Category: Muscle Car

Which one of these high-strung, small-cube muscle cars would you choose for your dream garage? – Matt Litwin @Hemmings

Which one of these high-strung, small-cube muscle cars would you choose for your dream garage? – Matt Litwin @Hemmings

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Although the American muscle car was pretty much clearly defined by the mid-Sixties, automakers were quick to adapt the formula to different budgets, styles, and – in some cases – homologation rules. In other words, you didn’t have to have 400-plus cubes under the hood to go fast. In our latest edition of This or That, we’re celebrating a series of muscle cars that may have been small in terms of displacement, but offered big power and ample fun. Let’s take a closer look at four examples from 1968-’71 for you to ponder, all of which are currently available in the Hemmings classifieds.

The AMX immediately came to mind for the simple reason that AMC was the one company that was quick to offer a small displacement engine that offered spritely power at a reasonable price in racy trim. First released in 1969, the base-trim, two-seat AMX included a 225-hp 290, and cost $3,245 (or $24,933 today), helping push first-year sales to 6,725 units. The 1969 base price rose to $3,297, but that didn’t hold back sales, which rose to 8,293, one of which was this example, from the Hemmings Auctions Premium Classifieds.

The 290 was one of three available engines, the upgrade being a 280-hp 343. Of course, the top engine option was the 390, which is far more prevalent in the contemporary enthusiast market (see the link below). According to the original listing of this AMX:

This 1969 AMC AMX projects all the panache of the brand’s bold experiment, with a restoration that includes some aftermarket enhancements that amplify the AMX’s uniqueness. The seller says it was an original, rust-free California car, until he brought it to Florida in 2019, and that a rotisserie-type restoration on it was completed in 2013. It wears a custom Candy Apple Red finish and is driven by a punched-out 290 engine that now displaces 308 cubic inches

By the time 1970 rolled around, manufacturers had already found ways to pull more power out of true small-block engines rather efficiently. Arguably, one of Chevrolet’s best examples was its LT1 engine, as seen in this mid-year 1970 Camaro Z28 RS. In base trim, a 307-cu.in. V-8 powered Camaro cost $3,172; however the Z28 package delivered the LT1 engine – a 350-cu.in. small-block rated for 360 hp – for the small fee of $572.95 (or $3,959 today), which bumped the sticker price to $3,744.95 (or $25,874 today). Per our published resources, Chevrolet built 8,733 Camaros in Z28 trim. According to the seller of this example:

Front sub-frame off rotisserie restoration one year ago; everything new; numbers matching engine, tranny, differential; Mulsanne blue paint; M22 rock crusher four-speed manual transmission with 4:11 gears; LT1 V-8 engine, 360 hp.

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West Texas Muscle Car Rescue @CoffeeWalk with Dennis Collins

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Welcome to Coffee Walk Ep. 139! I got a last minute phone call last night that a group of cars that I have been chasing for a while now could finally be mine.

The kicker? It was 4pm in Dallas and we had to make it to Amarillo with the truck and trailer by morning. (Insert dad joke)… CHALLENGE ACCEPTED.

My team and I took off from the shop last night and headed out West to Amarillo, Texas for an 800 mile rescue mission.

Watch us save a 1966 Porsche 912, 1968 Dodge Charger 318 V8 and a 1969 Dodge Charger 383 V8 4V 4-speed. We’ve had a high amount of energy drinks and a low amount of sleep over the last 24 hours, but the juice was DEFINITELY worth the squeeze on this one! As always… GO FAST, HAVE FUN & HAVE A GREAT WEEKEND!! and thanks for watching!

10 of the greatest dealer-special muscle car shops of all time – Scott Oldham @Hemmings

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During the horsepower wars of the original muscle car era, it wasn’t just the car companies duking it out for supremacy on the street and strip: Many dealers also got into the ring, adding cubic inches and horsepower over and above what the factory was offering. They were building some of the quickest muscle cars to ever hit the street, and many became legends in the process.High-performance dealer specials weren’t a new phenomenon.

They were happening before the 1964 Pontiac GTO ignited a wave of performance cars that lasted nearly a decade, but more dealers took up the cause as the decade rolled on, with some operations lasting into the early 1970s and beyond. At their height of popularity, there were dealerships across America performing engine swaps, offering bigger big blocks and long lists of other modifications. In many cases, the only limits were a buyer’s budget and common sense. Narrowing this list down to the top-10 dealer specials wasn’t easy. Did your favorite make the cut?

This small Chevy dealership in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania, was run by race car driver and astute business man, Don Yenko. After making some news with his Corvair Stingers, Yenko partnered with drag racer Dick Harrell and started swapping 427 big-blocks into the new Camaro in 1967, often beginning with small-block cars. He called it the Yenko Super Camaro 450 and sold 54 that first year. The following year, he ordered the cars with the 396 big-blocks, which made the conversions easier, and sold 64.

Read on for the rest!

A guide to the best ’80s and ’90s muscle cars, and why they’re still affordable – Jeff Koch @Hemmings

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Traditional muscle cars aren’t getting cheaper, which has made them increasingly difficult to own and enjoy on a casual basis. With the original era ending nearly half a century ago, solid driver-condition cars—the ones that should, in theory, be available at reasonable cost and in ready-to-run condition— have become scarce, leaving buyers to choose between big-money restored examples or basket-case projects that still command thousands.

Furthering the conundrum, those “project car” examples of traditional muscle models that need work before they can hit the local cruise spot are also not trading hands inexpensively. In fact, the costs of acquiring one and then getting it up to proper levels of form and function often exceeds their value when completed, leaving the owner “upside down” in his or her investment.

Plenty of enthusiasts are okay with this—they’ll happily put in the time and money to get their dream muscle car in their garage and up to spec. But what about those of us who just want to get out there and have some fun in a proper front-engine/rear-drive car that rumbles?

We’re suggesting a cost-effective alternative that aligns perfectly with the aforementioned casual approach to muscle motoring: performance cars of the ’80s and ’90s

.After the original muscle era was snuffed by the conflagration of safety laws and emissions regulations (plus the first fuel crisis of 1973), brand-new muscle choices were soon winnowed down to Corvettes, Trans Ams, and a few others, all of them paling in comparison to their earlier forms. That sharp end to an exciting time later drove enthusiasts to pine for those original muscle cars, eventually driving up prices, fueled by nostalgia and a desire for real power. But everything is cyclical, and Detroit finally circled back to making models that would interest muscle fans. Only this time, the evolution has continued since around 1982—modern muscle cars seem to just keep getting better.

This has had two lasting effects: First, it has made several-year-old models depreciate more quickly as the latest/greatest offerings provide increased output and other features. Second, since this next wave of factory muscle has been going on for close to 40 years, there are lots of next-generation gearheads who are now feeling tinges of nostalgia for a different time—yep, the ’80s, ’90s, and even the early 2000s.

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This unrestored 1966 Dodge Charger offers a unique experience – David Conwill @Hemmings

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Plymouth folks are fond of telling you that Dodge stole every good thing Plymouth ever had. Whether that’s a fair assessment or not, it does put an interesting spin on the 1966 Dodge Charger.
In 1964, a few months before the Ford Mustang debuted, Plymouth brought out its own sporty compact. As the Mustang had its roots in the Falcon, Plymouth’s new Barracuda was based on the brand’s compact Valiant. While the Mustang used radically different bodywork from the Falcon, the Barracuda was essentially a new body style of Valiant, with a large glass fastback.
When Dodge dealers saw the success of the Barracuda, they clamored for their own sporty compact based on the Dart. In a rare act of defiance, the Chrysler board said no. Dodge would get a sporty, two-door fastback, but instead of being based on the Dart, it would use the midsize Coronet platform.

Subframe Connectors: Find Out Why They’re Not Just For Race Cars – Randy Bolig @RodAuthority

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If you look back at some of the General’s hottest-performance cars, you will notice a reoccurring theme — many do not have a traditional perimeter frame. Many of these muscle cars were built on what is called a unibody platform. Camaros, Novas, and Firebirds were all built with a unibody construction utilizing a front subframe section that attached to the body, rather than full perimeter frames where the body is mounted onto the frame structure.

This was okay when the cars were new and factory stock. But, age and the addition of a few major performance enhancements, will help you soon notice how inadequate a “seasoned” unibody-constructed car really is when diving into building a true performance classic.

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Hemmings Muscle Machines marks its 200th issue, so we look back at muscle cars then and now – Kurt Ernst @Hemmings

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Counting backward from 200

In the fall of 2003, The Matrix franchise was pulling big numbers at the box office, Nelly and P. Diddy were blowing up the airwaves, gas was around $1.60 per gallon (and falling), and a new specialty car magazine hit newsstands and mailboxes. Hemmings Muscle Machines, our first title dedicated exclusively to “American performance cars, regardless whether they were powered by four, six, eight, ten, or even 12 cylinders,” debuted with the October 2003 issue, which featured a red ’65 Chevelle SS stacked up against a red ’64 Plymouth Fury on its cover.

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6 ways the 1974 GTO broke new ground (for better or for worse) – Thomas A. DeMauro @Hemmings

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The 1964 GTO enjoys legendary status, having been credited with kick-starting the muscle car era, and it remains a revered collectible. Conversely, the 1974 example has been viewed as the Goat that ended that same era, resulting in fewer fans and lower resale values. The Ventura’s compact economy car status, its close kinship to Chevrolet’s Nova, its smaller engine than found in previous GTOs, and the climate in which it was introduced are a few reasons that are typically cited.

To be fair, any car produced for 1974 faced difficult circumstances. Insurance companies had been cracking down on muscle cars for years, hiking rates and putting them financially out of reach of many potential buyers. Additionally, in a continuing effort to reduce pollution, federal emissions standards were becoming more stringent. Compression ratios started dropping in 1971 to burn cleaner low-lead and unleaded fuel but that also reduced power. Federal safety regulations were increasing occupant protection in a crash, but also added weight in many instances, further degrading performance and economy. The advancing bumper requirements also influenced styling.

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Related – The Humbler: 1970 GTO’s vacuum-operated exhaust was ahead of its time

VIDEO: Sifting for precious metals in them hills – Dan Stoner @Hemmings

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 Rusty gold discovered

What’s the one thing that unites all gearheads? The one pilgrimage that we all dream about? That one singular experience that separates us from mere mortals…or, at least, the smarter guy on the block? The fabled junkyard run, of course!

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Related – This muscle car dealer is selling a dream barn find collection