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Vintage Road Tests: When good was just terrible.

Posted in Car Reviews, Classic, Collector Cars, Dodge, Domestic Review, General by MrAngry | February 18th, 2010 | 2 Responses |

Vintage muscle cars have a reputation for being the biggest and baddest automobiles to have ever been produced. Names like Charger, GTO and Shelby conjure up visions of tire smoke and hooliganism. Factory lift-off hoods, shakers and air-grabbers were options that were so outrageous that today’s automakers would never even think of offering them, and let us not forget the stories. Mention the word HEMI and it brings up visions of an engine that had almost mystical powers. The real question is, what were they really like and did they live up to all the stories that have been told about them over the years.

Finding old car reviews used to be a nightmare. If you were interested you’d have to spend hours at the library (remember those) looking through card catalogs to find the one issue with your car in it. Then upon finding it, you’d have to hope the pages weren’t tore out. It was an arduous process that only paid off about 50% of the time. Finding information today is generally not more than a two step process. Step one is to go to Google and step 2 is to go wherever Google tells you to go – it really is that simply.

While rummaging through the endless content of Youtube I came across some wonderful vintage car reviews from the 60’s that are narrated by Bud Lindemann. Watching them is like taking a step back in time. The road tests and driving challenges are actually quite similar, but look at the performance figures and understand that what was good then would be atrocious by today’s standards. It’s like the old saying goes: “The older I get, the better I was”.

Notice things like body roll, braking and acceleration and listen carefully to the narrators comments. These cars were considered to be cutting edge back then, with the latest and greatest in automotive technology. Keep in mind there were no computers, no traction control or anti-lock brakes. Airbags were non-existent as were standardized shoulder belts and most cars still came equipped with drum brakes. The one thing the cars of yesteryear did have however was style and watching these guys throw them around when they were new is a real treat. So now, sit back, relax and enjoy because these videos are a hoot to watch.

• 1969 Charger 500 – 426 Hemi

So here it is, the big gun – a 1969 Dodge Charger 500 with a 426 HEMI. I’m not going to reveal the 0-60 and 1/4 mile numbers to you because I want you to watch the video. I think however that you may be somewhat surprised when you see the results.

• 1969 Plymouth GTX 440

Note to self: Remember the phrase “GIT-X” & “4000 lb. bomb”. The GTX, like the Charger falls into the B-Body class of cars produced by Dodge and Plymouth from 1962-1979. They were considered to be intermediate level sedans and coupes that shared similar platforms, parts and marketing strategies.

• 1971 Dodge Challenger 383

This is great, I think they did about 20 burnouts in this video! They really beat the crap our of this Challenger, which is great because it’s a true testament to how tough these old sleds really were.

• 1971 Dodge Charger SE

“Crank it up! Cause’ its’a happening!” This stuff is just priceless. For 1971 the Dodge Charger was completely restyled. Gone was the famed coke-bottle shape that made the 1968-1970 models so iconic. ’71 brought about a much more refined automobile, interior trim packages where improved as where the mechanics. Keep in mind also, that by 1971 high insurance premiums and fuel prices began to negatively impact all muscle cars.

• 1968 Ford Shelby Mustang KR

This is vintage Shelby when they actually made automobiles. Check out the interior, which for it’s day was actually quite luxurious and not something you’d think about when thinking about anything from Shelby. This also has to be one of the only cars ever produced with drop down racing harnesses for restraints… this was cool for back in the day.

• 1969 Ford LTD

The great thing about this review is that I think its the only place on earth where you are actually going to see someone beat the ever-lovin’ snot out of a Ford LTD of any year.

• 1971 Oldsmobile Delta 88

I remember a teacher of mine in the mid-1980’s had one of these bad boys. They were big, ungainly and unfortunately looked just like the one in the video. It did hit 0-60 in just a tick over 8 seconds though, so it’s not all bad.

• 1973 Buick GS455

It’s 1973 and the muscle car market is all but dead. Buick however rolls out one last ditch effort for the general public to grab onto, the Gran Sport 455. Not only is this a rare car by today’s standards, but to actually see one in action is a total treat. This video also has one of the best quotes in all of motoring: “This is as close to a super car as anything we’ve had since breathing clean air became popular.” I want a bumper sticker that says that.

• 1971 Oldsmobile 442 W-30

This video of the Oldsmobile is actually quite interesting as I can’t remember the last time I saw a road test being done with a convertible. I was looking at body roll and chassis flex through the cones and the big Olds. was actually quite composed. Impressive for a big drop top.

• 1969 AMX

The AMX was a short wheelbase two seater from American Motors. It was light (3000 lbs.) and pretty quick with 315 hp. That’s really not a bad power to weight ratio considering it did 0-60 in under 7 seconds. AMX’s are cool little cars but not too popular which is a shame because the more time goes by the less likely we are to see them on the road.

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2 Responses

  1. J Montana says:

    These used to be on Speedvision (before Speed TV) early morning… and they were awesome. They even included vintage commercials– great programming!

  2. Muhammed Tyrone Goldstein Jr says:

    I looked at all these vintage videos, I have actually seen them before. I was also an owner of one of these vintage beasts being a 69 Ply RoadRunner. One thing that must be told is don’t let the performance numbers fool you. These cars performed much better than the numbers actually show. The down side to theses numbers are the tires used, the rubber compound the tread patterns can know where compete with todays tires. 2 or 3 seconds was lost just coming off the line from unwanted wheel spin. If you look at todays performance cars they have no where near that much off the line wheel spin. The vintage 0-60 and 1/4 mile time would be drastically reduced with a set of modern tires.