The man behind the muscle car

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Thread: The man behind the muscle car

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    6.2 Liter LS9 Supercharged V8 Canuck's Avatar
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    The man behind the muscle car

    The man behind the muscle car

    In one fell swoop, he created an everlasting trend and left an indelible mark on the automobile industry

    By Jason Stein, Vancouver SunJanuary 22, 2010

    Some lives turn on a dime. Elliott "Pete" Estes, an engineer at heart, could see the wheels spinning that morning in 1963 when a bright account executive for Pontiac's advertising agency walked through the door with a notion that would ultimately ignite the "musclecar" era.

    Estes could see the potential in secretly creating the GTO, a car that eventually became the subject of songs, movies and passionate car clubs all over North America.

    But, then, Estes could see a lot of things before they happened.

    It's that kind of brilliance that would take him from the engineering offices of Chevrolet and Pontiac all the way to the top of General Motors.

    His hands-on approach won over dealers. His leadership energized a division. His vision led a corporation to profitability.
    http://http://www.vancouversun.com/cars/behind+muscle/2471424/story.html

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    Re: The man behind the muscle car

    I thought John Delorean was credited for creating the first muscle car?

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    Re: The man behind the muscle car

    I also thought Delorean was the man in charge. He was the head guy at Pontiac, and he pushed to break GM's displacement rules by putting a 389 in a Tempest.
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    Re: The man behind the muscle car

    I'm lovin the 'wave' of GM history articles we've had lately.

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    Re: The man behind the muscle car

    Ah, the 389. I love listening to those songs from the 60s.. SS396. 409. Good stuff. They really don't make cars the same way anymore. Sure, they stop and start better. And they're more reliable. But it isn't the same when you have to lean over your fender and change a set of points. Something about these new cars has been lost. And I think it's more than the chrome.

    I look at my '70 CST shortbed big block Chevy truck and think..."f'man, that's a good looking truck." I look at my wife's '07 Sierra and think, "that'll pull a mean load of ****." Meh.
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    Re: The man behind the muscle car

    I always hear Delorean given more credit, but I know that he and Estes did work together.
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    Re: The man behind the muscle car

    Looks like the Mopar fans might have a word to said about it with the Chrysler C-300 1955 and Plymouth Fury 1956. Then the Olds fans might mention the first 88 in 1950 who paved the way to the muscle-car we knew

    EDIT: Since Pete Estes beginned at Oldsmobile, the "88" was developed when he was still at Olds. We can wonder what could had happened if Pete decided to stay at Olds and not moving to Pontiac?
    Last edited by Stéphane Dumas; 01-24-2010 at 11:10 AM.

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    Re: The man behind the muscle car

    Pete deserves the credit but he didn't live long enough to get it. DeLorean was Pete Estes protege. Pete made John Pontiac's Chief Engineer while Pete was General Manager of Pontiac. Pete also enabled John to succeed him as General Manager. Pete made it all happen and let John take the credit and again replace him as General Manager of Chevrolet- something he eventually regretted when it all went to John's head.

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    Re: The man behind the muscle car

    A great book on this subject is Glory Days

    Glory Days: When Horsepower and Passion Ruled Detroit

    Glory Days conjures up images of cruise nights, impromptu drag races, and genuine American fun. It is the story of the GTO, Tigers and Monkees, of Royal Pontiac, drag racing, corporate politics, and personal allegiances. Glory Days illuminates anera when Detroit's Woodward Avenue fairly rumbled with V-8 power, as young people slowly cruised the wide boulevard. Glory Days is also an American success story, giving an insiders view of what it took then, and what it will take in the future, to keep alive America's passion for the automobile. In Glory Days, Jim Wangers uses his 45-year career in Detroit as the basis for explaioning successful brand marketing for automobiles:

    Why brand management for cars differs from other branded products

    How to position a model for the best possible tie-in promotion--and how not to

    What it takes to establish and evolve a brand image Wangers knows what he is talking about, for he was part of the most successful brand marketing campaign to ever come out of Detroit. At a time when such automotive legends as Bunkie Knudsen, Pete Estes, and John DeLorean hald sway in the Motor City, Jim Wangers created and defined the American muslecar image, devising savvy brand marketing strategies to promote the car that started it all and went on to become a cultural icon: the Pontiac GTO.
    http://http://www.amazon.com/Glory-D...4392135&sr=8-6

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    Re: The man behind the muscle car

    I'd have to research further, but Jim Wangers sounds quite plausible from what I recall.

    IIRC he was the devious mind who arranged the Ponchos' prep for the famous Car and Driver comparisons: Pontiac GTO vs. Ferrari GTO, and later the 2+2 vs. 2+2 shootout. The Pontiac mills were seriously breathed on, and the suspension and brakes worked over to make the cars more competitive against a Ferrari, than a stock street machine would have been.

    Royal Pontiac in Royal Oak, MI was a co-conspirator. They later sold Royal packages including a Royal Bobcat package.

    DeLorean took the concept and ran with it, including running interference and fighting inertia in a suited corporation where smart-alec hot-shot whippersnappers who dated models and movie stars were not fully appreciated.
    Last edited by Neanderthal; 01-25-2010 at 12:43 PM.
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    Re: The man behind the muscle car

    When one says "seriously breathed apon" I think secretly ported heads, non-factory camshaft, & the like. The Pontiac 2+2 mentioned above had the Royal Bobcat package, which was primarily ingition-related. Suspension & brakes were all from the Pontiac catalog. I can't call that 'breathed apon'.
    What doesn't work for me is the acceleration times recorded by the Pontiac, and years later, C&D blamed it on 'mathmatical errors', for whatever that's worth. Other magazie tests of the 2+2 421 HO show it to be a (severely traction-limited: 461 rated torque) mid 15-sec car.

    The ferrari in the 2+2 test was privately owned by a ferrari importer- set up by professional race team mechanics (vs. Royal's dealership mechanics).
    0-60: 6.3, 1/4-mile: 14.6 @ 97. Top end: 152.
    Decent for a 300 HP alum V-12 weighing 3400 lbs, but certainly within reach of a well-tuned big Pontiac of the day.

    What's far more significant WRT the GTO test is that the GTO came with a non-RPO 421. A ringer.

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    Re: The man behind the muscle car

    Can someone tell me if I remember the following correctly all of Pontiac's V8 engines looked the same and used the same block? This allowed Pontiac to use the 421 instead of the 389 and fool C&D.

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    Re: The man behind the muscle car

    Correct: all of Pontiac's V-8s used the same external-dimensions block (there were internal differences beyond bore size, of course). 326, 350, 389, 400, 421, 428, 455. 421 bolts right into a '64 GTO.

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