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      Car History: Car History Year 1974
    Posted on Monday, September 27 @ 13:07:03 UTC by Cars
      Cars In politics, 1974 was a year of change. Watergate had finally caught up with Richard Nixon, who resigned from the Presidency on August 8. His replacement, Vice President Gerald Ford, pardoned him a month later.

    Another event of that year was the kidnapping of heiress Patty Hearst, who promptly joined her kidnappers to take part in a bank robbery. There was violence in Boston over the bussing of black students; and pioneer aviator Charles Lindberg died. There was good news on the automotive front in that OPEC had lifted their oil embargo of the United States, but sadly it came too late to save the big-bodied, big-engined, gas-guzzling American automobile that so many had come to love. Faced with stringent exhaust emissions regulations and the rising price of gasoline, Detroit had no choice but to turn its back on the type of cars it had traditionally built. Intermediate models, compacts and subcompacts with cleaner, smaller, more economical engines were the order of the day. While the majority of them would prove to be efficient means of transportation, few would have the sort of guts, glitz and sheer personality of what had gone before. The new 1974 models heralded the dawn of another era and, for a while, things looked bleak. The muscle cars which had appeared with the Mustang a decade before were among the casualties. Some had already ceased production, while the rest would not linger for long. Chrysler, through its Dodge and Plymouth divisions, had been a major contender in the muscle car wars for some years, building a range of machines based on its intermediate models. These were real fire-breathing street-'n'-strip monsters: no-frills quarter-mile machines with powerful engines, four-speed manual transmissions and beefed-up rear ends and suspensions. Engines included the awesome 425 horsepower 426 hemi V8 and the 390 horsepower 44 Six Pack engine, equipped with three two-barrel carburetors. The no-frills approach allowed Chrysier to price them for the younger market, while spectacular successes in NASCAR and drag racing helped boost sales. Included in the Dodge Scat Pack and Plymouth Rapid Transit System were the Dodge Super Bee and Charger, and the Plymouth GTX and Road Runner. But, by 1974, strangled by emissions equipment and dogged by high running costs, such cars were no longer selling well. Typical of these Chrysler products was the Plymouth Road Runner. Based on the "fuselage-styled" Satellite body shell, it came with a 170 horsepower small-block 318 cu.in. V8 as standard, which had replaced its previous 400 cu.in. big-block engine in 1973. For the first time on the Road Runner, the engine was fitted with a two-barrel carburetor. The normal transmission was a three-speed manual, although a four-speed and automatic were options. Also optional were 360, 400 and 440 cu.in. engines. By now, looks were more important than power, and the car sported bold contrasting stripes that curved down from the rear roof pillars and along the waist line to the front edges of the front fenders. Its looks may have promised more than its standard drivetrain could deliver but, nevertheless, it was the last true Road Runner. In 1975, it would be based on the small Fury, and after that became merely an options package for the Volare. A couple of familiar Dodge model names were dropped from the catalog listings during 1974. The Polara series was discontinued but the Challenger name also disappeared - although it returned in 1978 on a Japanese import version, showing the direction things were headed. Specification PLYMOUTH ROAD RUNNER Engine V8 - cast iron block Displacement 318 cu. ins Bore and stroke 3.91 ins. Horsepower 170 Body styles Coupe No. of seats 5 Weight (lbs) 3,615 Ibs Price $3,545 Produced 11,555     Specification CHRYSLER NEW YORKER BROUGHAM Engine V8 - cast iron block Displacement 440 cu. ins Bore and stroke 4.32x3.75 ins. Horsepower 230 Body styles Hardtop coupe; Sedan; Hardtop sedan No. of seats 6 Weight (lbs) 4,540 Ibs-4,655lbs Price $5,982 - $6,063 Produced 25,678  
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