No Limits Magazine from the Auto History Preservation Society
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Tuesday July 8, 2014
The Big Sleep: Performance 1971-82, '67 Dodge R/T, '68 AMX Intro, '69 Hurst/Olds PR Photos, '57 Hudson Brochure, Help Out the AHPS - More!

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The Big Sleep: Performance in the In-Between Years 1971-1982
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Did You Miss These?

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to See the the Article

1955 Chrysler 300 in drift

Was the Original Chrysler 300
the First Muscle Car?


1964 Pontiacs onthe line



Made in Pontiac - How they put 'em together Back in the Day!


1970 Chevelle LS6

1970 - Screaming the loudest
before you die!

ForPly vs 64 Wax Wedge"ForPly" versus Tom Hoover's 1964 Pure Stock Max Wedge

Olds W-43 4-Valve

Don't Call Me a Hemi - 'cause I'm not! Oldsmobile's Infamous W-43



1972 44s W-30 Test

Super Stock Magazine was a performance oriented Muscle Car magazine. When they said the 1972 Olds 442 W-30 was
"an animal" you'd better believe it.

1955 300 in Dayton Trim

Few people owned these out and out high performance cars - price, availability - and streetability limited them to a select few.

1968 Ford Torino GT

You were more than likely to see someone driving a hotted up Ford Torino than a Hemi Road Runner Back in the Day.

Karl Kiekhaefer's 1955 Trophies

By as soon as 1973, tamer camshafts, lower compression and WEIGHT started a quick decline in street performance - not to mention that "super car" prices were moving upward.

1978 Olds 442 Test

Looks impressive - right? An open differential and hard tires will do that. This 1978 442 managed a 17.3 quarter mile. Snore.

by Wild About Cars Staff - reprint with permission only.

Some of us remember; others of us depend on stories and tales from the old folks; surprisingly, few of us collect the facts and report on it. Here at Wild About Cars, our job is to tell the truth – based upon what we and the Auto History Preservation Society collect in the real back in the day records. Our recollections, though helpful, are many times colored by our own emotions or circumstances.

Most tell the tale as if after 1970 the performance door slammed shut - but that was not the case. It started to slowly swing on the emissions and insurance breeze until gas prices and factory indifference slammed it shut with a loud BANG.

First, let’s admit, most of us in the performance hobby back in the early 70s were rolling along singing a song. There were plenty of cheap performance cars out there, people were track and street racing - and the only thing they noticed and knew was that the factories were winding down selling performance cars.

It wasn’t that you couldn’t buy a true new high performance car in the first few years on the decade of the 70s – it was that those of us who were there didn’t care that much. Heck, we knew the newer cars weren’t running up HP on the increasing performance scale of the 60s, but so what? Maybe we didn’t look forward to the next announcement from our favorite brand – on how they were going to kick ass - but heck our current muscle car was still knocking them dead at the drive in or local car hop, so . . .

And most significant to this discussion is that performance just didn’t fall off the cliff like lots of people like to say nowadays, it slowly faded. Remember that most muscle cars were basically lighter bodies with the biggest passenger car engines that could be crammed between the fenders. Few were Hemis, LS6s, Boss 429s – those cars were the purview of only a few – heck look at the production numbers for them.  Your average hot shoe was driving 442s, Buick Grand Sports, Fairlane/Torino GTs, Dodge Super Bee 440s, Rebel Machines, etc. These cars made their way on torque, not raw HP. So dropping the compression a few points didn’t really hurt performance any appreciable amount..

Before you start shouting and screaming, let’s take a look. A good example is a comparison between a 1970 Olds 442 W-30 – considered a street terror in 1970 by all the magazines - and a 1972 Low-comp W-30. Fact is, when equipped with a 3.42 rear and on street tires, they ran nearly identical times – 14.30 @ 100 for the ’70 and 14.36 @ 100 for the ’72!

Now granted, with a bit of street tuning and some other aftermarket goodies, the 70 could easily dip into the 13s, and maybe the ’72 would be working a bit harder to do that. But when you went into the showroom and test drove a ’71-72, you would not have noticed the difference. And even when tweaked for the street or strip, that difference would be less as well. As an example, the national record holder in L/SA for many years was a ’71 442 W-30 convertible – not a ’70.

So, the point here is that performance didn’t really fall off the cliff - it slowly declined. What really happened was that less and less performance cars – as judged by the 60s - were offered by your manufacturers. Combine that with the heavy insurance premiums and the factories were looking at a declining market for these cars.

But it just wasn’t a declining group of purchasers; it was the lack of desire on the part of the factories to consider that there was a market, period. And in what had to be some of the biggest product planning mistakes in the US auto industry, all the factories made a fatal mistake - for whatever reason, they all went to heavier cars.

We’re not talking about the added weight of safety equipment – we’re talking about making bigger, heavier mid and small sized cars. None of them anticipated $1.50 per gallon gas, and what 13 mpg on a family sedan would do to their sales. A 1974 Olds Custom Cruiser wagon was lucky to get 8 MPG!

Looking at weight, for example – a 1972 442 was listed at 3,500 lbs, a 1973 3,840! Three hundred pounds in one year was absurd.  No matter what engine resided under that ‘73s hood, performance was going to suffer.

By 1975, that same car had ballooned to over 4000 lbs. When you start attaching anemic engines, strangled more and more by bad emission controls, and stupid 2.56:1 rear gears to inflate mileage claims, you have deader than a doornail performance. But it took a few years to be apparent. By 1976, a 455 equipped 442 could, at best manage a 17 sec quarter mile. Given that, no one was buying that car to kick some butt on the street.

And what may be the most critical issue – something everyone forgets – the baby boomers weren’t kids anymore – they had wives, families, house payments, etc. They wouldn’t have been buying performance cars anyway. If they were performance nuts like 90% of the WAC staff, they stuck their muscle car in the garage and didn’t drive it much. If they were younger kids, they couldn’t afford a new car anyway, so they were driving early 70s 340 Dusters, Mustang 351s, and Camaro 350s – all of which could get under the insurance surcharges.

To read more about the Slow death of the Muscle Car - Click HERE!


More Stories & Articles on the
1970s Performance Scene:

Check out some of the other early 70s and other Road Tests - Click HERE!

See Early 70s Muscle Car Ads - Click HERE!

To check out how serious Dodge was about Performance in 1971 - Click HERE!

NOTE: These stories make our argument for the Automotive History Preservation Society - It is the material they have collected that allows us to bring much of this to you.

Go to www.ahpsoc.org and donate some dollars so
they can do their great work!


Documents from the AHPS's Digital Documents Library
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1967 Dodge R/T 440 Drag Test
1967 Dodge 440 R/T Drag Test (2 parts)

Super Stock Magazine explored the potential of the new 440 V8 in the Dodge R/T. In 1967 the "Super Bee" had not surfaced, and the performance mid-sized Dodge was a Dodge Coronet with "R/T" emblems and a sport interior. Not to worry, the big bad boy could motor. Check out this to issue series.

Click here to read about the Dodge R/T's drag strip prowess!

Support Project 1320
The GM Photo Gift Store
Check out Good-Guys Car Shows
Primer Podcast
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Antique Chevy
1968 AMC AMX Intro
  1968 American Motors AMX Intro

The performance car world was a bit stunned when the American Motors AMX was introduced. In fact, they were completely surprised by the 390 engined sports car from AMC. The Kenosha boys were trying to compare the AMX to the Corvette, but that might have been a stretch - actually the car had its own niche between the 'Vette and pony cars - where it was right at home. Check out this Super Stock Magazine intro from march 1968.

To See the 1968 AMX intro - Click HERE!

1969 Hurst/Olds PR Photos
1969 Hurst/Olds Factory PR Photos

The 1969 Hurst/Olds upstaged its 1968 bad boy big time. Not by performance - they were pretty equal - but by pizzazz. Whereas the '68 was understated and even lees snazzy looking than even a 442, the '69 left no doubt as to its intentions. Check out these PR photos and see what we mean. "Snarls softly and carries a big stick" was Hurst's ad campaign. We think they carried it off.

To Read and/or Download these 1969 Hurst Olds PR Photos - Click Here!

1957 Hudson Brochure
1957 Hudson Foldout Brochure

By 1957 Hudson was a very minor part of American Motors game plan - basically there to act as a place holder until all the former Hudson dealerships could make the switch to Rambler. Most, if not all were already in the AMC camp, and the Hudson - usually a V8 Hornet sat all alone in the corner. That didn't stop marketing from producing a pretty spiffy brochure for the car. Take a peek at what they were touting for the once proud performance brand in 1957!

To Read and/or Download the 1957 Hudson Brochure - Click HERE!

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