Many car enthusiasts remembered the late ’60s and early ’70s as the golden days of the American muscle car. Those rumbling V8-powered domestics that could blast screaming from stoplight to stoplight, The motor was the important part, the suspension was not as much as a focus so they did well as long as the road stayed fairly straight.
But several things have happened in the 40 plus years since numerous Challengers, Camaros, and Mustangs rumbled their way to the drive-ins on Saturday night and then to the drag strip the following Sunday mornings. Technology always keeps moving forward.
Consumer Reports tested a V6-powered Chevrolet Camaro and a Ford Mustang for its October issue of the magazine, and discovered, among other things, that both cars put out more horsepower than many of V8s from the muscle car era. While delivering quicker acceleration, superior cornering, and far better fuel economy.
Consumer Reports has also tested a Mustang Boss 302 late in 1970, a high-performance model inspired by racing Mustangs of the era. A comparison of the Boss’ performance versus a new 2011 Mustang V6 is something of an eye opener. Keep in mind that testing methods and engines have come a long way in the last 40 years. That and horsepower ratings are now more conservative than back in that day.
Lets take a look at how these two Mustangs stack up.
|1970 Mustang Boss 302||2011 Ford Mustang V6|
|Drivetrain||4.9-liter (302 cubic inch) V8, 4-speed manual transmission||3.7-liter (226 cubic inch) V6, 6-speed manual transmission|
|Vehicle weight||3,335 pounds||3,540 pounds|
|Horsepower*||290 (SAE gross)||305 (SAE net)|
|Acceleration, 0-60||8.0 seconds||6.2 seconds|
|1/4 mile time||16.0 seconds||14.8 seconds|
|1/4 mile speed||93 mph||98 mph|
|Braking, 60-0 mph||130 ft.||134 ft.|
|Overall fuel economy||11 mpg||24 mpg|
*Horsepower figures based on testing standards established by the Society of Automotive Engineers.
Back in those days horsepower ratings were “SAE gross”, meaning that the rating was based on an engine unencumbered by things like an alternator, water pump, and other equipment that an engine needs to function in the real world. A more realistic approach took hold in the early 1970s, known as “SAE net” this standard better approximates the parasitic demands on the engine and more accurately reflects performance of an engine in real world conditions. All this means is that the new V6 has a significant amount of more horsepower than the old Boss 302 if measured to the same SAE NET standard.
The fact that CR measured a shorter stopping distance with the Boss 302 is more of a puzzle, and it probably has something to do with the different facility and testing methods used at that time.
These statistics make for an interesting comparison. I like classic Mustangs, but new ones do show them who’s boss.