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NINETY EIGHT REGENCY

Why The 1977 Pontiac Can Am Was The Last Muscle Car

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There was a distinction between "muscle cars" and "pony cars" during a span of years when performance was considered desirable to the buying public, especially males before the advent of the man bun.  And Starbucks OMG.

Mustang (actually Barracuda but that is splitting hairs I guess) spawned the "pony car" genre, of course it's how the genre got its name.  Camaro, Firebird, Javelin, Challenger all fit.  They were compact 4 seaters emphasizing style and handling just a tad more than brute stremf.

"Muscle cars" were intermediates with giant cubes, with less of an emphasis on handling.  Chevelle SS, 4-4-2, Charger, Roadrunner, Machine, etc., and of course the GTO, of which the Can Am was the last descendant, so I can see the Can Am being defined that way, although where does that leave the G-body Monte Carlo SS, Olds 4-4-2/Hurst, and Regal Grand National?

The new Challenger, imo, straddles the line between "pony car" and "muscle car" because of its size, heft, and practicality in comparison to the current Camaro and Mustang.  Also, Challenger de-emphasizes handling in favor of glorious, masculine power.

Sry for the long story, trying to keep myself limber.

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^ Accurate, but I never saw much reason for distinction between the 2 segments. 2-drs with aggressive cues, and they shared powertrains. Especially when you could usually sell one class to the other class’s buyer; the F-Body sales exploded in the ‘70s after the muscle cars faded out.

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Even given that definition, I think the Challenger fits as a muscle car in spite of its pony car heritage, it's built on the full size LX platform these days. 

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For modern cars, I like the term 'performance car' rather than getting hung up on '60s -70s categorization which may or may not apply.  

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3 hours ago, esionern said:

My dad used to drive one when he was younger. 

Cool! Welcome to the site btw.

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On 10/16/2019 at 7:59 AM, balthazar said:

Many would argue the '78 & '79 Trans Am W-72 cars held that title.

As funny as it may seem, a 1985 Monte Carlo SS was also deemed a muscle car...

To the detriment of others, a 1987 GNX was also considered a muscle car. I guess the turbo V6 freaked some people out.

Camaros, Mustangs and Trans Ams all through the 1980s were also muscle cars...and by 1989, the Buick powered turbo V6 25th Anniversary Trans Am was also considered a muscle car.  And then in 1994 when Chevy decided to revive the Impala SS...yup...you guessed it...muscle car...

Which leads me to this post:

On 10/18/2019 at 6:12 AM, ocnblu said:

There was a distinction between "muscle cars" and "pony cars" during a span of years when performance was considered desirable to the buying public, especially males before the advent of the man bun.  And Starbucks OMG.

Mustang (actually Barracuda but that is splitting hairs I guess) spawned the "pony car" genre, of course it's how the genre got its name.  Camaro, Firebird, Javelin, Challenger all fit.  They were compact 4 seaters emphasizing style and handling just a tad more than brute stremf.

"Muscle cars" were intermediates with giant cubes, with less of an emphasis on handling.  Chevelle SS, 4-4-2, Charger, Roadrunner, Machine, etc., and of course the GTO, of which the Can Am was the last descendant, so I can see the Can Am being defined that way, although where does that leave the G-body Monte Carlo SS, Olds 4-4-2/Hurst, and Regal Grand National?

The new Challenger, imo, straddles the line between "pony car" and "muscle car" because of its size, heft, and practicality in comparison to the current Camaro and Mustang.  Also, Challenger de-emphasizes handling in favor of glorious, masculine power.

Sry for the long story, trying to keep myself limber.

Nope.  No distinction between "muscle cars" and "pony cars".  Not now. Not then either.

1964 is the magical year. Right?  (GTO and Mustang)

Not really. 

Hot Rods...

When?

Since like 4-ever.

People "hot rodded" 4 cylinder Model Ts waaaaay back when.

And then Ford's Flat Head V8 made an appearance and people just engine swapped this beast after the war.

Hot Rodding was a thing before WW1 and after WW1.

Hot Rodding was a thing before WW2 and especially after WW2.

Bonneville Salt flat high speed runs were popular a thing as early as 1914. Maybe even earlier. 

Generally, the 1964 GTO is considered the "first" muscle car, but in reality, hot rods and FACTORY HOT RODS (AKA muscle cars) are more of an EVOLUTIONARY thing rather than a "lets start this era right at 1964"   thing. 

1933 Flat Head V8 Ford coupe.

1949 Rocket 88

Various V8 cars from Chevy in the 1950s including fuel injected cars like the Corvette and Bel Air in 1957

Hemis in the 1950s. 1955 Chrysler 300s and the like...

Fullsized muscle Impala SS BIG BLOCK 409s before the year 1964 and including 1964...

In fact, midsized cars couldnt get the big blocks because of internal company policies regarding racing...and those regs went away in the late 1960s.  About 5 years AFTER the GTO debuted. 

The term muscle car came about sometime in the late 1960s early 1970s Im guessing because in 1964, factory hot rods was the term being used.

Between NASCAR racing and open wheel racing and International racing and drag strip racing in the 1950s and 1960s...all that fueled the engine wars and the horsepower wars.  There was NO distinction between the sizes of the cars. Ford Galaxies were racing at NASCAR in 1965 and THOSE were muscle cars. Shelby was hired to beef up the Mustang and the first Shelby Mustang was made in 1965, and then the GT 350 and GT500 and yes...THAT pony car was DEFINETALY a muscle car.

A 1966 427 Shelby Cobra along with a 1966 396 and 1967 427  Corvette was a muscle car.  A 289 Cobra....muscle car too, but a 427 was THE muscle car...

A pony car was coined that because of the Mustang true, but it had a connotation that it was cheaper to buy than a mid-sizer. That is all. Nothing to do with size. But with price. In fact, pony cars were not really luxurious, even at the higher trims. Bare bones for maximum speed. But a GTO was a luxurious as a Pontiac could get.

A 442 and a GS was Olds and Buick banker's hot rods.

The Dodge Demon and Plymouth Dusters were created to get the "muscle car" back to its roots in that "muscle cars" got too big and too expensive. 

In other words...

The "rules" that we use today,  to define muscle cars, today,  were muddied from the get go. Why? Because there was no rules to define muscle cars.

Small body big engine.  Myth.   Impala 409 SS.   

Also. A 1967 GTO is almost as long as a 1961 Impala...  A 1957 Chevy is definitely shorter and less wide than a 1967 GTO...

Besides...what is smaller than a mid-sizer?

A pony car.

And could a pony car get the big blocks?

Not in the beginning but yeah!!!  Cobra Jet 429 Mustangs existed in 1969. So did 427 Camaros.  

Like I said....the ultimate small car with big engine:  427 Cobra. 

But is a 427 and 454 late '60s Impalas muscke cars?  DAMNED RIGHT!!!

So is a 427 1969 COPO Chevelle and a 454 1970.  In 1970, Corvette's biggest engine was a 427, but a Corvette with a 427 was still a muscle car...

Cheap in price.  Myth.

A 442 and a GS were expensive.  

Body style?

Well, a 455 cubic inch Vista Cruiser station wagon could be had that was exactly how a 442 was...

Therefore 4 door Chevrolet SS and Pontiac G8s and modern Chargers are all muscle cars.

V6 turbo Buicks. Muscle cars.

Tweener Challengers and pony car Trans Ams, camaros and Mustangs and the AMX cars...all musckle cars.

Fullsized bodies with big blocks. Muscle cars.

Station wagons?  Muscle cars.

Little sport cars with gi-normous V8s or even V10s like the Viper.  All muscle cars.

Australia gots them too.

So does Germany.  Modern AMG cars especially with those V8s or even the Hammer in the late 1980s. All muscle cars.

Confusing? Not one bit!   Its only confusing and we get our panties tied in a not only if we see things ONLY as black and white...

 

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by oldshurst442
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I believe I was thinking ‘the W72 T/As came after the Can Am AT PONTIAC‘, but yes; Im fine with most of what 442 wrote above about the loose definition and many of these others cars fit.

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2 minutes ago, balthazar said:

I believe I was thinking ‘the W72 T/As came after the Can Am AT PONTIAC‘, but yes; Im fine with most of what 442 wrote above about the loose definition and many of these others cars fit.

Thanx!!!

There was a lot of ranting, a lot of repeating and a lot of generalized comments such as a 455 cubic inch Vista Cruiser was to be had like a 442. Not really. No W-30 package offered on it. I believe it was rated at a lower horsepower rating too. But yeah...

There is a lot of history to be covered...   I already post encyclopedia sized posts in my regular postings.  I did not want to exceed the amount I usually post. LOL

 

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My general opinion on "muscle" is that the car also needs to have some visual distinction to it. Either a unique body, or unique model-specific treatments. So while a Biscayne coupe with a 427 certain is a performance / 'muscle' car, it's not the same level as, say a Chevelle SS with blacked out grille & cove panel, Rallye wheels, scooped hood, 'SS' ID, etc [vs. a Chevelle 300].

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^^^

True true

Racing stripes and crazy decals and adolescent naming schemes such as Super Bees,  and Looney Tune Road Runners and Here Come The Judge and Hellcat and Screaming Chicken Phoenixes...

 

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Sry don't have 4 hours free time to read one 442-page post on here.

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1 minute ago, balthazar said:

You got the time - just make less pepperoni-peach pizza!

Why you mad?  It was tasty.

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16 hours ago, ocnblu said:

Why you mad?  It was tasty.

Gotta try it by first wrapping the peaches in Bacon and BBQ them, then slice them up with the bacon and put on the pizza. :P 

Nothing like Smokey fruit with Pepperoni and olives on a cheesy pizza. 🤤

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Pineapple on pizza I like, couldn't do peaches..I have a strong dislike for the taste of peach.  

It could be because my Mom made a lot of peach cobblers (using peaches off of trees on our property) when I was growing up.   The blueberry, blackberry, raspberry and cherry cobblers I have great memories of, but not peaches. 

Edited by Robert Hall

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4 minutes ago, Robert Hall said:

Pineapple on pizza I like, couldn't do peaches..I have a strong dislike for the taste of peach.  

It could be because my Mom made a lot of peach cobblers (using peaches off of trees on our property) when I was growing up.   The blueberry, blackberry, raspberry and cherry cobblers I have memories of, but not peaches. 

Love all of that, but especially a big tree ripened juicy peach and peach with bacon is amazing. Peach juice caramelizes as the bacon cooks. Course also love all the others you mentioned too. Fruit Cobbler is so yummy!

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LOL Balthy, see wut you started?  It was not peaches... it was yellow bell pepper.

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