Pontiac GTO

Pontiac GTO

Pontiac GTO

That was the popular look mid-1970’s early 1980’s. The car is “jacked up” as was the term for that look. The drag racers of the time were doing this and it spilled over to the street scene.

The tire combo was called “big & littles” – a slang most knew right away what you had. The front tires will be 14″ rims to drop the nose and narrow tires while the rear tires were 15″ rims and typically 10″ wide. Cragar mags are what you are looking at, but slotted aluminum rims were the other more popular choice. Tires back then were letter coded and the M-50’s we called “steam rollers” because they were short and wide. There was also the G-50 (ran these on a 1965 Impala) and N-50’s being the biggest. I believe the M-50’s were about 24″ – while your stock tires were 26″. So this allowed the tires to fit into and hang out the wheel wells which was another feature of that era – they did not get tucked in and wheel wells tubbed out as this was getting into the mid 1980’s with the Pro-Stock look. White lettered or blackwall tires was a personal choice.

Air shocks, Monroe or Gabriel were the name brand we used to lift the back end up. One was yellow and one was white in color. You could install coil spring spacers for coils, and leaf spring suspensions used a longer spring shackle set at the rear of the leaf-to-chassis attachment along with the air shocks to get the car up in the air and clear tires.

The yellow items attached to the rear axle are “traction bars” or “ladder bars.” Several styles were offered and Lakewood was the big name maker you wanted on your car. Some bolted on to the rear axle using the control arm bolts while others clamped on. My brother installed a set on his ’67 GTO and they worked real well, too well in fact, as they did what they were supposed to do and planted the tires real hard and lifted up on the frame to transfer weight to the rear tires for traction …….and that extra lift at the front of the traction bars tied into the control arms cracked his frame on both sides and he had to have the cracks welded up, and then he took off the bars. Back then we did not know about the upper & lower control arm braces that came on 4-speed cars or could have been added.

Additionally, other mods of the day were a Grant steering wheel, Jensen door speakers, 8-track was fazing out but still used and giving way to the cassette tapes, and radios were Pioneer, Sparkomatic, & Kraco with Blaupunkt being high end which few had.

Tunnel rams and velocity stacks were seen on some cars sticking through the hood and you had to have some kind of scoop on the hood, whether factory, add-on, or combo of factory/add-on. Side pipes and “zoomie” pipes (like the Mad Maxx Interceptor) were also used to get that high performance/drag racing look.

With the rear end jacked up and smaller (shorter) tires in front, you had to be careful of ground clearance at the oil pan & headers, and with the weight nosed down on the front end it had a tendency to bounce harder going over a bump. Some would go to a stiffer spring rate. I had this issue with my ’68 Lemans when I did this, front end would go down/bounce and I would hit the exhaust pipes. Rather than install heavier springs, I tried a set of 70/30 drag shocks. Worked perfectly. The car’s nose would lift easy, but would settle down much slower due to the shock valving – which is typically a 50/50 shock. The 90/10’s were really drag racing shocks but I knew a black ’67 Chevelle with a 454CI LS6/4-speed that was jacked up with the big & littles and when he nailed the gas, that front end would just lift up making the car level out and he would be off – very impressive.

Here are more examples:


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