Wednesday, June 7, 2023

Wayback Wednesday: Muscle Cars of the 1970s

Wayback Wednesday: 
Muscle Cars of the 1970s

Pixabay/Peter Benoit
Every one of my older brother’s friends owned a “muscle car” in high school, and it’s interesting to remember that none of them was the same. Each guy had his preference. So, what are muscle cars and how did they come about?

Pontiac was the first to coin the phrase “muscle car” in the 1960s as a descriptor for their GTO (often referred to as the “goat” by car enthusiasts). It wasn’t long before the moniker took hold to describe any souped-up vehicle. Ford and other manufacturers (as well as Pontiac’s parent company General Motors) jumped into the market with their own versions.

There doesn’t seem to be a precise definition of what qualifies as a muscle are, but the general agreement is that an American-made vehicle intermediately sized, featuring a coupe-style body, and powerful V8 engine. The most important component was the engine, with every manufacturer working to increase cubic inches (more cubic inches means a bigger engine, which means it can generate more horsepower).

According to one site, the appeal of the cars was that they offered the opportunity to own an
affordable, yet robust vehicle that could be used for drag racing. Some of the early cars included the Ford Mustang, Chevrolet Camaro, Plymouth Barracuda, Pontiac Trans-Am, and Dodge Charger.

Interestingly, the first “official” muscle car, the Oldsmobile Rocket 88, came out in 1949, combining a lightweight body with a high-compression overhead valve V8. However, according to several sources, the origins hearken back to the 1920s when moonshiners and bootleggers modified their cars because “they needed the fastest possible vehicles to outrun police cars while improving their cargo capacity and handling.”

Prohibition was long gone by the 1940s, but the former bootleggers had developed a taste for fast cars, and began to compete with each other using drag strips in the 1950s. After the Rocket 88 came the Chrysler C-300 in 1955 with a 331-cubic-inch engine that put out 300 horsepower. Studebaker followed with its Golden Hawk, and AMC produced the Rambler Rebel in 1957.

The golden age of muscle cars that most historians agree began in the early 1960s fizzled after the U.S. oil crisis and change in federal regulations occurred in 1974. The available technology didn’t allow them to produce the big-block engines and meet federal emissions regulations seeing an end to these iconic vehicles.


Dial S for Second Chances

Can years of hurt and misunderstanding be transformed into a second chance at love?

Jade Williams agrees to be on the high school reunion committee because the-one-that-got-away is out of the country and won’t be home in time to attend the festivities. Now, he’s not only home, but joined the committee. Is it too late to back out or can she set aside forty-five years of regret and pretend she isn’t to blame for her broken heart?

One of the downsides of being rich means fielding requests for money and favors. But when an old high school buddy contacts Derek Milligan to be on the reunion committee as just one of the gang, no strings attached, he can’t resist. At the first meeting, he’s dismayed to find himself sitting next to his former high school sweetheart. He should be angry. Instead, he’s attracted. Can he risk his heart a second time?

Reunion festivities include calling into to WDES’s program No Errin’ for Love with fake relationship problems. When both use their real situation, the stakes are raised higher than either imagined.

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