1977 Pontiac Can Am
Here's something that would have given Bandit 1 a tougher run. The Grand Am is something of an odd man out when we reflect upon late 70s automobiles for no honorable reason. In 1977 this vehicle equipped with a 6.6 liter (400 ci) V8 rocked 200 net horsepower and an impressive 325 foot pounds of torque. Those are numbers laughable a mere 5 years prior, but the threshold of 200 was seemingly guarded by spike strips during the smog era. It is a full-size automobile and with an equally impressive stance Pontiac again made something special to break out of Hell. Unfortunately the Can Am was born and killed in 1977 after some corporate strains simply led to the option being washed away. Opting for the Can Am performance package on your Lemans wasn't cheap as a $375 Can Am Appearance Identification Package and $1,214 Can Am Option Package boosted cost to nearly $6000. 2018 money calls this a pebble thrown into a lake, but that was huge dough in the Carter administration's gasping economy. Nonetheless, people were sold and demand far exceeded a 5000 unit planned run. Draw any opinion you will, just remember Pontiac as the brand that just kept shooting when everyone else conformed.
1977 Oldsmobile 442
If you want to see corporate sharing just look at how obviously similar that roof line and door shape is to the above Pontiac. After all Oldsmobile did supply engines to Pontiac as well for stingy California appeasement. Here's the 442 in quite unique form: semi-fastback roof, slant back four slot grille, and trash can creaming cartoon bumper. The bruising 455 Olds was out and a small block 403 replaced it with 185 horsepower. Don't cry because that's only 5 net horsepower less with 52 fewer cubes. A strangled four-barrel carb does the feeding and a Turbo-350 automatic funnels punch rearward. GM had become quite comfortable between 170 and 190 horsepower, creating a rather poised Cutlass compared to straight burners of a decade earlier. Sticking standard got you a Buick 231 ci V6 with optional 260 ci two-barrel V8 and 350 small block rounded out engine choices. Sadly, a five speed manual could only be had on the lowly 110 horsepower 260. If there's anything to irreparably damage 442 image, that has to be a supreme insult. It's just a ''42" if a stick has to come at performance sacrifice. All factors accounted, the '77 442 was still comfortable, convenient, and capable.
1977 Ford Maverick
Alright it's not a Mustang, but muscle isn't all about stickers and glam. The Ford Maverick came out before the gas crunch being well prepared for surviving such doom intact. It was not a showroom scorcher on the base platform with a 200 cubic inch, 96 horsepower six, but the 302 V8 in 122 or 137 horsepower juice did alright in a small body. This small body is exactly what gave Maverick immortality on sanctioned strips during the 70s. Anybody could take a 302 and uncork big car power. Even on weight reduction alone could somebody in an afternoon make a rather homely appearing compact something of a Camaro shocker. Three speed manual or automatic transmissions were available so this makes Mustang II's case for existing questionable. On paper the power numbers are nearly identical. Stickers and legacy still sold the Mustang until the Fox-Body broke through. On the Maverick we'd suggest taking the bumper off and replace it with an earlier one because nobody wants a park bench for bums hanging on their automobile.
1977 Ford Mustang Cobra II
Buy a Maverick.......that is all.
1977 Dodge Monaco with Police Package
They just don't build tanks like they used to. This is when a police car was truly something special and intimidating upon freeway entry. A high performance 440 grunts, jumps, and shuffles the massive Monaco well over 140 mph; Talk about hauling some mass. Watch "The Blues Brothers" to hear Dan Aykroyd spit out all the "cop" equipment on their '74 Monaco. Forget about wanting the newest and flashiest when something capable of catching any hot car (In 1977) will be hitting the secondary market. Yeah it's got four doors, the nagging decal outlines to remove, and they'll probably take back the push bumper, but the Monaco police cars are an example of big and fast mating perfectly. Being a guard of the thin blue line, the Monaco is not just a one trick T.J. Hooker as torsion bar suspension made turns a palatable experience. In the neighborhood of 245 horsepower with highway gearing equates to no hole-shot victory, but plenty of top end buffoonery.
1977 Chevrolet Camaro
This is the Type LT which was the top Camaro until halfway through 1977 when enthusiasts cried for their Z28 resurrection. With a 350 small block and four barrel carb an LT slapped forth 170 competitive horses while Z28's slightly bumped 350 screamed out 185. Torque remained sub-300 so don't expect a goliath push, (but reefer might help). Here was the era when handling became 90 percent of Camaro's sales pitch with 15x7 inch wheels holding the body steady through every groove. One bit of grace in the whole thing is the soon to be scrapped heavy bumper with rubber bumperettes. Plastic was growing in automotive cost shaving and quality reduction so that would become Camaro's face. At least this Camaro won't crack as easy under pressure.
1977 Plymouth Volare
After recalls totally marred first year production, 1977 Volare/Aspen coupes began a climb toward redemption. With optional T-Roof, you could have a Mopar with Corvette cockpit airing. Top choice 360 cubic inch V8-4bbl and 160 horsepower kept things right in the pack regarding period performance. In reality this is a keeper above the even higher advertised output ELB (Electronic Lean Burn) 360. 175 horsepower sounds intoxicating until the horrendous 1970s electronic gadgetry begins bugging out and your remorse kicks in after your warranty expires. Sometimes the old ways were best, resulting in many ELB systems being ripped from choking automobiles for traditional intake and ignition systems. Being a direct competitor to Oldsmobile's 442, Chrysler Corp's sport luxury coupe carried the flag respectably. Don't expect to get out of Dodge too fast because 106 miles per hour is showroom velocity.
Musty as these cars may seem today, 1977 muscle is the first step toward the TPI and LT1 glories of the 80s and early 90s up to the LS1 of 1998. The late 70s were era of experimenting first with how clean the exhaust could be, then bolting on power parts that conformed to this Federal standard. Eventually wondrous smog-legal turbocharged and supercharged vehicles began clawing in until we found SRT's Hellcat variants. These foreign things called, "computers" found their place under hood controlling burn, idle, timing, and mixture. Having a computer doing what reliable hand tools once adjusted frightened consumers because it was one more step toward taking pilot out of the equation. Cletus at the Texaco didn't know how to fix these complicated domestics anymore just like a Fiat or Citroen enigma. Finding one of these 8-track era machines may unearth an antique bag of grass, a faded copper photo of owner and car in their prime, or even original service invoices when repairs didn't equal the cost of another automobile (You know like a 12 dollar oil change). It was a time of national healing and we began focusing on things for what they were worth. Forty-one years of progress allows us to look fondly (sometimes nauseously) at the cream of Carter's crop.