History of the Marques - Muscle Cars
MUSCLE CARS and CLASSIC CARS
most cars with only the lighter weight being the difference.
But I tend to believe that in the Classic car era there was a much
greater chasm between the top line cars and their manufacturers and
all the other cars on the road simply because of the rapid advance
of technology for the times. Innovation and development is costly
and takes a while to become available to the masses. The late thirties
was the height of the Classic car era and the car that best epitomizes
it is the 310 Cord. It had front drive which did not become universal
until the 80s and unibody construction which is well utilized today.
It also had hidden headlights, used an early form of plastics for
its interior knobs and had styling to knock your soxs off. Some of
the innovations were incorporated to cut production costs. By the
late fifties the important engineering developments could be found
on almost every car.
It has often been said that the greatest improvement in the overall
handling of automobiles has come from tire development. I think that
the greatest changes occurred in the sixties and seventies with the
switch from bias ply to radial construction and with a greater understanding
of tire compounds and road adhesion in wet or dry. So performance
and handling was limited for all cars in the sixties. Anyone who has
driven a high performance sixties vehicle with Firestone Wide Ovals
can attest to the poor handling characteristics with these tires.
By the end of that decade most cars were coming equipped with radial
tires and as it happened this coincided with the beginning of the
end of the Muscle Car era in part due to safety and emissions standards
imposed by the Federal Government.
With bias ply tires prominent during the muscle car era it hardly
behooved the auto makers to market handling as a plus in the cars
they were selling. In fact these same manufacturers were reluctant
to make the change over to radials. It is no wonder that straight
line acceleration was king and road holding ability was something
that only European car owners bragged about their cars having. One
would hardly attempt to race an Austin Healy, Alfa Romeo or Porsche
911 against a big block Muscle Car from streetlight to streetlight.
There was no incentive to engineer handling in the American cars.
There is a glamour and nostalgia for the muscle car era as well there
should be and because of rarity some of these cars are worth holding
on to and should retain their