Bloated or “Chubby”?


1969 Camaro SS not avail 454When the final year for the “original style Camaro came around the model year was 1969, and despite the “454” emblems on the pictured car it was not a “factory choice” back then.  The cubic inch limit remained the 396 for big blocks other than a handful of “COPO vehicles” that snuck through.

1971 Camaro split bumperFor the redesign in 1970 (technically known as 1970 1/2 for collectors) not everyone liked the new style.  Production had been 230,799 Camaros for 1969 and fell to 117,604 for 1970.  Collectors all try to explain the big drop to a limited production run due to a labor strike, but facts are that the 1971 production fell to 107,496 and then in 1972 it went even lower to 68,656.   So no matter if you are a fan of the redesign or not- most buyers at that time were not.

The reason I bring any of this up is due to the age old argument about the “fat Mustang years”.  The redesign of the Camaro added 2 inches to the overall length yet people say the Camaro got much bigger.  Maybe they were referring to the .4 (less than 1/2 an inch) increase in width.  The one loss with the changeover was that Camaro no longer came in a convertible style.

1970 Mustang Fastback

For the Mustang its final year for the “Original style” (yes, technically there had been redesigns before) was 1970.  The designers needed a larger engine compartment for the available engine choices and decided to make the car seem larger to compete with the true “Muscle Cars”.  Basically it was time for the Mustang to grow up.

1971 Mustang Sportroof Mach 1Their new design was this.  1 inch more in wheelbase; it was now 109 instead of 108.  (The Camaro did not change their wheelbase from the 108 in 1969.)  Where it grew ever slightly was also the overall length- from 187.4 inches to 190 even.  The biggest gain was the width from 71.7 to 75.  All that rear sheetmetal also raised the base weight almost 180 pounds.  The look made the Mustang seem much larger than it really was.  To buyers or those who test drove it there were glaring deficiencies with the design.

You sat down much lower it seemed in the seat and the dash was higher and with the taller roofline and those huge rear quarters there was a severe blindspot.  Add the angle of the rear window and the rear view through the mirror was as if you were looking through a gun slot in a tank.

The redesign for the Mustang also saw production fall from 1970 (197,046) to 1971 (149,628) to 1972 (125,093).  Despite what many “Collectors” consider ugly years for the Mustang it still outsold everything in its class (Pony Cars) just as it had since the model was introduced halfway through 1964.  And it did so by impressive margins.  Today because of those production numbers you can buy a Mustang for about half of what a Camaro goes for.  And that will continue to earn the Mustang “collector status”.

Davey Boy

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