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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

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