Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Wish that I could see California Girls - 1960's flashback - Muscle Heads and Muscle Cars


Once upon a time it was the 1960's and I had a band, dressed in madras plaid and wheat jeans just like the Beach Boys and we could seriously rock.  But alas we were trapped in Iowa when all the action was out in California on the beaches.

So what is a Hayseed to do?

I enrolled in the University of Arizona in Tucson where I was just five hours from those beaches and golden tans, a lot closer than the cornfields of Iowa.  The first chance I got it was off to LA and fun in the sun to find out what the Beach Boys had been talking about in all those songs.

There was only one person I knew at Arizona and he lived in LA so between my old friend Mike and my new fraternity brothers, several of whom were from California, we set off.  By the time we got to Malibu Beach it was getting late so I raced to do last minute shopping in order to not look too conspicuous.

I wanted one of those baggy surfing swimsuits, the loose fitting kind that came almost down to your knees, to hide the frightening white legs from Iowa.  Judging by the hunks strutting the boardwalk and the babes hitting on them if you weren't golden tan and on steroids there was just no chance.

Sadly I discovered I was right.  There was simply no way in hell any of those California girls was going to give me a second look when all the slick talking surfing boys were all over the place.  So I worked at learning the vocabulary of the beach boys since they spoke some foreign tongue only they seemed to understand.

After a few hours of listening I picked up on a bunch of the slang but had no clue how to use it so I just decided to cram all that west coast crap into a single sentence and spin it on the next blond bombshell to walk by.

"Hey babe, you are some bitchin', cool, RF, staff function and my globes are glued to you."

I waited to get slapped, laughed at or ignored but the beautiful babe, at least she looked beautiful after all the Margaritas we had been putting away, just kept staring at me for the longest time.

Suddenly she started laughing, well chuckling at first but then bursting into laughter.  "Can you do that again?" she asked.

"Darling," said the stud from hog heaven, "for you I will do anything again and again."  Promptly I repeated it verbatim to her delight and magically we were invited to a beach party with all the beautiful people.

As we made our way through the sand I asked one of my frat brothers with experience in these beach parties if we had any chance of getting dates.  He laughed.

Then another fraternity brother, this one went to UCLA but was showing us around as a matter of courtesy to another brother, said he knew how we just might steal the show from the California beach boys and their hot rods.

He said he learned long ago that sun bleached locks, hot rods and surf boards could always be trumped by competition.  The California girls loved the chase and they loved watching competition, especially for their attention.

The secret was volleyball.  Everyone on the beach played volleyball in the sand, but most of them were marginal players.  The real jocks didn't hang out with the surfers.  He asked if I played volleyball and of course I did, I was a jock in five sports in high school.

The dude was brilliant. We challenged the beach studs.  Quietly we went about our business of kicking their asses from Malibu to Waikiki Beach and then we went to the bonfire with the most beautiful girls on the beach where we entertained them with guitars, singing and a little cornball humor.

After my first venture to meet the California girls I was content to find them on my turf, not theirs.  It had been a matter a great fortune that the surfer boys we beat out in volleyball had not challenged us to a surfing competition.  There was no way I would have survived riding a wave.

Still, the beach excursion did make me aware of something you rarely saw in the Great Plains.  California was truly the American Mecca for street rods, supercharged hot rods, dragsters and funny cars, and the awesome American Muscle Cars.

In honor of the 1960's California beach scene I present to you the top ten Muscle cars of all time in America.  I hope my many readers from around the world will not object to seeing some of the many extravagant products of the American life style where power is everything.

The following top ten was based on a poll of MSN Autos readers and reported by James Tate.

10 greatest muscle cars of all time

By James Tate of MSN Autos
It's hard for a car buff not to crack a smile — or at least an impish grin — at the sight of a classic muscle car. These overpowered iron beasts were built to deliver a beating and to take one. They were always willing and able to burn some rubber. And they were anything but agile. Big, heavy for the time, loud and rude, muscle cars embodied everything that was great about the American auto industry of the 1960s and 1970s. In a recent poll of our readers, we asked, "What's your favorite muscle car?" Here are the results, listed in ascending order of preference, as well as an overview of what made each beast special.

 1. 1967 Shelby Mustang GT500

6,272 votes, 17 percent of the vote
The GT500 was basically a factory-authorized tuner Mustang created by Carroll Shelby. Introduced in 1967, the GT500 joined the GT350 on showroom floors and offered a 428-cubic-inch Police Interceptor engine with a conservatively rated 355 horsepower. Despite the larger engine, it was actually designed to be a more usable road-going vehicle than the lighter, race-ready GT350. Because of this, and its negligible premium over the GT350, the GT500 was an instant hit, just as it remains to this day.

2. 1966 Shelby Cobra 427

5,540 votes, 15 percent of the vote
Although not purely American, the 427 Cobra is one of the best-known muscle cars ever made. Based on a lightweight British AC Ace roadster, the Cobra was the brainchild of automotive legend Carroll Shelby, and it was essentially created by shoehorning a mammoth Ford 427 engine under the AC's hood. The end result was a frighteningly fast roadster that was also tremendously successful on the track. Today, top examples of these cars command incredible figures at auction houses worldwide.

3. 1969 Z28 Chevy Camaro
5,471 votes, 14 percent of the vote
The first-generation Chevrolet Camaro is guaranteed to stir emotion in the hearts of enthusiasts. In Z28 guise, the '69 Camaro had a small-block 302-cubic-inch engine designed for Trans-Am racing; it was officially rated at 290 horsepower, though its true influence was known to be much more. It also featured F41 sport suspension, standard front disc brakes and a Muncie 4-speed gearbox. It wasn't the biggest, fastest monster on the street, but overall, it was a great package and left little to be desired.

4. 1970 Chevelle 454 SS
5,146 votes, 13 percent of the vote
No matter how you cut it, 454 cubic inches — roughly 7.4 liters — is a whole lot of engine, and it made for outrageous power in the 1970 Chevelle 454 SS. While its base power was already impressive at 360 horses, the LS6 upgrade made for an easy leap to a totally bonkers 450 ponies. This car, and the engine it held, basically represented the limit of the muscle-car power wars, and it is still the highest-output production car to date.

5. 1970 Plymouth Hemi 'Cuda

4,208 votes, 11 percent of the vote
Fully redesigned for 1970, the Plymouth Barracuda was offered with no less than five high-powered V8 engines, although the awe-inspiring 426 Hemi was undeniably top dog, pounding out a crushing 425 horsepower. While its nose-heavy weight distribution made for questionable handling, no one was laughing when it came time for the Hemi 'Cuda to rip down the quarter-mile in the low 13-second range.

6. 1965 Pontiac GTO

4,150 votes, 11 percent of the vote
The Pontiac GTO, affectionately dubbed the "Goat," is about as quintessentially muscle car as it gets. For 1965, the 389-cubic-inch engine packed a stout 335 horsepower and was offered with a Tri-Power option good for an additional 25 ponies. While it was capable of dashes to 60 mph in less than six seconds, the GTO's sketchy brakes and subpar steering made the heavy beast quite a handful to control. But hey, that's all part of driving a true muscle car, right?

7. 1970 Boss 302 Mustang

2,762 votes, 7 percent of the vote
The Boss 302 was a serious muscle car featuring the high-rev Boss 302 V8 engine, which was underrated at 290 horsepower to match its Camaro archrival. Made for Trans-Am racing excitement, the Boss 302 was good for a zero-to-60-mph sprint in well under seven seconds, and it regularly clocked a sub-15-second quarter-mile. As one poll reader described its high-rev eagerness, "Once the car hooks up and the revs climb above 3500, you better hang on for dear life."

8. 1969 Dodge Charger

2,617 votes, 7 percent of the vote
If you don't recognize the '69 Charger, then you simply weren't watching TV in the 1980s. Painted orange and nicknamed General Lee, this coupe was quite a star on TV's "The Dukes of Hazzard." The baddest of the early Chargers was the R/T, with its standard 440 Magnum under the hood churning out a solid 375 horsepower. Its top available engine, however, the all-conquering 426 Hemi cranked out an astounding 425 horses, although the engine alone weighed nearly half a ton.

9. 1968 Pontiac Firebird Coupe

1,079 votes, 3 percent of the vote
Nowadays, the name Pontiac Firebird probably stirs up images of uninspired '90s coupes, or perhaps the painted-hood icons of the 1980s. (Remember Burt Reynolds' Firebird from the movie classic "Smokey and the Bandit"?) However, the Firebird dates back earlier than either example. The first generation was one of the best all-around muscle cars on the market. As it was until just a few years ago, the original Firebird was a close cousin to the Chevrolet Camaro, and the 1968 model offered a range of engines, including a roaring 400-cubic-inch V8 good for 335 horsepower.

10. 1970 Buick GSX

893 votes, 2 percent of the vote
The 1970 GSX was built atop the already potent Buick GS 455 big-block coupe. The GSX was officially quoted as having 360 horsepower and a monumental 510 lb-ft of torque, although like many muscle cars, these power figures were underrated. This 1970 coupe made a strong statement about GM's new willingness to go over its previous 400-cubic-inch limit, and it was available only in yellow or white, both with the obligatory racing stripes, of course. Only 678 GSX coupes were produced.

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