Originally Posted by ol trunt
Most of those factory four-on-the floor's would make it across the intersection before the light changed
The Valiants had low enough gearing. We had the small (170 cid vs 225 cid) slant 6 with the economy (non-synchro first) transmission. I was once stopped at a light lined up alongside a Chevelle SS 396, orange with two wide black stripes across the hood and trunk (and maybe the roof), jacked up in back with wide tires. I just sat there playing it cool in the stock econobox wagon.
When the light turned green, we both popped our clutches and floored it. He had no idea I was going to try to race him. He was apparently just intending to show off, but he was definitely trying. By the time I ran out of revs in first gear, about 30 mph if I recall, we were both well clear the intersection, and there was a measurable bit of daylight between my back bumper and his front bumper.
I shifted to second, and the Valiant changed from "accelerating" mode to "gathering speed" mode. He shifted to second right after me, laid about 40 feet of his back tires out on the pavement, and all I saw were taillights. He must have had highway gears . . . .
But those small engines could not push the econobox through the air very well. I think the top speed due to wind resistance was about 88 mph. (Those were the pre 55 days, when the turnpike troopers wouldn't even look at 88 in a 75 because they were only concerned with speeders
.) And I could not keep up speed on the long climb up "Dead Horse Hill" without dropping into second.
By the way, later after I had left home, my kid brother had a Valiant with a factory Hurst. I can't remember for sure, but I think it was a 3-speed, not 4. I only drove it once when we were all on vacation.
I later had an early '70s Dodge Dart hardtop with the "big" slant six and an automatic. By reconnecting the vacuum tube from the distributor to constant vacuum instead of the new emission control cut off at idle, and then resetting the timing (advance it until it just started to knock climbing hills, and then back off a hair), I had the performance of a small V8, according to my friends who noticed and commented on it when they rode with me.