The Heavy Horsepower Page

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This page will feature some actual pictures and some historical ones of my brother and my cars. Some are pictures of "works in progress" and others of the original car. One might consider them "before and after pictures."

Except for "daily drivers," I largely confine my interest in cars to the glory days of horsepower, i.e. 1960-1970. This era includes the very last Edsels, the entire life cycle of the Corvair, a DeSoto, the glorious Studebaker Hawk, and the Chrysler turbine car (floor it, growled Huebner) with four, count 'em four major manufacturers. It's hard to think of cars more beautiful than the 60s Lincoln Continental, the original Toronado, almost all of the Ford Thunderbirds, the boattail 'Riv, or the 73 Charger SE.

I rather like Europeans cars of the same time period. This was back when men were men, Healey were Austins, Royces were regal, and MGs leaked oil all over the (bloody) tarmac. However, a big 'Caddy still was twice as expensive as a Mercedes, and size really mattered.

For Japanese cars, though I like some of their early American rip-offs, like my own "Baby Mustang" Toyota Celica GT, and their British rip-offs, like the Datsun 1600 anti-Healey, I consider their golden era to be from say 1975-1992, so they're an exception to this rule. Remember when there were 8 independent Japanese manufacturers (not owned by foreigners or badge engineered) and each put out its own sports or GT cars? Even Subura had a funky flat six sports car.

A vaguely, but culturally aware, tune

since these cars are long and low.


Remember when American Motors used to make a two-seater? Remember American Motors? Hey, I actually worked part time for these folks looong ago.

Anyway, back in the day (1967-1970), American Motors made a chopped up version of their anti-Mustang, the Javelin. My brother bought one, equipped with AMC's biggest small block, the 390 or 401 V8. So equipped a hard-pressed AMC owner might blow away a comparably equipped Corvette...or think about it anyway while contemplating his savings by shopping off-brand.

The color scheme made this marque obvious.

The Chrysler 300, Letter and Non-Letter

I'm always amazed that Chrysler made as many 300s as they did. When I look at the sales figures, I have to figure they lost money on every one they made. What price prestige.

The orignal 300 referred to its horsepower and sold back in the 1950s. Each year Chrysler gave it a new letter, i.e., A, B, C, etc.. so that each became exclusive. All of them used big, big V8s and needed it to haul along two-ton bodies. You always got the latest high-powered horsepower combinations under the hood. My personal favorite is the "long ram" which featured air injections that used enough air intake space to run a Hoover factory. You could even get them with dual quad carberators (forget about fuel injection). The whole object was not to sell to a Ferrari buyer but rather to a company president type. They use this car as an icon in the movie "Quiz Show."

Evenually, Chrysler started cheapened the series by making a "non-letter" series and even discontinued the letter series. These latter day 300s, while not so exclusive, and some of the best styling, which was not really a forte of some of the early letter cars.

Both cars below belong to my brother.

Powerful, but not a stylic icon

A 1970 non-letter series shows a better look.

A rear view of the earlier car

Check out this spacious interior.

A profile of power.

In the Auto Graveyard.

A sales brochure for the '70 emphasizes its dimensions.

You could park an MG in that trunk.

A chain? With 440 cubes you need something to hold it in place!

Another sixties era car.

The Dodge Charger

Chrysler often made good cars, always made fast cars, but seldom really made original cars. I would classify the Charger and the 300 as notable exceptions. Chrysler pioneered the concept of a kind of hot rod luxury car with the 300. With the Charger it extended that concept to that of a massive coupe. One can consider Ford's beautiful fastback Torinos, in this case, as almost exceptions in that they copied Dodge and not the reverse.

The big Dodge Charger 68-73 grew out of an uglier, if potent, 67 fastback exercise. These cars may've torn up the track, but boy, only a little old lady from Pasadena would like their looks. The next two generation Chargers, in distinct contrast, probably stand beside any Chrysler products as distinctly beautiful (even if less aerodynamic) with a really nice front-to-back symetry. Watch this car in "Bullit" and see if you don't cry when it blows up.

Later editions of the Charger split the personality of the car a bit, with SE cars going the personal luxury direction of the Ford Thunderbird and RTs going in the track racer direction. The dedicated, stylish enthusiast, of course, could put both packages together.

Check out this 72SE edition. Some perverse sorts would order a small block under the hood, but really men always ordered at least a 383.

Check out these classic lines.

The Edsel

An Edsel? Well, why not. If critics can rescue the '59 Cadillac, why not the Edsel. Technically, the Edsel comes before the time period of my interest, except for the last one, but hey, let's take a look.

The critics trashed the Edsel the year it came out ('58) and Ford spent the next two years just using up the parts. The Edsel borrowed 'Merc bodies for the big cars and Fords for the small ones. Early quality problems, possibly from having to make Edsels on other cars' lines, supposedly didn't help, nor did a recession in 1958, which also doomed the domed DeSoto. However, by ordering the right combination, big motor with smaller body could make the Edsel quite peppy. As for the styling, well, no one liked the '59 Caddy either.

A hood scoop and a growling grille.

A '60 looks a lot less interesting. One might call this the "get them out the door and cut losses on the tooling" look.

The Plymouth Barracuda

Like the big Charger, the Barracuda grew out of a styling exercise. In the 'Cuda's case, the original started out as a variation on the compact Valiant. However, it came out about the same time as the Mustang and became its competitor. Unlike the Mustang, early on Plymouth gave the full horsepower treatment to the Barracuda.

Whereas the Mustang became, almost accidentally, a big block "sports car," Chyrsler designed its second generation Cuda, 70-73 as a performance car from the outset. This paid off in giving the 'Cuda a big engine bay able to hold everything up to and including the mighty Street Hemi.

Some enthusiasts prefer (especially Hemi-powered) the early 70 and 71 'Cuda with its aggressive row of fish teeth. My own car, the '73, featured a more subdued and arguably more beautiful single "snout." My car has a four-barrel 340 from 73, considered by many the "end of the line" though the 'Cuda limped, like a beached fish, through the 1974.

After that Plymouth, with one or two respites, became almost exclusively a seller of cheap compact cars. This one has it's own song.

Heart's "Barracuda"

a showroom model

My slightly more driven model

This really is the best view of the car.

The Plymouth GTX

Why would Plymouth ever try to sell an up market hot rod car? Plymouth always competed with Ford and Chevy, not with Buick or Olds, so it makes sense that Plymouth would make a car like the Road Runner, a cheap, performance special. Logically, Chrysler or even Dodge (or defunct De Soto) would make the upmarket machine.

However...Plymouth's GTX actually came out first and competed with Pontiac's GTX as an up-market mid-size performance car. It came with the full plethora of engines, a luxury interior, etc..but with a hard-core performance edge. After all, you could only order it with either a big 440 engine a street Hemi.

Apparently the buyers didn't much follow Chryler Corporation's logic either, buying Dodge Chargers or the budget version, the Plymouth Road Runner, in much greater numbers, so that the GTX eventually became a variant on the Road Runner.

Since no one bought this car in any numbers, ironically, it has become just as exclusive as the Chrysler 300 letter series. In fact, I think you can classify the GTX as one of those rare American cars that more modellers have built in plastic than the manufacturers built in iron.

My brother's keeping this one "under wraps." Huh huh huh

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