What vintage american muscle car had good handling?

Discussion in 'Bad Dog Cafe' started by homesick345, Feb 9, 2016.

  1. BobbyZ

    BobbyZ Doctor of Teleocity

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    I thought my 70 Lemans with a transplanted 400/350hp 4 speed handled real well.
    Of course I was a teenager then and had lots of really stupid ideas.
     
  2. JayJ

    JayJ Tele-Afflicted

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    That reminds me of my friend in High School who dropped a pre '73 455 into his '83 Cutlass. He drove like a maniac and made that car do things it was never intended for, like drifting.

    If you lived in the Richland Center or Mount Horeb area in the early to mid 1990's and a loud car or my screaming kept you up at night, sorry about that.
     
  3. 64Strat

    64Strat Friend of Leo's Vendor Member

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    Did you watch the YT above?

    Nothing like a 427 Vette at 7000rpm either! ;)
     
  4. Grabsplatter

    Grabsplatter Tele-Holic

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    Sorry to say, but from a British point of view, our thoughts regarding American cars of the 70s were usually "why can't they make a car that goes round corners?", and " how do they get so little power from such huge engines?".

    If you think I'm joking about the power, consider this. I have here my 1974 Observers Book of Automobiles, and I will give you a couple of random examples. Now I know this wasn't a muscle car, but it was the car showing on the page my book fell open on. So, representing the USA, we have an American Motors Hornet. That manages to develop exactly 100bhp from a six cylinder 3802cc (232 cu in) engine. So, now I look for a European car producing the very same 100bhp. Three pages later and we find another fairly pedestrian saloon, producing 100bhp. It is the Audi 100ls, which has a four cylinder 1760cc (108 cu in) engine. Of course, the Hornet produces more torque, but having only three forward gears as opposed to the Audi's four, I suppose it needed it.

    So, to recap, the American engine is more than twice the size, yet they produce exactly the same horse power.

    I'm not sure the handling (dire though it was) is really the major flaw with those old American cars.
     
  5. Obsessed

    Obsessed Telefied Ad Free Member

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    '64 - '69 Ford GT-40. As I recall though, it was designed in the UK. That's it. Anyone saying otherwise didn't drive too many different "vintage" european sports cars. Yes, I owned and modified US muscle cars and european sports cars. There was a big difference in design priorities (Alps vs. corn fields). There were a few "muscle cars" that had potential (Pantera and Corvette come to mind), but only after extensive modifications with most "muscle" coming from Detroit with rear drum brakes and straight rear axles if that doesn't give away their major weaknesses. Front and rear suspensions were relatively of antique design compared to european sports cars of the time.
     
  6. boris bubbanov

    boris bubbanov Tele Axpert Ad Free Member

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    A 64-69 GT-40 is not a muscle car as defined by most people. I would exclude the prepped cars, the Trans Am race cars that Follmer and Donahue drove as well, from the basic definition of a vintage USA muscle car. You modify the structure and suspension and put radials on it and it makes 'em better but it also means the car is not vintage authentic.

    When we wanted to do something besides go in a straight line, we stop. Then rev it up and drop the clutch - hole shot. If you had a good running motor and not too large tires, you could do some really lurid fishtailing and that was what it was all about. The roads in the Niagara Frontier were almost all straight and so you went straight, who is fastest Point A to Point B.
     
  7. 017_017

    017_017 Friend of Leo's

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    Plymouth Barracuda Formula S, or so I've heard.
     
  8. BigDaddyLH

    BigDaddyLH Tele Axpert Ad Free Member

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    Good handling? Why do you hate America?
     
  9. BobRob

    BobRob Tele-Meister

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    By 1974 most US cars with big engines were getting de-tuned to meet the
    air quality standards set by the government. In 1975, cars in US had to start using catalytic converters to meet the standards.
    So from the early seventies to the mid seventies,
    we went from cars with 300 to 500 plus horsepower to the engines like the one in the book.

    When did European cars start getting catalytic converters? I think most (maybe all) large European cities still rate below large US cities in air quality.
    I don't think those VW diesels are helping that situation much. ;)
     
  10. 64Strat

    64Strat Friend of Leo's Vendor Member

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    you DO realize that horsepower is the first derivative of Torque and engine rpm... right?

    Engine Torque is what actually moves the vehicle. Horsepower is a rating at peak rpm and is a function of how much torque is made at that rpm. If the engine is a low rpm engine, it will not rate highly in HP.

    In the case of your example, I would bet dollars to donuts that the 232 c.i. inline 6 cyl makes a lot more torque than the Audi 4 cyl at any given normal use engine rpm, up to it's rpm limit. For every day driving, for pure transportation purpose, this is what is important. Typically, 4 cylinder engines have to rev a lot higher to make any power, which when you consider the relationship of HP to Tq and rpm, makes sense.

    There is a lot of misunderstanding of engine output performance by most people. I have dyno tested a lot of engines and have a fair understanding of how it works and what is useful.

    It's like Japanese motorcycle engines, versus American V-Twins. They have to rev super high to make any power and in the lower rpm range, they have to make extensive use of gearing, because they make so little torque down there. V-Twins make much more torque down low.... and as such, you make that engine pull a lot of gear and take advantage of it. That's why in practical use, from stop light, to stop light, V-Twins usually embarrass the high powered Japanese bikes. Top end is a different story and that is where the Japanese design really shines... but hardly nobody can exploit that on the street. High torque is much more practical. But because of general ignorance, everyone focuses on peak horsepower ratings.

    And yes, I've raced V-twins.... and picked up a fair amount of experience doing it...
    [​IMG]
     
  11. Brad Pittiful

    Brad Pittiful Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    see this is where being accurate with cars being muscle cars...or pony cars...and sports cars counts

    muscle cars = two door sedans like GTO...impala SS...ford galaxie

    pony cars = camaros...mustangs...challengers and late model cudas (not the early ones)

    sports cars = corvette

    the muscle cars were straight like racers

    pony cars and sports cars were circuit cars which had to handle curves and turns...with up grades

    of course they all could race in a straight line and more of them did that as a race course with turns were not as accessible as a drag strip
     
  12. 64Strat

    64Strat Friend of Leo's Vendor Member

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    You are essentially correct. But practically everyone lumps the Vette into at least the pony cars category and sometimes into the muscle cars. It is actually a dual purpose performance car. They can be made to go VERY fast in a straight line.... and handle road courses too! Witness this 2015 Z06...

     
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  13. telemnemonics

    telemnemonics Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    If the question is what vintage American muscle cars had sports car handling, the Buick Opel GT might qualify.
    Wait, it was made in Germany.
    How about the Mercury Capri? Even had a muscle car engine option with a V6 squeezed in.
    Wait, that was made in Germany too.
    I wonder if European cars being built in somewhat cramped little countries with limited resources and squiggly little roads influenced their being designed to be small lightweight and nimble?
    And conversely in 1960s USA there was vast space and resources, and less need for taking "high speed" turns in second gear. Unless you were in San Francisco.
    When the resources started running out the attraction of small and nimble grew, though many still cling to the grocery getting tank.

    It's funny, the MacPherson strut front suspension used and raced so successfully by BMW, Porsche and others was actually designed by GM in the 1930s, but was never used, maybe deemed unsuitable for the extensive rough dirt roads in the US at the time.
     
  14. Brad Pittiful

    Brad Pittiful Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    the corvette was called..americas only sports car...so i put it in its own category

    also i think the AMX was a pony car...cant leave it out as it was a cool car
     
  15. Tim Armstrong

    Tim Armstrong Super Moderator Ad Free Member

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    I had a '70 LeMans, and I drove it fast on Maryland back roads, always liked how it handled.
     
  16. Obsessed

    Obsessed Telefied Ad Free Member

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    So true. I was just trying to think of any U.S. car that could handle like a european sports car. My GTO was purely for drag racing. It was a handful just trying to slow it down in a straight line.
     
  17. Buzzardeater

    Buzzardeater Tele-Holic

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    No car handled well in the seventies. Tires were poo.

    The smart way to go seemed to be buying a police spec car. Several factories vied for police contracts back in the day. THey built cars with different suspensions for this kind of work. They often had the hottest cams and whatnot, as well.
     
  18. Coach56

    Coach56 One of the Boys

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    Old Vettes were not bad, I have owned both a '63 and a '74, the '74 was light years ahead of the other as far as actual handling.

    I also owned a '67 Firebird 400, now that car was scary in the twisties, however, they made the Sprint version with a high performance ohc 6 that did handle very well. Unfortunately over the years a lot of those were re-engined with a V8.
     
  19. Obsessed

    Obsessed Telefied Ad Free Member

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    Yup, and another major engine design consideration is piston stroke. A longer stroke will produce more torque, but a shorter stroke will allow more rpm. This in itself makes a huge difference between european and american engines. To get that heavy lead sled off of a dead stop requires a long stroke/high torque engine a la drag racing, whereas sports cars want to be able to keep the engine at it's peak horsepower/rpm going in and out of turns hence the continuous need for more gears and short strokes. This applies to motorcycles as well.
     
  20. Stubee

    Stubee Poster Extraordinaire Gold Supporter

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    Yep, been there & witnessed that all day at Vintage Nationals. Could feel those and the Gran Sports & Daytonas in yer chest as they hammered toward ya outta a turn & into a straightaway.
     
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