Emissions regulations did a number on these American performance legends!
The later 1970s were an exciting time for American performance-oriented cars, to say the least. But unfortunately, stricter emissions regulations, a bustling gas crisis, and growing safety concerns sparked a ridiculous war on car culture by the politicians that we still feel today. All of this rhetoric about switching to electric cars and flushing out the ICE engine started when the government lost control of oil production and was inevitably wrestled into restricting the internal combustion engine. But, of course, the government rarely ever knows what it's talking about when it comes to cars, so the 1970s would be known for its terrible gas mileage, low horsepower numbers, and terrible mechanical build quality. That seems like the perfect segway to talk about GM.
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Specifically, we are talking about the Corvette from 1974 and the iconic 1976 Pontiac Firebird Formula 400. These cars were seen as the pinnacle of performance in their day. But what does that even mean when muscle cars across the nation had already been neutered? Don't worry; you'll find out soon enough when these two cars and their owners go head to head on the quarter-mile track. First, let's talk about the performance features, packages, and engines that the cars have on their tool belt. They've got to have something good, right?
Powering the Corvette is a specially selected factory 350 ci V8, which puts out a respectable 250 horsepower and a similar 285 ft/lbs of torque. This year's Corvette is one of the heaviest we've seen at 3,700lbs, but it's still lighter than the Firebird, which clocks in at around 4,000lbs. The Corvette wins the horsepower game as the Firebird has a 400 ci V8 making 185 horsepower, but the Firebird does have 310 ft/lbs of torque. Eventually, the Firebird wins three-quarter-mile races against the 'Vette at 16 seconds, with the Corvette running the best time of 17.2 seconds. This is pretty insane because the Corvette was thought to be the fastest car in the 1970s. Therefore the driver of the Firebird deserves some major congratulations for winning the race.