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Page 6

Chapter Four: Endangered Species, 1975 to 1992

You can't really blame the auto makers for dropping their performance models when they did.  They had to drop their compression ratios even lower in 1975 to allow their cars to run on unleaded fuel, so not much performance was left in their engines anyway.  What can you expect when Compression ratios drop from 10.25:1 in 1970 to 7.61:1 in 1975?  And what is a muscle car without any muscle? A 1975 Camaro or Firebird. Very capable cars with no power, kind of like cake without frosting.   Even the Firebird's 400 cubic inch monster could only muster 185 horses for crying out loud! 

 

1975 Camaros

By 1975 only 2 pony cars remained-General Motors' Camaro and Firebird.  The Camaro was given a new front and rear end in 1974 but that would have to do until 1982. GM was unwilling to spend the money to re-tool a new design for a product that every other car maker had abandoned by then.  Since there was no other alternative for the few buyers who still wanted a pony car GM was able to sell enough Camaros and Firebirds to justify their continued production.  They were only extensively restyled once during the 21 year period between 1971 and 1992.  It happened in 1982.  The cars looked more modern but were still too big, too heavy and too slow.  Some people like these big ponies and I have to give GM credit for keeping the pony car spirit alive.  I just feel like they would be more nimble and agile if they were smaller and lighter. At least they had T-tops!

1982 Firebird Trans AM

 

1985 Camaro IROC- Z

 

When Ford saw their cute little luxury-economy pony car wasn't selling very well they dropped the "II" off their Mustang and came out with a more aggressive looking but still under powered Mustang in 1979.  (At least they didn't make it bigger that time.)  A V-8 was offered earlier in the Mustang II but it wasn't until 1985 that the 302 got its horse power back up to 200.  The convertible came back in 1983.  (It had been discontinued nine years earlier when the Mustang II came out.)  GM's ponies had to wait over 20 years before they could drop their tops again!

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