By on August 26, 2017

Image: Buick GSX, by Corey Lewis In our previous concours edition of Picture Time, we shared five distinctly American luxury cars from years gone by. Today we move forward in history a little, and subtract some luxury for the sake of sheer power.

Follow along now for some great American muscle cars from the show.

Image: Buick GSX, by Corey Lewis

The Buick GSX was an option package on top of the Buick GS455, available from 1970 through 1974. Low sales figures make it a fairly rare car today.Image: Buick GSX, by Corey Lewis

The GSX was Buick’s equivalent model to the Pontiac GTO, and featured sporting details like this excellent optional hood tach.
Image: Pontiac GTO Convertible, by Corey Lewis

Speaking of the GTO, this red and white convertible beauty was nearby.Image: Pontiac GTO Convertible, by Corey Lewis

The internet tells me this example, with concealed headlamps (lost for 1970) and rear side marker shaped like a GTO logo, is from 1969.Image: Pontiac Firebird Trans Am, by Corey Lewis

Who doesn’t love the familiar visage of a golden late ’70s Firebird Trans Am?

Image: Pontiac Firebird Trans Am, by Corey Lewis

The brown vinyl interior lets onlookers know that not only are you a sporting driver, but you’re also someone who enjoys a nice, wide lapel on a suit.

Image: Pontiac Firebird Trans Am, by Corey Lewis

As previously proven in the Pontiac 6000 Rare Rides article, Pontiac often received wheel designs better than other General Motors offerings. Golden snowflakes are always a win.

Image: Pontiac Firebird Trans Am, by Corey Lewis

The Trans Am was an option package on the base Firebird, upgrading the model’s power, suspension, and handling. It also added Trans Am-specific visual cues.

Image: Ford Mustang Mach I, by Corey Lewis

But enough about General Motors, as this enormous Mustang Mach I also made an appearance at the show.

Image: Ford Mustang Mach I, by Corey Lewis

The huge exterior proportions of the Mach I did not translate into extensive interior room for occupants.Image: Ford Mustang Mach I, by Corey Lewis

Inset headlamps and front corner vents were only available on the 1970 Mach I. The model debuted for the first time in 1969.

Image: Chevrolet Corvette Stingray, by Corey Lewis

Back to GM one last time, for this utterly mustard Corvette Stingray.
Image: Chevrolet Corvette Stingray, by Corey Lewis

For 1969 through 1976, the C3 Corvette Stingray maintained this same basic shape. The egg-crate fender vents seen here place this example between 1970 and 1972.

Image: Chevrolet Corvette Stingray, by Corey Lewis

With T-tops and an automatic transmission, the Stingray was ready to brougham you around throughout the remainder of the 1970s.

Come back soon, for our next Picture Time from the Keeneland Concours.

[Images: © Corey Lewis]

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39 Comments on “Picture Time: American Muscle From the Keeneland Concours...”


  • avatar
    87 Morgan

    Great photos!
    I especially love the T/A. There is a place in my fantasy garage for a 77, which I believe is what is pictured, only I would prefer another color. I am just not a fan of gold, black is ubiquitous for this car so I would have to go that route.
    Thanks again for this series.

  • avatar

    Nice looking GSX! Never saw one in person – the closest thing being a 442. Thanks Corey for the pics!

  • avatar
    mikey

    Good work Corey…With so many vehicles it always hard to pick the really interesting examples.

    Last night, downtown Oshawa was closed off for a car show..The bars, and restaurants were open though ; ). I’m always amazed at some of vehicles that people have stashed away in their garages.

  • avatar

    No fuzzy dice on the rear view mirror or stuffed animals/dolls in the back seats? What kind of car show is this? I’m guessing they still played the oldies music. #boomers

  • avatar
    DeadWeight

    Too bad that the General Lee from The Dukes of Hazard didn’t make an appearance.

    Too soon?

    That paint color on the Corvette is nothing short of awful.

    It’s hard to believe that when that 1969 Corvette debuted, General Motors had a 50% market share of all vehicles sold in the United States, and now hovers around 15%, but that’s what total incompetence in the corporate executive offices will lead to (consider that GM’s response to the aggressive Japanese invasion of the 70s was the Vega, to be followed up by such real beauties as the Citation in the early 80s).

  • avatar
    mikey

    @DW..Had a few beers with some of my former colleagues, at the car show last night, management, and hourly retirees..Now that we have all be out for a few years, the “dividing lines” no longer matter.,

    In conversation we all pretty well share your views..The general consensus was one of “HTF did we go from there to where we are now ? “..

  • avatar
    ScarecrowRepair

    Anyone interested in GTOs could do worse than watch the Canadian TV series “Republic of Doyle”. Family private eyes, the son drives a blue GTO everywhere. The show itself is pretty inconsistent, sometimes too much slapstick, sometimes the phoniest of mysteries, the plots are always pretty pointless. But the GTO shows up in almost every episode, and St John provides a fantastic backdrop.

  • avatar
    dchturbo

    I hate it when cars only have one wing mirror.

    • 0 avatar
      Arthur Dailey

      They were an option prior to and during that era on most vehicles.

      And a significant number of drivers did not check that option box.

      I remember my friends discussing them when I showed up in a vehicle with one. Not even sure that every model even offered them as an option?

      Most would be manually adjustable. Saw that as late as 2001 on base Chev Ventures. Others had a ‘mechanical’ toggle switch on the dashboard. Luxury vehicles had the now standard power switch.

      • 0 avatar
        RedRocket

        Back in this era most passenger-side door mirrors were still flat glass, which made them pretty much useless. I am unsure when in the ’70s the convex style became universal.

        The mechanical right-side remotes almost never worked properly. They were controlled by a long cable usually mounted on the drivers side of the dash that snaked behind the dash and into the door. Lots of slop and not much accuracy in that mechanism.

      • 0 avatar

        I’m pretty sure that right side mirrors weren’t even an option on American cars until the late 1960s. Some European and Japanese cars had them – I think the look of sporting Brit and Japanese cars from the era with side mirrors up on the front fenders looks cool.

  • avatar

    The 442 was an Olds. My brother’s friend had a new one in 68. I will never forget the time we went down the Harbor Freeway to San Pedro doing 100 – weaving in and out of light traffic. Beauty of a car.
    The 69/70 Mustangs were not enormous. Those are the 71-73 model years. I would still like a 71 Boss 351.

  • avatar
    OneAlpha

    The Bandit-type Trans Am.

    Where “70s” and “Snowflakes” are actually good things.

    • 0 avatar
      golden2husky

      If there is a better example of perverting the meaning of a word, I have yet to see it. BTW, the 70s had a lot to offer, even if most automotive things from that era kinda sucked. The T/A would be an exception, but even rose colored glasses from yesteryear can’t hide the fact that many F bodies were pretty poorly assembled. I have seen restorations of the black T/A with the period correct gold details and you would be amazed at how great these cars look with a real paint job and when all the panels are carefully aligned…

      • 0 avatar
        stingray65

        Husky – you are right about the poor assembly quality – most of these old muscle cars rattled when brand new, and aged quickly from there. Lots of chassis flex, poor suspension tuning, and a real drop in assembly quality as the 60s progressed led to some pretty awful cars, that look nice today because they have been restored to a far higher standard than they left the showroom. The other aspect that most people today don’t get is that these fancy versions were very uncommon in the day. Due to lower salaries and high insurance costs, most people bought the vanilla versions of these cars – 6 cylinder (maybe 100-110 net horsepower) or low horsepower 2 barrel 283-327 cubic inch V-8s (maybe 140-160 net horsepower), basic cardboard and vinyl interiors, no power steering or brakes or windows, no A/C, no tachometer, steel wheels with perhaps “deluxe” wheel covers and skinny white stripe bias ply tires, and single speaker AM radio – these were the way most people bought “sporty” cars of the time. But go to a car show and it seems every Mopar has a Hemi or 440 six-pack, every GTO has RamAir, every Mustang is a Mach 1, and every Sting Ray has knock off alloy wheels and the hot versions of small block or big block.

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    As these are the ‘cars of my youth’ I have first hand experience with most.

    Although many don’t I personally prefer the ‘big Mustangs’.

    Purchased off lease from a co-worker a Trans-Am for my brother. Bandit style with the T-roof and screaming chicken hood paint. Very low mileage but little maintenance from the original owner/leasee. This vehicle was so disappointing in its performance and build quality. Not a fan.

    A big fan of GTO’s. Never owned a ‘Judge’ but a good friend did.

    My training partner had a GSX (he was from the USA). Later traded it in for a T-top Regal. Guess he didn’t realize what he had.

    As for the C3, sorry Corey but you have misused the term ‘brougham’. The spartan interior and lack of exterior ‘do dads’ on the ‘vette are the opposite of ‘brougham’. I traded my C3 (manual) and replaced it with a T-Bird which was very ‘brougham’. Totally different styling ethos. At least in Canada, they were still quite rare during that era. Drivers/owners used to acknowledge each other when driving in opposite directions or pull over and compare their cars if possible.

    • 0 avatar

      WELL,

      Automatic Corvette with t-tops brown interior and wood on the dash? Are you sure it’s not at least a lil’ bit brougham?

      • 0 avatar
        ToddAtlasF1

        A proper brougham should have a padded vinyl top, a fake radiator shell, fake fender vents, fake wire wheel covers, fake gauges on the instrument panels surrounded by fake wood, white wall tires, tufted velour seats, and a formal roof line. The Corvette has…fake wood on the dash. T-tops were more of a personal luxury car crossover feature. Most broughams were sedans, although it was certainly personal luxury cars that pioneered the fakery, with the Continental MKIII being a great example. Broughamification was a marketing strategy for addressing the death of performance in the unleaded fuel era and the death of style when 5-mph bumpers became required. This Corvette would have still been plenty fast, and is less of a brougham than a 2017 BMW 730i is.

        • 0 avatar
          Arthur Dailey

          ToddAtlas nailed the explanation.

          My C3 was an L82, standard. All the ‘go fast’ options plus some customization. Unfortunately post ‘pollution control’.

          So would it be any faster than a current mid to high end sedan?

          • 0 avatar
            ajla

            A stock 70s L82 had acceleration comparable to a current Fiat 124 and it would be faster than today’s basic I4 mid-size, but with a few exceptions (like the Legacy) it would likely be slower than any modern gasoline 6-cylinder or 2.0T *car* offering. Also, it was faster than the ATS 2.5L

            caranddriver.com/reviews/1979-chevrolet-corvette-road-test-review

            caranddriver.com/reviews/2017-fiat-124-spider-abarth-tested-review

            caranddriver.com/comparisons/2016-chevrolet-malibu-vs-2016-honda-accord-2016-mazda-6-2016-toyota-camry-comparison-test

            caranddriver.com/reviews/2013-cadillac-ats-25l-test-areview

          • 0 avatar
            Arthur Dailey

            @ajla,
            Thanks for the links.

            Although mine was a 1976 L82 with the ‘go fast’ stuff added, and a manual, the reviewer really seems to have nailed the target demographic for these cars. From the review and my comments.

            “The ignition lock has been reinforced for better theft protection.” This was a necessary fix. If you knew how to do it you could ‘snap’ these ignition switches and although they looked intact you could actually start the car without a key.

            “What these Grand Prix trade-in customers love is the Corvette’s Batmobile look, and as long as it’s flashy and accommodates blonds in pink shorts, they’re content.” Yes the vehicle that was my daily driver prior to the ‘vette was a Grand Prix SJ with the big block. And back then short, satin shorts and tube tops were part of the wardrobe of most young ladies.

  • avatar
    stingray65

    A V-6 Camry or 4 cylinder 330i would beat any of those cars in the quarter mile or top speed, get about 300% better gas mileage, stop in 30% shorter distances, skidpad 30% faster, and cost about the same in inflation adjusted dollars. Add in better rust proofing, lower maintenance, greater durability, vastly better passive safety, and eons better infotainment, and the only things keeping the old car hobby going are styling, nostalgia, and the hope of appreciation in value.

    • 0 avatar
      Arthur Dailey

      And the final will drop for all but the most desirable vehicles once the ‘boomers’ age out.

      People tend to want to buy what they longed/lusted for when they were young.

      They tend to have the money to do that just prior to retirement.

      When they ‘age out’ the majority of the generation after them do not have the same attachment to these objects. So the demand decreases, and therefore also the price.

      The really desirable vehicles such as Superbirds, Shelbys, etc will remain valuable. Many of the others, not so much.

      • 0 avatar
        golden2husky

        Which will be a bonanza for people like me. What I do see is the idea of cars as objects of desire fading across the board. Car shows do not generally have a lot of teens/preteens that are genuinely interested in cars. That is why, on more than on occasion, I have allowed small kids to sit in my car and have their parent(s) take a photo. It is important to plant the seed young. Otherwise automobile ownership will be like owning a Maytag.

      • 0 avatar
        ajla

        I don’t know, I think the dizzying days of a Chevelle SS 454 going for $125k are over but there is enough GenX and Millenial interest in the performance cars of this era that I don’t expect I’ll be able to get a 455 GTO for $25K or see a chrome bumper C3 Corvette at C4 prices.

    • 0 avatar

      I agree that the demand will go down, but there will always be people who appreciate these cars for what they are (and their unique character, which many present day cars lack). I recently watched Jay Leno interview a person my age on Youtube who was into model Ts. So it isn’t just retirees keeping these cars going.

  • avatar
    Carlson Fan

    Just not a TA from that era if it doesn’t have T-roofs IMHO. I owned a ’79 which I believe was the year that Pontiac sold the most Trans Ams, around 114,000.

    Mine was a SE w/400 Poncho Motor 4sp, t-roofs, WS6, air, PL, PW, deluxe hobnail cloth interior, black on black. Damn I wish I still had that car what an absolute hoot to drive! The 400/4SP cars fetch a pretty good price these days.

  • avatar
    John

    People do tend to buy the cars they yearned for in their teens, when they are in their 50s and up. Eighties and nineties cars are likely to become the next collectibles.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    Good stuff, Corey!

    And that ‘Vette…mmmm, mmmmmmmm, good. I prefer red, of course…but that one’s gorgeous.

    IMHO, ’70-’72 was Peak Corvette. By this time, the issues of the first couple of years of C3s had been ironed out, and the performance/luxury mix was just superb. Last of the truly great old Stingrays before emissions ruined them.

    • 0 avatar

      I agree. The C3 got quite chunky and portly looking as it grew older, to go along with that damp blanket performance.

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      I still think the ’78 and ’79 cars with the optional spoilers look really good.

      The ’80 – ’82 versions aren’t really my thing, but they can be okay in a two-tone as it breaks up the visual bulk.

      dxsdcl7y7vn9x.cloudfront.net/3/270322/7862792/837366297.jpg

  • avatar
    Middle-Aged Miata Man

    The C3 ‘Vette was intro’d for the 1968 model year, not 1969. The amber front parking lights mark this example as a ’72.

  • avatar
    amca

    That red GTO is a ’70, not a ’69. The parking lights tell the whole story.


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