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Classic Cars: Showroom Racers--Detroit's Special Pony Cars

Updated on April 2, 2015

Pony Cars

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“Win on Sunday, sell on Monday.” Detroit's motto during the 1960s. They spent untold dollars to keep their brand out front wherever production based cars competed.

Unfortunately, the companies couldn't just conjure a few special race cars in some clandestine back shop. Race organizers insisted a production race car be something anyone could buy in the showroom, and special muscle car models with race approved parts were born.

The SCCA's Trans Am series was tailor made for Detroit's new pony cars during the late sixties and early seventies. Between ’67 and ‘69, the SCCA limited Trans Am racers to five liter (302 CID) engines: only cars sold with such an engine could compete.

Chevrolet introduced the Camaro Z28 in 1967 with a 302 CID small block V8, heavy duty drive line, and upgraded suspension. An instant classic car.

Ford bolted modified Cleveland heads to their 302 Windsor small block, added a top loader four speed, and special chassis pieces, to create the Boss 302 Mustang.

After complaints from the car companies, the SCCA revised the Trans Am rules for 1970 onward: cars could be sold with larger engines as long as the basic block and cylinder heads matched those used in the race cars.

Chrysler jumped into the fray with two models: the Challenger T/A and AAR ‘Cuda. Both rolled from the showroom with 340 cube engines topped with their iconic six-pack, multiple carburetor induction.

AMC modified their Javelin sport coupe with a special 390 CID power plant, wild graphics, and modified running gear to prove they were no longer a frumpy economy car builder.

The Trans Am inspired ponies are unique Classic Cars from a special time when you could walk into any dealer and drive away in show room racer.


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