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Hooniverse Obscure Muscle Car Garage – Here are the Losers… Are any of them worth redeeming?

Jim Brennan January 16, 2015 Hooniverse Obscure Muscle Car Garage 25 Comments

Hooniverse  Archive  Hooniverse Obscure Muscle Car Garage - Google Chrome 1162015 62915 AM.bmp

Welcome to the first (or second, I really can’t seem to remember) review of the Hooniverse Obscure Muscle Car Garage, and I thought I would start out with all the Cars (and Trucks) that really didn’t make it into the Garage for some reason or another, and try and grant entry to at least one of these vehicles before next week… Why is next week so important? It’s the time in which we start throwing out those Cars (and Trucks) which really should never have been voted in… So, let’s review the rejects, and see if you have a change of heart…


Hooniverse  Archive  Hooniverse Obscure Muscle Car Garage - Google Chrome 1162015 62643 AM.bmp

I am going to start from the most recent reject, and go backward until we reach the beginning of this series. Back in October of last year, I highlighted the 1955 to 1958 Chevrolet Cameo Pickup, and I will admit, it was a very weak entry. There really wasn’t a lot of power available, and it wasn’t built for speed. Only 30% of you who voted thought it was an Obscure Muscle Car (Truck), with the rest of you thinking it wasn’t at all Muscle, let alone Obscure… Should we reconsider this entry?

Hooniverse  Archive  Hooniverse Obscure Muscle Car Garage - Google Chrome 1162015 62707 AM.bmp

In September of lest year, I highlighted the Oldsmobile Aurora, with 2 distinct series produced between 1995 and 2003. The engine was a smaller version of the Cadillac Northstar, and it was a fairly good looking sedan for its time. However, only 15% of our readers that voted agreed with me that is was an obscure muscle car, one of the widest defeats since I started this series. Is the Oldsmobile Aurora really that tragic? Or is it just NOT a muscle Car?

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Almost two weeks prior, I highlighted the Buick LaCrosse Super with the 5.3L V-8 under the hood. You really didn’t like any of the GM FWD V-8 powered cars during this time period, because they were really under nengineered. They became notorious for eating their 4-speed automatic transmissions, and their interiors were rather disappointing. Only 29% of you that voted would have inducted this car into the Garage… The rest of you would kick it to the curb… It was somewhat fast, almost a Q-Ship during the time produced. Would you reconsider?

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In early August of last year, I highlighted the Saleen Explorer XP8, and asked if this was an Obscure Muscle Car. There really wasn’t any additional power under the hood that the standard Explorer V-8 had, except if you stepped up to the optional Supercharged variant. With only 125 built, I thought this was going to be an easy entry, but only 31% of you agreed with me. I think it’s time to re-examine this entry…

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The week before the Saleen Explorer ran, I profiled the 2004-05 Pontiac Bonneville GXP, with a version of the Cadillac Northstar under the hood, powering the front wheels. Predictably, only 34% of our readers that voted seem to agree that this car deserved admission within the Obscure Muscle Car Garage, while the rest of you were none too impressed. I think this entry should be reconsidered for entry…

Hooniverse Obscure Muscle Car Garage – 2006–08 Chevrolet Monte Carlo SS and Impala SS V8  Hooniverse - Google Chrome 1162015 62751 AM.bmp

In July I ran a posting about the FWD Chevrolet Impala SS and the Monte Carlo SS, and this post generated real hate. They were 303 HP V-8 powered cars that happen to drive the front wheels. Only 26% of those that voted thought they were both great entries within the Hooniverse Obscure Muscle Car Garage, while the rest of you decided that these cars were not relevant at all.

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One of the biggest surprises was the rejection of the Lexus SC400 entry that I ran in June of last year. This was a V-8 equipped 2-door coupe with arresting lines, and good performance. Only 42% of you that voted realized that this was a Muscle Car with a Velvet Glove. Out of all the entries, I really think you should reconsider granting entry to this particular candidate…

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I ran the posting for the Buick LeSabre Grand National in March of last year, and this was a rare beast. Unfortunately, it never materialized with anything approaching Muscle, and you guys saw right through this entry. Only 112 (or 117) were produced, and it was just about as potent as a regular FWD LeSabre. No need to even think about admitting this entry.

Hooniverse Obscure Muscle Car Garage – The Dual Ghia and Ghia L6.4  Hooniverse - Google Chrome 1162015 62942 AM.bmp

Another Surprise was a posting I did almost a year ago on the Dual Ghia and the Ghia L6.4. These were Italian Coach Built cars with Chrysler Power, and while there were relatively few built, that lusty Yankee V-8 should have been enough to grant entry to both of these beauties. Only 29% of the Hoons that voted seem to agree with me. So, should there be a recount to let these cars in? I think so…

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Two weeks before the Ghia Posting, I profiled the Hummer H3 Alpha, with the 5.3L 300HP V-8 under the hood, and asked if this was an Obscure Muscle Car. No surprises here, as nearly 71% of the vote said No…

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In November of 2013, I asked if the 1986 Pontiac Grand Prix 2+2 was an Obscure Muscle Car, and the answer was a resounding no, with 43% saying so. This was just a body package with no real performance upgrades, so it was all show, with very little go. This was the first entry rejected by you, by a margin of 3 to 1!

Hooniverse Obscure Muscle Car Garage – 2006–08 Chevrolet Monte Carlo SS and Impala SS V8  Hooniverse - Google Chrome 1162015 62805 AM.bmp

So there you have it, the losers that are knocking at the door of the Hooniverse Obscure Muscle Car Garage… Should they be let it, or kicked to the curb to become the Bridesmaid, and never the Bride. As always, I will run a poll, and this will be a great time to review all the inductees so far. Remember, next week we start throwing out some of our past winners, so you don’t want to miss that…

Which of these previously rejected entries into the Hooniverse Obscure Muscle Car Garage should be granted entry?

View Results

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Hooniverse Obscure Muscle Car Garage – The 1963-70 Buick Wildcat  Hooniverse - Google Chrome 1162015 62540 AM.bmp

Please Note: All Images are screen grabs from around the web. If you want credit for any image, please let me know in the comments section. Thank You!

  • PotbellyJoe ★★★★★

    SC400 is probably the most borderline of these cases. It has two doors, it has the V8 from the fullsize car from the brand. HOWEVER, it is a GT car, not a muscle car.

    Therefore. IMO, none of these need to be included.

    • CJinSD

      I had one as a company car almost 20 years ago. The SC400 was actually a personal luxury car with styling that looked sportier than it drove. Handling was more Buick than M3. I don't think it is a muscle car, but the engine did far exceed the capabilities of the stock suspension. OTOH, it wasn't actually that much quicker than a mildly tuned 325 super eta that I also had at the time. Ironically, it was a good preview of the kinds of cars the premium German brands make today. Depressingly too.

      I like the Ghia bodied Mopars, but don't see what they had to do with muscle cars. There has to be some element of a value proposition to a muscle car. That's why the GTO gets credit for being the first muscle car instead of the Chrysler C-300.

      • PotbellyJoe ★★★★★

        I've had seat time in one too. It wasn't razor sharp for handling, but it wasn't a sports car in my mind. I drove one from NJ to MN once and for that it was fantastic.

        Thankfully premium was around $1.15/gallon then because the 400 was thirstier than it should have been.

        I would probably opt for the 300 if I were in the market for an SC. The lower HP doesn't bug me since, again, it's not a sports car, but the road manners for long-distance cruising are impressive and the 6 is plenty of go for that while being a smoother motor (in my experience.)

        • CJinSD

          I forgot about the fuel consumption. I had it for the winters of '95-'96 and '96-'97 in Palm Beach. Everyone had a 'my neighbor got his head blown off being car jacked while buying gas in West Palm Beach,' story. Come to think of it, they may have all been talking about the same guy. There were similar stories in the press at the time too though. I didn't like never getting more than 180 miles from a tank of gas in the SC400, and often got far less than that. It also ate power antenna masts, which adjusted depending on the frequency being tuned, and rear tires. That last part may have been related to my 12 mpg best observed fuel economy. It was a metallic black car with brushed aluminum basket-weaves. It attracted the wrong kind of attention anywhere on the mainland. I could pull into a harmless steakhouse parking lot and by the time I locked the door a 7-foot tall transsexual prostitute weighing less than 120 lbs and covered with needle tracks would be trying to chat me up. That stuff never happened when I was driving the Town Car it replaced.

          • FЯeeMan

            Awesome story, bro! Tell it again!

            No really, I found it quite amusing! I'm sure you didn't enjoy going to the steakhouse quite as much during that time period, though…

          • PotbellyJoe ★★★★★

            If I remember correctly, we got around 22 mpg for the road trip, which was 900+ miles of open highway (except for Chicagoland)

            Filling up around 18 gallons each time, I just felt like something that sleek should have been able to do better. I've read that the V8 and the 5-speed auto was better highway that the I-6 and the 4-speed, but I just can't imagine that being the case.

            It was also one of the first cars i drove for a long distance that I didn't beat the EPA rating for highway (supposedly 25 mpg for the SC400). My Vibe is rated for 28 HWY and I do 27.5 daily driving it and 31 HWY. So i am decently gentle on it.

            Maybe we were driving a little fast (80?), I don't remember.

            Thankfully we didn't run into your situation with it. But then again we didn't stop on our trip, we started at 4 AM and just went until we made our destination.

            • CJinSD

              The one I had predated the 5-speed automatic. It was a 4-speed. I never had a tank average even mid teens and had a low average of 8 mpg on one tank. Much of my driving was stop and go, but I did drive it to Miami and back without ever bringing the fuel consumption average out of the Lincoln MKIV range.

          • Green_PEAs

            Man, steakhouse parking lots and 7-foot trannies, sounds terrible!

            Now, which steakhouse, exactly, was this again?

    • CABEZAGRANDE

      To my mind though a lot of what defines a muscle car is modability, and the SC400 is EXTREMELY modable to be even more muscle car-ish. It's a MkIV Supra underneath, so how big do you want to go with suspension and brakes? It's actually very easy to put a manual behind the 1UZ. And the UZ is capable of insane power.
      But even in stock form, how is this not a muscle car? It's a largish midsize coupe, just like a 1970 Challenger. It has a snarly V8 driving the rear wheels. Stock handling was a little boat-like, just like every 60's muscle car. And to my mind, the distinction between "GT" and "muscle car" is very faint, as there's TONS of overlap between the two, and a car (like the SC400) can fall very comfortably into both categories.

      • PotbellyJoe ★★★★★

        Honestly, it more has to that the SC400 was still in the 15s for a 1/4 mile when the pony cars were running 13-14s. It was an engine built for upper rpms than low-end punch, which is also an indicator of GT status to me. It is comfortable to cruise in at higher speed over long distances the key to any GT.

        It comes down to the priority of the manufacturer at the time it was built.
        Handling = sports car ambitions
        Quarter Mile = Muscle Car ambitions
        Top Speed = Supercar ambitions
        Distance at speed and comfort = GT

        I mean obviously it's more complicated than that, but for me this ticks all of the boxes for a GT and only most of the ones for muscle car.

      • ptschett

        I don't look at how a car is viewed now; I look at how it would have been viewed when new. I doubt anyone in, say, 1994 spent nearly $50,000 on a SC400 with intentions toward traditional musclecar uses when they could have bought a Trans Am for $22,000 that would have been almost a second quicker in the 1/4 mile. It would be like comparing a $75,000 Mercedes/BMW/Lexus/etc. of today to a $35,000 Mustang/Camaro/Challenger. I was avidly following anything musclecar-like in '94 (I was just shy of driving age) and the Lexus would have never been on my radar considering how expensive yet relatively slow it was.

      • CJinSD

        The Challenger wasn't a muscle car either. It was a pony car. A muscle car is a midsize or compact with a tuned version of the big block or big displacement engine used in the brand's full sized cars.

        • hubba

          Dodge tried to market it as a pony car, but dimensionally it's very very close to a 70 Chevelle coupe (the Chevelle sedan is bigger).

    • I agree, but I voted for the SC anyway. Because recklessness.

  • skitter

    The FWD Monte Carlo SS is not as fast as it should be, not reputed for fine handling, too heavy, with styling both grotesque and bland. Terrible in all the traditional muscle car ways, and a the closest adherent to the muscle formula on the list. As with all the GM front-drivers, the classical soul of a muscle car trapped in the wrong platform.

    • wunno sev

      totes. i think those late-'90s to mid-'00s GM FWD cars are perfect muscle cars.

      i voted for the Aurora because i have a soft spot for it, but it's probably the least muscley of them. the Imp, the Bonnie, and the Buick all belong in the Garage.

  • pj134

    Can we get a review of all the ones we've voted in too?

    • ptschett

      There are a few bespoke tuner luxury sedans I'd love to see voted out…

  • Wildcat_445

    So many GMs were victims to the mentality of making a car "sporty" by slapping on decals, adding gaudy plastic body cladding, and adding some sporty name or worse, appropriating an old iconic name to make the car something it was not. It also "helped" that they would stiffen up the suspension enough to loosen teeth, and add a noisy exhaust (*cough* 6000STE *cough*) to add to the faux effect. That Buick LeSabre Grand National is the epitome of it. That is an old man's car–literally, as my dad owned an '88. Slapping the Grand National name on that abomination was a slap in the face to the *real* Grand National.

    Fast as my old (and untrusty) Merkur was, I would not call that a musclecar either. Yeah, I used to leave those mid 80s turbo Chrysler/Dodge thingies behind (it easily beat those turbo Dodge Daytonas…when it wasn't at the dealer getting fixed), but this was more an autobahn cruiser, a road car, which is where I would place others like the aforementioned Lexus and Aurora.

    Kudos to the pic of the 1970 Wildcat though. I don't know about the 1970 model year (didn't they start with the smog equipment around that time?), but previous Wildcats were real sleepers. The 1966 Wildcat, for one year only, offered up the GS (Gran Sport) package that featured the larger 425 nailhead engine with dual 4-bbl carbs (in the Y48 option package). I may have to look through the archives on this site to see if the Wildcat was ever in the musclecar garage, as they were generally overlooked amidst the Chevy and Pontiac musclecars of the day.

  • FЯeeMan

    I think that if any of these want an entry into the garage, they need to show up with an impassioned plea, not with hat in hand and hang-dog look on their faces.

  • ptschett

    The Cameo and the SUV's aren't cars and aren't remarkable performers either.
    The Ghia and Lexus are too far upmarket.
    I want to support the NASCAR homologation specials but they're just too underpowered. (At least the Pontiac has the parts in the traditional places.)
    The Aurora is more entry-level luxury. Also it could have used more power.
    I supported all the 5.3L FWD GM's and also I support the Bonneville.

  • "I'm with you fellers!"
    –Delmer

  • As some of you know, I'm quite fond of several "legacy" FWD GM cars. But I just can't quite place any of them in the muscle car category.

    Aw hell, I'll toss a vote to the Lacrosse just so that it doesn't go totally unloved.

  • acarr260

    How did the Grand Prix GXP get voted in, but the Bonnie GXP didn't make it? They're very comparable cars with the same layout. The biggest difference is that the Bonnie doesn't trash the transmission in less than 100k miles. The performance is very similar as well.

    • ptschett

      Also it's odd how the GXP made the cut, but not its platform-mates that had the same powertrain. I say all the FWD GM's on the list but the LeSabre and maybe the Aurora should be in. I'd disqualify the Impala/Monte for lack of obscurity (I see one or the other every darn day*) before I'd disqualify them for technical details.

      *but I live in Fargo, and the automotive population of the Fargo movie/TV-series is spot-on