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Author Topic: Build Quality in the Muscle Car Era  (Read 1862 times)
Dusk_Blue_Z
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« on: February 04, 2013, 09:48:39 PM »

Where did Chevrolet rank against Ford and Chrysler back in the late 60's/early 70's in terms of fit and finish, reliability, and overall quality? I've spent most my time reading books on Camaro's. Seems like fit and finish was OK, reliability was good and same with quality. Was there much variation in output from Norwood to Van Nuys to Janesville? I'd imagine many of the processes were identical.

I love hearing stories about these old cars, so if you have one by all means share. Otherwise if anyone is versed in Mustangs and Cuda's/Challengers/etc and could recommend a book that might capture some of this topic, I'd appreciate it.

Thanks,

Nick
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1969 X77 01B 51 51 flat hood
69Z28-RS
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« Reply #1 on: February 04, 2013, 11:14:35 PM »

Regarding fit and finish, and overall quality, I'd say GM rated #1 among those with Ford second and Chrysler 3rd.   Chrysler always got nitpicked on their fit/finish/quality, but i always considered their engineering second to none in those days.
I've been going thru my 69 Z28 the past few months, after it having sat in my garage since 1980.. and I've become very impressed again with how well the Camaros were designed and built.  Much better quality than today's 'tin can' cars in my opinion, but of course.. times have changed..   fuel cost 10X more, etc..
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Gary W.  /  69Z28-RS, 72 B 720 cowl console rosewood all tint
69 Corvette convertible, silver/black 350 hp,
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lakeholme
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« Reply #2 on: February 05, 2013, 08:03:41 AM »

Back in the day three words:
Body by Fisher
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Phillip
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69Z28-RS
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« Reply #3 on: February 05, 2013, 08:35:20 AM »

SPeaking of fuel costs as one reason todays' cars have more plastic and less real steel...  Smiley

I recently removed my glove compartment and things under the dash for checking/cleaning etc..  and of course, had to clean out the glovebox.. first time since 1980.   There were 50 or 100 gas receipts, mostly Amoco 'white gas' premium, and some Shell super.   I examined the prices I was paying back then.   An example:    on 23June1977, I purchased 12.0 gallons of Amoco super (white) for a grand total of $8.15 (67.9/gal).. Smiley      That price was pretty typical of the prices from the '76 thru '80 period of these receipts.. Smiley   but of course, we were all complaining..  the octane had dropped, the price has risen.. etc....
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Gary W.  /  69Z28-RS, 72 B 720 cowl console rosewood all tint
69 Corvette convertible, silver/black 350 hp,
60 Corvette white/red, 72 Corvette coupe (2), 
90 ZR1 red/red #246, 90 ZR1 white/gray #2466
72 El Camino, '55 Nomad, '57 Nomad, '57 B/A Sedan
tmodel66
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« Reply #4 on: February 05, 2013, 08:56:42 AM »

Back in the day three words:
Body by Fisher


^^^^^  What he said !! ^^^^^
As far as gas prices go I remember pumping gas at my daddy's service station for 19.9  a gallon.  That's 19 cents not a dollar 99.  I was 5 maybe 6 years old but none the less pumping gas. I think premium was 23.9 a gallon unless a gas war was on.  Grin
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lakeholme
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« Reply #5 on: February 05, 2013, 09:12:09 AM »

Back in the day three words:
Body by Fisher

^^^^^  What he said !! ^^^^^
As far as gas prices go I remember pumping gas at my daddy's service station for 19.9  a gallon.  That's 19 cents not a dollar 99.  I was 5 maybe 6 years old but none the less pumping gas. I think premium was 23.9 a gallon unless a gas war was on.  Grin

Yes, seriously.  we had a couple of Chevrolets (Impala, Chevelle --the Camaros came later to my household) and a Ford (Mustang) at the height of the Muscle Car Era.  I liked the Mustang --wish I had it now-- but it did not seem to have the fit and finish that the Chevy had.  It may have not been true, but Chevy people believed that Fisher made a  superior product.
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Phillip
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Oaklyss
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« Reply #6 on: February 05, 2013, 11:01:07 AM »

Yes, GM was #1 in quality. My 1971 Dodge Challenger RT 383's body was a piece of junk. Although the motor was great!. However, what was concidered good in 1969 is still far short of today's build quality. My 2011 Camaro had excellent paint and body. My 1969 SS's paint and body would be cause for complaints to the dealer. The paint is bare where the front sheet metal panels join, the rear panel is not aligned, and there are runs in the paint:

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bergy
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« Reply #7 on: February 05, 2013, 11:41:24 AM »

I couldn't believe the poor quality of welds on my 1970 Challenger!  IMO GM was way ahead of both Ford and Chrysler in production & assembly operations.  Chrysler engines and transmissions were great though.
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Vince
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« Reply #8 on: February 05, 2013, 02:44:16 PM »

I've read in more than one place, including the opinion of Joe Oldham in his book "Muscle Car Confidential, Confessions of a Muscle Car Test Driver", that GM lead the way in build quality in that era with Chrysler taking a distant third behind Ford too.  All the articles though also mentioned that in terms of engineering, specifically engines, transmissions, drivetrains that Chrysler didn't take a back seat to anyone. 
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lakeholme
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« Reply #9 on: February 05, 2013, 03:06:49 PM »

In much of the Muscle Car Era, however, Ford was the Manufactures winner in NASCAR for a variety of reasons...
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Phillip
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67conv6cyl
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« Reply #10 on: February 05, 2013, 06:10:40 PM »

I have had both Mustang and Camaro, I can tell you first hand GM quality way way better,  Mustang bottom of trunk was top of gas tank, lots of body vibration on mustang, subframe on Camaro I feel was much better than fords shock towers. By the way to grease front fittings on mustang you had to cut holes in shock towers (look at any original mustang you will find home made holes in towers)   Mustang does not handle as good or ride as smooth and even though Camaros have there typical rust spots a Mustang will rust EVERY WHERE places that you would not believe or at least I couldn't.  Hence the nick name Rustang! Don't get me wrong I liked my Mustang too they just are very poor Quality. Never had a Cuda
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69Z28-RS
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« Reply #11 on: February 05, 2013, 06:55:00 PM »

In much of the Muscle Car Era, however, Ford was the Manufactures winner in NASCAR for a variety of reasons...
David Pearson was one of those *reasons*..  while Petty Enterprises and King Richard helped give Chrysler more than their share.. Smiley
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Gary W.  /  69Z28-RS, 72 B 720 cowl console rosewood all tint
69 Corvette convertible, silver/black 350 hp,
60 Corvette white/red, 72 Corvette coupe (2), 
90 ZR1 red/red #246, 90 ZR1 white/gray #2466
72 El Camino, '55 Nomad, '57 Nomad, '57 B/A Sedan
lakeholme
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« Reply #12 on: February 05, 2013, 07:56:11 PM »

In much of the Muscle Car Era, however, Ford was the Manufactures winner in NASCAR for a variety of reasons...
David Pearson was one of those *reasons*..  while Petty Enterprises and King Richard helped give Chrysler more than their share.. Smiley

You bet!  I grew up down the road from the Petty Enterprise shops.  Also, Chrysler boycotted at least one of those years.

I have had both Mustang and Camaro, I can tell you first hand GM quality way way better,  Mustang bottom of trunk was top of gas tank, lots of body vibration on mustang, subframe on Camaro I feel was much better than fords shock towers. By the way to grease front fittings on mustang you had to cut holes in shock towers (look at any original mustang you will find home made holes in towers)   Mustang does not handle as good or ride as smooth and even though Camaros have there typical rust spots a Mustang will rust EVERY WHERE places that you would not believe or at least I couldn't.  Hence the nick name Rustang! Don't get me wrong I liked my Mustang too they just are very poor Quality. Never had a Cuda

Amen to the bad ride! Mine drove like a battleship in rough seas --floating all over the place.

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Phillip
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Planning 2016 Sentimental Tour, AACA (and restoring a 40 Buick Special for it)
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"Charlotte AutoFair, presented by the Hornets Nest Region, AACA, is the largest and greatest Collector Vehicle Event in the Southeast USA."
68camaroz28
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« Reply #13 on: February 05, 2013, 08:49:18 PM »

I couldn't believe the poor quality of welds on my 1970 Challenger!  IMO GM was way ahead of both Ford and Chrysler in production & assembly operations.  Chrysler engines and transmissions were great though.

Interesting that I never owned a Chrysler vehicle back in the day as I was a die hard Chevy guy and it came honest as my Dad was selling Chevrolet's and Olds since 1958 so I spent time at the dealership as a kid, but Chrysler did build great drive-trains. But back to the question, GM has some great built vehicles! 
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Dusk_Blue_Z
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« Reply #14 on: February 08, 2013, 05:23:48 PM »

Thanks for the responses. I'll check out the Muscle Car Confidential book, thanks for the recommendation.

Nick
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wtexz10
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« Reply #15 on: February 09, 2013, 02:26:47 PM »

I got my drivers license in 1970 at the ripe age of 16.  Right in the middle of the muscle car era.  Most of my friends had second hand GM products although we had a few with Fords and even fewer with Chryslers.  We always respected the Chrysler power trains, but would often joke about all of the trim and interior parts that seem to come loose or fall off those who drove them.  Chevy's, Pontiac's, Oldsmobile's, and even some Buick's where what we sought out on the used car lot's around down. 

I had forgotten about the Chrysler fit and finish, until last spring.  My car club made a 1 hour trip to a neighboring town to have lunch and enjoy our cars.  We left town driving down I20, I following a 66 Dodge Charger.   About 10 minutes into the trip I saw what appeared to be a piece of chrome trim launch from the Dodge and disappear into the grass beside the road. Shocked  I phone the Charger driver and he didn't think it came off his car, so we continued on.  About 20 minutes later, I started getting a fine mist on my Z10's windshield.  Not a cloud in the sky?  Hmmmm?  Wasn't coming from my car, the Charger had blown a lower radiator hose and was puking antifreeze all over itself and my car.

The moral of the story......................There's a reason they call them Dodge.  Don't follow them, you'll be dodging crap that falls off of them constantly.    Wink
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69Z28-RS
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« Reply #16 on: February 09, 2013, 04:00:31 PM »

Hey..  It isn't fair to blame the factory that built the car 40 yrs ago for crap that wasn't done correctly by the present owner/restorer.. Smiley
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Gary W.  /  69Z28-RS, 72 B 720 cowl console rosewood all tint
69 Corvette convertible, silver/black 350 hp,
60 Corvette white/red, 72 Corvette coupe (2), 
90 ZR1 red/red #246, 90 ZR1 white/gray #2466
72 El Camino, '55 Nomad, '57 Nomad, '57 B/A Sedan
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