28 little-known muscle car facts

Want to impress your friends? Outsmart some loudmouth on Facebook? Just wanna get in the good graces of a certain tribe? Then take this here list to your local cruise and throw one at every faction under the Ambassador Bridge. Inspired by Steve Magnante’s 1001 Muscle Car Facts, this list is indispensable in being recognized as a know-it-all at the next man cave-a-thon. In no particular order:

AMC

1970 AMC Javelin SST Mark Donohue edition
Mecum
1970 AMC Javelin SST Mark Donohue edition

  • Yes, there still are folks who think the 390 commonly found in AMXs is a Ford engine. It’s not.
  • An urban legend suggests that the Trans Am-inspired 1970 Mark Donohue Javelin built with the standard 360 received stronger internal webbing (a feature of the 390) than run-of-the-mill 360s, but there’s no evidence of a special 360 having been factory-installed. AMC expert Ian Webb offers an explanation: AMC offered a service block with the aforementioned reinforcements but with the smaller bore of the 304 that is colloquially referred to as the “Trans Am block.” It is still unsubstantiated that this block was installed at the factory.

Buick

1966 Buick Wildcat GS
Mecum
1966 Buick Wildcat GS

  • The 1968-69 GS California was based on a regional model built in 1967. Interestingly, all were based on the Special series and not the Gran Sport.
  • 1966 was the only year that there were three Gran Sport series: Skylark, Riviera, and Wildcat.
  • The last year for an available four-speed for full-size cars was 1965.

Chevrolet

1966 Chevrolet Malibu SS
Mecum
1966 Chevrolet Malibu SS

  • It was possible to order a 1966–67 Chevelle with the 396 that wasn’t an SS 396. All you had to do was visit a Canadian dealership and order a Malibu coupe or convertible with the A51 package. It was called the “Sports Option” and included Strato-bucket seats, console (when paired with four-speed or automatic), rocker trim, contrasting rear cove trim (for 1966), and Malibu SS identification. An A51-equipped Malibu was the only way to score the 396.
  • “Band-Aid” stripes for 1967–69 Camaros were an exclusive Z/28 feature. Exceptions: 1969 Z11 pace cars and the Z10 hardtop promotional model.
  • For the 1968–69 Camaro SS and Nova SS, the L78 396/375 was more popular than the L34 396/350.

Dodge

1972 Dodge Dart Swinger Special
Diego Rosenberg
1972 Dodge Dart Swinger Special

  • The Dodge Dart Swinger 340 was only available in 1969–70 in the U.S. but, due to the efforts of two dealerships, a handful of special-order Dart Swinger Specials with the 340 were available through 1972 in Canada.
  • For 1970, if you wanted a 340 in a Dodge Challenger, you ordered the base model. In 1971, you could get the 340 in the Challenger or Challenger R/T.
  • The 1969 Dodge Charger Daytona’s nose was made of sheet metal, not fiberglass.

Ford

1971 Ford Mustang Mach 1
Mecum
1971 Ford Mustang Mach 1

  • In 1971, the 429 Cobra Jet Mustang was the only Ford Motor Company product that officially offered the Drag Pack.
  • The 429 Police Interceptor for 1971 full-size Fords was similar (but not identical) to the 429 Cobra Jet, including heads and camshaft.
  • Despite the name, the 429 Cobra Jet was not standard for the 1970 Torino Cobra.

Mercury

1969 Mercury Cyclone
Mecum
1969 Mercury Cyclone

  • Ram air was not available with the 428 Cobra Jet for 1969 Mercury Montegosonly the Cyclone was available with air induction.
  • The 1969–70 Marauder X-100 could have other contrasting rear two-toning besides matte black. It also was optional for the base Marauder.
  • Mercury generally used the same engine codes in the VIN as did Ford but, for 1970, both the 428 and 429 Cobra Jet with ram air was designated differently by Mercury.

Oldsmobile

1971 Oldsmobile 442 convertible
Mecum
1971 Oldsmobile 442 convertible

  • Besides the Corvette, the 1971–72 Olds 4-4-2 was the only GM vehicle that offered a dual-disc clutch.
  • The 4-4-2 package went from being based on F85 and Cutlass models in 1966 to the fancy Cutlass Supreme in 1967.
  • The 1970 Cutlass SX had a confusing array of available engines: L33 2bbl. 455/320 was standard through March, replaced by the L31 4bbl. 455/365 from the full-size series. The W32 455/365 (the same engine standard on the 4-4-2) was optional throughout the year.

Plymouth

1970 Plymouth Cuda
Mecum
1970 Plymouth Cuda

  • Both the side stripe for the 1970 Duster 340 and the optional “Hockey Stick” stripe for the 1970 ‘Cuda were only available in black from the factory.
  • Three Barracuda models were available with the 340 in 1969: standard, Formula S, and ‘Cuda 340.
  • Strangely, the standard engine for the 1970 Sport Fury GT was not the same 375-horse 440 found in the GTX—it was the 350-horse version of the big-block.

Pontiac

1969 Pontiac GTO Rram Air IV convertible
Mecum
1969 Pontiac GTO Rram Air IV convertible

  • Black grilles were not a part of the Judge package for 1969. Rather, all ram air cars received black grilles. Since all Judges are ram air cars, black grilles have long been associated with the Judge.
  • The last full-size four-speed was in 1968. Only 755 were built, with most being Catalinas according to the GM Heritage Center.
  • All of the 1969 Grand Prix Model J’s four-barrel engines were available with a standard three-speed. The Model SJ shared some of the same engines but required a four-speed or automatic.

Shelby

1969 Shelby GT500 convertible
Mecum
1969 Shelby GT500 convertible

  • The initial run of 1967 Shelby Mustangs had driving lights in the middle of the grille. However, some states had rules on the close proximity of lights, so Shelby made a running change and later cars received lights at the outer edges of the grille.
  • Ford’s Grabber colors got their start with the 1969 Shelby Mustang.