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Describe your GM, Ford or Chrysler classic muscle car

mrb11mrb11 Posts: 58
I had a white 1968 Plymouth Roadrunner. Stock...383 CI and 335 HP. After a few tricks it was putting out 413 HP to the rear wheels. I sold the bird in 1970 and purchased a 1969 Hemi Cuda. Stock....426 CI and 425 HP. I used to sometimes scare myself when I jumped on the Cuda. Gas went to $.50 a gallon in 1972 and I sold it. How I wish I owned it today.


  • carnut4carnut4 Posts: 574
    after owning a 55 Chev with a 327 Vette engine. In 1966 I bought a 65 Belvedere II 2dr hardtop-copper metallic with black interior. 383/330 horse with the big Mopar 4speed. Police suspension and brakes. What a great road car. You could floor it on the freeway at 70, and it would jump ahead and keep going past 120. Got more tickets with that car in one year than any other I had. No 440 or 454, but it was a great overall road car. Loved it.
  • andys120andys120 Loudon NHPosts: 18,570
    And one fine day in 1982 I spied an old GTO convertible sitting in a used car lot and bought it.

    It was a 1970 convertible with the 400 c.i. 2-barrel and a Muncie 4-speed (pretty rare for a convertible in 1970).

    I kept that car for a year and a half before financial pressures caused me to unload it at slight loss.

    The old Goat was in rough shape but it was a hoot to drive and attracted attention wherever we went (it had been repainted "Judge Orange").

    It wasn't tremendously fast but it was a lot faster than anything I'd previously owned (all 4 cylinder cars). It had good brakes, handled alright if you didn't push it too hard and rode reasonably well.

    I ended up pressing it into service as a daily driver when I wrecked my other car and it was laid up for three months. The gas bills almost killed me but it never let me down shuttling back and forth from Maine to Worcester.

    I'd happily buy another if I could find one at a reasonable price.

    2000 BMW 528i, 2001 BMW 330CiC

  • jrosasmcjrosasmc Posts: 1,711
    Although I have personally never owned an American muscle car, I know of many people who have them or did have them. A few examples:

    '69 Plymouth GTX convertible. This one is owned by my best friend's dad. It is red with white leather, black top, and has the 440 Magnum 4-bbl hooked to a 727 Torqueflite. This GTX is only one out of 700 built in '69, and most did come with the 440. It is very rare to find a ragtop equipped with the 426 Hemi or a manual tranny.

    '70 Plymouth 'Cuda 440. This car is owned by the head mechanic at our garage; he also happens to be our neighbor. It was purchased in '91 in very rough condition, with a shot body and drivetrain. After three years worth of work and more than 2,500 man-hours of labor, the 'Cuda is in concours show condition. It has the 440 Six Pack engine, and oddly enough, the shifter for the automatic tranny is right on the column. A very rare car indeed.

    '77 Chevy Camaro Z28. I don't know if you would want to classify this as a muscle car. My dad bought this new and kept it until it was stolen in Feb. 1979. I believe that the 350 was in a sorry state of tune that year, as it only produced a "puny" 165 hp.
  • speedshiftspeedshift Posts: 1,598
    My brother's Jag Mark II had a 350 out of mid-'70s Camaro and it did just fine. American V8s are all about torque and this one had more than enough. I was disappointed that GM regressed to the Saginaw four speed from the stronger Muncie but again, it was adequate.

    My favorite musclecar was a 1967 GTO with the optional High Output 400/360. It was as close to a driver's car as a musclecar gets, with four speed, quick-ratio manual steering, factory HD suspension, manual brakes--and tiny drums that had trouble stopping the Nova GM took them from. I put many miles on that car in the hills and it cornered flat and with good steering feel, and of course you could bring the rear end out with a little throttle.

    And it was very quick. At the strip I stayed even with a GTX 440/375 until its driver missed the 3-4 shift. I beat a stock-looking Challenger 440 6-Pak off the line and stayed ahead of him all the way down the strip. That surprised me because the built 383 Road Runners kept smoking me. Of course the serious racers like them had traction, something we "run what you brung" guys never had. They'd take off like they'd been catapulted. Very discouraging.
  • kinleykinley Posts: 854
    66 Mustang Factory GT Cpe. Ivy green metallic, Pony Ivy gold interior, real Black Walnut steering wheel, Michelins,AT,PS, dual glasspaks,aircraft landing lights in grill,Pertronix electronic ignition, halogen tail lights,(yes they're very bright, especially the brake lights)128,500 miles, and not for sale. It hasn't been wet since restoration seven years ago. It only attends Mustang shows where the clean up effort is more appreciated than at the Mutt exhibits. It has one Blue & one White ribbon. Still fun to run.
  • speedshiftspeedshift Posts: 1,598
    Day 2, musclecar favorite #2.

    This was a '69 GTO Judge. I basically traded the '67 GTO for it. A dealer from Chicago was out here looking for rust-free California cars. Ironically the '67 was from Chicago but had been in California most of its life, so he bought it for $1500 and I gave that money to the guy selling the Judge.

    This Judge was Hugger Orange with white vinyl top and white interior. Had the same 400/360 as the '67 but with the addition of so-called ram air, really more of a cold air setup. Very unusual in that it had a column shift automatic. What with this and the vinyl top I wasn't sure if my Judge wasn't really just a heavily disguised Buick so I called Pontiac and they sent me a copy of the original window sticker documenting it.

    The Judge was also an exceptional road car, standard HD suspension plus disc brakes so it actually stopped. I didn't think I'd like the automatic but it turned out to be a ball. It was a factory heavy duty Turbo 400, very low key around town (unlike an aftermarket shift kit) but very firm if you leaned on it.

    I raced it a few times and I'm realizing now that this was the car I beat the 440 6-Pak Challenger with, not the '67. I just got a feeling the crowd was into this race, seeing two of the bigger names from the musclecar era. I remember hearing someone whoop when the Judge spun its tires going into second--guys who spend their Wednesday nights at the strip are a little different.

    It was just grudge racing but every once in a while you'd get a great pairing like this. The rest of the time you either raced 12-second drag cars or beat up vans. Hard to look good either way.
  • gshumway1gshumway1 Posts: 18
    In 1975, I bought a 70 Chevelle SS 396 for the over-priced sum of $1200. A Silver, cowl inducted 4sp car. After finally figuring out that the cars redline of 5500 RPMs was not mearly suggestion (and two engine rebuilds, 5 tickets, several sets of tires, gas passing a Buck a gallon and climbing...)I sold it.

    It didn't take me to long to come to a second realization: I should have never sold it. Those cars were flat out fun. sniff sniff.

    Whoda thunk they would be worth so much now?
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 57,330
    Depending on how authentic it was and how nicely sorted out, something like $18K-25K is the range for very nice cars. 1971s would be worth less and of course, any Chevelle that's been hammered or abused would be worth a good deal less.

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  • speedshiftspeedshift Posts: 1,598
    That would be most of them :-).

    Okay, my third favorite musclecar (and my last) was a '68 Cougar 6.5 litre. Started out as a very sedate 390-2v with automatic, which is how I bought it. Ponderous and not as quick as the 289 Cougars I'd owned. It was so overwhelmed by the 390's weight that the front structure (not the suspension, the structure) would creak if you took a freeway entrance too fast.

    One day it starting smoking and I was actually happy--I could build the car the way I wanted. Pulled the engine and had it rebuilt with a very nice Comp Cam 270 duration cam, Edelbrock Performer intake and Holley.

    My big (huge) mistake was converting it from automatic to stick. By this time I didn't have enough money for a four speed so bought a three speed (very very dumb). As if this wasn't bad enough I bought the wrong HD three speed, the one for full size cars instead of ponies. So the shift linkage never really worked right.

    But that engine...don't ever let anyone tell you a 390 can't put out. Man that thing was strong. Had to be the cam. I never raced it--I'd probably still be trying to find second going through the traps--but it would have been interesting. I don't think it was all torque. I think it actually put out some horsepower even with the stock heads. And it had that slightly lumpy idle a nice street cam has. My wife said it vibrated the house when I pulled into the garage.

    I bought it for $1500, put about $5500 (rebuild, tires) into it and sold it shortly after for...$1900. That's what you call a beating.
  • andys120andys120 Loudon NHPosts: 18,570
    a '70 Malibu SS Convertible selling for $72,000.
    Surprised me too, I'm sure it was exceptional.

    2000 BMW 528i, 2001 BMW 330CiC

  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 57,330
    Seems a totally goofy price unless as speedshift says it was a mint LS-6. If it wasn't, then maybe Elvis owned it, or it had ten original miles on it, or the bidders were drunk (this happens). The prices I quoted were for 396 coupes. A mint LS-6 convertible is very rare but even so to command a $75K price it would have to have had thorough and impressive documentation.

    Here again the highest prices are reserved for the extremes of rarity, power and prestige. A "normal" 396 coupe doesn't cut it in that department, as there are too many of them around.

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  • andys120andys120 Loudon NHPosts: 18,570
    or someone really fell off the trolley.

    2000 BMW 528i, 2001 BMW 330CiC

  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 57,330
    It happens, it happens, or, more unfortunately, someone buys a fake.

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  • speedshiftspeedshift Posts: 1,598
    Day four and time for my fourth favorite musclecar.

    It was really a pony, not a musclecar. A '68 Cougar XR-7 with the 302 four barrel and an ultra-rare factory four speed. I read somewhere that 99% of '68 Cougars had automatic. Based on my experience most of the remaining 1% were either the standard three speed or a handful of four speed 390 GTs.

    So a 302 four speed was the rarest of the rare--and not worth much. I sold it to a guy who took out the engine and transmission, then abandoned it. The cops called me because he hadn't transferred ownership. It ended up in a wrecking yard where the guy who owns the Mustang Ranch in San Jose bought it, not to restore, but for the sheetmetal. I saw it in the back of his lot when I brought the 390 Cougar in.

    It's one of my favorites because it was so well balanced. I don't suppose it could do 0-60 in less than 9 seconds but it felt quicker. The 289/302 had a very mild cam that helped throttle response but it could still breathe pretty well too. The dashboard was a copy of the Jag's, with full instrumentation and fake wood.

    The Cougar was a deluxe Mustang but as a used car it sold for less than a Mustang, and that's a nice combination.
  • speedshiftspeedshift Posts: 1,598
    I seem to be doing all the heavy lifting in this thread. Either that or I'm single-handedly killing it.

    Okay, my fifth favorite musclecar was a '67 GTO with console shift Turbo 400. It wasn't an exciting car and it didn't have any unusual options but it was an exceptional cruiser. And it was beautiful, a kind of medium blue metallic similar to the Cadillac in another thread, with a mint black interior. Had 175k miles but still ran smoothly and had good power. A very satisfying car to drive.

    I drove about thirty miles to see it the evening it hit the Trader but didn't bring any cash "so I won't make an impulse buy". That was the first and last time I did that. Bring cash and trust your instincts.
  • a_l_hubcapsa_l_hubcaps Posts: 518
    My dad bought a 1969 Chevy Chevelle SS396 brand new. He sold it in 1973 due to engine problems, and bought...a 1973 Chevy Vega. The phrase "out of the frying pan, into the fire" comes to mind.

    -Andrew L
  • speedshiftspeedshift Posts: 1,598
    I'll bet that's the last time he decided to be "practical" :-).

    The only bummer musclecar I had was a '63 LeMans. Not usually known as a musclecar but it was the immediate predecessor of the '64 GTO, the first musclecar. '63 was the first year the LeMans was available with a Pontiac V8, in this case the 326, and that's what my car originally came with along with a three speed stick.

    The '61-63 LeMans used the early Corvair swing axle rear suspension and transaxle. The Corvair four speed would disintegrate even behind the LeMans' standard four cylinder. The three speed stick was the only manual strong enough to handle the 326, and even it was marginal at best.

    Just to make things interesting and potentially life threatening, at some point someone had removed the 326 and installed a 389. They look the same so I didn't know this until I ID'd the engine.

    So the car handled like a Corvair with a big block in the front trunk. It was the only car I ever owned that could understeer and oversteer at the same time. And if you ever tried to use all the power you'd have had to back up to pick up all the broken transmission parts.
  • carnut4carnut4 Posts: 574
    Belvedere 383 4speed I had earlier here-so, just to keep it going, thought I'd mention my neighbor across the street at the time. [1967]. He had just graduated from highschool, [a couple years younger than me] and his Dad bought him a brand new car. I remember the day-I heard something pull in the driveway, a lumpy idle, unlike anyone I knew, and I could tell the sound of most of my friends cars [and all my friends had musclecars of some sort with radical cams]. So, I went to the door, stepped out, and here's Ernie, the "kid" from across the street, pulling in my driveway in his first car- a brand new '67 Plymouth GTX with the Hemi and 4speed. God what an awesome car-it was dark brown with tan interior, and that unmistakeable sound of the street hemi. Dual 4 barrels, and those krinkle finish black valve covers. Oh my god was that car fast. He'd take us [me and my friends] for demo rides up highway 17 in Los Gatos, Ca, and the incredible torque of that car was awesome. My 383 4speed was probably just as quick or quicker off the line, but that Hemi-heck-he'd wind out second gear and hit third, punch it, and it would set us back and we'd run out of room for him to give it anymore. It really came on at the top end. What a gorgeous car. Ernie had that car for less than two years. Don't know what he sold it for-but little did we know what kind of price that car would bring 35 years later! Anyway, thought some of you might like this story. At that time, another friend of mine was well used to the 65 GTO he'd bought new in 1965-for less than 2900 bucks-don't remember the exact price, but I know it was 28 something, because I remember going down to the lot and looking at the sticker the day it came in. This was a fairly stripper GTO-standard engine [389/335] standard 3-speed, manual steering and brakes. I believe the only option he ordered was the "reverb" or "vibrasonic" radio, which was the rage in those days. I think he also got positraction and whatever was the heaviest suspension option at the time. We used to like the Righteous Brothers "Lovin' Feelin'" on that radio when we were cruising. Anyway, some classic musclecar memories to recall.
  • speedshiftspeedshift Posts: 1,598
    That's interesting about the 383 being as quick or quicker off the line but the hemi making up for it on the top end. That's always been the drawback of a hot cam and multiple carburetion. What's even more interesting is that the late ('68-up) street hemi cam had even more top end (and less torque) than the early cam in your friend's car.

    I had a distant cousin, a classic rebel gearhead, who had a hemi Road Runner in the late '60s. Unfortunately I never got a ride in his car. He was never much for socializing.

    He was always working on his car, and sometimes they took a little tinkering to get them to run right. I remember in the early '80s someone showed up at the strip with a rebuilt hemi Road Runner and it was doing 15s. If you read the old road tests that kind of performance wasn't uncommon. That's the one area where a Tri-Power or Ram Air GTO had it over a hemi--the goats would run great right out of the box.

    But a properly set up hemi was in a whole different league. It was about the closest you could get to a streetable racing engine.
  • carnut4carnut4 Posts: 574
    my friend was a real gearhead, and was always tuning his cars to get the max out of them. Actually, so did I. Anyway, he claimed he took his 335 horse, 3speed 65 GTO to the drags and got into the 13s with it-more than once. Not bad compared to some of those stock hemi times I've heard, not to mention other muscle cars of the day.
  • speedshiftspeedshift Posts: 1,598
    Wellll...getting into the 13s is a big big job. A 389/335 put out maybe 270 net hp, and you'd need probably another hundred to get into the 13s. A street hemi, especially the later ones, could dip into the 13s with an expert tune, the right gears and slicks but off the showroom floor and with 3.23s low 15s were not uncommon. That hemi I saw at the strip was in the 15s with a four speed and its owner was about ready to crawl under a rock.

    The Pontiac didn't have that kind of potential--not many engines did--but it delivered more consistent performance. Pontiac knew what the public wanted, and the public wanted a nice streetable car with a hairy image. It didn't want a hairy car, and that's why I can probably count the number of street hemis I've seen on the fingers of one hand.

    Day 6 and today's featured car is a '68 Firebird with the 400/335 and Turbo 400. This was the same engine as the standard GTO 400 except Pontiac supposedly restricted the opening of the secondary throttle plate so the Firebird wouldn't embarass the heavier GTO.

    But the Firebird/Camaro was pretty flimsy compared to the intermediates and the Firebird just didn't have the same feel as the GTO. And the interior wasn't nearly as nice. As I've said many many times, the GTO was just a great all-around package--lots of little things that added up.

    Yeah, the goat was pretty crude compared to European high performance cars of the era but nice styling and some very intelligent tweaking of the basic platform created a very satisfying package--if you ordered the right options.

    The Firebird did feel a little more nimble because of the shorter wheelbase but it still wasn't as nice to drive. Not a car I miss. In fact I barely remember it. But one with the OHC six might be better. Less weight, less power.
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 23,033
    ...was a '69 Chevelle SS. His second was a 1981 Escort. I think it was God's way of punishing him. After that, he got an '84 Tempo. Evidently the Escort wasn't punishment enough ;-)

    My Dad though, had some pretty cool cars in his younger days, although they got ragged out pretty quickly. His first car was a 1964 Galaxie 500 hardtop coupe with a 390. Not exactly a musclecar, but probably the best of all the ones he had. It was a Ford though, which in his eye was 3 strikes against it...

    He got a '63 Impala SS 409 after that, but sold it when he went into the Army. When he got out, he bought a '65 SS409. Then a '62 Corvette that was ratted out, and then a '64 GTO 2-door sedan that was a total bucket. He paid about $400 for it around 1973-74? I was still in nursery school at the time, so I don't remember much about it, except following it on the way home the night he bought it, there was a shower of sparks from underneath from where the exhaust dragged. The engine went bad, and my Granddad put in a Chevy 400 for him. I know that's blasphemy today, but back then this was just an old beater, so getting it running was more a priority than keeping it original!

    I've never really had a real "muscle car". Probably the closest thing would be my '68 Dart 270. It has a 318 2-bbl, dual exhaust. The guy that had it before me sunk about $4000 into the engine rebuilding it and hopping it up...why he put a 2bbl back on I'll never know! Still, it had enough power to instantly shred the tranny and rear-end, which he replaced with newer, but still used, units. Then he decided he needed a truck for work, and put it up for sale, which is where I stumbled into this car's picture. I'm sure that any number of cars today would blow its doors off, but there wasn't really too much on the road back when I bought this car that would take it. But then again, 1992 isn't exactly a high point in history for performance, when there were still tons of emasculated '70's and 80's cars on the road, and even the '90's hadn't really started boosting hp yet.

    This car had power steering, but the pump was broken, so it was a good tricep builder. Once you got used to driving it and accustomed to all its quirks, and threw some muscle into the steering, it actually handled pretty well. Guess I was just born too late to experience, first-hand, all the really great musclecars though!
  • speedshiftspeedshift Posts: 1,598
    If your Catalina can spin its right rear tire on slick pavement, it's a musclecar son.

    I'm getting to the bottom of the barrel. Let's see, oh yeah, there was a '66 GTO 389/335 with two-speed automatic (not Powerglide). It had relatively low miles (less than Irv Gordon's Volvo) but it just felt kind of loose and flabby. Maybe that's what they all felt like with standard suspension.

    That's a less-than-inspirational drivetrain too. It pinged like heck and I don't know if it was carboned up or if it was just the pre-'67 heads getting in the way. The '67 400/Turbo 400 combo was a big improvement.

    Anyway I ended up selling it to some skid who scared the whee out of me and his friends when he took it for a test drive. A week after he bought it he blew the transmission.
  • speedshiftspeedshift Posts: 1,598
    Back when Pontiac performance was more than just body cladding:
  • I was 16 and working in a grocery store and had been looking for a hot-rodded 55-57 Chevy. My father decided that he wanted me to get a car with a warranty and agreed to go with me to look at GTO's, Cobra Torinos, Chevy II's and Camaros. The big dealers around Atlanta would not come off the list price enough to suit him (except the Chevy II with rubber floor mats) and Central Chevrolet wanted list price for all their Z/28's except for one - it was an export one - gold with absolutely no options beyond what was mandatory for a Z/28.

    Well, we finally arranged to order a 1969 Camaro SS 396 from Timmers Chevrolet Truck and Fleet sales department. I got the 396/350 HP, RS package, 4-speed (close ratio), 373 positraction, ralley wheels, console, guages, black vinyl roof, spoilers, special interior group (trim on the pedals and woodgrain), AM radio, tinted glass and endura front bumper. Cortez silver, black interior and black stripes. The list was $3610.06 - drive out was $3238.80 (I'm doing this from memory - don'tcha know this car left an impression on me!)

    Six weeks later I remember going to the dealer and finding the car parked at the back of the lot with the fleet milk trucks - what a beautiful car! When driving it out of the dealer I screeched the tires (not trying to) and was yelled at by my father. He drove it when we got home and did the same thing - then apologized.

    Sniff sniff - I sold that car with only 6000 miles on it - the car attracted so much female interest - hottest car in my high school. I started dating an older woman - a senior - and I could not afford the payment, insurance and her demands for dates, dinners and movies. Sold the Camaro and bought a 1966 VW Beetle with a sunroof. That same girl is the mother of my three children and grandmother of two now.

    :( I eventually owned about 12 other Camaros (including a 1969 Z/28 with factory chambered exhaust and a 1969 Pace Car) but I sure miss that first SS/RS 396 Camaro!
  • speedshiftspeedshift Posts: 1,598
    So it worked out pretty well :-).
  • ghuletghulet Posts: 2,628
    Good story!!

    Until you got to the part about being married to your high school sweetheart, I would have told you to keep the Camaro. I think you got the better end of the deal.

    60s Beetles (especially with sunroofs) aren't so bad, my parents had a red '64 with a roof when I was a kid, rumor has it we (twin bro and I) were conceived in. A scary thought on so many levels.

    Do you know if your Camaro is still out there? Assuming you have the VIN, it should be easy to find out.
  • andys120andys120 Loudon NHPosts: 18,570
    I wasn't aware that Wangers had his own website, it's not surprising considering his talent for self promotion. It reminded me of the infamous 1964 CAR & DRIVER cover story that purported to compare the '64 Pontiac with the real GTO (from Ferrari).

    This article raised a big fuss in the gearhead community for several reasons:

    -It implied that the '64 Goat could be compared in some ways to the legendary 250 GTO, a clearly absurd proposition. (It was followed by an article comparing a '65 421 Catalina 2+2 with a Ferrari 330GT 2+2, a less absurd proposition, at least looking strictly at the numbers.)

    -DED and the C&D crew were clearly shilling for Jim Wangers and GM and supporting the shameless ploy of naming Ponchos after Ferraris.

    -The '64 GTO in question was a "Royal Oak Bobcat"
    with a host of dealer-installed enhancements (e.g. re-jetted carbs). This was pointed out in the article but they didn't make a big thing of it.

    2000 BMW 528i, 2001 BMW 330CiC

  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 57,330
    Also please note that a 250 GTO ended up being about 350 times more valuable (literally) than a '64 Pontiac GTO. ($20,000 X 350 = 7 million dollars). Still, not a putdown, if anything it shows than an old goat is a pretty good deal.

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