(first posted 9/18/2013. Let’s beat up on C/D some more) In 1967, I used to count the days until the next C/D issue came out; such brilliant stuff it was, and how it formed our youthful brains, for better or for worse. Well, much of it was good, or at least entertaining. Or at the least, a way to burn time instead of doing homework. But every so often, they really blew it, and I knew it then, despite being thirteen years old. There was the ridiculous Opel Kadett Assasination. And then this Pontiac OHC six powered XK-E. Why bother with all of that, since the stock Sprint version they first put in was substantially slower than the the Jag DOHC six? And even when Hurst had the Pontiac completely rebuilt hot-rod fashion, it still wasn’t as fast in the 1/4 mile? All that time and money for what?
Oh well, someone must have thought it was a good idea, and it wasn’t too hard to figure out that Pontiac was the one making this happen from behind the curtains to promote their new OHC six. Well, I had a better idea back then: stick one in a Chevy II!
Anyway, if you want to read a somewhat long-winded account of what happens when someone’s silly idea gets executed, for better or for worse, here it is. But don’t blame me if your homework doesn’t get done.
Why?A lot of work for no good reason.
Slightly makes sense today, if you’re trying to put an XKE with a bad engine back on the road with a small budget. Given the rarity of the OHC Pontiac Six I think a Jeep 4.0 might be more appropriate.
But to do that to a new car? Meh, why bother.
The primary objection to putting a V8 into the Jag is that it doesn’t fit without cutting the engine frames, which are made of high strength steel and don’t respond well to being bodged.
Gotta say I love those old advertisements. When was the last time anyone needed a Kodak carousel or a Vertex Magneto?
The AMC 232 I6 is your best bet. There are plenty of them to be had for rock bottom prices with plenty of love from the aftermarket.
A few years ago JP Magazine took a 4.6l stroker up to 692HP & 777lb-ft with a turbo turned up to 11.
Ford Barra is a better 6 than anything you guys can think of and plentifulbig hp easily in reach with turbo and a few mods.
Better in the amount of complexity and cost in getting it swapped in and running over the amc? No. Better in HP/$ at anything below…300 HP? No. Better in low end torque production for something like an offroader? Also no.
Better than a 2jz in HP/$ over 300 hp? No.
Cool engine and all, would love to have one in my 66 mustang, but an LSX would be “better”.
“Slightly makes sense today, if you’re trying to put an XKE with a bad engine back on the road with a small budget.”
Given the outrageous acquisition costs of an XKE in ANY condition, your restoration project is going to be a big budget proposition, and changing out to a non-Jaguar engine would eliminate any resale value.
In addition, thanks to 24 years of XJ6 production, junkyards are littered with 4.2 l Jaguar straight sixes. While it’s an expensive engine to rebuild, that’s the obvious path.
It would have made a lot more sense to replace the big old lump in a Austin Healey 3000 instead. I suppose it wouldn’t have quite grabbed the same headlines but at least there would have been a possible performance gain. Ironically it is much easier to get parts for that Jaguar engine these days than the Pontiac.
Slight tuning of the Jag engine (nearly 20 years of racing development by then) would have done it too.
Today I’d try a 4.0 dohc turbo Falcon engine, can get 500hp with bolt-on mods and a tune.
Remember the Turbo Territory those had awesome performance for a SUV and the new diesel 700+ mn of torque the exploder was a sick joke.
The Falcon turbo came immediately to mind as a superb choice. Heavy though, which was why I suggested the Nissan RB25DET (at the bottom of the comments) as a lighter, cheap&plentiful (in NZ anyway) option. But a friend popped around this afternoon with his Territory and that Ford engine certainly is tempting…!
Would that be the Barra engine?
I’d had the pipe dream for some years of putting a GMC Vortec 4200 engine in a Jag. Very similar bore, stroke, and displacement, and you’d gain 12 valves.
At the time they were looking for a replacement for the C series an oppotunity missed
A well tuned Jag engine pokes out more power than that what a waste of time by a complete bunch of losers,
Being fast thru a quarter mile is a waste of time for real onroad performance as we have seen with numerous poor driving American pony cars, zero to sixty then turn hard right or left without lifting off without losing traction and you might have something worthwhile.
actually in real onroad performance if you are a responsible person acceleration and cornering performance means almost nothing because you should be driving safely and not endanger the people around you.
Have you actually driven a pony car? You sure do pull alot of BS out of your ass.
I tell you what try driving your pony car at speed around tight corners like a slalom course but with bumps and opposing traffic while remaining in a 3 metre lane You might learn something Ive tried it with several alledged fast US cars it doesnt work they dont hold the road, US cars are quite popular here I even like em but not for fast driving, around town cruising is their forte or nice straight roads.
Bad news for you, Phil. Pony cars were also a real handful to drive here on the Wetcoast. Their handling was never anything to write home about but the combination of narrow, twisty windy roads, often with broken pavement, and torrential rain made for a lot of dead pony car drivers in my teen years. This was especially true for the ones that were hopped up. Their leaf-sprung solid axles couldn’t handle the stock power well. Adding another 100 hp didn’t help much. For example, a high school girlfriend’s brother was killed in a 1974 Camaro on a wet, rainy night on a twisty, windy and very dark road.
It wasn’t CAFE that killed muscle cars. It was insurance companies, and for good reason.
with all due respect Canuck… we are comparing hopped up cars driven by teenagers in bad weather. Change the tune to a modern lowered Civic with bald tires and the oversteer turns into understeer off the cliff.
Would you honestly say that a Pony car was worse than any other car on the road at the time?
They did mature into very good handlers, and still are if you consider the current Mustang/Camaro/Challenger modern pony cars.
these cars can be modified to corner well the touring car masters series and Southern muscle cars race series bear that out but in stock form nar Len’s right they are bad, the Camaro of 70/71 appeared out here with a fordor body grafted on but with the US steering and suspension it was ok as a car but Chryslers Valiant with its torsionbar front end could eat its lunch and that of the famed GTHO Ford.
If the driver is in experienced, or generally lousy, they any car could killed them, even the advanced space shuttles available in New Zealand,
teen age driver? wet? rainy? twisty? and dark?
Yep, that death was ALL the F-bodies fault……
I can hear James Roche laughing up on the 14th floor of the GM Building already…..Hey, we killed some teenagers….muhahahahahahah!
This of course NEVER happened in New Zealand, as they were already beaming people and their sheep from place to place in the 70’s, its the most advanced land on earth….
Speaking of which, did anyone see the 69 Camaro pulled from the lake with the skeletal remains of the kids that had been missing since 1970?
The F-body claims another “victim”……muahahhahhahaha…..
Phil, you really don’t understand the conditions under which we drive here on the Wetcoast. For flat, straight highways, the pony cars were fine. Under our conditions, they were less than fine.
Here anyway, it was the insurance companies that stopped the pony car party.
Carmine, that was an interesting (and chilling) article. We have had the odd long missing vehicle turn up at the bottom of one of BC’s many lakes, but usually only 1 body at a time. A couple of years ago an early ’60s Chrysler was pulled out of a lake in the Okanagan Valley containing the remains of a young mother who disappeared in 1972.
Back in those days roads were narrow guardrails were few and traffic light, and it really was possible to just drive off and never be seen again.
In South Florida, this isn’t even that odd a story, every couple of years something like this turns up in a canal or a lake. There was a water co. 72 Chevrolet missing since 1979 that was found once with the county worker still in it.
This woodie Century was pulled from a canal down here is January, it solved a 1993 missing persons case.
Several years back there was a 1965 Mercury pulled out of Lake Errock about 70 miles east of Vancouver….guy had been missing since 65 or 66!
A classic example of the OEM, aftermarket and automotive press teaming up to generate some interest in a given product. It worked so well for the SBC. To make an omelet you’ve got to break a few eggs. In this case, the omelet sucks, because the Pontiac OHC I-6 is essentially an overhead cam (not very good) truck motor.
Chrysler built a truck motor and couldnt find a use for it Chrysler OZ adopted it and produced the fastest accelerating 6 cylinder car on the planet only beaten when BMW finally got its act together with a performance 6 many years later.
Nothing wrong with a GOOD truck motor; e.g. most successful American V-8s, or pushrod I-6s.
Interesting comparison really, 265ci/4.3L with triple Weber 45s and a claimed 302hp achieved a 14.1 sec quarter on road tires with two people on board in the period road test. Slightly lower top speed though at 130-135 put pushing a lot more car through the air.
At least they tried stuff. Experimentation will result in some failures.
This article is a good example that, despite all their anti-establishment, railing against ‘the man’, gonzo journalism hoopla, in many ways (including the David E. Davis years), Car and Driver was just as much in bed with the auto industry and a shill for them as any of the other, so called auto magazines.
Pontiac seems to be the GM division that enjoyed most of this sort of shenanigans. In addition to the above, thinly-veiled, Pontiac-sponsored publicity stunt, there’s the now infamous 1964 GTO vs. GTO farce, where the ’64 GTO supplied by Pontiac to compare against a Ferrari was, quite obviously, far from stock (it actually had a race-prepped 421 instead of a 389 engine).
GTOs would sell in droves thanks to this kind of ‘reporting’, with the truth being that Goats were actually among the weakest musclecars during the era. Only 390 Fords were slower.
It’s the only lasting recipe for financial success, which is why it’s forever being played out that way. And it explains why a whole lot of folks trust CR for actual car buying decisions.
+1 Consumer Reports does as best of a job as they can.
I trust CR completely. In my indy-garage days, the cars that came in with major problems where, golly-be, the ones CR said had the worst reliability. I learned about the THM200 fiasco from looking at CR.
It is really interesting how many fanbois get all bent out of shape when their car gets a poor rating.
If buying a car has the same emotional involvement as buying a microwave or tampons, then yeah, go ahead and listen to Consumer Reports……
I rest my case.
There was a case about 10 years ago with a Holden Commodore SS being significantly similar faster than the +$10k hotted up HSV version with theoretically 50 more hp. Perhaps the HSV guys didnt get the memo… Disappointingly the response was along the lines of ‘a bit too healthy’ rather than really ridiculing them, clearly didnt want to bite the hand that fed them.
And the doctored 0-60 Catalina (was it a ’65?)
This article was the first thing that came to mind when I read Tom’s post on the Firebird.
I got into Car and Driver somewhat later, about 1976 or so. While they were still obviously shilling for car companies (which I realised even as a pre-teen) at least they had some interesting articles. I loved the road trip articles of Brock Yates and Davis was always interesting. I even had a subscription sent to me in Japan when I was living there.
The magazine went down the toilet when Csere took over. All of the interesting stuff went away. I would assume paying Brock Yates to drive a 450SEL 6.9 across the country couldn’t have been cheap, so all that kind of stuff got axed. Too bad, because that’s why I bought it. Csere is gone now but the magazine is no different than any buff-rag. Just a series of “road tests” where they tell us how wonderful every car is. I mean, I have had lots of Elantra rentals, but holy-moley, I can’t exactly rave about how wonderful they are.
A friend of mine works for a Canadian online car magazine and he tells me that the manufacturers bribe journalists all the time with exotic locations, beer, entertainment, the whole nine years. GM and Daimler really do this big and therefore get glowing reviews. Toyota puts two “journalist” in a Motel 8 and gets less glowing reviews.
Aussie”s Wheels buff rag got caught out in a similar way awarding COTY prizes to some of the worst cars available the P76 and Camira just two examples no doubt they got to test special examples because their findings didnt match the cars in the showrooms.
Wheels was always at pains to point out they awarded ’73 COTY to the P76 V8 only, not the 6 cylinder. And they had a strong case for the Camira too. But I think in both cases the awards were based on what the cars were expected to be rather than what they ultimately turned out to be.
IIRC the Renault 12 won it too, and look how that turned out in service…
Not really viable for them to rescind the award after a year or two though.
I still remember the story where the editors sent a writer in a brand-new Lincoln Continental Mark III on a trip from New York City to Washington, D.C., without any cash or credit cards. They wanted see if the car itself would be sufficient to open the wallets of strangers when he needed meals, gas or accommodations.
The article did raise an interesting point. Those people were truly rich, or worked at establishments that catered to the truly rich, were not particularly impressed with the car, and did not cut him a break. It was the working class people, or people who worked at less expensive places, who were really impressed with the Lincoln and were thus inclined to give him a break.
Another interesting story involved P.J. O’Rourke driving a 1956 Buick from Florida to California (it was published in late 1977, if I recall correctly). The old car broke down on a daily basis, but virtually everyone he met “had one just like it” and loved it, and was thus able to help get it running.
There is a funny PJ O’Rourke one from the late 70’s about driving an Aston Martin Volante in Palm Beach.
Ah, for the days when P.J O’Rourke was still funny.He’s just kind of sad now…
Notice how the car weight was lower with the Pontiac OHC than the stock Jag DOHC? Since the Poncho was based on the Stovebolt Six Chevy, which was never noted for being particularly light, it just goes to show what a boat anchor the Jag six was. The Healey 3000 six was even worse, weighing something close to 700 lbs, but with much less power than even a well-tuned Chevy six, so a Poncho conversion would have been a serious upgrade.
The OHC Six was based on the Chevy 230 of 1962. While no lightweight, it was not terribly heavy for its day. I would also wager that the Pontiac motor didn’t share the tales of woe the Jaguar had if it overheated.
On the other hand, the Pontiac OHC had a very bad rep for chewing up camshafts due to oiling issues. In fact, it was rather a lemon because of that. Not many still around.
And frankly, the whole thing was a bit of posturing. It would have been very easy to just do a bit of head work on the Chevy and get the same output. Many have done just that over the years. It’s not like it had a proper cross-flow/hemi head to really make the OHC worthwhile.
I have only ever seen one in captivity and that was owned by a retired school marm. Did a full “tune-up” on it every year.
Although if one feels the need to be fair (and I have these moments), at the point when C/D did this article (probably summer or early fall ’66, from the cover date), the Pontiac’s issues wouldn’t yet have been apparent.
Based on C/D‘s other coverage of the OHC six, they were really hoping that the Pontiac engine would offer something like Jaguar XK performance with customary American “set it and forget it” reliability, which on paper the Sprint seemed likely to do. (Certainly the hydraulic lash adjusters were a huge advance over bucket-type tappets that have to be adjusted with shims.) Some of the wind left their sales after another story (published in the following month’s issue) in which Pontiac invited them to go to France with a new Le Mans Sprint four-door hardtop that ended up being beset by persistent electrical problems and the inability to sustain speeds over 85 mph without overheating.
So was it just an OHC conversion of the Chevy, or did it go deeper than that?
I am surprised they didn’t give it a crossflow head; that wouldn’t have been too much to ask for a ‘new’ engine in 1967.
Series C Austin six weighs 7cwt with gearbox, Ive change some over in big Austin/Morris sedans, the cars reach for the sky with the powertrain out.
Wonder how a Barra swap would go in them? 🙂
Am I strange for being more nostalgic for the Kodak Carousel slide projector on the last page?
Admittedly that is more Retrothing than Curbside Classics but it’s still something once ubiquitous and now rare.
Never had one, our family used the straight tray for slides.
Our extended family still occasionally has “Family Fun Slide Night” at Grandpa’s house, my Dad pulls out a couple of trays from the ’60’s and ’70’s.
Some good CC watching there.
We had the slide projector with the straight tray that would slowly push a bunch of slides from one end to another as the selector arm moved/replaced each slide and pushed it forward with a loud clicking action. Dad projected it onto a bedsheet. I still remember seeing hours of beautiful vacation slides from Europe with vivid parental commentary while the room filled with the smell of hot projector bulb and cooling slides. The tray would have to cool down before we could put the slides back in their storage boxes. It was our way of teaching family history.
After a few years, it would get hung up when it got too hot and we’d have to take a break. There were lots of shots of us near our dark colored ’63 VW that we bought/sold back to the Spanish govt. at the beginning and end of Dad’s TDY. I remember lots of shots of german pillboxes and fortifications and roman ruins.
Crude, but it still makes me wonder if the car is out there. Intact, as per the magazine article(s).
I would never do that to a Jag of any kind, but if I could come up with the documented car from the article, I’d love to own it – if only to make the Virginia British Car Club cringe. And considering it had a pedigree . . . .
The Jaguar XK6 must be the most swapped out engine in history.
I recall a later article in which they mentioned that someone eventually put a 300 cu. in. Ford six in the car instead. I don’t recall if it survives or not; I’m thinking no, but I don’t remember.
Ridiculous. It’s like putting the diesel engine of the 2014 Ram 1500 truck in this brand new Maserati Ghibli……Oh, wait….that isn’t ridiculous….
I used to love C&D back in the late ’60’s and early ’70’s. Talk about a fun read on so many different levels. The one article I really recall is how they bemoaned the death of one of my all-time faves the Dart GTS and how their dream was to get the car with IIRC either a 440 or a 426 instead of the ‘puny’ 340 being forced on them by ‘modernity’.
Nowadays I cannot stand the mag; they need to break out all those effin “Letters from Readers” and just go with the articles. Let the folks who want to see their names and get insulted do it online like here. Maybe they already ARE online; I just dont care enough to look for it.
It’s funny to read that C&D ‘pined’ for a Dart GTS 440 when, in fact, there was a brief run of them in 1969 (as well as a 1969 ‘Cuda 440). If you wanted one bad enough, you could even have gotten one from Mr. Norm’s Grand Spalding Dodge the previous year (although it was dealer installed).
The problem was that shoehorning a big-block into an A-body didn’t leave room in the engine bay for such niceties as power steering or brakes. On top of that, the smaller, restrictive exhaust manifolds and pipes severely limited horsepower so a 440 A-body ended up being no faster than a B-body with the same engine (and the A-body was more difficult to live with, due to the lack of PS or PB). Consequently, despite what C&D might think, the big-block A-body (whether a 383 or 440) isn’t exactly one of the most legendary street machines of the era.
Of course, with open, fenderwell headers and slicks on the dragstrip, it would be a different story.
What article was this? I have their Dodge Dart GTS 340 test (September 1968) in front of me and it begins with a page and a half of praise for the 340, confirms the popular rumor that it’s a lot stronger than its rating suggests, and suggests off-hand that the 383 available in the same car was a pointless exercise. They liked the improved four-speed shifter and the handling, were disappointed by the brakes and the driving position, but summer up that it was an enjoyable car. Their big criticisms, aside from the brakes, were that the GTS designation was meaningless and silly and that the Dart was so bland-looking even with its GTS stripes that it was practically the Invisible Dodge. Their only mention of the 426 Hemi is to say the 340 is Chrysler’s second-most exciting engine.
As I said, IIRC, after 40 years or so. I had thought the C&D was an early ’70’s article, well after the fact that the previously-available big blocks were gone and buyers had a limited choice of engines, for the (personally uncared for) Duster body (whatever the code was) with the twin hood scoops instead of the sham rocker bumps.
As for the bland aspect, I fully agree but that’s what made the car somewhat of a sharper-looking red light sleeper. And after George Baris redesigned the car for “Mannix” we all painted our grills flat black and installed a pair of driving lights, upgraded the brakes and had us some fun.
Are there any good car mags anymore with unbiased writeups and tales of roadtrips and semi-legal hoonery? The only one I sort of trust is CR. The big three are just whores for whomever provides the cover car that month. Hot Rod and Car Craft are dead to me as well.
Going to CR for car info, if you are into cars, for other than just basic stats, is like going to vegetarians for advice on what cut of beef to buy….
I will still occasionally read car and driver. In the last few years I’ve subscribed to Hot Rod again after several years of reading Car Craft. I liked Car Craft because the emphasis was on DIY stuff with mostly 60s and 70s cars. After awhile I got tired of articles telling me how to pull 500 horses out of a SBC stroker.I don’t know about you, but if I’ ve got a good running car I’m driving it, not pulling it down to”stab in a cam”. Anyhow a couple of years ago Hot Rod proclaimed on it’s cover “No more boring cars!” There was that shot of that mid engined 1969 Mustang fastback. Inside there was a very good multi-page article on the build up. Lots of good photos of the fabrication and components. I read the old Hot Rod in the seventies and had grown to hate the one page write ups with three lousy photos. I read it for pleasure but there is some pretty good info.
I haven’t read all of C/D‘s experiments over the years, but with at least some of them, they were fairly upfront about it when the experiment didn’t work so well. Their “J. Edgar Opel” Opel GT fell into the latter category. (They tried adding massive Wide Ovals instead of the rather skinny stock tires, and compensated for the taller tires with a much shorter axle. Result: lots of grip, frequent tire/wheel well interference, a terrible ride, irritatingly short gearing, and a tendency to dump rear axle oil because the differential was never intended for the lateral forces they put it under with the fat tires.)
I’m not a big fan of stunts like that, but they were at least entertaining to read, in part because they didn’t take themselves terribly seriously. So many of C/D‘s contemporaries were either really bland or really rather dry (although I appreciate Car Life‘s drier wit in that period).
I like CR. (cue Carmine; let’s see if we can get him to do it three times at one post….:)
But they were different both times.
Stay tuned for the silver Corolla vs grey Civic vs ashen Sentra vs Kenmore 1100 Watt microwave comparo!!!! And after that! We rate Toothbrushes!!!!!!!
I’m with Carmine. CR celebrates blandness. I’d much rather have an entertaining car with some foibles than some excruciatingly dull rolling appliance. Boring is as boring does.
I was teasing Carmine. 😉
But FWIW, I have found CR useful for appliances and other things, and their car reviews do cover a full range of qualities including handling, mileage, performance, etc. For instance, CR is the only publication I trust for fuel mileage, because the test all their cars on a consistent regime. I like to have objective facts along with my fun.
Anyway, I stopped reading car magazines years ago, except the occasional quick read at the YMCA or some waiting room.
“Anyway, I stopped reading car magazines years ago, except the occasional quick read at the YMCA or some waiting room.”
Yup. What a vast wasteland of mindless car porn. At least CR assumes a certain amount of intelligence on the part of the reader.
Except not long ago CR did a test of the BEST vehicles to use for trailer towing… Somehow forgot to get a Suburban?
I don’t know if anyone else was looking but those Shelby glasses are gold. Do any still exist?
I want the windbreaker!
Initially the idea of dropping a Pontiac 6 into an E-Type is eyebrow-raising. But then again, it raises an intriguing point – would it be worth rebuilding a tired Jag 6 nowadays, or easier to drop in a late model hi-po 6? I’d wager an E-Type would go brilliantly with a Nissan RB25DET (2.5 straight-6 twin-cam turbo) in it, and would be reliable and relatively economical into the bargain. The RB series engines would be rare in most places, but they’re a dime a dozen here thanks to the untold Skylines/Laurels/Cefiros that came in with them. In one of the Fast & Furious movies (#3?) they popped a Nissan RB into a late 60s Mustang. At first I was horrified, but the concept grew to intrigue me – and RBs sound awesome.
I love my cammer. When you wind it up, it has that classic European snarl.
I would take the set of 4 Shelby glasses over this pile. Probably worth more at auction today anyway.
I have a set of four collectable glasses sold by Snap-On in the late ’80s. They look like large sockets
C/D sucks even more in 2022. I’ve found myself regretting using the time I took to look thru it these days. Even the January 10 best issue is a snooze.
What I learned by reading this article and comments:
Australia is, or has something, better than anyone, anything and everything no matter what the subject or question. Aussies have been there, done that, wrote the book, threw it away and wrote a better one before anyone else ever heard of it.
Pony cars kill everyone who’s ever driven one due to their horrible road manners, which is particularly concerning since i regularly drive a Mustang in all sorts of conditions, including torrential thunderstorms. I must’ve been killed, what, four or five times by now? Wait. There’s the next one that explains it.
Only the Wetcoast has curves AND rain. Literally everywhere else is dry and flat with no curves or bends.
Also, CR is the only automotive publication worth reading (when you can’t decide which shade of beige your 17th consecutive Corolla should be). Anyone who disagrees with that is just an ignorant loser with no right to their own opinion and/or experiences. Follow the herd. They know best.