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Australian Muscle Cars

Classic Australian Muscle Cars

The history of Australian muscle cars is not definitive, however one thing for sure is that some of these were the greats of the era. Engines were heard blobbing in driveways across the country. There was a familiar sound to the V8's and those who didn't have one would likely have a 6 cylinder car. Family cars were large Fords, Holdens and Valiants.

These were the golden years of motoring in Australia, panel vans could be spotted at the beaches decked out with the back door up parked rear to the sea. Cool guys and girls lied on their bellies and new generations of Australians were born. This of course was the late 1960s through the 1970s and into the 1980s.

Weekends were spent in mate's garages the girls often hung out with their boyfriends. Some women even got into the car scene. Cars were tinkered with, painted and taken for runs. Windows were wound down and the wind blew your hair, people laughed and yelled to one another. Car shows were commonplace and people's pride and joy would be on display you could see the modified cars and the stock standard originals.

The fuel crisis in the1970's saw some of these performance cars change and the familiar blobbing sound of the V8 began to disappear. Cars with big engines could be bought for a song and whilst many uni students opted for a Mini there were a few that still picked up a bargain and a piece of Australian history.

Before Ford / Holden Valiant officianados get annoyed about the order we have done these in, these have been placed in alphabetical order. I have to say, I am proud of our muscle cars and love them all.

Chrysler's Valiant Charger:

The Chrysler Valiant Charger started in 1971 and was a two door version 1971-73 VH series that was designed entirely in Australia so it was Australia's first Mopar Muscle car.

With a short wheelbase in comparison to other cars the Charger had an inline 6 engine 4345 cm3 / 265.1 cubic inch engine size, 151 kW / 205 PS / 203 hp SAE gross.

The Charger won Wheels magazine's Car of the Year award for 1971 and it was estimated to do 0-60 mph in 8 sec, 0-100 km/h in 8.4 sec and quarter mile time was 16.4 sec.

The VJ Charger series ran from 1973-1974 with the V8's coming into play and just one 6 cylinder in the ranks.

  • option E48: Street tune "Six Pack" 265 cu in (4.3 L) engine with three two-barrel Weber carburettors and four-speed manual gearbox.
  • option E55: 4bbl 275 bhp (205 kW) 340 cu in (5.6 L) V8 (1.88" valve heads).
  • option E57: 2bbl 255 bhp (190 kW) 360 cu in (5.9 L) V8 (introduced late 1974 to replace E55 option)
  • option A23: VJ Charger Sportsman

The VK Charger was introduced in 1975 there were just two variants.

  • Charger XL: 3.5 L (213.6 cu in), 3spd manual (4 L (244.1 cu in) and 4.3 L (262.4 cu in) litre engine options)
  • Charger 770: 4 L (244.1 cu in), 3spd manual (4.3 L (262.4 cu in), 5.2 L (317.3 cu in) V8 and 5.9 L (360.0 cu in) V8 engine options)

In June 1976, ADR 27A (an updated emissions regulation) was implemented for all Australian market motor vehicles, which resulted in both the 3.5 L (213.6 cu in) engine and the 5.9 L (360.0 cu in) V8 engine being dropped from all relevant vehicles in Chrysler's VK series range.

VK Charger White Knight Special (option A50): Following July 1976, Chrysler released 200 limited edition Charger XL cars that were principally a cosmetic treatment inside and out, and featuring a front body spoiler. Half of the production run were painted Arctic White and the other half were painted Amarante Red, with bumpers and grille painted to match. These cars featured the 4.3 L (262.4 cu in) six-cylinder engine, with a choice of manual or automatic transmission, and interiors were trimmed to a specific combination of white vinyl with red accents.

Here is where I say I remember a friend who bought one of these for about $7500 it was pristine, he kept it in is garage and I have long wondered what happened to it. I wonder what it is worth now. We all thought it was amazing, but it was sheer madness back then to pay that much for a car and that was in the late 1980s.

The CL Charger was the last made, it ceased production in August 1976. The Charger XL variant was deleted (except for police duties) such that the CL series offered only the Charger 770 for public sale. The variant was to be the XL but due to the chang to the Chrysler branding the V was dropped in favour of the C.

CL Charger Drifter (A34, A49 options): Late in the life of the CL Charger, Chrysler introduced the Drifter Pack option which was made available in four body colour choices, namely Spinnaker White (A34), Impact Orange (A49), Sundance Yellow (A49), and Harvest Gold (A49). These cars were available in a choice of 4.3 L (262.4 cu in) or 5.2 L (317.3 cu in) engines, but only with 4-speed manual transmission.

Source Wikipedia

Ford Falcon GT:

The first one was the XR in 1967 it was the first year of the V8 engine a 289 cubic inch engine used in Mustangs in the US. It was developed from the Police Interceptor Pack Falcon. It owes its provenance to  Ford Australia Managing Director, Bill Bourke.

The 289 V8 had a four-barrel carburettor, different cams and raised compression. Max power was increased and the the 1967 Ford Falcon XR GT specifications were as follows:

Engine: 4727cc (289cubic inches) V8, pushrod, 2-valve, 4bbl carburettor
Max power: 164kW (220hp) @ 4800rpm
Max torque:414Nm (305lb-ft) @ 3400rpm
Transmission: 4-sp manual
Suspension: Struts, control arms, tele shocks, anti-roll bar (Fr); Semi-elliptic leaves, tele shocks, (Rr)
Kerb weight: 1429kg
0-100km/h: 10.2sec Source - Trading Post.

The GT ran through models running from 1969-1976.

XT 1968-1969 with the 302 cubic inch V8 Windsor Motor,

XW 1969-1970 had the Windsor V8 was now offered in a bigger 351 cubic-inch displacement, producing 290 bhp (216 kW; 294 PS) and 385 lb ft (522 Nm) of torque.

Ford introduced the HO (high output—quite often erroneously referred to as "handling option") package in the 1969 creating a two-tier range, with the HO package essentially a road-registrable racing car for the leading production touring car teams to exploit.

The first GT-HO variant produced 300 bhp (224 kW; 304 PS) due to a larger carburetor, and changes to the camshaft and intake. Changes also were made to the suspension, including stiffer shock absorbers and springs and larger-diameter roll bars.

GT-HO Phase II In 1970, the Cleveland V8 engine replaced the previous Windsor engines, the 351 cubic-inch Cleveland engine was first used in a small batch of Phase 1 specification XW GT's, these are retrospectively referred to as "Phase 1.5s". Ford modified the engine in the Phase II, with a larger carburetor (700cfm) over the Cleveland's original 600 cfm version.

XY 1970-1972 had the 351 cu in (5,752 cc) Cleveland V8 300 bhp (224 kW; 304 PS) with the XY GT HO Phase III producing 380 bhp (283 kW; 385 PS)

XA 1972-1973 the GT had the 351 in (5,752 cc) Cleveland V8, 300 bhp (224 kW; 304 PS) at 5400 rpm and 515 Nm (380 lb ft) of torque at 3400 rpm

XB 1973-1976 GT had a 351 cubic inch (5,752 cc) Cleveland V8, 300 bhp (224 kW; 304 PS) at 5400 rpm and 515 Nm (380 lb ft) of torque at 3400 rpm

Source Wikipedia.

Beyond this was the Cobra introduced with the XC in 1978 running through until 1980. The Cobra's were painted with Bold Blue, Snow White with an Olympic Blue separating the stripes. They were also adorned with cobra decals. How I miss seeing so many of them on the road. With only 400 built it is not surprising how few are around.

The cars were numbered from 001 to 400. The first 200 Cobras produced were given the 5.8L 351 Cleveland V8, while the other 200 received the 4.9L 302 Cleveland ... the only exceptions to this being build number 001 is a 302ci (4.9 litre) V8 and build number 351 is a 351ci (5.8 litre) V8.

Source Wikipedia.

Holden Monaro GTS:

Starting in 1968 with the advent of its HK Monaro sports coupe. The GTS was Holden's answer to the Ford Falcon GT sedan. The GTS was the a two door and the first three series (HK, HG and HT) buyers were offered a choice of six- and eight-cylinder engines ranging from (85kW) 161 to (224kW) 350 cubic-inches in capacity.

In 1971 the HQ Series began with base, LS (luxury Sports) and GTS, it is important to note that the GTS was no longer offered with a 6 cylinder engine. The base model Monaro standard engine was enlarged to 173 in3 (2,830 cc) whilst the Monaro LS had a broad spectrum of engine options from a 202 in3 (3,310 cc) six to the 350 in3 (5,700 cc) V8.

The HJ was introduced in October 1974. The coupe kept the ubiquitous HQ tail lights in the bumper. The HJ Monaro GTS arrived as the Arab Oil Embargo was in full swing, forcing Holden to drop the 350 cubic inch Chevrolet-sourced engine from the range.

The HJ Monaro GTS continued to be available as a coupe or sedan with the 253 in3 (4.15 L; 4,150 cc) V8 engine, or the optional 308 in3 (5,050 cc) V8 engine. The Monaro LS coupe also continued within the range, but still with the 3.3-litre six-cylinder engine as its base power unit.

HX Monaro GTS New emissions regulations heralded the mildly face lifted HX Monaro GTS sedan, announced in July 1976. It was quite distinguishable, with liberal splashes of black paintouts contrasted against a range of bold body colours, and a choice of traditional chrome or body painted bumper bars.

Specifications HX GTS V8

  • Displacement: 5044 cm3 / 307.8 cui
  • Horsepower gross:161 kW / 219 PS / 216 hp (SAE gross)/ 4800
  • Torque gross: 400 Nm / 295 ft-lb

1976 and HZ-series in 1977 This was when the name Monaro was dropped from the nameplate, they were offered only with d-tuned (120kW) 253ci and (161kW) 308ci Holden V8 engines to comply with a tough new emissions standard.

The GTS nameplate disappeared from Holden's line-up by December 1978.

Please let us know if you find any discrepancies here.

References: Trading Post, Automobile Catalogue, Wikipedia, Monaro Club of Victoria, australiaforeveryone.com.au