(first posted 12/8/2014) For years, the simple dog dish hubcap signified the domain of the cheapskate, the hack, the socially awkward, and the old maid. It was a placeholder for a set of Keystone mags or reverse chrome wheels, which were as ubiquitous as long shackles and air shocks. Those days are gone. The simple dog dish hubcap is cool again, and it’s egalitarian too, baby! It’s a dog dish dichotomy at the local drags!
We’ll start today with this pristine, better-than-new ’69 Nova. I’ll say it. This may be the world’s perfect Nova–396 powered, dark green with black vinyl roof, red line tires, SS scoops. Long heralded as perhaps the best sleeper muscle car, the Nova 396 packs one of Chevy’s best big-blocks, and is unencumbered by the extra weight of the Chevelle. Dog-dish hubcaps maintain the sinister and business-like persona, because there’s no time to play when work is to be done.
The inside of the Nova is appropriately bleak and modest. Only the prominent tachometer and auxiliary gauges betray the ruse, along with the requisite “SS” badge on the steering wheel. The column shifter would suit Grandma’s Powerglide, but controls a Turbo 400 in this case. The 6500 RPM redline on the period Sun tachometer can only mean that this Nova is motivated by the solid-lifter L78, rated at 375 horsepower. When people today wax nostalgic about the 396, this is the one they remember, not the 325-horse imposter in Dad’s Impala.
My best friend in high school drove a ’70 Nova with a 250, and it never really excited me. Lately, however, I’ve begun to understand the charm of these simple sedans. The styling has stood up, it screams simplicity, and in this case, it just screams. Novas awake the inner redneck hooligan, parking-lot donuts and all.
Plymouth, on the other hand, knew the Nova’s target market well; its version of the Nova was the ’69 Valiant, which (according to the brochure) could be had with the ready for action 318, which was certainly no L78. A Valiant would undoubtedly be fun with a 340, but I digress. On the other end of its spectrum, Plymouth offered a car for the more sophisticated speed freak, one who enjoyed a little culture, maybe an occasional dry martini, Dionne Warwick on the hi-fi, etc. That car was the GTX, the gentleman’s muscle car. Would said gentleman, however, have rolled on these basic red-line adorned wheels?
Who cares when your GTX is this badass? If Beelzebub drove a Charger, Mephistopheles would have driven a black GTX. Flat black hood, red accents, red line tires, 440 Super Commando…Good Golly Miss Molly, I want one of these things now! I wonder if I’m on the nice list or the naughty list.
From this perspective, one can imagine the 440’s distinctive burble gone wail. Anybody remember the chase scene in Bullitt? It wasn’t the 390’s all bark, no bite cacophony that made my neck hairs stand on end, it was the 440’s muted howl as it revved. Pure music, almost better than Dionne’s voice. The dog dish caps suit this GTX well. A set of Magnum 500s or aftermarket Cragars would have been akin to a business executive wearing a Joe Namath jersey, out of place. The plain old hubcap, however, fits in anywhere. Stay tuned for more dog dish excitement in an upcoming episode.
Nice! And I own Bullitt on DVD. Just re watched it in fact. Movie still makes no sense, but the acting, not to mention the infamous car chase, are really good. RIP McQueen
The car chase in “Bullitt’ is the only reason to watch this movie. Other than that, a standard detective film, but as you said, Mc Queen is excellent as usual.
Watched it for the first time recently. It makes me want to paint every Mustang I see Highland Green but yes most of the story is practically incomprehensible.
The problem with Bullitt is that it’s way too close to how police work actually goes, i.e., long periods of stifling boredom, punctuated with brief moments of stark terror.
Not to mention that it’s really all McQueen. Without him, the movie is pretty bad and would have been long forgotten.
I’m curious as to whats so hard to decipher about the move, Johnny Ross, mob guy goes on the run with stolen money, he gets someone else that looks like him to stand in for him, presumably for money.
Bullitt is assigned to protect him until Monday when he is supposed to give a deposition to Robert Vaugh’s (Chalmers) organized crime committee of some sort.
That person gets killed by the hit men in the Charger, McQueen goes to investigate, finds the cab driver that dropped off the murder victim at the hotel, the hit men want to whack Bullitt, presumably for seeing one of the killers at the hospital, the chase happens, mayhem, jumps, shotgun blasts, Charger explosion.
Simon Oakland and Norman Fell give Bullitt angry looks and Robert Vaughn acts like a douche.
Meanwhile the finger prints on the murder victim are run at the morgue and it is discovered that victim isn’t who they thought he was, that he was really a used car salesman from Chicago, Ross set him up get murdered while he sneaked away with his identity, Ross has to murder the used car salesman’s girlfriend at the Thunderbird Motel(in San Mateo!)
Bullitts girlfriend, Jacqueline Bissett, sees the murder seen and gives Bullitt grief about how nasty his job is. Evidence is examined, they find out that Ross is booked on a Pan Am flight out of San Fransisco to Rome, using the dead used car salesman’s passport, Bullitt goes to the airport, he swears at Robert Vaughn, a chase ensues, a security guard is killed and Bullitt kills Ross.
See, its simple…….
The movie really takes place over a short amount of time, just 3 days, from the time that Johnny Ross flees Chicago on Friday night to the shootout at the airport on Sunday night.
You nailed. I don’t see why people think the plot is hard to understand. I have always thought it was a pretty good detective yarn.
Not to mention a great period piece, I love watching it for all the old cars in the background, and the locations, the interesting “old tech” like the scene with the “Photo-Telecopier” at the police station and the emergency room scenes, plus its a fairly gritty and realistic no b.s police movie.
My parents were in San Francisco at the time and they actually saw the scene at the Mark Hopkins being filmed, though they never got to see McQueen.
Being as how my parents moved to the Bay Area in 1972 I have been to many of the movie’s locations. Ate brunch many times in that hotel (Clarion), in the film (Thunderbolt), down by the airport. How many noticed the background when McQueen and Bissett stop on the Bayshore Freeway? I saw Hunter’s Point with several aircraft carriers that I was able to recognize by the silhouettes. Also drove most of the route back then. Even managed to drive along Marina Blvd (Fort Mason & Safeway scene)in the wrong lane once when forced to take evasive action.
Hunter’s Point. Can one name the carrier in the background? How about the Class? She was at Hunter’s Point undergoing an update of her catapult system at the time.
Oh, and one more time just for the hell of it. Yes, a Black 440 and a Highland Green 390. By the way there is no black chip on the Dodge 1968 PPG color page.
Dodge factory paint code for black in 1968 is BB1. PPG may not show it, but it was a factory color.
I think it’s the USS Midway, which was at San Francisco Naval Shipyard for modernization from 1966 to 1970. USS Coral Sea was deployed to Vietnam during that time while the FDR was (mostly) in the Atlantic and Mediterranean, with only one deployment to Vietnam.
Here’s a pic from 1967, the radar mast and stack look the same
Playing the cab driver was Robert Duvall’s first role, IIRC.
You’ve never seen “To Kill a Mockingbird,” I guess.
I’ll take a warmed over 350 small block and 4-speed in a Nova any day over the heavy big block/auto. That’s what my highschool friend had in his, and it was a thrilling ride.
Hard to believe these are now serious collectibles when you could once buy them for $500, but time marches on..
one of my high school friends had a burgundy SS350 4 speed. The only options were Rallye wheels. Car kind of scared me off the line.
I read some where that the Duster 340 was faster than the Nova 396.
True? The Mopar engines always seemed better than larger rivals, the transmissions certainly.
As always, that depends on the driver and tune. I can imagine that a well-driven 340 could take an L78 on the right day.
I wouldn’t doubt it. The 340 was the most bang for the buck in those days. AND less of an anvil over the front wheels, meaning a better balanced car overall. 340 6 pak in any 2 door A-body with A-833…Ill take it!
My guess would be that the latter would be the big issue for stock examples. The 340 is something like 140 lb lighter than the 396 and while it obviously has less torque down low, that’s not necessarily a bad thing with a simple Hotchkiss rear suspension and vintage tires! Obviously, you could set up the 396 car for drag-type action, adding traction bars and so forth, but you had to do all that yourself.
Non-stock of course. The 340 6-pack was only offered in the 1970 Challenger T/A and AAR Cuda.
Perfect Nova? If it had the light green interior maybe, black interiors just don’t do it for me. Probably because they’re so ubiquitous on new cars.
I always wondered why it took Detroit so long to adopt uniform “wheel silver” paint since it must’ve cost quite a bit to color-match all those steelies only to upsell the buyers to full covers or Rallys. There was a point to it when wide whites whose white extended to the wheel rim were popular but those days were long gone by ’69.
My inner voice says that the owner of that GTX is trying for a bit of a Road Runner vibe with those steelies and caps. But he needn’t do that, since his GTX is a much nicer car – all of the mechanical goodness of a Road Runner, but with some added appearance and comfort goodness that liberal application of dollars would provide.
When I was a kid, we had some neighbors who had an only child who was probably around 19 or 20. His father made good money and this kid had some really nice wheels. The navy blue 65 GTO was traded on a Plymouth GTX, maybe a 68 or 69. It was a nice, nice, highly optioned car. And no poverty caps. At that age, I had no idea what a hot car it was.
These Novas were attractive, ut I am still a Mopar A body guy. I share nlpnt’s disdain for black interiors, but those were hard to avoid in the late 60s.
We are thinking along exactly the same lines about the GTX, but you got to the reply button first. 🙂
Right there with you, guys! A ’69 GTX was for sale down the street from me when I was a teenager in the 70’s, $1800.00 was likely 18 times what I had in savings at the time, and I will never forget that first car that got away.
The cars hit the sweet spot in what is left of my memory of the era. The Nova is identical in all ways to the one I was pitted against in a bracket race when I broke the chain on my bike. Why was a bike racing against a car? Who knows but I thought the car was great even with that.
I slightly disagree about dog dishes on the GTX. At least, I think I’d go with something different if it was mine. Plymouth’s budget-oriented muscle car was the Road Runner, so it deserves the dog dishes or “poverty caps” as I’ve also heard them called.
The GTX was more upscale, with more standard features, more trim such as the panel on the back, and this one sports a vinyl roof. A set of Magnum 500 wheels would look right at home on this. Like a bouncer at a swanky club, the big guy in the fitted suit needs dressy shoes, not sneakers.
I’ll add another “yes” vote for Magnum 500’s. Cragars would be out of place, but the dog dish caps do say “Road Runner” much louder than “GTX”.
My first car was a 68 Sport Satellite which I got in 1973 from an older couple who traded at the Gas Station I worked at. The car only had 22000 miles on it at the time. Got it for 1000.00. My Sport Satellite was trimmed like the GTX but only had a 318. The car, though fairly well equipped with AC, PS, PB, had the dog dishes on it. A friend gave me a set of trim rings off of a Malibu with rally wheels which I made work with the dog dishes and I sprayed the wheels flat black which dressed it up somewhat. At that time I could not afford to change them out for something better than this. I of course would have loved to have had the GTX or Road Runner but could not have afforded the Insurance or Gas for one of them.
Fun fact about the ’69 Nova… Engine choices went all the way from the 153-cube. half-a-V-8, I-4 all the way through this honkin’ 396. I can think of no other car where the top engine is 160% bigger than the base engine.
Another fun fact…you could get a Nova with a transmission called “Torque Drive” that was an automatic with a manual valve body, so you had to shift, but there was no clutch. Weird.
Torque drive was a Powerglide with manual shift only. I saw one with the 4 cylinder engine brand new at the dealers. was probably the cheapest Chevy for ’70
I had one, albeit briefly a 70? Nova with the Torque drive behind the six. The man who sold it to me warned that WOT downshifts would kill her. He said low should be used for starts on hills, and selected only after stopping. As the fool I am, even more of one at 17, I was forcing downshifts all the time, trying to go fast. It lasted a month. My Dad found an old lady’s Monarch, he thought the Nova was to ratty to bother fixing.
I think it was intended to be driven like an old Dynaflow, first was to be rarely, carefully, and maturely used. The sad thing was first gave only marginally better acceleration than just leaving it in 2.
Yeah, it was essentially Powerglide stripped of the automatic shift mechanism, altitude compensator, and other stuff that had been added since 1953. As Hatman says, it was a step back to the early Powerglide/Dynaflow in operation.
I think this was done to try and compete with VW, the number one import at the time with the AutoStick transmission. A four cylinder Chevy II with Torque Drive would have been close in list price and gas mileage, but not build quality.
My Uncle bought my Aunt, (over the telephone, no less!) a 4 cylinder/Torque Drive Chevy Douche (as my cousin nicknamed it). Later on a knee knocker A/C unit from OTASCO was added on.
My Aunt never could grasp the concept of having to manually shift the Torque Drive when there was no clutch pedal to step down on. “Is it a manual or an automatic?” she often said. As a consequence of her mind and driving habit, she would often forget to shift it into low and slowly (VERY slowly!) putt-putt away from stop signs and the few stop lights their small Oklahoma town had. Doubtlessly the huge Borg-Warner add on A/C compressor slowed it down even more.
Still a durable, if Ice Wagon Slow car it was. My absent minded Aunt and both of my heavy footed (not that it mattered with this car) cousins couldn’t kill it.
Finally my Uncle donated it to the southern Baptist church rummage sale to get rid of it. He replaced it with one of the first Chevettes in town.
Although it’s not as well-known or famous as the Camaro, seems like it was possible to get a COPO 427 Nova, too. Isn’t that what the Yenko cars had in them, or was that a dealer engine swap?
I might be mistaken about this but GM never “officially” produced any 427 Novas. Yenko, and perhaps others, swapped the 427 into a few Novas but this was done after the cars had arrived at the dealership. I don’t think anyone really knows for sure how many of these actually got made as they were very much an off the books type of deal. If nothing else a 427 Nova would be awesome fast in a straight line.
The 153 was not half a V8. It was 2/3 of a Stovebolt 6.
Correct…two-thirds of a 230, which is the second-generation Chevrolet six.
Was it a good engine? Holden did the same thing with their 6cyl and it wasn’t stellar…
I don’t have any personal experience with them, but I know people used them in Midget racers back in the ’60s and ’70s, so they can’t be too bad!
If I’m not mistaken, the basic design became the “Iron Duke” 2.5 in the late ’70s.
The 307V8 was a double 153!
The reason the dog-dish GTX (and sister Coronet R/T, for that matter) existed was for the guy who wanted the cheapest 440-4v Mopar musclecar. That engine wasn’t available in the Roadrunner until 1972, when the musclecar era was essentially over.
It was the smart buy, too. The Roadrunner’s 383 was good enough, but the multiple carbs of the 440-6v ‘Six-Pack’ was too hard to keep in decent tune for regular day-to-day driving. I can easily envision someone wanting the fastest, daily-driver buying a leftover, year-end 1967 GTX instead of a new 1968 car after they came out. That, along with a strippo Ford Fairlane Cobra, were probably the most cost-effective musclecar buys of the sixties.
In fact, one of the fastest, most famous street machines was the ‘Silver Bullet’ 1967 GTX that ran around Detroit, driven by a guy named Jimmy Addison. It wasn’t too hard to spot with subtle rear fender flairs and a small American flag on the front fenders behind the front tires.
As for the 396 Nova, it was merely okay, too. Those second generation Novas’ chassis had a tough time hooking up and dragstrip times were never consistent. As mentioned, the smart compact dollars went for a 340 Duster when those became available (or earlier Dart GTS or Swinger).
And before that, a ’66-’67 Nova with the Corvette’s 327 was the hottest, compact musclecar ticket.
The reason dog dishes were standard is very simple and obvious: so that they could charge extra for full wheel covers or the steel sport wheels. That was always the reason. 🙂
Weren’t dog-dishes (and trim rings) on the automotive scene long before full wheel covers? Plus, there’s the whole fleet-use thing. Seems like dog-dishes were much more secure than wheel covers (the Dodge Charger with the 12 wheel covers that kept coming off from the previously mentioned Bullitt is a good example). So it might not have been completely a marketing ploy. Heavy-duty service and wheel covers might not go together too well.
I always thought it was a bit sad when car manufacturers stopped using steelies that had the tabs to affix dog-dishes.
One of my favorite wheel covers were those used on the 1965 Comet Cyclone; they were made up to look like chrome reverse wheels. They weren’t that great looking, but it was an interesting attempt by Ford.
Ford Australia used those chromed wheel covers on the first two models of Falcon GT. In the era (just) before factory alloy wheels they were a good alternative.
> The simple dog dish hubcap is cool again
Awesome. It bothers me that every other old muscle car seems to have the exact same cheesy mag wheels. Count me as a fan of factory wheels in general.
Even back then, I never thought the factory dog dishes were cool for the most part. What I did like was an after market dog dish.
My Nova wore baby moons with the original body colored steel wheels. I thought it looked really great. Doubt if I was biased much. Later on I bought a set for my Impala Wagon. Still looked great to me. Probably I was an audience of one. Why are most of the cars I wish I had again Chevies? I don’t want a new Chevy at all.
Nice to hear Dog Dish hubbies are cool again .
I’ve been saving them for 40 + years , they make dandy parts trays when working on beaters and rebuilds ~ you just put them in the trunk or footwell when you’re waiting parts or for the machine shop to finish…..
I have dozens in my garage full of 1/2 jobs left over , nice way to keep specific brand / job parts and hard to source hardware / brackets etc. pre sorted for the next junker one drags home .
And dont forget the A12-package 1969 Super Bees and Road Runners came with no wheel covers!
Love both of those cars and Ive seen that GTX up close, the pictures dont do it justice. Was that a FAST race?
396 Novas (and big block Darts and Barracudas) are heavy duty cars designed for strip use and were bruisers to drive on the street. I dont know about the Chevy but the Mopars couldnt be ordered with power steering, power brakes or air conditioning simply because the components wouldnt fit under the hood.
When the 340 came out in 1968 A-Bodys, it was monster that could not only keep with but outrun most of the big block intermediates if it was geared right, plus you could actually drive it on the street; it was a very well-balanced package.
Not a good idea if you want to stop or go round corners.The 383 Mopars had to have restrictive headers to fit into the engine bay also which cut the power to not much past a 340.Add all that weight over the front wheels and the 340 made a lot of sense and was plenty fast enough for most people.
This was at the Pure Stock race in Stanton…there were a couple of 340 Dusters there this year that I also took pictures of. Neat cars.
You could get power steering and brakes on an L-78 Nova, but not air. They were still a handful on the street though. Nose heavy, and equipped with low rear end gears they were really a single purpose car. Most L-78s I saw back when the only people who cared about them were us gearheads had at least 3.73s. Like the 383 Dart, the factory exhaust manifolds were very restrictive and a set of headers with the appropriate jetting and distributor curve really woke these cars up. But you had to really be into straight line performance to live with an L-78 day to day. The 440 GTX might not be quite as wild, but it was a lot more civilized. I’d take the L-78 on the strip, but the GTX if the drive was longer than about 10 miles.
This Chevrolet Nova is very very nice. One of the GM’s best proportioned car. I like either the Chevrolet CHEVY/Malibú manufactured by GM de Argentina too! What I really like about “Latinos” their InLine 6 engines paired with the SS (SuperSport) emblem on the grille 🙂 The X-platformed Pontiac Ventura/GTO, Oldsmobile Omega and Buick Skylark/Apollo are all very fine!
In addition to my previous post… Maybe about 8 years ago I saw an X-platformed approx. 197? barn-found 4-door red Oldsmobile Omega in solid condition. Later when I returned to the owner to placemy bid I had almost fainted when the old man told me neglectfully that he scrapped IT… He kept only the InLine 6 engine which was dropped like a garbage under the nearest bush… 🙁
Don’t bad-mouth the trusty 250 cu. in. 6!
Sure, a Nova w/a V8 was fast, but I was never a hot-rodder, always a cruiser.
My 1972 Nova coupe was a 250 w/3 on the tree, PS, PB, AM radio. Brown w/off-white vinyl interior just like the photo above shows. I should have kept that car much longer than I did.
That generation Nova (1968-1972) was my favorite even though it wasn’t available as a pillarless hardtop.
Don’t think I did badmouth the six. All of my cars are slow.
My father’s first (and only to this day) brand-new car was a ’72 Nova. 307/automatic, navy blue. He quite liked it but NJ road salt caused it to rust prematurely. He said that by the time he sold it in ’77, the floorpans and rocker panels were both perforated.
Cant say Im feeling the dogpans on either of these. They look right at home on taxicabs or cop cars but not much else. The Nova on Cragar SS or period factory wheels (GM had some DAMN fine rollers for a long time) would look good. The GTX should be on Cragars itself or rallyes. That car is a perfect example of looking pretty wonky on dinky wheels/tires. 15×7 up front, 15×8 or 10 out back with some fatties back there would look right and hook up the power.
To me, dogpans are the opposite of todays ‘clown shoe’ 20″+ wheels. Neither looks right but for different reasons….especially on classic iron.
Nice cars,I’ll bet there’s a lot more big block Novas and Sexton Blake GTXs today than 45 years ago!These look the real McCoy though I always thought column shifters looked out of place in a muscle car despite seeing a lot of them.
” I always thought column shifters looked out of place in a muscle car ”
YUP!!!! I think they look like crap in anything performance oriented. Keep those in grampas buick or moms minivan where they belong.
Argentinian Chevy’s were mostly manual floorshifts 🙂
The muscle cars the kids could afford were stripped models with big engines, that meant dog dishes, column shifters and bench seats. A GTO without those things cost about 40% more than a Roadrunner.
Hardly. A 1969 Roadrunner post coupe started at $2945 ($3083 for the hardtop). A ’69 GTO hardtop coupe started at $3156, or all of 2% more than the RR hardtop. And bench seats and column shifter were standard in the GTO, contrary to common belief.
Yep, some don’t know car history. Some will claim that “no GTO had bench/column” and one equipped as such is a “fake”.
Actually a base 1969 GTO would have a 3 speed floor shift with a Hurst linkage, the column shift was only standard if you ordered an automatic without a console.
Though off the top of my head, the GTO did not offer a bench from 1964-1966. buckets were part of the package, even though you still got a column shift automatic if you didn’t order a console, in 1967 the GTO started offering the choice of a no-cost bucket or bench option.
Not much to say here. Nothing controversial about these cars. They are revered by all car enthusiasts, including myself. They are two of the best that the late ’60s early ’70s had to offer. They will always be classics.
Dog dishes on body colored steelies… YES PLEASE!!!
Looks good on these cars, looked terrible on an Impala, like our ’65. Yes full wheel covers and whitewalls were extra even with Impala trim. Ours did come with whitewalls at least.
The 6500 RPM redline on the period Sun tachometer can only mean that this Nova is motivated by the solid-lifter L78, rated at 375 horsepower.
Not likely, as the L78 only came with the 4 speed manual. That was the case with all the solid-lifter Chevy V8s.
And the 325 hp version wasn’t available in the SS396 Nova; just the 350 hp and the 275 hp (Update: meant to type “375”). The 300 hp 350 was the std. engine.
I’ve read this Hot Rod road test of a Turbo 400 L78 Nova in the July ’69 issue…so it’s real or Hot Rod was mistaken when they drove it.
Steve Statham’s book on Novas also shows the L78 as an option in ’69 Novas, and there were possibly a few with aluminum heads too.
I see what happened there…I mis-typed “275” instead of “375”.
I’m guessing they weren’t mistaken, and I was. The truth is, the L78 was technically a COPO option (at least according to many sources), so that might have had something to do with it.
My googling didn’t turn up any L78 automatics, but like I said, stranger things have happened with engine/transmission combos.
A bit more googling does show that 1236 L78/THM Nova SS combos were made in 1969. You learn something new every day.
I see what happened: prior to 1969, the solid lifter big blocks were not available with the THM, but beginning in 1969, they were. And I see why. The THM arrived in 1969, and it obviously was designed to work with the solid lifter engines; the prior THM 400 and Powerglides didn’t.
There were actually 50 ’68’s built with the TH-400 under the COPO program for Fred Gibb’s Chevrolet. I tried to include the hyperlink but it got marked as spam. They were built late in the model year, July actually, and it was done to homologate the car for NHRA Super Stock competition. If you search for ’68 Nova SS 396 on-line you’ll find the article.
LOVE POVERTY CAPS AND BLACKWALLS!!!
Who needs hubcaps?
Teens in the 60’s, up to maybe 1973, would drive their cars without any hubcaps to be a ‘hot rod’. Until they could afford “mags”.
My teenage uncle had a ’71 Buick GS 350, with ‘poverty caps’ and he took them off day 2.
Oh, and THM400 for the win!
That dark green and the ’69 Nova SS were made for each other. Would look better with some white stripes, Rally or SS wheels and maybe no vinyl top. I don’t get the dog dish thing but understand why some guys do. I think it’s a bit of a fad. No matter what vinyl tops and dog dishes don’t go together.
I have been thinking the Rally wheels, with the chrome trim rings and center caps, would look just great on the dark green Nova.
The dog dishes on the GTX make me think of Adam-12.
When I saw that GTX I was thinking of the police special Mopar dog dishes with cooling holes punched out. Did they need wheel bearing cooling?
Hopefully you do one on the big block slayer, the olds f-85 w-31.
Or, as it was originally called, the Ramrod 350.
Of all the domestics during the musclecar sixties, Oldsmobile was the only one that tried to address handling by putting a rear sway bar on their performance models. The prevailing theory was that sway bars made the cars handling too ‘twitchy’. But the Ramrod W-31, with its lighter 350 engine and sway bars, was definitely the best handling of the intermediate musclecars.
But, then, Olds kind of screwed the pooch in 1970 by also offering the low-po ‘Rallye 350’, which was much more wildly painted and festooned, but, conversely, came with a standard 350 mill (it might even have been a 2V). A good case could be made that the Rallye 350 was the first of the ‘mylar GTs’.
Oldsmobile started offering a sway bar standard on the 442 from the start of production in 1964, I don’t think that Pontiac started offering one until 1969 or so.
The “low-po” performance cars were more of a reaction to “beginning of the end” of the muscle car boom, insurance companies started getting wise, the bare bones Road Runner was selling pretty well and other companies were looking for something similar, hence came the Rallye 350’s, Heavy Chevy, GT-37 and et al.
There were a number of interesting “big block slayers” around in the ’60s. Mopar’s 340 along with the Chevy L-79 were the best known, but the W-31 Olds was a very strong runner. My favourite was the Pontiac HO 350, a very low key option for Firebirds in ’68-’69. No scoops, stripes or bulges but it did have most of the performance pieces from the hotter 400 Pontiacs. Great little sleeper.
A couple of those 350 HO Firebirds and Tempests run at Stanton every year, and they put up some good numbers. Who knows how stock they are, but at least one of them has been certified I believe.
Did the 350 HO come in the Tempest T-37, too? You never hear much about it, but that car might fall into the same group. Likewise, a Torino with a 351C seems like it would run pretty good, too.
These all fall into the category of not being screamers like the biggest big-blocks, but fast enough for most purposes and a reliable, (somewhat) economical daily driver.
I only ever saw it in Firebirds, but you may have been able to get it in a T-37. I once owned a ’70 Torino GT with a 351C-4V. It wasn’t a good street runner due to high weight and not much low end torque, but on the highway at mid range and higher speeds it was pretty strong. 10 mpg on the best premium you could find though. In a Mustang with a low rear gear it would have been a contender for sure.
I want to say that it’s in the Tempest Custom S…I don’t believe the HO was available in the ’70 model year, but I may be incorrect on that.
Over at Stanton, 351 Torinos are lucky to break into the 14s from what I’ve noticed. They are pretty heavy, and the base 351 Cleveland 4-barrel had those huge ports and valves but a mild hydraulic cam and tall gears that didn’t take advantage of them.
It looks like we came to about the same conclusion at about the same time!
A Mopar 340-Thermoquad 4 BBL and Torqueflite in the lightweight Duster body was the terror of the street racer crowds out in “The Real World” away from car magazines road tests and corporate advertisements.
I don’t have much of an opinion about the merits of dog dish hubcaps, but I am nonetheless struck by how much infinitely better-looking the GTX is than the Nova. Obviously, the GTX is a bigger car, but its proportions and detailing are much nicer. (The GTX trim panel between the taillights is maybe a little cheesy, but I’ve seen worse.) The best I can say for the Nova is that the color does a decent job of masking its fundamental homeliness.
Either way, Novas sure are popular today. Go to any car event and a good majority of cars will belong to the Chevelle, Camaro, Nova contingency.
They do have a bit of a mullet vibe, but I think they look OK. Like you, I’d take the GTX any day of the week if I had to choose.
I grasp the appeal: a less cop-baiting package for basically Camaro mechanicals, a lighter package in which to stuff big V-8s, and above all a Chevy. I just wish they’d remembered to style it.
Wasn’t there some kind of issue with the later, 2nd gen Nova’s weight distribution and suspension set-up (especially with the heavier big-block V8) that prevented them from being the street terror the earlier ’66-’67 small-block version was? I personally knew a guy who was so angry about it he intentionally blew-up the engine in his Nova because it was so inconsistant on the dragstrip.
I’m not sure! The Nova and the Camaro were very similar underneath, and both were available with the 396. I imagine the weight distribution on both was somewhat uneven.
A possible answer might be in the Nova/Camaro’s rear suspension. The standard suspension used single-leaves (one on each side). A multi-leaf, heavy-duty suspension was available which (I would hope) would have been standard on high-performance models. Competitors eschewed this cheapening-out on the rear suspension and used a multi-leaf suspension on even the most base cars (although the number of leaves would increase on high-performance variants).
Most notable would be on Mopars which famously used one additional leaf on one side. Ford, OTOH, would sometimes stagger the shock absorbers. Either way, their musclecars hooked-up better off the line than GM products from the factory.
I could easily see many people hot-rodding a base Nova and having issues based on that, alone.
Being the contrarian I am, I’m not a fan of dog dish/ povo pack hubcaps.
Give me a set of Rallys, Olds Super Stocks or Buick chrome factory wheels.
The dog dish hub caps show that it is an absolute base model car. No options other than that huge powerhouse under the hood. All go, no show, as in the opposite, “all show and no go” Many people blinged out their cars, but they lacked the performance to back up their looks. I’m not into that kind of thing.
The problem with base dog-dishes is the steelies they would go on were the most narrow available, which limited the tire width quite a bit. Then there was the whole weight thing. Chromed steel wheels (like the ubiquitous Cragar S/S) didn’t make much sense over steelies, but I suppose aluminum wheels would be lighter. How much that might have helped performance is debatable though.
To get past the narrow wheel/tire problem, some guys would go to the trouble of having special, wider steelies custom made. But it was likely a whole lot easier (and probably not that much more expensive) to just go the aftermarket route.
The other consideration with styled steel wheels was strength. The quality and structural integrity of contemporary mag or aluminum wheels was highly variable — some were good, some were questionable. A styled steel wheel might not have been any lighter or any wider than stock, but it gave you more flair with less risk of it cracking or splitting in extremis.
Savvy buyers would order trailer-tow or station wagon steelies which were an inch wider-easily available over the dealer parts counter.
Late Dec.1969,Dad borrowed my 1966 Bird and wrecked it. I had to return to out-of-state college in a few days. Dad gave me a blank check, see his friend at a Chevy dealership, do not go crazy (meaning do not buy a Camaro). So I bought off the lot a 1970 Nova SS with the 396, fully optioned with whitewall tires and all the chrome trim but no vinyl roof.
Dad though that was a good purchase until a month later when he got the insurance bill. But I was long gone, out-of-state. We laughed about this years later…he messed with my T-Bird, payback was my 1970, Nova 396.
Any pictures, Alfred?