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Guy Hiltz 08-19-2008 02:03 PM

How Fast Were They,Really ???
I am wondering how fast cars really were "back in the day".
I mean cars from the late sixties and early seventies.
Cars that the average person had.
Such as 390 GT Mach I Mustangs,Chevelle SS's with 327's,350's or 396,'68-69 Roadrunners with 383,340 Swingers or Demons,Firebirds with Ram Air III 400's,442 Cutlass's,Buick GS,Camaro's with 350-396,Challengers & Cuda's with 340 or 383.Etc..........
I dont mean cars that were all done up,but ones that were more or less stock..
I hear from people from time to time on how fast their car was back then,and I'm curious as to how fast they actually were.

richard stewart 3rd 08-19-2008 02:15 PM

I think that people thought they were fast due to what they had to compare them with, cars from the 50es. I personally didn't
think they were all that fast, or I wouldn't have built them to
be fast.

Deuce 08-19-2008 02:28 PM

I had a new 1969 Chevy Nova SS ... with the 396/375 HP option and a 4 speed. It came with a 4.10 rear gear. I ran low 13's with it in stock ... original trim. Nothing done but jetting and timing changes. With headers, a Hurst shifter and more jetting and timing changes ... it went mid 12's. I later bought a 70 Chevelle SS 454 with the 450 HP LS - 6 option and it was a low 13 second car also ... with nothing but jetting and timing changes. headers and tuning got it to the mid 12's also. Both without ever removing the engine or having the heads off.

I raced at a NHRA track ... @ about 200 feet elevation. Traction was good ... and the air good. :D

The biggest competition came from other Chevrolets and the 440 6 pack Mopars.

lets cut it up 08-19-2008 02:44 PM

All I can remember about the muscle car era is that my mom and dad sold off our mint 1970 Buick gsx for a darn chevette in 1979. I wish i had that car now. I was like 10 years old then. Tim

barnym17 08-19-2008 02:48 PM

The big hitters were quick, LS6 chevelle =low 13's,most however were not that quick mid 14 to 15 second range many small block cars were in the 16 second range.However also this was due to the tires of the day a 327/350 hp duece with good tires can go 12's.But for every 350 hp chevy 2 there were probably 50 to 100 327 -300 hp, 283 220 hp cars out there living on the reps of there faster brethern.Same goes for ma mopar for every extremely quick 6 pack car there were hundreds of plain jain 383 cars.Really depends on the options picked.It was the same then as now speed costs money how fast ya wanna go?

machine shop tom 08-19-2008 02:57 PM

That's a real good question. I have a feeling that the mists of time have made them seem a little faster than what may be factual. A good barometer of how fast they may really have been would be magazine articles (Hot Rod, Car Craft, etc.) that have actual drag strip times contained in them.


DanTwoLakes 08-19-2008 03:02 PM

"Back in the Day" (1968) we had a 1963 Dodge 4 door that was a county squad car in another life. It had a 383 with 440 head and intakes and a 4 barrel carb (ordered from the factory that way) that would kick just about anything around without doing anything to it. This was a smaller, lighter car than comparable cars later on in the late sixties and early seventies. I drove another ex squad car set up the same way, only it was a '66, and it was an absolute dog compared to the '63.

joe_padavano 08-19-2008 03:07 PM

The limiting factor was the tire technology. The factory appearing stock racers have been able to turn 11 second times with repro bias plies however.

johnnya 08-19-2008 03:22 PM

I bought a '66 Nova SS with an L-79 (350HP 327) new in June '66.
It had 3.73 gears and a close ratio 4 speed.
Totally stock, with street tires ( 6.95X14's) it ran 14.6 in the 1/4 mile.
After changing to "cheater slicks" and with open Jardine headers, it ran 13.8.
I had 4.56 gears later, but never ran it at a timed track with them. I would guess it ran about 13.2 with the 4.56's.

RPM 08-19-2008 03:22 PM

A friend of mine had a ZL-1 camaro. It would run 10.90. Drove this car to the dragstrip, jack it up and put on his slicks and rmove the mufflers. Had 1 slick in the trunk and and 1 in the back seat. He had to tie the truck down.

DENCOUCH 08-19-2008 03:26 PM

1964 Pontian GTO
One of my high school buds had a GTO, that his mom let him buy when he got a job working a hospital as on orderly. We all piled into his car an went cruising on the weekends. His car seemed fast... he street raced against anything out there that would want to race!

It had the single 4-bbl, positraction, and a 4-speed. The only mod he made was to add some glass packs for more vroom sound.

Wednesday nite was "Run what ya brung nite" at Lion's Drag strip in So Cal, so we drove there to get a timeslip. The cool part was him being too chicken to run it and allowing me to have the first honor!!

I remember wheel hop, smoking tires and a high 13 quarter mile. He later wrecked the car on a curve. It as a pretty nice ride at the time.

F&J 08-19-2008 04:28 PM


I dont mean cars that were all done up,but ones that were more or less stock..

I thought the 327s were "it" until I bought a bone stock 13,000 mile 69 Dart Swinger in the spring of 1970. It was rated 275hp i think, 4 sp, 391 posi, lightweight tincan Mopar body. I've yet to own a stock Chevy that could do what that car did.

All the modern stuff is fine; but the younger guys really have no clue what it was like back then, and what you saw being done on a Friday/Saturday night :D

How about those days when you stuffed it on a rolling start, and smoked the tires ALL the way through first, and halfway through second, a good 10 feet in 3rd, and at least bark them in 4th. They may not be "fast" in todays terms, but I miss that power...and lack of traction :) Keep the new crap...I want to go back ;)

I'm going to try to show my 16yr old what those old cars could do...this is what I worked on today...putting a sixpack on a 340 4sp 69 Dart conv... Now I need to get 391s instead of the 323s :D I hate cheap valve covers made today, so I found these mid 60s offys :cool:

The kids today are still hot for the old muscle, but they feel it's out of least as a daily driver like we had.

dalesy 08-19-2008 04:52 PM

I don't honestly know that they were all that fast, especially compared to some of the stuff today. Most stock "muscle cars" would run 14's, some even 15's (without slicks).A little work, headers, slicks, etc. could get 12's.

The thing was that they had "IT". They looked mean, they sounded mean, and each one had its own personality. Drivers could identify with a certain car make or model....hell, most of them had their own songs. Cars of today are pretty hum-drum by comparison.....hard to tell one from another.

Look at the engine in a big block NOVA or a tri-power GTO. It's impressive! Now look at the engine (well, try to find the engine) in most any of these tuner cars. You can't even see many of them for all the jumble of hoses, wires, and gobbeldy-gook running everywhere.

It was just a different deal altogether. Gas was cheap; insurance was cheap.
I had a '63 Plymouth Belvedere with the 426 Ramcharger engine, manual-shift torqueflite, 4.56 posi, and stock appearing. Had a real "THUMP" to it idling with the solid lifter cam. Driving down the street, you had to use the pushbuttons to shift. Take off at any more than an idle and when you'd hit the next gear, it would chirp the tires. That thing was a ride, for sure. Only time I ever had it on the strip, with a pair of used cheater slicks and closed headers (just off the street) it ran 13.02 at 109. Today, it would cost a fortune to drive....6 or 7 miles per gallon, and you had to run 100+ octane; back in those days it was 260 Sunoco, Pure Firebird Super, or Super Shell. In 1971, this stuff was about 45 CENTS A GALLON! Can you imagine?

And of course, stupid kid me, just married, in the service; I couldn't afford to keep the car (payments) so I sold it (I'm not going to reveal just HOW stupid I was by telling you what I sold it for). But, please believe me that I've kicked myself in the *** at least once a month ever since then for getting rid of that piece of muscle car history.....and I don't even want to think about what it would be worth today.

How things have changed! I now drive a 2004 Dodge SRT-4, a turbocharged 4 cylinder, that will run on crap gas, start everyday (even run thru water), get 30 + miles per gallon........and run high 13's to low 14's on the strip. It's a fun car to drive (even tho I'm not a front wheel drive lover), but there's just something missing. That thump; the way the car shudders as it idles; I don't know. I guess there was an "animal" aspect to cars back then that's missing today. I love my little SRT; but I'd give a body part to have my old Ramcharger back.

automotive breath 08-19-2008 05:55 PM

Here's a link to some interesting information about Muscle Cars

"too "high-strung" for the street was Chryslerís small-volume-production 1965
drag racer, the 550 bhp (410 kW) Plymouth Satellite 426 Hemi. Although the
detuned 1966 version (the factory rating underestimated it at 425 bhp (317
kW) ) has been criticized for poor brakes and cornering, Car and Driver
described it as "the best combination of brute performance and tractable
street manners we've ever driven." The car's understated appearance belied
its "ultra-supercar" performance: it could run a 13.8-second quarter mile at
104 mph (167 km/h). Base price was $3,850."

"Chevrolet likewise eschewed flamboyant stripes and badges for their 1969
Chevelle COPO 427 and kept its appearance low-key. The car could run a 13.3
sec. quarter-mile at 108 mph (174 km/h). Chevrolet rated the engine at 425 hp"

"The 340 CID (5.6 L)-powered 1970 Plymouth Duster was one of these smaller,
more affordable cars. Based on the compact-sized Plymouth Valiant and priced
at US$2,547, the 340 Duster posted a 6.0-second 0-60 mph (97 km/h) time
and ran the quarter mile in 14.7 seconds at 94.3 mph (151.8 km/h)."

F&J 08-19-2008 06:11 PM

Dalesy; right around the same time when you posted about the Belvedere....a 64 2 dr ht went past my house. Jacked up a little in the rear, chrome wheels, nice pipes and apparently some good gears. :D

perhaps a message from the past :D

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