Q: Greg, I enjoyed your column on the larger muscle cars from last week. How about your list of the best all around Pony Cars up to 1970 and I hope the Boss 302 is on there. Alfred P., North Carolina.
A: OK Alfred, here we go with my Top 10 pony cars through 1970 in no particular order. I also want to thank all those who emailed on my muscle car list. It was a hit column!
1: 1969 Shelby Mustang: In either GT350 (351-V8) or GT500 (428-V8) form, these Shelby Mustangs are perhaps the most popular of all the Pony Cars. Rare and very expensive nowadays, this is Carrol Shelby’s Mustang effort following his wildly popular sports car; the AC Bristol bodied Ford Cobra.
2: 1968 Camaro Z28: One of the hot ones from Chevy, the Z28 had a Muncie 4-speed, 302 with solid lifter cam and either one or two four barrel carbs. This car set the stage for Chevy’s “Z” cars, and to this day commands big bucks at the auctions.
3: 1969 Camaro SS 396-375: Granted this big-block monster was a bit heavy in the front and didn’t handle anywhere near the Z, but if you were going straight, few cars around would get to the quarter-mile finish ahead of you.
4: 1968 Boss Mustang: With a 302 under the hood and excellent cylinder heads breathing lots of air into the chambers, the Boss 302 cast a legend in stone as one of the top collector Pony cars of the era. Want more? How about a priceless 429 Boss Hemi Ford…if you can afford one.
5: 1970 AAR Cuda: With a 340 6-pack for power and SCCA Trans Am Racing for inspiration, these rare Plymouth small blocks command top dollar and are few and far between in matching number originals. With special side exhaust, stripes and lettering, the 6-pack AAR is an attention getter at car shows coast to coast.
6: 1969 Mustang Cobra Jet 428: Although rated at only 335 horses, the 428 Cobra Jet produced way more horses with headers and a few ignition tweaks, and was a Pony Car to be feared. Did very well on the nation’s drag strips in Super Stock eliminator. If you wanted a Mercury, it was the Cougar Cobra Jet!
7: 1970 Hemi Cuda: With 426 inches of MOPAR Hemi power under the hood and 425 horses in a de-tuned state, few of the Ponies could outrun one of these rare pieces. Also one of the most expensive cars going over the action block at Mecum and Barrett-Jackson.
8: 1970 Dodge Challenger 440 6-pack: A few inches longer than the sibling Barracuda, the Challenger offered similar engine options, but the 440 6-Pack is my selection for outright torque and ease of driving on the street. The Hemi was temperamental, but the hydraulic lifter 440 with its Wedge heads was easy to drive and maintain.
9: 1970 Pontiac Trans-Am 400 Ram Air IV: The Trans-Am will always be the Pony darling of the Pontiac crowd, and the ’70 400 delivered 370 horses. If you bought the special Super Duty engine at your Pontiac dealer and made it a Ram Air V, you could put out near 500 horses thanks to special heads, solid lifters and a few other tweaks.
10: 1970 AMC Donohue Javelin: Be it the two seater AMX or the back seat equipped Javelin; AMC gets a nod of support from this writer. With either a 390 or 401 under the hood, these cars ran well and were also very good looking. The Mark Donohue Javelin released in 1970 was AMC’s answer to the AAR Cuda, and came with a 360 or 390 “Go Pack” V8. Roger Penske Racing took this Javelin to many wins on the Trans Am circuit, including a manufacturer championship for AMC in 1971 with Donohue.
Missed one? Let me know.