There are plenty of cars from the ‘60s and ‘70s that offer beautiful designs and gutsy power plants that don’t neatly fall into the muscle car category. We’ve even offered up some more affordable, mid-size alternatives to the typical muscle car. This time, let’s delve into some of my favorite full-size cars from the era that, while heavier than their drag-strip hero counterparts, brought some big V-8 power to bear.
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I would add to the list:
1959 Thunderbird 430 Convertible
1966 Thunderbird 428 Convertible
1967 Riviera GS
All are readily available, potentially high performance and will turn heads at any car show.
My uncle had a 1968 Plymouth Fury 2DR hardtop with a 375 hp 440 V8 with a floor-shifted 4-speed. I was always impressed when he would show off when I was in the car by burning rubber and rowing the 4-speed as if that big boat was a Barracuda.
We are aware of that. But one can coax a lot more h.p, from those small and big block engines with aluminum heads ported and polished and hotter cams and bigger intake and exhaust valves and headers etc.
These cars all look best going straight, at a car show or cruising your local main street. But come up on a sharp corner too fast and you'll wish you had slowed down ALOT more because you have rear drum brakes, often in front as well. The body lean? Ya better have your seat belt on tight. My old '68 Mustang F/B GT 390 was even like that. But that said, I love the styling that has made them more popular, albeit with most of us older crowd. Unless it's a low mileage keep it original, it makes sense to redo the entire suspension to more modern parts, but think twice, because you may never get the return on your investment when sold.
I would add the 1962 Sport Thunderbird Roadster with the 390 with 406 heads with tri power which produced 345 h.p. And the 1957 Ford Thunderbird F Code supercharged 312 that depending on the boost produced from 300 to 377 h,p,
I had a 69 AMC Ambassador SST coupe and loved it. I preferred the Teague-restyled wide front end over the stacked headlights of the year before but they were still sharp clean cars. In fact Ambassador 2 door hardtops were good looking cars clear up to 73.
I agree about the '70 Thunderbird. I have never understood why there is so little love for the 4-seat Thunderbirds of ANY year. It seems as though people just turned their backs on them after 1957. I love the Square Birds, the Rocket (or Bullet) Birds, the Flair Birds, the Big Birds and all that followed. I can't believe how little most of these cars sell for at auction. And that's not because I'm a Ford man. Because I'm not but I am an admirer of great automotive design and so many 4-seat T-Birds were just that!
I bought a 61 T-Bird, Honey beige with black interior, 390 and only 18K miles in the early 80s. I loved the styling, but alas, speedwise, it was a parade float. Still, the styling kept my satisfaction with it high. The guys resto-modding my 63.5 Galaxie right now have one in a bay nearby, and it really brings back memories of my fun twenties. Now I have the Galaxie and my daily driver, a perfect 1972 Cad CdV with 35K miles. That's a real attention getter. Do love the Birds, though.
Such beautiful cars. I'm liking that Buick Wildcat. I bought a 74 Pontiac Grand Am as a project car last year. It's a A body car, but the proportions hide how truly big these cars are. My Grand Am is a tighter fit in my garage around the perimeter than my 2005 Chevy Tahoe.
Watch enough of the video to hear that wonderful V-8 rumble
I would add the '63 through '66 GPs, though the first two are probably the '64 GTO's equal on the drag strip. The '67 GP convertible is also worthy of inclusion. Lastly, the 69-70 GPs were fabulous looking, smooth and powerful beasts, especially in SJ trim. I don't share the author's opinion that the nose on these cars is "polarizing."
My all-time favorite in the full-size cars is the 1967 Chevrolet SS 427 which was the Z24 option. By the way, it is NOT an Impala. You will not find the word Impala anywhere on one of these.
How about a 1973 Suburban with a factory 454 and 3.73 posi rear end? Ok, ok it's a 'SUV', but back in the late 70's I smoked the disco-era Vettes, Z28s and Trans Ams that the 'rich kids' were driving around in High School. Loved the look on their faces when I shot by them, making the $300, 6 point drag racing ticket I ended up getting worth it!
Ah the big boys! You gotta love em eh? To bad you left out mine. The 1974 Pontiac Grand Ville Convertible. In Pontiac Porcelain Blue. I've got a 455 plant with enough HP to push my grandmothers empty grocery cart. Single exhaust, low compression, catalytic converter, **bleep** OPEC. But man does it cruise. 🙂
I've always felt the big cars with the biggest engines were better than the muscle cars. I currently have two. One a 66 Biscayne Wagon with a 427 and a '68 Wildcat. With minor tuning, mild cams 2teens@.050" lifter rise and headers, both run low to mid 14's. Stock gears, intakes and Q-jet carbs. Both weigh north of 4500# (actual weights) too.
Only difference between a '68 and '69 Wildcat other than the styling is that the '68 was on the C body chassis with 4 inches more wheelbase and the fender skirts from the Electra. That extra length (and weight) was in the rear seat foot.well area. Both cars have surprised many over the years!
The beautiful car shown above is spectacular with except to the disgusting exhaust pipes hanging down for all to see. The exhaust installers totally destroyed the appearance of this amazing beauty. The exhaust should have the underside hidden from view.
Wheres The 67 Buick Riviera GS. Talk about Unique and hard to find, 430 CI Stratoflight Interior, Cylindrical Speedo, X Frame. Probably Give a stock Camaro a Run in the 1/4 mile.
I have to disagree on the Wildcat--the 1969 and 1970 years are quite homely looking, and started looking too "corporate GM" for my taste. I have preferred the look of the '65 over all the others, with the '67 and '68 tied for second place. I realize the '66 is similar to the '65, but don't like the grill and rear taillight treatment, and the dash is completely different and too generic. The '66, however, did offer a GS package and a dual-carb option.
A full-size muscle car or even a vintage car that gets little or no attention is a car that my father bought new. A 1965 Mercury Marauder 2 door hardtop
bench seat and factory 4 speed. I got my first speeding ticket in that car. Joe S 1
How about going back in time a little further to look at the Oldsmobile Starfire from '61 to '65? Big engine, big performance. My buddy had one and would love cruising two lane highways looking for 5.0l Mustangs. He would always take them from a rolling start and blow their doors in.