Stock Drag Race – 1969 Corvette 427 vs. 1973 Firebird Formula 455

November 19th, 2020

This clip documents what some would call “old school drag racing”. The cars are – believe it or not – some of the most capable of their era. Today, it seems implausible that the most feared of the original muscle cars only made (approximately) half the horsepower produced by some of the hottest modern factory performance coupes, sedans and sport utility vehicles. Nevertheless, it should be quite interesting to see these two top tier muscle cars battle it out on the dragstrip.

In the right lane is a prime example of one of the most intimidating muscle cars ever produced. The Chevrolet Corvette Stingray could be outfitted with a variety of big V8 engines, as well as your choice of either a manual or automatic transmission. This particular roadster is a convertible 1969 model with a 427 cubic-inch engine and a manual transmission (3.70:1 final drive gear ratio). This version of the 427 is not the most robust of the model lineup (it made 435hp), but it does manage 390hp and 435 lb.-ft. of torque. This are pretty amazing specifications from a time of cast iron motors and carbureted fuel delivery. Both cars are stock.

On the left is the 1973 Pontiac Firebird Formula. By 1973 emission regulation had reached a fever pitch. Fuel prices were sky high and automakers were forced to reduce performance in order to get a handle on pollution. Despite being equipped with a massive 455 cubic-inch engine, the Firebird Formula only made 250hp, but it made 370 lb.-ft. of torque. Low output is primarily caused by the low compression ratio of just 8.0:1. Only one available engine offered in the 1973 Pontiac Firebird Formula was more powerful than the mill in this car. That was the 455 SD. This car is also equipped with a manual transmission and it has a final drive gear ratio of 3.42:1.

The Corvette has more horsepower and only weighs about 35-pounds more than the Firebird. The Chevy should win easily, right? You may be in for a surprise.

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