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calendar   Wednesday - December 10, 2008

Get one now if you can

An evening spent surfing, comparing and taking notes lead to an interesting conclusion: the sporty cars available today perform just as well as the best of the late 60s muscle cars, and are nearly the same size and weight. Plus they get double the gas mileage, give off just about no emissions, actually stop and turn corners, are many times safer in accidents, and they don’t rust or break down. We’ve come a long way baby. If you can afford to buy a sporty car, now may be the best time ever to do so.

All of this started with a spam email from Bloomingdale’s. Bloomie’s has exclusive access to the very first 200 Infiniti G37 convertibles, which won’t be available to the rest of us for a number of months. So if you have to have one, you have to go and put your cash down with Bloomingdale’s.

So I’m thinking, a G 37? What happened to the 35? Turns out Nissan bored out it’s venerable V-6, and with a tuned exhaust and their version of variable valve timing, this little chunk of aluminum turns out 330 net horsepower at the tires, and 265 lb/ft of torque. So that’s a pretty good pony number obviously, but the torque rating seems a bit off compared to what I remember about all those old V-8s from my childhood.
image
So it’s off to Wiki and Google ... and I find out the difference between gross hp (bhp) and today’s real world net hp. Back in the 60s not only did the car companies probably fib about their engine’s power, they took the ratings straight off the crankshaft, often without any basic engine accessories (like an alternator or an exhaust system) attached. Several sources say you need to shave 100 or more hp off the old big gross numbers to get to today’s net numbers. So there isn’t any perfect way to compare the old and the new numbers, unless you can take a factory perfect 1970 SS Chevelle and put it on a modern dynamometer. Assuming, of course, that you can find 100 octane leaded gas to run it on.



Anyway, all that poking around was kinda fun, and here’s what I found:

1970 Chevelle SS454

Engine: 454 cubic inch V-8 - 7.4 liter
Horsepower: 450
Torque: 500 lb/ft
Vehicle Weight: 3260 lbs
Vehicle Wheelbase: 112 - 109 inches
Vehicle Length: I can’t find this number, but I’d guess 200 inches
Vehicle Width: 72 inches

0-60 times: 6.1 - 6.5 seconds
Quarter mile time: 13.45 - 13.7 seconds
mpg: you have got to be kidding me



2009 Infiniti G37

Engine: 227 cubic inch V-6 - 3.7 liter (exactly half the displacement!)
Horsepower: 330
Torque: 265 lb/ft
Vehicle Weight: 3770 lbs
Vehicle Wheelbase: 112.2 inches
Vehicle Length: 183.1 inches
Vehicle Width: 71.8 inches

0-60 times: 5.4 seconds
Quarter mile time: 14.0 seconds
mpg: 17 city, 26 highway



So there you have it. The absolute king of muscle cars, the baddest of the bad. The 1970 SS Chevelle with the 454 LS6 engine. Loses the stop light race to the G37 but wins in the 1/4 by about half a second (about 9 car lengths at 103mph). It shouldn’t be possible! The new cars have far less horsepower, half the torque, and they weigh as much or more! Something ain’t right.image

Oh, if you have another $8000 or so to spend, the BMW 335i will beat the SS in the 0-60 race, and tie it in the quarter, same time and speed. And that one gets 20/29 mpg.

And both of these new cars are “family haulers”. Serious modern performance cars like the latest Corvettes, M-series Beemers, and those AMG Mercedeses blow the G37 into the weeds. This conclusion didn’t make sense to me at first. But then I realized that the real difference was in the drivability. Sure, the 454 was a rip snortin’ monster. Stuck into a car with poor brakes, a soft suspension, a less than ideal frame, bias ply tires, etc. Not to mention the peaky nature of the old carburated engines compared to today’s computer controlled fuel injected wonders. Getting traction in the Chevelle was an art. You probably aren’t even allowed to spin the tires in the Infiniti. It’s wasteful and non-green.

Funny thing though. I’ve taken these new zippy cars out for road tests. No question that they get up and move. But it just doesn’t feel the same. You don’t notice it, they just go. And then you look down at the speedo and notice you’re going 90. No wheelies, no smoking the tires, no getting sideways, no roar from the exhaust or mechanical cacophony from under the hood. Heck, you can’t even see the gas gauge visibly moving. I miss those things.

a bunch of source links below the fold

See More Below The Fold

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Posted by Drew458   United States  on 12/10/2008 at 10:04 PM   
Filed Under: • planes, trains, tanks, ships, machines, automobiles •  
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