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Muscle cars get smaller, but power is big as ever
Brian Hilderbrand
Las Vegas SUN
July 16, 2004



This is not your father's drag racing.

When the Garrett Turbos NHRA Sport Compact Nationals begins this evening at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, the two-day event will feature today's "muscle cars" -- Honda Civics, Mazda 6s, Chevrolet Cavaliers, Saturn Ions, Toyota Solaras and just about every other make of compact car, both foreign and domestic, you can name.

This, according to reigning NHRA Pro FWD (front-wheel drive) champion Nelson Hoyos, is "the new generation of drag racing."

While mechanically inclined youths from Hoyos' generation would soup up hand-me-down Chevrolet Camaros or Ford Mustangs in the '70s and early '80s, the trend today among the younger crowd is to trick out compact cars. The reason, Hoyos said, is simple.

"I think what happens is the generation right now -- the X and Y generations, as we call it -- has grown up with small economy cars that are more prevalent now vs. muscle cars," said Hoyos, who drives a Chevy Cavalier for GM Racing in the PRO FWD category.

The rise in popularity in racing compact cars -- the entries for this weekend's event at The Strip have nearly doubled from a year ago -- also stems from the fact that it can be less expensive and more practical to soup up today's four-cylinder compact car as opposed to the traditional V8-powered muscle car of the '60s and '70s.

"There is just so much new technology available right now that, realistically, for a weekend racer/streetable car, the technology today will outdo any of the muscle cars that we ever had," Hoyos, 45, said. "In order to make some decent power from a (late '60s Pontiac) 389 TriPower, you had to put a big cam in it, headers and big compression and all that. Now, that car becomes somewhat limited in driveability for an everyday driver. On top of that, you consume so much fuel.

"Now, you can take a little Cavalier, flop a turbo on it and put bigger injectors on it and you can squeeze 500 horsepower out of that thing with just the blink of an eye -- and still make 25 miles a gallon. It's the best of two worlds; you have the total driveablility, you have the reliability and the fuel economy but when you stomp on it, boy, it's going to set you back in the seat real quick."

"That old cliche still continues to work: Win on Sunday and sell on Monday," Hoyos said. "That's very, very prevalent in GM's marketing plan; they're taking our success on the track and trying to parlay them into sales in the showroom."

FULL Article Here

 

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that is so great. it's actually becoming more and more mainstream. the only issue i have with that article is that even with smaller engines, if you get into heavy mods you run into reliability issues. a turbo B-18 with cams and a stroker crank isn't as reliable as a stock 180 hp B-18. plain and simple. it's doing things not intended from the factory. all in all though, the sport compact craze does make sense. you can get some great power out of a high revving 4-banger without a lot of bottom end work. plus, it's all about power to weight ratio, and the compacts have that all over the muclecars of the old days.

i will also give credit where credit is due... KUDOS to GM for getting into it and realizing that it is a real attraction for today's youth. it may help them get their feet back in the door for compact car sales.... especially when the Cobalt hits showrooms.
 

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Just thinking...

I'd be a little concerned about putting a turbo on a stock Cavalier 4 cylinder. Common sense tells me that the rotating assembly (rods, pistons, bearings, crank) would be hard pressed to handle the stresses of putting out 500hp.

Which brings me back to an old cliche:

There's no replacement for displacement ;)
 

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It's still easier to bolt a supercharger on an LS1 to get 500HP, it'll be more reliable, and the weight difference is not so great, there's more easy to get horsepower there if you want more HP/lb. The proper wheels are also driven, so you can utilize more of the HP off the line, and really.....a 500 HP Camaro is eminently streetable. A 500 HP cavvy would be a freak show of a car to drive everyday.
 
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ahh, it's actually sad. These things are not muscle cars, in the traditional sense. I hear these things and they either sound like a kazoo or like a bunch of bees. Tweaking the PSI in a turbo is NOT the same thing as grabbing a Craftsman wrench, rolling up your sleeve and getting dirty to sqeeze out an extra tenth.

Yep, I guess I'm a traditionalist, and a member of a dying breed. The roar of a throaty "American made V-8" is far more satisfying than a rice-burner.

I was born at the tail end of the "Boomer" generation in 1965. And sadly, I think it is the last generation which consists of a majority of males who still take pride in their masculinity. The generation of males I see coming up are awful feminine.

:D
 

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Next gerneration of muscle cars?


:lol:

Oh God that's so funny!

BTW, If you have a turbo'ed Cavalier with 500HP - you are NOT going to be getting 25MPG. Sorry - but even though it WAS an economy car orginally - 500HP will ruin your gas mileage.

Reminds me or my early days fighting off rice.

"My Civic runs low 11's in the quarter and I still get 40MPG bee-otch!"
 

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These articles give the automotive world the wrong idea about these "muscle compacts." If you take what they say to heart, you'd think every slammed Civic with a CD-sized fart pipe runs 10's with just a turbo and "NAAAWZZ." And all the proponents of these cars will have you think that, too.

Having spent some serious time at the track, I can tell you the reality is, most of these are bolt-on cars that can't break out of the 15's. You'll see quite a few turbo Civics, but most of them aren't done right and are slow, or they're fast and they break alot. After all, it's easy to blow $3K on a turbo kit, but most of these people don't bother with the tuning or strengthening to make them run right.

Finally, why buy a $3000 Civic, dump $10,000 into it so you can run unreliable low 13's/high 12's, when you can buy a used $8000 LS1 F-body, put $5000 into it and go 10's? It's pure economics! :afro:

Besides, don't those compacts sound like a$$ with those ridiculous mufflers?
 

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if im not mistaken i thought muscle cars were rear drive cars with big v8s and tons of hp and torque...and cars like Honda Civics, Mazda 6s, Chevrolet Cavaliers, Saturn Ions, Toyota Solaras fail all three categories
 

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Originally posted by vanshmack@Jul 17 2004, 12:55 AM
These articles give the automotive world the wrong idea about these "muscle compacts." If you take what they say to heart, you'd think every slammed Civic with a CD-sized fart pipe runs 10's with just a turbo and "NAAAWZZ." And all the proponents of these cars will have you think that, too.

Having spent some serious time at the track, I can tell you the reality is, most of these are bolt-on cars that can't break out of the 15's. You'll see quite a few turbo Civics, but most of them aren't done right and are slow, or they're fast and they break alot. After all, it's easy to $3K on a turbo kit, but most of these people don't bother with the tuning or strengthening to make them run right.

Finally, why buy a $3000 Civic, dump $10,000 into it so you can run unreliable low 13's/high 12's, when you can buy a used $8000 LS1 F-body, put $5000 into it and go 10's? It's pure economics! :afro:

Besides, don't those compacts sound like a$$ with those ridiculous mufflers?
How much is the insurance for a teenager with a V8 Camaro running these days? A LOT!

These are not the new muscle cars. Calling them muscle cars is a disgrace to the great pony cars of the past and present. I really don't like the idea of squeezing out so much horsepower out of a small engine. First of all, they must have MASSIVE turbo lag. Secondly, I know the Ecotecs in the Cavaliers have been proven to be very capable of handling huge power loads but I do'nt know about trying to do it with a little stock Civic. You'd probably end up breaking the engine block in half! Fact is, a V8 RWD car will always be preferrable over a 4 cylinder FWD ricer. Whether it's handling (yes the F-bodies handled horribly at times but say with me, TORQUE STEER) or horsepower ceiling.

These will never be muscle cars. They are a craze that is the same as the muscle car craze yet completely opposite at the same time.
 

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You can make power in three ways: displacement, revs, or compression. The 8.1L Viper V10 is an example of an engine that primarily uses displacement to make power. The turbo 2.4L from the SRT-4 is an example of an engine that primarily uses compression (via forced induction) to make power. The 2.0L from the older S2000 is an example of an engine that primarily uses revs to make power.

Now, you can argue that anything that puts out lots of power is a muslce car, but to me, a muscle car is a fully streetable car with an engine putting out far more power than is necessary. It doesn't have to be RWD, but it does have to be streetable. And really, a muscle car needs to come from the factory with the power. Any schlub can throw a turbo/nitrous/blower on a car, but that doesn't make it a muscle car.

I also differentiate between classic muscle (V8's) and new muscle. New muscle is cars like the SRT-4, WRX STi, Evo-8, GTP (or anything else using the 3800 SII SC), Maxima, 300C, Magnum R/T, etc. Some of those cars are meant to be really quick, and some are meant to be comfortable cruisers that just happen to have some decent power under the hood.
 

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Hmm.. I was totally set in the "classic definition" of muscle car until I read this:

Originally posted by awalbert88@Jul 17 2004, 01:10 AM
...Now, you can argue that anything that puts out lots of power is a muslce car, but to me, a muscle car is a fully streetable car with an engine putting out far more power than is necessary.  It doesn't have to be RWD, but it does have to be streetable.  And really, a muscle car needs to come from the factory with the power.  Any schlub can throw a turbo/nitrous/blower on a car, but that doesn't make it a muscle car.

I also differentiate between classic muscle (V8's) and new muscle.  New muscle is cars like the SRT-4, WRX STi, Evo-8, GTP (or anything else using the 3800 SII SC), Maxima, 300C, Magnum R/T, etc.  Some of those cars are meant to be really quick, and some are meant to be comfortable cruisers that just happen to have some decent power under the hood.


I think that's a valid point...but still to not to be confused with the "classic muscle car" :)

(oh....and don't forget the Series III 3800 with the blower :D
 

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There is no such thing as muscle cars these days!
I think its sad that kids today dream of entry level cars as the cars they want. When I was in high school, the parking lot was full of Camaras, Firebird, Mustangs, Novas, Chevelles, Cutlasses and Monte Carlos. And now the kids today all drive civics, corollas, and vw. They tune these cheap cars to get a little kick at the line, and now they think they are cool.
They are not fast....whats thier top speed 95? I think its sad kids today look up to these P.O.S.

I hated Fast and the Furious!
 

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why is crower dart and lunati all making parts for handas and acuras now and you can still get 25 mpg while making 500 hp
 

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Originally posted by bjl84@Jul 17 2004, 04:08 PM
why is crower dart and lunati all making parts for handas and acuras now and you can still get 25 mpg while making 500 hp
Uhh, 500 HP and 25 MPG is horsesh*t. Honda can be barely get 25 MPG out of a 240 HP S2000.

Again, another ricer myth.
 

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No Honda, Toyota, Nissan, Saturn, or rice burner can ever be called a "Muscle Car". Any twit which even goes there is someone who needs to relearn the auto industry. Just because they burn tires while burning rice, that does not make them muscle cars. It makes them steroid addicts, not true muscle cars. Mustangs, GTO's, the late Camaro and Crapbird, and the long deceased Challenger et al from Chryco were muscle cars.

Would someone please slap these authors silly?
 

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Originally posted by vanshmack@Jul 17 2004, 12:55 AM
These articles give the automotive world the wrong idea about these "muscle compacts." If you take what they say to heart, you'd think every slammed Civic with a CD-sized fart pipe runs 10's with just a turbo and "NAAAWZZ." And all the proponents of these cars will have you think that, too.

Having spent some serious time at the track, I can tell you the reality is, most of these are bolt-on cars that can't break out of the 15's. You'll see quite a few turbo Civics, but most of them aren't done right and are slow, or they're fast and they break alot. After all, it's easy to $3K on a turbo kit, but most of these people don't bother with the tuning or strengthening to make them run right.

Finally, why buy a $3000 Civic, dump $10,000 into it so you can run unreliable low 13's/high 12's, when you can buy a used $8000 LS1 F-body, put $5000 into it and go 10's? It's pure economics! :afro:

Besides, don't those compacts sound like a$$ with those ridiculous mufflers?
I'd love to put one of those fat tailpiped, noisy, slammed rice burners against the cars that were done by kids in my youth which had low front ends, raised backends, v-8 engines that consumed as much gas as they did real estate and see which car will be holding itself together at the end of the drag race. I'm betting on my neighbor's 1969 Cougar over any steroid infested Honda that sounds like a Kazzoo or a Clinton intern in a hurry to finish before Hillary comes home.
 
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