The last time the government got involved in the automotive industry was back in the early 1970′s, when the business of energy conservation became a reality. That decision effectively killed the muscle car, as “smog” regulations forced Detroit’s Big Three, the purveyors of horsepower, to tame down their offerings or risk government backlash. The heyday of the muscle car, the one that brought about incredibly powerful vehicles – ones like the 1970 Chevelle LS6, the Boss 429 Mustangs, and the big-block Fairlanes and Galaxies – was over, and the reality of gas-rationing and small “performance cars” took hold.
When the government put its sticky fingers into the automotive pie, the Big Three wilted and the automobile designs that resulted from that lack of strength were themselves a complete lack thereof. As the gas crunch took full hold of the nation, Detroit had to completely re-engineer its offerings. Previously the trend had been towards large, roomy vehicles, but the new government regulations forced them to put together smaller, lighter vehicles without the full benefit of a design schedule. Popular Mechanics recently threw together their list of the 10 Wimpiest Muscle Cars Ever and while it was an admirable undertaking, as we read through the article we realized that they only selected nine cars. Below are some of their choices.
So, in the interest of doing justice to our title, we’ll pick out #10. Arguably one of the worst cars ever, the 1980 Chevrolet Corvette California Edition boasted a whopping 180 horsepower from its 305 cubic inch engine. This car was so bad it even took a spot on Time Magazine’s 50 Worst Cars of All Time list. It wasn’t so much the emasculating 180 horsepower, but the fact that the three-speed transmission sucked up so much power acceleration that rates were anemic. It was the middle of the Dark Ages of Disco, baby, and people were struttin’ their stuff. The C3 Corvettes sold well despite their obvious shortcomings as America’s Muscle Car – the 1979 model year sales of 53,807 cars is a record that stands to this day.