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Decades Out of Date ...please update me!


The following are definitions as I remember them from my youth. Over the intervening years, cars changed, what people desired in cars changed and along way …definitions changed too. My perspective is from a street racing, hot rodding American point of view, so take that into consideration too please.

Please, help update an old man …and thank you.

Standard/Stock: This is a baseline automobile. The only thing that changed from model to model was quality of life add-ons …power steering, power windows, power brakes etc. Check out the Oldsmobile Cutlass as they were built between 1966 - 1972. Cutlass, Cutlass Supreme, Cutlass Ciera, plus the Vista Wagon as an example.

Performance Package: This is a misnomer because immediately in your mind you picture a muscle car …nope! In most cases, this is what you got. The badging changed, the exterior/interior trim changed and as far as performance went …the car accelerated faster than the stock version and achieved top speed faster than the stock version but overall, was not actually all that faster.
Example: 1963 Mercury Monterey vs 1963 Mercury S-55.

Hi-Performance Package/High Performance Package: Now this is were …the line in the sand gets drawn. Those cars that went by the name “Hi” were upgrades to existing models, think of them as the very low end of muscle car-dom. The “Hi” type cars, were really the first step a young person took to building/owning their first muscle car. But those cars that used the name “High” were usually the stock version, re-envisioned. They are both true muscle cars and the stepping stones to street hot rods. “Hi” named cars included the usual trim changes, badging changes but also were equipped with bigger, more powerful engines that gave them a real boost in performance versus their stock counter parts. “High” named cars were really completely new builds. They were not really “upgrades” at all but fully made models in their own right.
Example of “Hi”: (Although this car is not actually named “Hi”, it does fit the idea) 1969 Chevrolet Chevelle vs 1969 Chevelle SS
Example of “High”: 1968 Plymouth Belvedere vs 1968 Plymouth Road Runner. Note: The Belvedere had a “High Performance Package” called the GTX. Plymouth realized the GTX and most “muscle cars” of the time were leaving their roots behind and becoming more expensive options. They devised the Road Runner and Dodge devised the Super Bee to maintain a foot hold in the cheap muscle car arena.

Muscle Car (Type-1): Looks good, sounds good and can do a burnout …done!

Muscle Car (Type-2): Looks awesome. Sounds quiet …wait, what?! Quiet? Yes, “Quiet”, this machine is built for street racing …which is illegal and dangerous. DON’T DO IT! So if it makes a lot of noise, it attracts who? The Police! The feature(s) of this type of machine is good to great handling, especially lateral motion. This is because you are racing in a city environment and need to move around slower moving cars, so side to side motion control is a must have characteristic. Good acceleration is next because of straight aways but high top end speed is usually not because those same straight aways tend to be short because of traffic rather than distance. Visual characteristic(s), the tires tend be all the same size and the car sits level.

Muscle Car (Type-3): Someone asked a question about …“why did they jack the rear-end up back in those days …?” In some places in the United States, the distance from one traffic light to the next is one mile. Sometimes, every quarter mile is marked by a side street crossing. Cars that were “jacked up in the rear”, did so for two reasons. One, they were running tires that were wider and/or taller than what the car originally came with. The reason for this is because of torque. Usually, very high acceleration is required to win a light to light street race. But if your torque was also very high, you spent a good bit of time doing a burnout instead of moving forward for the win. Back in the sixties and seventies a wider tire often meant a taller tire, as low profile tires were not very common. Second reason - sheet metal/car body work in the sixties and seventies was very expensive. After putting all your money into an engine re-build, new tires, air shocks (not air ride), you might not have enough for body work. But truthfully, most guys didn’t want to cut the body of their “Baby”.

Thank you again for helping me to understand the modern day definitions in use. I hope this walk down my memory lane gave you insight into a past gone but not yet totally forgotten.