keep it in the trunk! If I go to a car show, I just put it on while I'm there, and then take it off when I go home. My mechanic said to try putting some grease on the rim, and that would stop the clicking noise, but it seems to me I would probably start tossing that hubcap, too, then!
This was actually in the seventies.
Cadillacs were affected big time. The radials made them ride and handle differently. the blue haired crowd would complain that they had lost the "Cadillac Ride". Others thought there was no problem.
This was amplified when a new set of heavy duty shocks were installed at the same time.
The first thing I had to do to the Catalina was replace all the ball joints. So in a lot of respects, the suspension is a lot like new. The first Dart I had only had 49,000 miles when I bought it, and the second one, while it had 254,000 miles, had a ton of suspension work done on it.
Can you even get bias-ply tires anymore, with the exception of places that specialize in classic cars? I bought tires for the DeSoto way back in '93, from Coker Tire. Those suckers will probably dry-rot before they wear out!