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14 Fastest Cars of the ’70s You Probably Never Heard of

Vukasin HerbezOctober 3, 2017
  1. 1970 Chevrolet El Camino 454 SS

When Ford introduced the Ranchero in 1957, Chevrolet didn’t have anything similar. Since Chevy and Ford are two of the car industry’s biggest arch-rivals, the Bowtie company introduced the El Camino two years later, in 1959. Like the Ranchero, the El Camino was half car – half truck. They built it on an Impala chassis and it shared most of its design, interior components, and engines. Arguably better looking than the Ranchero, the El Camino didn`t have the same market success and eventually they downsized it to a mid-size platform.

At the end of the 60’s and muscle car madness, the El Camino got the proper firepower and one special trim level, called the SS. Chevy introduced the El Camino SS in 1967. It included a 396 V8 engine with 325 HP. That was plenty of power for a midsize compact truck, so it provided a serious level of performance.

However, the first rule of the muscle car culture is that bigger is always better. So, for 1970, the El Camino SS got its ultimate update with a brutal 454 V8 engine. The mighty 454 V8 LS6 was a 7.4-liter Chevrolet big block engine with an official rating of 450 HP. The engine delivered around 500 HP in real life. It was a fire-breathing beast and one of the best engines of the muscle car era.

The El Camino SS engine provided significant performance figures close to the best regular muscle cars of the day. The 0 to 60 mph time took just 5.0 seconds. The biggest problem was the lightweight rear end. This meant that hard launches off the line produced much wheel spinning and smoke. The El Camino SS 454 was one of the first vehicles people recognized as a collector models, so they became quite sought after and desirable. Today, finding a true El Camino SS 454 is hard and they are expensive, as well.

  1. 1970 Monteverdi Hai 450 SS

Monteverdi was a Swiss manufacturer of high-end coupes and limousines. It became popular thanks to its elegant creations featuring, German quality, Italian styling and American engines. All models featured Chrysler engines which provided the raw power those European manufacturers of the period lacked.

After a line of beautiful Gran Turismo coupes, Peter Monteverdi, owner of the company decided to enter the supercar market. He wanted to produce a car with a rear-mounted Chrysler engine, low-profile body and high performance. The new model, called the Hai 450 SS was introduced in 1970. It featured a completely new chassis, body and had the famous Hemi 426 V8 engine in the back.

Monteverdi wanted the most powerful engine Mopar had to offer and in 1970, that was the mighty hemi engine. The car was called “Hai” which is a German word for shark. The 0 to 60 mph time took only 4.5 seconds, making it the quickest car of the era.

Despite delivering 450 HP and a superb performance, they presented the Hai 450 SS just as the automotive industry was sliding into recession, so buyers were hard to find. Eventually, one model sold at a high price and later, they produced two more. The decision to retire this model was also forced by Peter Monteverdi`s concern for customers. This car was so fast and aggressive, it became dangerous.

The 70’s were transformative for the U.S., and the cars of that era reflect that. Thanks to innovations of that decade, today’s cars are faster, safer and more efficient.

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