87 Monte SS - library

Now for some non-greasy entertainment.


Not every car enthusiast collects car magazines, but I've been doing just that since before I got my learner's permit.  I was fascinated with the cars of the 1960's & 70's, having grown up during those decades; regrettably though, I was just a bit too young to fully appreciate these marvelous machines.  So, I haunted garage sales, yard sales and flea markets, spending my allowance on boxes of magazines from a bygone era.

Now, for the first time, I'm sharing a portion of what I've collected over the years with the world.  Why?  Well, first and foremost, I think these might be of interest to my visitors.  Secondly, I've come to realize that print media tends to become increasingly fragile as time marches on.  I had never even considered this before.  It has become obvious that if I want to re-read these in my "golden years" (assuming I survive that long) I'd better do something before all these resources crumble into dust.

When these magazines were printed, they were never intended to last 30 years or so.  Secondly (and more importantly), I think some enthusiasts might be interested in how their favorite marques were judged against the competition, by the journalists of the day. In an effort to archive my collection, I've undertaken the massive task of scanning, consolidating and retouching most (eventually all) of my magazine collection.  Between oily thumbprints, ink bleeding and ancient mailing labels, through torn and missing pages, this process (as imperfect as it no doubt is) is painstaking.  To that end I am somewhat limited in the quality of documents I can upload to this site.  The full size documents included herein are only a fraction of their full size archival versions.

Bandwidth is expensive, so I can only share documents large enough to be legible not full the full size ones I am archiving.  Even with these limitations, I hope visitors won't be too disappointed by the quality of my documents.

Ah, the 1987 aerocoupe.  Created primarily to make the body style more competative on the NASCAR circuit (Nascar rules dictate that a minimum number of cars to be built to be considered a production car), I just didn't care for the look, so I went for the notchback coupe instead.

Interestingly enough, there was a Pontiac Grand Prix version of the fastback treatment called the 2+2, also for the NASCAR boys.  Unfortunately, the street version of the GP fastback had little more than a mailslot to access the trunk area and a snout only a mother could love.

The main difference between these corporate cousins?  Chevy started with a street car and modified it.  Pontiac took the much less refined racing body from the wind tunnel and modified it for street use.  Thus the Chevy was more user friendly while the Pontiac was... well... different to say the least.

It wasn't a bad way to freshen the car and GM hedged their bets by keeping the notchback coupe in production.  Although the new body reduced the drag coefficient, that was the only difference, powertrain and suspension pieces were identical between both body styles.

Here's an advertisement for the 1984 version of the Monte SS.  At this point, I was still in college and had a year to go until graduation.  I hadn't yet decided upon purchasing one of these as I was still struggling to keep my '76 Grand Prix on the road.

First I replaced the engine (with a junkyard 455 that I had to do a one-holer on) and shortly after that, the transmission let go and had to be rebuilt.

I was running Dad's cast off '71 Dodge Polara while I saved up the 600 bucks I needed to take my car to the transmission shop.  I wouldn't unload it until the summer of 1986.

Ya gotta love the wording "Lowered in five full liters of brute V8 force, rolling out its power through dual exhausts."  Wow... no kidding... honest injun?  Five full liters huh?  A real step down from my 6.6 liter GTO, not to mention my 7.5 liter Grand Prix.

"Brute V8 force?"  With only 180 horsepower on tap I couldn't even break the tires loose on dry pavement unless I power-braked the thing.  In it's favor though, it looked the part and more or less (mostly less) sounded the part.  My resto-mod will fix that though, how about a real 350 cubic inch plant with 360 horsepower?  If I can duplicate the horsepower and torque ratings of my old G.T.O. (or at least come close) then she'll have some brawn to back up the image.

You may notice a slight gap between different eras of mid-sized performance cars in my advertisement collection.  The explanation is quite simple, there was nothing worthwhile (outside of the Camaro & Firebird F-bodies), to get even remotely excited about in the early '80's.

I "tried on" a Z-28 Camaro when I began shopping for the SS and came to a quick conslusion.  The F-bodies were just too tight a fit for me.

Anyway...here's a rare bird from the late 1970's.  I was a high school freshman when this car rolled off the assembly line.

In the early 80's (as I attended Mercer County Community College), there was a nice one running around the Trenton area of NJ.  I only hope it somehow beat the odds of the rust-belt and somehow survived.

More recently (2009), I found one on Craig's List in Oregon.  It was almost too far gone to make even a decent parts car.  Perhaps one day I'll find an example to call my own.

Ah, the 1976 Pontiac Bonneville Brougham. Granted it was a bloated luxo-barge by this time (and the one I piloted was dark maroon with the white "Landau" top) but with a 400 CID engine under the hood, she could still move out smartly.  Besides, this was the first car I got laid in, so it makes my top 10 list for that little factoid alone.

In actuality, this was the last year for this body style, the '77 version having succumbed to GM's mandated "downsizing" program.  Too bad the NJ road salt claimed her before her time.  My Dad eventually sold it to a buddy of mine who wanted the drivetrain.  Now that the venerable Pontiac nameplate has gone into the history books, I might find another one some day.

My addiction you see, is a simple one.  I lust after many different vehicles with many different virtues.  The only problem is I'm a working stiff with little money and no garage.  Just a frustrated Jay Leno wanna be I guess.

From 1972 to 1973 the Charger performance model became the Rallye, still available with a (albeit optional and detuned) 440 cubic inch plant, putting out a rather weak-kneed (compared to previous years) 280 (net) horsepower with a single four-barrel carburetor.  Of course the venerable 318 was the base engine for the Rallye model.

1971 would be the final curtain call for the first generation of muscle cars.  Chrysler continued to stand on the gas until '72, while GM dropped compression ratios (anticipating unleaded fuel requirements looming in the distance) across the board for 1971.

For the Mopar faithful, 1971 was the end of the line for the R/T package, the infamous 426 hemi as well as stump-pulling axles and multiple carb setups.

With fuel rationing the new reality, nobody wanted to wait in line for a few precious gallons, let alone have to repeat the process later in the week.

By 1975 (a mere two years after this model was built), the Charger became unrecognizable, a clone of the Chrysler Cordoba personal luxury coupe.  A smog-choked 318 and automatic transmission were standard.

The Duster 340 (once a high-winding high-compression wonder), by 1973 was a mere shadow of its former self.  Just a few years later in fact the Duster would be re-christened the Duster 360.  The increase in displacement was offset by the fact that it was a low compression smog motor that slowed the car considerably.

What had made the original 340 so great was the power and torque it produced without the weight penalty of a big block.  If you wanted to wrinkle the tarmac, you chose a 383, 440 or (if you had really deep pockets), the 426 street hemi.

With the 340, your Challenger, 'Cuda or Duster could really haul and handle.  I almost ended up with a 340 'Cuda, because a guy wanted to trade me for the living room on wheels Chrysler Imperial I had for sale.  Too bad the guy turned out to be a BS artist supreme.

He checked out my car and invited me over to check out his.  His needed a throwout bearing and some other odds and ends.  He felt his car was better and wanted me to throw in $350 bucks.  Reluctantly, I said okay and when I called him back he thought he'd rather just sell his car.  Gee... you mean just like I was?  What a jack-hole!  This (as well as the inevitable no-shows) is all part of the fun of selling your own car.

If you're wondering why I threw this ad into the mix, the reason is simple.  In creating a unique car, I'd really like some unique wheels to set it off.  I've been aware of these ever since I started collecting old car magazines in the '70's.

The flaws in using vintage wheels like these are multi-faceted.  First of all they're out of production, so short of swap meets or eBay, good luck finding them.  Then, try to find the right diamater, offset and bolt pattern and the hurdles really start stacking up.

Then, take into account I'll probably want to lower my SS and modify the suspension and brakes, finding a usable set of these really turns into a pipe dream.  I have seen a few sets of these on eBay, but they were either the wrong size or for the wrong make of vehicle.

I do have a set of vintage Ansen Sprint slotted mags that I may use for and old-school hot rod look.  But the two rears are 8 inches wide while the fronts are 7.5 inches.  The big'n little look isn't exactly the best for handling, so the jury is still out on wheel selection.

Here's a rather poignant ad from '73.  Pontiac created this heritage ad to promote their new baby, the Grand Am.  By this point in time, the handwriting was on the wall for the Great One.  Now, the GTO wasn't even advertised, having been reduced to an option package for the LeMans in 1972.

Interestingly, the rubber nose on the Grand Am had originally been developed for the goat.  However an 11th hour change by GM management placed all their bets on the new Grand Am.  Loosing its signature rubber bumper, in conjunction with the demise of the SD-455 engine program basically sealed the fate of the GTO.  Its swan song would be one year later.

An acquaintence of a friend had one of these back in the early 1980's.  The guy had an ego that wouldn't quit and when it came to cars and working on them... well, let's just say he was a dick and leave it at that.

The car though was really sharp.  As I recall, his was dark green with a saddle colored interior.  He'd pulled out all the stops performance wise, Holley carb, headers, glass-packs, the works.

I never ran against him though.  At the time I had my Road Runner "clone" equipped with a 360 two-barrel (it was a Holley though) and was no match for his 429 brute.  He knew it and kept goading me, but I never took the bait.  He died sometime in the '90's.  No great loss to society.

One of the things I miss about these (admitedly huge by today's standards), 2-door performance coupes was they fit.  A guy who was 6 foot 2 could climb in and have plenty of head room and leg room.  Today's "full size" cars do not fit me.  That's why I'm restoring my Monte, it fits, I own it, so why not build it up to its former glory once more?  It'll be a true performance car when I'm finished with it.

Ah, now here we have one of AMC's better efforts.  You got relatively mundane (though clean), styling, on a compact chassis with a performance engine and suspension.  Now, those under 30 had something they could afford to insure that still had plenty of scat.

Unfortunately, since AMC didn't produce many of these in the first place, those left have gotten pricey, particularly by those who know what they have.  Of course parts may be hard to come by outside of clubs, but if you want something different, AMC sure made lots to choose from.

Now for a quick grammar lesson.  Muscle cars were not money squeezing by any stretch of the imagination, they did squeeze your wallet though, both by the initial purchase price and the upkeep.  More importantly they were being strangled by the insurance industry... not strangling the insurance industry.  Maybe this is why AMC is no longer around.

In retrospect, there were only two families on the street where I grew up who actually owned AMC vehicles.  Not very many people bought them new... probably explains why I never ran across a used one once I got my license.

This is a '71 model, whose basic shell would carry through until 1974.  By that time the Arab Oil Embargo had sounded the death knell for both the muscle car and pony car markets.  By this point, virtually any car with a big, thirsty V-8 was living on borrowed time.  Redesigning the front end to incorporate government mandated 5-mph bumpers would have been cost prohibitive as well.

Road tests of the day complained about the flimsy, cheap materials used inside.  What I remember most was the weird curved dashboard, for wraparound "cockpit" efficiency.  If you wanted to be different just for the sake of being different, AMC had just what you were looking for.

Perhaps this was a ploy on their part to entice buyers into their showrooms.  You have to love the "borrowed" styling cues here and there, like the Corvette front fenders or the Trans Am rear spoiler.

This is another oddball that I haven't seen at any car shows or swap meets, let alone on the highways.  I'm not sure about their reliability or their resistance to the tin-worm, particularly in the northern climes.  Perhaps both of those factors dictate the survival rate of these uniquely American rides.

Wow!  Now this is what I call a voluptuous bod.  Clearly Chrysler pulled out all the stops when they redesigned their '71 lineup.  This is the same basic car that my best friend had when he and I attended Mercer County Community College together.

The only difference was he had a Satellite (same exact body style), with a 440 Magnum V-8.  His was really sharp, brown metallic paint with a black vinyl roof and a Road Runner hood, steering wheel and the impossible to find "beep-beep" horn.

One of the guys I grew up with, who lived just down the street had one of these.  The only differences were that his was an SS with the RS package (featuring the really cool "bumperettes" and driving-light-style turn signals), and his was a dark metallic green with white stripes.

The reason he bought it was the fact that it was powered by one of the original LT-1 350 cubic inch V-8's.  This was in either '78 or '79 and by this time I was still running around in my '69 Impala with the (pseudo) Starsky & Hutch paint job.

One of the more foolish things I've done was to race him one day on the way home from high school.  I'm not sure how fast we were goint but we were well north of the federally mandated 55 MPH speedlimit of the day.  This, running down Rt-1, one of the main arteries running through New Jersey.

I pulled in his driveway afterwards (his car tick, tick, ticking as it cooled), asking if his engine was alright... since my windshield was speckled with oil droplets after he passed me.  Today, Rt 1 is 3 lanes wide and frequently gridlocked.

Wow!  Another Chrysler masterpiece.  I really can't decide what's weirder on this one.  The crazy double-hoop bumper or the retina-scorching shade of electric lime green.  You'd sure get noticed, but not necessarily for your good taste.

This was the kind of design that could only come on the heels of the psychadelic era.  But as wild a ride as it is, I'd still take it over one of the modern era of the "squashed jellybean" school of car design.

I've always had a soft spot in my heart for the early Mustangs.  I really like the early 1964 1/2 - 1966 first generation cars the best.  My next-door neighbor back in NJ collected them and his pride and joy was a '66 GT that was sort of a mettalic copper color with a parchment top (it was a convertible), and the Pony interior.

The reason for including this one is (once again), a guy who went to our high school had one.  He was two years ahead of me, so we didn't move in the same circles.  He always seemed to be working on it, or waxing it when the school bus I rode with his sisters dropped them off.  His was a Boss 302 though, not a Mach I but the color was the same.

I was never really a Ford guy.  No reason in particular, I just went for the cars I liked best in all the car magazines I read.  Maybe it's because my Dad worked for GM and drove all GM vehicles through the years.  I did own a Ford pickup and it served me just fine.

Maybe it was me coming of age during the Malaise era (low/no performance, huge, heavy, federally mandated bumpers) of the mid '70's when the Mustang was a compact car/slug.  But those early models... one of those I wouldn't mind adding to my "dream garage."

From all the ads I've found, GM spared little expense in promoting their new F-Bodied Firebird lineup.  A buddy of mine who lived up the street had a '71 Formula 455.  Metallic copper with parchment interior and vinyl roof.  Gorgeous and wickedly fast.

There was no way I could leave out the pinacle of the Buick muscle car mountain.  Buick had been building their Skylark GS for years, but (like most of the other auto manufacturers) 1970 was the year everything coalesced.

1970 was the year GM finally repealed its edict of no engine larger than 400 cubic inches in an intermediate body style.  Buick stepped up to the plate with their venerable 455.  If you had the cash, you could step up to their Stage-1 or Stage-2 engine options, each one hotter than the one that preceded it.

Thanks to a UAW strike, the 1972 updates were delayed by a year.  This meant that you could still purchase the same basic body style up through 1972.  The magnificent engines however, were gradually emasculated each year as the increasingly stringent pollution equipment and unleaded fuel requirements took their toll.

Actually, the new 1973 colonade styling wasn't all that bad as far as the Buick GS was concerned.  I saw a black one at a car show and it looked positively sinister... kind of like stuffing a body builder into an Armani suit.

Man, back in the day Mother Mopar really kept cranking them out!  The loop bumper swept through all the Chryco divisions in 1970.  Of course you had to have a psychedelic paint job to go with it.  Definitely not your first choice for a getaway car.

This was the kind of design that could only come the "engineering" car company.  I drove a hand-me-down '71 Dodge Polara back in the '80's and it had it's own version of the infamous loop bumper.

I've always liked the first (and what I feel is the most cleanly styled) few years of the second generation of Firebird.  A friend who lived up the street had the Formula 455 model, a 1971 or '72 if memory serves.  Used to drive by on his way to work each morning as I waited for my high school bus.

It was real pretty too.  Copper metalic paint with a parchment vinyl roof and interior.  He had American Racing wheels on it and side pipes.

He didn't have it long though.  He told me the reason he sold it was, if he racked up one more speeding ticket he'd have lost his license.   But what a pretty ride.

Although I probably didn't have enough cash at the time, I sure wish I'd known he was going to sell it, of course my Dad probably would have nixed the idea anyway.

Of course I may one day get to wrench on one of these.  My better half is quite enamoured with the "Smokey & The Bandit" or "Batmobile" version of the F-Body.  I'll probably look for a '78 because of the 220hp engine they came out with that year.

Ah, the very first year of the Pontiac Trans Am.  Hard to believe they only slapped about 700 of these babies together in 1969.  Talk about rare and collectable, yet back in the early 80's a friend I attended college with, used a well-worn version as his daily driver!

He knew the car was special though.  In the winter months, when the weather was bad he used to drive a late 60's Olds Cutlass wagon... those were the days.

What the... another ad for Motor Wheels?  What gives?  Uh, well let's see now... look, if I have to explain this to you...  Let me put it this way, I really like what the designer pulled off here.  Feel free to interpret that any way you wish.

As near as I can tell, the company that made these wheels made it into the early 1970's.  By 1975, I could no longer find any ads for these in my vast collection of magazines from back then.

That's one of the main reasons I was interested in getting some slotted mags to give me the retro look I want.  They're the closest thing I've found to the Spyder so far.

I'll keep looking around for a set (at least as long as my build in in its early stages), but I really think they've gone the way of the F 60-15 tires shown in the ad.

Who knows?  Maybe when I least expect it I'll find a set at a swap meet or on eBay.  For a while, eBay used to be a great resource, but once they enacted their "all Pay Pal or nothing" payment policy I haven't shopped there.  Bummer.

The primary reason I included this was because I wanted to mimic the original striping scheme if I decided to use a cowl-induction hood.

I had been toying with the idea of a red car with white stripes, but when I dug up photos of my old Starsky & Hutch tribute Chevy, the red and white idea became less and less apealing.  The car selected for the build is blue with blue window tint, so I may keep the blue and add a contrasting single center stripe for the hood and trunk lid.

I really wanted a hood like the 1970 Chevelle SS had with the vaccuum operated flapper door.  The only problem with that idea was procuring (and cutting up) an original or repro hood and then mating it to the stock SS hood.

However, thanks to my vast collection of automobile related periodicals, I discovered the '70 Chevelle SS hood was among the least efficient of the cold-air packages available back then.  Since I want functionality and cool looks I eventually decided not to go with this type of hood.

The 1969 GTO Judge.  Created originaly to compete with the likes of the Road Runner, this was initially conceived to be a "stripper" version of the GTO.  Instead, it developed into a flashy top-of-the-heap GTO model.  Just look at the way the bumper flows smoothly into the design of the car... gorgeous!

There was performace, that much was certain.  However, the Judge, (named after a popular skit featuring Sammy Davis Jr. on a hot comedy show of the time called Laugh-In), was very much a product of the '60's.

When the decade of the '70's were ushered in, the popularity of both the show and the car both waned at a similar rate, although for vastly different reasons.  In a nutshell, increasing emmissions standards of the day slowly strangled performance.

Add to that the increasing cost of insuring muscle cars and the first Arab Oil Embargo and you had a perfect storm which resulted in the demise of cars such as the Judge.  But for a time, it was a hell of a ride.

You know, over the years I've developed a real fondness for some of American Motors unique creations.  The original AMX was a two-seater and was only made for a couple of years before being watered down into a Javelin option.

Growing up, the grandmother of a couple of the kids I paled around with drove one of these.  Hers was lime green and a rather tame version with hub caps and a black interior.  Even as a kid though, I knew it was something really different.

You have to admire how American Motors pulled out all the stops when attempting to compete with the big three.  The Marlin, The Machine, The Rebel, The Javelin, all were unique attempts to be competative in the performance market.

If you want one of these today, you'd better be prepared to pony up some serious cash.  Today even oddballs like these have a following and clubs devoted to preserving them.

These (along with RAC gauges), were popular in the early to mid 1970's, just about the time I got my licence.  No where near the popularity of, say a Sun Super Tach II, these were nonetheless good for a guy just starting out tinkering with cars on a low budget.

The reason I've included them here is that even when you were on a budget, gauges like these were a real improvement over stock "idiot lights."  The other thing to note was back then these were still made in the good ole' US of A.  Today of course, they'd be made in Mexico.

If I seem overly concerned about where things are made, well, I am.  I'd been considering modifying my dashboard to incorporate some Stewart Warner gauges just like the setup on the Buick Grand National GNX.  But I can't... or more to the point won't.  They're made in Mexico!

In order to get American made gauges today, I'll have to step up to Autometer or some of the niche companies that cater to the specialty builders like Boyd Coddington or Chip Foose.  The downside is the prices for such gauges are as astronomical as the custom cars these guys build.  You never know though, I may get lucky and score some Stewart Warner green lines at a swap meet, time will tell.

Here's an advertisement for the 1969 Camaro SS.  You'll notice the focus of this ad was what would later be generically referred to as a "cowl induction hood."

You see, that's one of the things that really bothered me about the Monte SS.  There was no special hood!  Nothing, nada, butkus, just a plain old ordinary run-of-the-mill flat hood.  Hell, even the Grand National had a "power bulge" hood to add to the mystique of the car.

So, one key focus of my rebuild will be to remedy this deficiency.  Originally, I had considered a cowl hood which is almost a direct copy of the design seen here.  But I like things that are different, so I'm toying with different ideas of how to develop my own custom hood.  The Monte Carlo SS website has several members who've taken different approaches so it's a great source of inspiration to me.

I know why they did it of course, it was a Chevy, bottom of the ladder so it was a good way to save some bucks.  But back in the heyday of the muscle car, some sort of special hood was practically mandatory.

Ah, the all-new (for 1968) Corvette Stingray.  This was the 3rd generation of Chevrolet's sports car based (in large part) upon the Mako Shark show car.

I remember my Uncle Ray working on his wife's version of this car as I was evolving into a full-blown gear head.  Uncle Ray and a friend were prepping the car for paint (using spot putty to fill various imperfections) before re-spraying it the original factory green.

I (like most red-blooded American males) have always lusted after a 'Vette of my own, but the older I get the less likely this dream approaches reality.  Oh well, ya gotta have aspirations right?  Just being in Uncle Ray's garage with this icon made a lasting impression. The cockpit positively radiated high performance and the stance (as it crouched there seemingly ready to pounce) was low and purposefull.

Actually, as much as I love the vintage versions, I think I'd prefer a more sophisticated performance car, maybe a nice example of the 4th generation (which debuted in 1993) seems like a more livable ride on a day-to-day basis.

Here's an advertisement for the 1968 Nova SS.  The 1968 models were fully redesigned with an extensive restyle on a longer 111-inch wheelbase that gave Chevy's compacts a chassis that was just one inch shorter than that of the midsize Chevelle coupe.  The station wagon and hardtop sport coupe were discontinued.

By this time the insurance industry had begun clamping down on the muscle car era.  Particularly if you were a guy and under 25 (assuming of course you managed to make it back from Viet Nam) and purchased a car on the insurance company's "hit list" they you got socked with a hefty surcharge buddy.  "Sock it to me" indeed.

Seeing the writing on the wall, most of the manufacturers began building baby bombs.  Small cars with an optional appearance package and optional engines to boot.  If you wanted the looks only, order it up with a small V8 if you wanted a little more grunt, all you had to do was go digging in the options list.  Eventually the insurance companies got wise and instituted a power to weight ratio formula rather than targeting specific models.  But by then the horsepower party was almost at an end.

Ah, another Goat.  By this time GM corporate had issued an edict to their advertising firm at the time, headed by the now legendary Jim Wangers.  No more smoking-tire ads to promote performance.  At the time Woodward Avenue in detroit was a mecca for cruising.

Thus it came to pass that the ad agency (knowing it had a winner in the GTO) had to get real cagey when it came to promoting a performance image the GTO's targeted demographic would dig.  While at the same time hoping to pull an end-run around the suits on the 11th floor at GM headquarters.

Ah, the Hemi.  Few words are more instantly recognizable in automotive annals than this legendary term.  Not counting the current iteration, Chrysler built two generations of "hemi" engines for their automobiles.  They capitalized on the technical highlight of the engine which was the hemispherical (i.e., dome-shaped) combustion chamber, angling and enlarging the valves, significantly improving the engine's breathing.

My Dad's '57 DeSoto Adventurer (complete with the push button transmission no less) had a 345, one of the first generation Hemi engines (called the FirePower)... in a four-door hardtop body style no less!  This was the car my Dad wanted to put a single exhaust system on because the twin pipes were too expensive!  Yeah, pretty unbelievable to this gear-head too.

When I came of age in the late '70's, the second generation (produced from '64-'71) of 'elephant' engines was already well beyond my reach price-wise.  Perhaps this was a good thing... I got into enough trouble with the GM 400's and 455's I drove over the years.  The only significant change to the 426 hemi came in 1970 with the addition of hydraulic lifters.

In 1968, the Chevelle got an all-new distinctly sculpted body with tapered front fenders and a rounded beltline.  The car adopted a long-hood/short-deck profile featuring new "coke bottle" styling.  Whereas the 1967 Chevelle rode a 115-inch wheelbase, the 1968 coupes and convertibles now rode a sporty 112-inch wheelbase.  The sedans and wagons however, used a longer 116-inch wheelbase.

Hardtop coupes featured a semi-fastback, flowing roofline.  The SS 396 featured GM's new hidden wiper system.  The scourge of all motorists who lived in the snow belt.  The SS 396 (coupe and convertible) became series on its own right.

Chevrolet produced 60,499 SS 396 hardtops but only 2,286 convertibles.  Modern hairstyles did not lend themselves well to open air motoring and convertible sales tumbled as people increasingly ordered air conditioning.

The Chevelle SS rode on F70x14 red-stripe tires and carried a standard 325-horsepower 396-cubic-inch Turbo-Jet V-8 engine below the special twin-domed hood.  However, 350 and 375 horsepower 396 engines could easily be substituted.  The SS 396 Sport Coupe started at $2,899 - or $236 more than a comparable Malibu with its 307-cubic-inch V-8.  All-vinyl bucket seats and a console were optional.

The Buick GS was drastically restyled for 1968, losing 3 inches of wheelbase and 4.4 inches of overall length.  Weight was up, due in part to massive rear end styling and sail creases along the sides.  Little brother GS 340's powerplant received an increase to 350 cubic inches but the 400 cubic inch unit stayed the same.

A very rare dealer-installed option was also introduced in 1968 called the "Stage 1 Special Package" and was a harbinger of great things to come.  It bolstered the 400 cid engine with a hotter cam, 11.0:1 compression, stronger valve springs and a reworked transmission.   Officially rated at a mere 345hp (or just a 5 hp increase over the base 400 cid engine) experts today believe that it was more like 390hp and it dropped the average 1/4 mile e.t. by 1 second if not more.

Now this is an interesting shot.  Featuring each of the 4 divisions intermediate muscle cars for 1968.  Back then I imagine you'd have to have been considerably well-off to afford such a stable.

Today you'd have to be Jay Leno or any number of "professional" atheletes.  They're the only ones who can afford such luxuries today.  Imagine though if you'd had the foresight to collect these back in the day and hang on to them.

Here's a couple of ads for the '67 Dodge Coronet R/T.  I like how the one ad references a "road runner".  I can't help but wonder if this was accidental or deliberate.


Here's a couple of ads for the '67 Mercury Cougar.  I've always loved these.  From the "electric shaver" grill with hidden headlights up front, to the matching sequential tail lights out back, this epitomizes late '60s cool.


My cousin had one of these well before I got my driver's license.  I think hers was actually the RX-7 model which gave you lots of cool extras.  I remember the front of hers always squeaked whenever she went over a bump.

This was GM's response to the exploding "pony car" market, discovered by Ford in 1964 with their overnight sensation the Mustang.   Once GM saw the runaway hit Ford had on its hands, they naturally wanted their piece of the pie.  One of my Mom's friends, whose sons I hung out with frequently had one of these back in the day.

The first-generation Camaro debuted in September 1966, for the 1967 model year, on a new rear-wheel drive GM F-body platform and was available as a 2-door coupe or convertible with a choice of a 250 cu in inline-6, a 307 cu in V8, 327 cu in V8, 350 cu in V8 powerplants.  Chevrolet executives realized that their compact sporty car, the Corvair, would not be able to generate the sales volume of the Mustang due to its radical rear-engine design, in addition to declining sales from the bad publicity generated by Ralph Nader's book, Unsafe at Any Speed.

In the automotive world, there is an old adage, win on Sunday, sell on Monday.  What Chevy really needed was a way to drum up business through a competitive event as a way to promote their latest creation.

The first generation Camaro was produced through 1969, with no significant changes until the 1969 model year. The F-body platform, consisted of a unibody structure, front subframe, A-arm front suspension and leaf springs to control the solid rear axle.  Not a bad platform upon which to build a performance version.

Chevy decided their new Camaro would be just the ticket to be competitive in The Sports Car Club of America's Trans American series, the premier racing showcase for pony cars in the late '60s. Chevy was determined to succeed there, and trounce the entrenched Mustang. Enter the 1967 Chevrolet Camaro Z28.

The Trans Am series was quite adamant when it came to specifications. All cars had to be production-based (at least 1,000 streetable examples had to be produced) with engines limited to 305 cid or less. Chevy tossed a 283-cid crankshaft into its 327 V-8 giving it 302 cid. Next, they rummaged around in their parts bins and came up with Corvette heads, solid lifters, a hot cam, a baffled oil pan, dropped a Holley four-barrel on an aluminum manifold and came out rumbling.  Only the savvy buyer knew how to get one though.

A knowledgeable buyer had to order a base 6-cylinder Camaro ($2,466), then scan the order sheet for what would later be one of the most famous RPO's (regular production options) ever: Z28.  Back then $400 got you the 302, the F-41 handling suspension, 15-inch tires on six-inch wide Corvette Rally wheels, and quick-ratio manual steering. A Muncie four-speed was the only transmission; power front disc brakes... a mandatory $100 option.