From 1962 to 1981 the Pontiac division of General Motors produced solid, intermediate-sized automobiles called the Pontiac LeMans. Then in 1982 the smaller Pontiac Bonneville model replaced the LeMans.
The LeMans was introduced as the top-line version of the smaller and more solid Pontiac Tempest and had more luxurious trimmings and a sportier look than the Tempest. In 1964 when the Tempest was restyled and enlarged in the form of the LeMans, it continued to have the same 326 cubic inch V8s and 215 cubic inch six-cylinder found in the regular Tempest.
Not long after the 1964 model was produced, the LeMans came out with an alternative performance package assigned as the GTO or the Gran Turismo Omologate. This version came with a lot of technical developments and upgrades, costing just under US$300. It was estimated that 5,000 GTOs would be sold that year but the sales ended up being 32,000, thereby accounting for a substantial portion of the Tempest and LeMans sales.
In 1996 the GTO was made separate from the other models, having the basic shape of the LeMans and Tempest models. The GTO kept the big-engined muscle car style where as the Tempest and the LeMans models received a new SOHC 230 cubic inch six-cylinder engine.
During the late 1960’s the Sprint-optioned LeMans and Tempest models were not as popular as the larger-engined GTO that was fueling the muscle car wars. Those that bought the normal regular LeMans and Tempest models mostly ordered V8 power, as the 326 and the later 350 cubic inch V8 version were the most ordered engines. In 1969 the SOHC six-cylinder engine and the Sprint option were stopped and replaced by an ordinary Chevrolet-built 250 cubic inch OHV six-cylinder engine, which became the base engine in most of the Pontiac intermediates.
When the LeMans was first produced it included a convertible and a pillared coupe with no hardtop option offered in the Tempest. Then in 1964 the hardtop coupe was added followed by the four-door pillared sedan a year later. In 1966 and 1968 the four-door hardtop and then a four-door Safari wagon replaced the previous versions. Over the decades the Pontiac continued to change its style, adding many amazing features and continued to be popular cars.
Although the British built the AC Cobra that came to the forefront in 1960, it wasn’t the first vehicle that combined the V8 engine with an aluminum body and a light European chassis, but it was most certainly the most famous. The later models with bigger engines were among the road vehicles sold, that performed the highest.
The AC Cobra 427, was produced in two forms. There was a commercial vehicle, that featured dual carburetors, an under exhaust, a glove box and a relatively tame engine. The other however, did not feature the practical glove box, but had a stripped interior, revised suspension and a completely different layout of its instruments. The latter, was built for racing, and had a one carburetor powerful engine, wide fenders, a roll bar and its exhausts were on the side. Carroll Shelby, producer of the AC Cobra’s, was left with many of the racing versions. Shelby renamed the vehicles to Cobra 427 SC (Super Competition) and sold them to the public. Today, the SC models are the most valuable vehicles to collectors, and sell for millions.
The production of the AC Cobra 427/428, started in 1964, with the building of the Cobra 427. It was the most powerful car that had entered production, and would become the legend that dreams were made of. The chassis and the suspension had to be redesigned for these cars, to be able to cope with the massive increase of power and other changes. It boasted a seven liter Ford V8 engine and in standard form, the vehicle was capable of 400bhp, which could be increased even further, for racing purposes.
A 428 engine was later used, but the power remained virtually the same. The legendary AC Cobra 427/428 would be written into the history books because of it unbelievable acceleration capabilities and handling characteristics that could make anyone’s hair stand up right! In 1965, Shelby sold the Cobra name to Ford. Many replicas of the AC Cobra 427/428 can still be seen today, and many car enthusiasts still dream of being behind the wheel of this powerful muscle car.
Off road vehicles and the sport of ‘off roading’ have a large and enthusiastic following across the country and, in fact, around the world. It’s a variation on the old ‘my car’s faster than yours!’ jibe, only in this case it’s ‘my car can go where your car can’t!’ Combine this competitiveness with the typical American love of the outdoors and our country’s astounding natural beauty and you have the sport – and accompanying lifestyle – of off-roading.
True off road vehicles are much more than mere SUVs. These beasts have to survive anything the wilderness can throw at them. Boulders, rivers, mud, sand or snow – a good off road vehicle will eat ’em all for breakfast and keep on rolling over hill and dale. When official competition between off road vehicles takes place, it’s usually either Rally Racing, Desert Racing or the relatively new sport of Rockcrawling. The latter is a sight to see, as spindly vehicles, with some slight resemblance to Jeeps, crawl over incredibly rough courses made up of huge boulders and wind-carved rock formations with the agility of overgrown spiders!
Now, your standard off-the-rack SUV or Hummer isn’t any slouch when it comes to mild off-roading, even though precious few sold in urban areas really get tossed about in conditions displayed in their television commercials. Off-roading is as much about image as it is about exploring the wild, less-travelled terrain where pavements are non-existent. When you’re an off-roader, it’s all good!
The AMC Javelin is classified as a “pony car” and is a rival to the Ford Mustang and the Chevrolet Camaro, which were a similar make of car in that era. The American Motors Corporation built the AMC Javelin between 1968 and 1974.
AMC debuted the Javelin in 1968, a full production version of the AMX prototype that had being taken around the USA two years before it was released. This version of the car came with a variety of AMC engines starting with the economical 232 cubic inch straight-6 through to the V8s, which included the 343 cubic inch, V8 and many other features that went with the car.
The AMX 390 engine was offered as a Javelin option in 1969 and came with “Big Bad” paint and an interesting roof spoiler. AMC supported the Javelins and the AMX with an array of dealer installed performance accessories. The Road and Track described the Javelin favorably when it was first introduced in 1968. They felt that the smaller engine was an asset to the light vehicle and the interior styling was “pleasant” but not exciting and the non-power steering and disc/drum brakes were given poor marks.
In 1971 the Javelin was given a new look and incorporated many of the elements that had been wanted earlier on, so that they could race the car in the Trans-Am circuits. The roof spoiler became essential to the car; it was adapted to be able to accept wide racing tires and an array of engines and transmissions was offered. Unlike the Hornet, which was a study in symmetry the interior of the Javelin was non-symmetrical and every part of the car was unique to its position.
The Pierre Cardin interior was unusual and imaginative having a stripe pattern that ran from the seats up to the doors, then onto the roof and back down to the seats and a tough, but almost satin like material was used. The Javelin AMX went from a car that contained many racing modifications for the track to a street version, which AMC advertised as “The closest thing you can buy to a Trans-Am champion”. The Javelin AMX came with a fiberglass full width cowl induction hood, a racer type stainless steel mesh screen to cover the grill and front and rear spoilers that increased traction at high speeds.
The production of this car stopped in 1974 as interest in high performance cars died down and amidst the Arab oil embargo. Due to the lack of interest in collecting AMC products, the price of the Javelin is not as high as other muscle car and pony car models.
Sports cars inhabit that enticing and appealing area somewhere between standard daily driving workhorses and full-out racecars. As such, they sacrifice some practicality in favor of performance and excitement. Commonly, sports cars are two-seaters with two doors and are designed for decisive acceleration, high speed driving, tight and responsive handling, and of course gorgeous looks. The Chevrolet Corvette is a classic American sports car, equally at home on the racetrack or your driveway (if you’re so lucky!). Some sports cars, like the Shelby Cobra, trace their evolution from cars built for racing purposes, while others such as modern day Ferraris and Lamborghinis are used only as luxury cars.
Sports cars used in racing must be extremely maneuverable, have a low weight and center of gravity, excellent braking and of course, LOTS of horsepower. Luxury sports cars are still terrific performers, but also excel in the areas of comfort and noise reduction. In all types of sports cars, emphasis is placed on the handling of the vehicle so that drivers can maintain control in challenging conditions. BMW is renowned for the excellent handling designed into their cars, making even their larger sedans handle like true sports cars. If you’re thinking about buying a sports car, bear in mind that insurance on sports cars is generally higher due to the perception among insurers that sports cars will be driven in a, well, “sporty” manner. Look around for a sports car insurance company that has affordable rates.
If laying out cold hard cash for the sports car of your dreams doesn’t fit the budget right now, you can rent sports cars like the Audi TT Roadster, Porsche Boxster and more from sports car rental companies. Renting a sports car is a great way to experience these amazing vehicles.