I have a handful of old websites that I still hold dear. Among them is MuscleCarClub.com, an ancient online tome that is still better than anything else online.
I used to go on MuscleCarClub back when I was in high school. Here it is as I remember it, courtesy of the Internet Archive:
The site has changed, now sporting a somewhat more modern look and somewhat less of an emphasis on a world wide registry of muscle cars, whatever that might entail. Still present is the feature that I love it for. It is a tab labeled, simply, “muscle cars.”
In it you will find, well, the muscle cars in the classic sense. It is a glimpse of how we saw the genre long before Infinitis and BMWs took over the youth car scene. The complete history and timeline of the Ford Mustang ends at 1996. The Camaro makes it all the way to 2002.
Every muscle car gets its own year-by-year history. They’re not so much histories as just tabulations of every model year change to every model conceivably dubbed a “muscle car,” down to the smallest minutiae. If you are wondering how the 1961 Comet differed from the 1962 Comet differed from the 1963 Comet, I am happy to say that only in 1962 did the Comet officially enter the Mercury lineup and only in 1963 did it receive its first V8. Are these year-by-year details important for any one person to know? To me, a high schooler obsessed with identifying every old car I saw on the street, ever, down to the most distinct detail, yes. It was critically important.
Now I am content simply to have this information available to me, stored in this online repository.
MuscleCarClub is a place where emissions compliance is still an open wound. Here, for instance, is the entry on the 1971 Chevrolet Chevelle:
1971 saw the collapse of muscle car performance. In response to GM’s edict that all engines ran on unleaded fuel and to meet ever restrictive emission standards, Chevrolet detuned all its engines and introduced two new entry level engines. The standard engine was now a 350 V8 two barrel that put out a meager 245bhp through a single exhaust! Also available was a 350 V8 four barrel that put out 270bhp. The 402 engine that was previously still known as a 396 was renamed the “Turbo Jet 400” and offered only 300bhp, down from 3500bhp. The 375bhp version was no longer available. The LS6 454 was also killed, but the LS5 454 returned with 365bhp, an increase of 5bhp from 1970. All Chevelles got the new single headlight design from the Monte Carlo and could be optioned with hood stripes and the cowl induction hood. Interestingly, only the LS5 carried external engine ID; they carried “SS 454” badges. All others only said “SS.” That was a pretty revealing sign of the times.
The 1972 entry begins by declaring that the year “saw further dilution of the Chevelle SS.” It is as if this was the great news of 1972. Not that Shirley Chisolm ran for president, that Watergate tore apart any remaining American faith in the government, that we were losing Vietnam no matter how much napalm we dropped.
Within MuscleCarClub.com, we live in a civilization in decline. It is a civilization without big blocks.
I will continue to cherish this little strange corner of Old Internet, and return to it like an online uncle I never had, happy to recite to me that the 1966 Oldsmobile 442's 400ci V8 had a triple-carb setup good for 360 claimed horsepower before GM banned it for 1967.