In Episode 11 of Road Muscle Radio, Catfish & Brett talk about 10 muscle cars that went down in history- for all the wrong reasons…10 products that are supposed to boost your horsepower…and which used muscle car is a Consumer Reports best buy! See honey? It’s recommended, so it’s GOOD for the famliy. And in segment 2, we’ll talk with Kevin Dunn, who owns Castle Works Motorsports in lovely Desoto, Kansas. Kevin not only owns a business offering cool customized car gear, he drives an insane 1967 Pontiac Firebird restomod, and the company is working on a modern muscle car conversion that will let the soul of a Firebird shine in a fifth-gen Camaro body.
20 Muscle Cars That Went Down In History…For The Wrong Reasons
Michael Weyer of thethings.com made a list of what he thought were the 20 worst muscle cars ever produced.
Don’t agree with him on all of them, but I went and cherry picked what I thought were the 10 biggest looooohhhhooooosers.
201982 Ford Thunderbird
My dad bought one of these. I don’t think it counts as a muscle car. It was a gutless velour nothing of a car.
A once classic muscle car was now given a V8 engine that somehow only produced 120 hp. That combined with an ugly look that made it appear more like your grandmother’s sedan. Thankfully, Ford would fix it with later models, but this is one Thunderbird that belongs extinct.
191983-87 Dodge Charger
Agreed. Ugly is as ugly does, and this try-hard didn’t cut it. Dodge made every wrong decision imaginable, starting with putting this on the L-platform. And making it a hatchback. It got just 80 hp and 17 seconds to hit 60 mph. A 2.2l wasn’t much better for 108 mph. Imagine stretching out a Dodge Omni, and in doing so…making even more dull.
141980-81 Mercury Capri Turbo RS
The article says this car looks great. To me, it’s a fox-body Dodge Charger.
Problem was mostly the engine. The 2.3L powerplant could only get a pathetic 88 hp and 99 mph. That’s worse than a typical Mustang from the ’60s. Calling this a “Turbo” was an insult to the name.
131978 AMC Gremlin GT
I love Gremlins. But they did suck.
Poor handling, anemic power, A hatchback family porkchop car that Tyrion Lannister would have driven to pick up hookers.
AMC decided to remake it into a muscle version. That went as well as expected as an ugly car that couldn’t get over 90 hp was hardly a good buy.
I still love ya, ya wee beastie.
12Chevrolet Citation X-11
No argument from me. 2.8l engine, 135 hp and ugly design. It’s everything a 1980 AMC wanted to be. Uhhhh- that’s not a compliment, Chevy.
Countless recalls for transmission leaks, bad brakes, and more issues. Its best year of sales was 811, and some years didn’t even sell over a hundred.
91995 Chevy Monte Carlo
Chevy had a severe issue in the ’90s of slapping new labels onto older cars and trying to pass them off as something special. In this case, the Monte Carlo promised to be a new type of modern muscle car that could work as a sports car too.
Not quite. Mister, I knew what a Monte Carlo looked like. Brad Rogers drove one in 1979 when he was only 15. But he had a moustache like merchant marine already, bought beer, and drove a 1974 Monte Carlo that was all balls.
The 1995 Chevy Monte Carlo? It was a Lumina sedan made up for prom. Options were 3.1l or 3.4l V6 for either 160 or 210 hp and four-speed transmission. It might have put steam in great-grand-dad’s stride, but for a dude like Brad Rogers? Not on our watch.
81982 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am
It almost seems sacrilege to put a Firebird Trans Am on a “worst muscle cars” list. This is the car connected to Smokey the Bandit, and Knight Rider. It’s a car that’s the perfect look for a muscle vehicle with its amazing curves and excellent design.
But the 1982 Firebird was saddled with the infamous “Iron Duke” engine, which was like putting a set of barbells on the hood. 375 pounds, 90 hp, and even an “enhanced” version only produced 160 for a top speed just under 100 mph. It may look great, but the performance makes
51997 Oldsmobile Cutlass
It’s not a family car, it’s a family cur. What a dog. The Cutlass had a lot of fancy items like a CD player, MP3 (long before that was commonplace), and nice-for the time-interiors. The V6, 3.1 liter could only get 160 hp, and who wants a muscle car with cruise control? I’d take a but-ugly mid-90’s Taurus over this any day, because at least the Taurus was outstandingly ugly.
31978 Ford Mustang II King Cobra
Do I like the way this looks? Yes, yes I do. Even for the oompa loompa mid-late 70’s versions of Mustangs. The King Cobra got attention for that logo of the snake on the hood, which made it look amazing.
Then people drove it. The only options were a 2.3L 4 Cylinder pushing out a mere 88 hp, or a 2.8L V6 with 105 hp. The only burn-out was how you felt driving it.
21980 Chevrolet Corvette California 305
The end of the classic muscle car era came in the late 1970s. After the oil crisis, the federal government imposed new emissions rules that left many cars weakened. Chevy tried to get around that with a particular version of the Corvette only released in California. One drive proves why it didn’t get to the other 49 states.
Oh, it looked amazing with its classic stance and bright color. But the planned 5.7l V8 was replaced by a 5l with three-speed transmission, meaning 180 hp with 255 lb-ft of torque. Even California muscle fans didn’t want this.
Number one was a Pinto. Hello- that was NEVER a muscle ANYTHING.
10 Products That Will Give Your Vehicle Extra Horsepower
- BY JAMES JACOBS
10High-Flow Catalytic Converter
Depending on where you live, emissions can be a serious part of your daily driving experience. In places like California and New York, motorist have to frequently have their cars checked for emission standards and pollution. One of the biggest components of a cars emission output is its catalytic converter.
Now, some may say, to increase power, just to remove the converter all together. However, as mentioned previously, this may not be a possibility for everyone. So, to remedy this, the best solution would be a ‘high-flow’ converter that can still help to reduce emissions, but in a quicker and more efficient manner.
When discussing what to modify your vehicle with, many people may suggest things like turbos or intakes. Of course, these are good suggestions. However, sometimes you don’t need a forced induction system or a cold-air intake to get power. It may just be enough to get a decent ECU tune.
The ECU (Engine Control Unit) is a significant aspect of the vehicle’s motor. In essence, the ECU is the electronic brain behind the scenes; helping to regulate and distribute decisions and power throughout the engine. With a proper racing ECU and effective tune, and ECU upgrade can (Sometimes) be more effective than a turbo or exhaust.
8Performance Fuel Injectors
Like with the ECU, the best upgrades can sometimes be the ones that not many think of. Another example of such an upgrade involves the vehicle’s fuel injectors: Responsible for managing fuel into the engine.
What performance fuel injectors do that standard ones don’t can boost horsepower by a good bit. Basically, performance versions help more fuel to get to the engine, allowing for extra horsepower and acceleration. Even though gas milage may be affected by this, the increased performance is certainly worth the trade-off.
This particular modification is more exclusive to the turbocharged vehicles. Nonetheless, a performance intercooler can liven up any boosted car. Also, with the right placement, it can greatly add to the car’s aesthetics (if exposed).
An intercooler is an essential component inside of turbocharged vehicles. Not only does it act as an intake for turbocharged vehicles, but it also helps to cool and compress the air. With an upgrade, this process becomes much smoother and more efficient; aiding the turbos in producing more boost, staying cool, and having enough air to function properly.
Compared to some of the other upgrades on this list, Nitrous is probably the most extreme example. Nitrous is a true beast of a mod and, as a result, is not for the faint of heart. Any Fast and Furious fan could tell you that too much Nos (Slang for nitrous) can destroy a car completely.
Although, if the driver is careful and professional in regards to their car’s internals, nitrous can be a powerful tool for boosting horsepower. It’s very cool too, especially when you realize that it works similarly to video game versions; providing a huge jolt of power at one time.
Just make sure not to shoot your pistons through the hood of your car. Too much Nos can mean too many repairs…
When looking over the exterior of the engine, it can be hard to distinguish which part is which for the untrained eye. Of these many pieces, one of the most noticeable is the car’s headers: The pipes that exit out of every cylinder in the engine block.
In short, the headers are a part of the exhaust system in a way; allowing for certain gases to be removed from the cylinder wall and cycled to the proper channels. With a performance version, headers can both increase exhaust flow and add a neat sound to your car’s engine note (especially if you run an ‘open headers’ setup).
Of all the modifications in this article, an air intake is probably the most milquetoast of them. Not because it is a poor upgrade to do, but, rather, it’s just very common. In fact, many car enthusiasts begin with either a new air intake or exhaust.
This decision is for good reason, though. Air intakes offer an amazing starting place for the beginning of a car’s upgrades. They are cheap, easy to install, and can yield a significant increase in horsepower. If you’re new to the ‘car modding scene,’ then a new intake is probably the way to go.
As stated previously, an exhaust upgrade (along with air intakes) are, most likely, the most common modifications for new car modifiers. Like with air intakes, exhaust upgrades are simple, straight-forward, and can yield impressive results.
The job of a car’s exhaust should be a relatively self-explanatory one. Its prime goal being to exhale any excess gasses or noxious fumes that the vehicle doesn’t need or has produced. What makes a performance exhaust special, though, is two-fold: The improved sound while driving the car and the massive boost in horsepower.
With the right exhaust system, you could add anywhere from 2 to 3 percent horsepower.
If you want a lot of extra power, it may be hard to think of what to do. Getting multiple parts and going through the process of installing them can be extremely expensive and time-consuming. What some do to alleviate this is to put their effort into one upgrade. A supercharger.
A supercharger is more common amongst muscle cars than they are J.D.M. fans and European cars (excluding Audi’s love of them). In many aspects, they are similar to turbochargers: They provide a boost of power, however, they use belts instead of just air and have virtually no lag. All of this greatness comes at a price, though, as a good supercharger is not a cheap investment, to say the least.
With the increased consumer consciousness surrounding issues like environmental health and fuel-efficiency, more and more brands have transitioned to turbocharged vehicles. And why wouldn’t they? Not only do they help the environment, but they also have the potential to add some serious horsepower.
A turbocharger can be one of the most fun and captivating aspects of a boosted car. The feeling of the turbos kicking in and throwing the driver/passengers into their seat is very exhilarating. However, once again, this upgrade can come at a cost. Not just a monetary cost either, but in terms of safety as some turbocharged vehicles have received the title of “Widow Maker” throughout the years. This is primarily due to their habit of lagging mid-corner and then turning on without warning.
Although, this issue can be negated. Nowadays, vehicles have become much safer so the idea of dying due to a turbo isn’t as prominent. For those with extra cash, though, you could always get a twin-turbo setup so that the two turbos help to limit lag and increase boost even more!
Chevrolet Camaro Deemed A Reliable Used Sports Car Buy By Consumer Reports
Want a reliable car, trustable, affordable, that can still flatten your retinas?
Behold- the fifth generation Camaro..
Consumer Reports recently deemed the fifth-generation Chevrolet Camaro- the ones produced from 2010 to 2015- to be one of the best reliable used sports car buys under $25,000. That list includes cars like the Ford Mustang GT, Audi A5, Mazda Miata, BMW 2 Series and Subaru BRZ/Toyota 86.
Consumer Reports says the fifth-generation Chevrolet Camaro “takes classic muscle car looks and sounds and injects them into a modern drivetrain and body.” Nice kudos. Plus they say 5gen has capable handling, good braking performance and a “taut and controlled ride.” It also says the 6.2L LS3 V8 powered Camaro SS model is “very quick,” but noted the 3.6L LFX V6engine “also delivers decent performance,” for what it is.
Chevy connossieurs, don’t get the big head. Consumer Reports also says the car’s “emphasis on interior and exterior styling undermines practicality,” with hampered visibility, difficult to read interior controls, a small trunk and a tiny rear seat that’s hard to access.
They also admonished the convertible model for its “awkward” manual roof release lever. These are all fairly minor nitpicks considering the Camaro’s value and performance on the used market, however.
Consumer Reports says a fifth-gen Chevrolet Camaro can be purchased for around $7,925-$11,775 depending on the trim level, options, condition and mileage. That’s a mighty good deal for a fairly high horsepower sports coupe – even if it does have some minor issues with regard to practicality.
Kevin Dunn admits he loves all things car related. His background is in Engineering where he worked in the aerospace field for 15 years before starting Castle Works Motorsports…so he could catch air on K10 past Lawrence, I reckon.
He’s competed in the Optima Batteries racing series “Search for the Ultimate Street Car Invitational” for a couple years now, piloting his 967 Pontiac Firebird which he built built in his shop.
Kevin, welcome to Road Muscle Radio!
- When did you first realize you were really, REALLY into cars.
- What were you designing in the aerospace industry?
- Tell us about your first car.
- When did you start modding out that car? Tell us about the theme of it (“to incorporate a design element from every Firebird generation”), and all the things you added to make that them live.
- When did you start Castle Works Automotive?
- Take us for a tour of the business- what do you supply, and what kind of work do you do in-shop?
- Tell us about your current project that’s on your website. Walk us through what you’ve currently got, and what you plan to do with it.
- What’s the stupidest thing you’ve ever done in a car?
You can find Kevin’s bidness online at Castleworksmotorsports.com, and on facebook at Castle Works Motorsports. Take a peek at some of their past work on the website, and of course, that 67 Firebird. Kudos to Ped Watt, photographer of the iron horse gods, who hooked us up with Kevin.