The hay-day of the American muscle car era was coming to a close by the mid-1970s. An oil crisis and a flurry of new regulations would doom big V8s in the US as governments and automakers worked to reduce oil consumption. However, their legacy lives on today, as a new video from the Cars And Zebras YouTube channel highlights. A 1974 Chevy Corvette and a 1976 Pontiac Firebird face off in a very vintage drag race.
According to the video, the Corvette packs the 350-cubic-inch V8 that makes 250 horsepower (186 kilowatts) and 285 pound-feet (386 Newton-meters) of torque. The Pontiac has the larger 400-cubic-inch V8, but the engine only makes 185 hp (137 kW). However, it makes a lot more torque than the Chevy – 310 lb-ft (420 Nm). The Pontiac needs the extra oomph because it weighs more, cracking the 4,000-pound (1,814-kilogram) mark with the driver.
The anemic outputs and bursting curb weights mean neither car is quick, especially by today’s standards. The pair competed in two races, with the Pontiac earning two victories over the Corvette. The Firebird earned a 17.19-second quarter-mile time at 72.52 miles per hour (116.70 kilometers per hour). The Corvette was more than one full second behind, finishing the race in 18.28 seconds, but it did it at a faster speed – 78.29 mph (125.99 kph).
The second race had the two switch lanes, and both secured better times. However, the Pontiac still won, completing the race in 16.63 seconds at 83.79 mph (134.84 kph). The Corvette was still faster, completing the quarter-mile in 17.26 seconds at 85.13 mph (153.09 kph). That’s a noticeable improvement but a far cry from the potential sub-11-second time the 2023 Corvette Z06 is rumored to deliver.
People say life moved slower in the past, but maybe it was just the cars. Today, mainstream sedans offer more power than the vintage Corvette and Firebird, showing just how far cars have improved even with nostalgia and rose-tinted glasses painting the classics.