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      Muscle Cars: Muscle Cars: 1968-1974 - The End-This Is the End
    Posted on Tuesday, October 12 @ 00:10:12 UTC by Cars
      Muscle Cars This Is the End The downward spiral began in 1971 when General Motors took the first big step by lowering compression ratios and detuning all its supercars in preparation for the imminent arrival of unleaded fuel. Immediately, power dropped noticeably. And new emissions control devices siphoned away even more grunt.

    AlI the titans of the previous year were being emasculated. Only the Corvette, bless its fiberglass heart, held on. While the ground-pounding big blocks were disappearing quickly, the LS-6 soldiered on with 425 horsepower in the mighty Sting Ray. While compression dropped, it received aluminum cylinder heads. Even with economy 3.36 gearing and stock street fires, Car Craft got one to go 13.72 at 102 mph. One of the few shining stars of the early 1970s was the '71 455 H.O. Pontiac. Its use in the Formula and Trans Am was discussed in chapter 3, but it warrants a second notice. Here was a low-compression mill that had stump-pulling torque, decent horsepower, and the easygoing temperament Poncho motors were famous for. And while Ford and Chrysler held the line on compression for one ast year, many of the street legends disappeared. Not making the call to 1971 was the Chrysler 340 6-barrel. The Boss 429, Boss 302, and 428 Cobra Jet Fords all slipped into history, to be followed a year later by the 429 Cobra Jet. Still, the mondo 440 6-barrel survived and thrived in the fresh B-body sheet metal of the Road Runner, GTX, and Charger (the Super Bee now became an option on this car). Hanging on for one last bottle was the Street Hemi, though it would head for the big boneyard in the sky at the end of the model year. It was a sad time. The 440 with three deuces would somehow play through 1972, the same year the 383 was replaced by the 255-horse 400. By 1973, performance was a four-letter word around Detroit. The Road Runner continued with the 400 (it was called the Road Runner GTX if you ordered the 440), but the Charger was being prepped for life as a personal luxury car. If you wanted to go fast in a Mopar, you ordered a 340 (or a 360 in 1974) Duster or Dart. While not the giant-killers they were in the late sixties, they offered decent power in a relatively light package. They were as quick as anything else out there, including the Corvette. But what about the car that started it all? GTO styling was based on the new-for-'73 GM Colonnade body, and while this is always a subjective area, the Ponfiac version was a fairy homely vehicle. Sales fell to 4,806. Had the GTO gotten the Super Duty 455 as it was supposed to, it wouldn't have been so grim. Instead, the 250-horse 455 was the only optional mill. Standard was a 230-horse 400. For 1974 Pontiac based the GTO on the Ventura—that division's version of the compact Chevy Nova. Only the 350 4-barrel was available, albeit with a real shaker hood scoop and dual exhaust. While sales were better than in 1973 (7,058), it was a dreadful excuse for a performance car. Pontiac mercifully held the funeral soon thereafter.
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