Did you know that the term ‘muscle car’ dates back to the 1949 and was actually used to describe what we more commonly term ‘classics’, the Oldsmobile and Cadillac?
Magazines commented, “These cars have plenty of muscle”, in response to the introduction of OHV engines in these cars. In short, what gives the car the ‘muscle car’ title is that it has a light weight body with big, powerful engines. Meaning also, having incredible speed but awful handling. Now that you know the the terminology, let’s jump into the lesson.
What’s the difference between the two most well known muscle cars, the Chevrolet Camaro and the Pontiac Firebird?
Clearly, the two cars are aesthetically similar, sharing the same F-body platform. The Firebird actually had originally been planned to be a sporty two seater, but GM was scared it’s success and love would be depleted by the popular Corvette. Thus, it came to be a look-a-like Camaro. The cars are, however, different under the hood. The base model Firebird had an OHC inline-6 engine and single barrel carburetor. It produced 168hp, while the Camaro sat around 140hp. There were varying engine options available for both too, for example, o ur Camaro has a 5.4L V8 and our Pontiac has a 6.6L V8.
The Pontiac was also introduced almost half a year after the Camaro, giving GM the ability to fine tune it’s engineering. They moved the engine back a bit and added rear traction bars. It’s popular opinion that the Pontiac is the luxurious choice, it had more features one could choose. However, the public still seemed to favor the Camaro due to its drag racing reputation, the Z/28 and COPO.