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Inspiring designs from the U.S.A.

I love American motors. From their enormous winged land yachts to the thrum of their V8 motors. They are a very individual mode of transport that shouts to be recognised. Most prevalent is of course the Ford Mustang but there are also other brands and models found in NI that cannot fail to catch attention.

Buick  Cadillac  Chevrolet  Chrysler  Edsel  Ford  Pontiac  Rambler

If you love the sound of the V8 engine then you probably love American motors. There are few engine sounds that stir the mind of a petrol head more than a throbbing V8. Below is a selection of American cars we captured at events in Northern Ireland. As the selection grows so we’ll be doing more in-depth articles about each of them.

This page was last updated on 2-4-2023

Here are a few residing in Northern Ireland

In the early seventies, American manufacturers attempted to sell their cars to the UK. There was always likely to be resistance to the size of American cars, as many were referred to as land yachts. Making them inappropriate for UK roads which were built for much smaller vehicles, but you have to hand it to American manufacturers for trying. Listed below are a few of the makes and models offered to UK motorists between the fifties and eighties. You’re either a fan or you’re not. Here at Still Motoring we are.

1971 Buick Riviera. The Riviera is a stunning looker that captures seventies America perfectly. In the UK the Riviera came with a V8/7457 cc engine producing a substantial 315 bhp. Lengthwise the Riviera measured 18′ 1″ in length and 6′ 7″ wide. Performance was nimble for such a large vehicle with a 130mph top speed and 0-60 in 8.1 secs. The 1971 new price for a Riviera was £9,793.

Above the 1971 Cadillac Fleetwood was presented to the UK as a limousine to rival Bentley and Rolls Royce. It certainly possessed a street presence that demanded attention just being 19′ 1″ long and 6′ 8″ inches wide. In the UK parking was always going to be an issue! Under the bonnet sat a V8/7730 cc engine producing 375 bhp mated to a 3-spd automatic transmission. This provided the Fleetwood with a top speed of 123 mph and 0-60 in 9.0 secs. While the economy was around 11-13 mpg. The asking price new was £6,896.

Between 1998-2002 the Chevrolet Camaro Z-28 was given a facelift although it maintained overall styling from the fourth generation. The biggest change was the installation of an all-new 5.7 litre V8 petrol engine producing 305 bhp. Capable of 155 mph top speed and 0-60 mph in 5.5 secs the Z-28 is a true muscle car.

In 1964 the Chevrolet Impala Hardtop 8 automatic was selling in the UK for £2,364. Standard imports to the UK of the Impala were powered by a 4.6 litre V8 developing 198 bhp. At 17′ 5″ long and 6′ 5″ wide it was a large 2-door car for UK roads. There remain on UK roads 162 Licensed Chevrolet Impalas and 70 recorded on SORN.

The 1970 Chevrolet Monte-Carlo had the longest bonnet ever manufactured by Chevrolet at the time. The Monte-Carlo was smaller than the Cadillac Fleetwood but still considered a large vehicle in the UK. Being 17′ long and 6′ 3″ wide. Beneath the bonnet, a V8/5737 cc engine produced 250 bhp mated to either a 3-speed manual or 4-speed automatic. The Monte Carlo managed a top speed of 113 mph and 0-50 in 6.9 secs. Economy 14-19mpg. The asking price new was £3,817.

The Chrysler 300 first generation was manufactured between 2004 and 2010. It was offered either as a saloon or Touring (Estate). Engines in the UK were petrol 3.5 V6 or 5.7 V8 or, diesel 3.0 V6 engine producing 215 bhp mated to a 5-speed automatic transmission. Performance figures for all models are brisk with the 3.0 diesel capable of 143 mph and 0-60 in 7.4 secs while offering 34 mpg. The 5.7 V8 petrol meanwhile offered 335 bhp propelling the big Chrysler to cover 0-60 mph in 6.2 secs and going to a top speed of 155 mph. The economy is 23 mpg.

The Edsel was an American Ford failure that has gradually become attractive to collectors. Although Edsel was not sold in the UK there are a few examples in the country and, since we found one, we thought it should be included here. Introduced in 1956 its manufacture ceased in 1960. It is a huge vehicle and not without charm. Its distinctiveness is beyond doubt, especially in the UK.

In 1971 Ford offered their world-famous sports coupe and convertible to the UK public i.e. the Ford Mustang. A move away from the original design it held some of the old familiarity. The hottest version was the Mach 1 which was powered by a 4942 cc engine that pumped out 213 bhp. The engine was mated to a 3-speed manual transmission to the rear wheels. This provided a pace around 120 mph top speed and 0-60 time of 7.9 secs. The price for a Mach 1 was £3,886. Other model prices were £2,385 Hardtop and £2,636 for the convertible.

In 1983 a new-look Ford Mustang was introduced and sold in the UK. This variant was powered by a four-cylinder OHC 2301cc 92 bhp engine or a 6-cylinder 3273 cc motor offering 89 bhp. Neither of which gave the kind of performance witnessed in the movie Bullet with Steve McQueen. However, as a convertible, it looked fine but as a next-gen Mustang, it fell short. Had the UK been offered the 5.0 V8 that powered it in the U.S. together with the kind of sound and performance expected from a Ford Mustang it might have sold better. Finally, the 15-25 mpg claimed by Ford did not inspire anyone to consider the Mustang a better buy than a Capri which in 3.0 guise outperformed it! Prices began at around £8,500.

The latest version of the Ford Mustang reached sixth-generation status when introduced in 2015. The latest version possesses many physical similarities in its design to its 1971 ancestor, which was highly successful. Today it is available with a 4-cylinder 2.3 litre or 5.0 V8 petrol in the UK. Two types of transmission are offered, either a six-speed manual or a ten-speed automatic. Performance is more than adequate with the 5.0 automatic capable of 0-60 in 4.0 secs. While inside the cabin Ford has created a special place that feels plush and sturdy.

1964 Plymouth Fury. In the UK a Plymouth Fury automatic costs £2,491. Powered by a 7-litre V8 that produced 365 bhp the sporting Fury was a serious muscle car of the period. The performance of the Fury Sport was blistering with a top speed of 132 mph and 0-60 in 5.6 secs. The economy was unattractive at 12.7 mpg.

1966 Pontiac GTO. In 1966 Pontiac offered its sports coupe/saloon in the UK at a not-unreasonable price of £2,812. Plenty of metal for the money as well as a spectacular-looking machine that romped off the line to hit 60 mph in 7.9 seconds and went on to a maximum of 121 mph. In 1966 that was pretty awe-inspiring. However, as usual, the downside for Londoners and most of the rest of the UK was small narrow roads. A 17′ 2.5″ long and 6′ 2.5″ wide vehicle was considered enormous in a country more used to 13′ long Ford Escorts. Also, the prospect of a 6,375 cc V8 motor sitting under the vast bonnet caused much discomfort at the thought it only returned 12.5 mpg!

The 1971 Pontiac Firebird F400 posed a striking figure. A kind of extra large coupe with a very muscular motor. A V8/6558 cc engine producing 254 bhp mated to a 3-speed manual transmission was sufficient to propel the Firebird to a maximum top speed of 131 mph with 0-50 and 0-60 reached in 5.0 and 6.5 secs consecutively. The Firebird is 15′ 11″ long and 6′ 1″ wide. The economy is 12-16 mpg. The new price in 1971 was £3,817.

The 1969 Rambler Javelin came to the UK with its 340 cu. in. (5630 cc) V8 which was due for a replacement to more modern 5.0 litre and 5.9 litre V8 engines. The road testers were therefore confronted by an attractive coupe with an engine that was already passed its sell-by date. That said the Javelin still acquitted itself fairly well by reaching a top speed of 118 mph sprinting from 0-50 in 6.2 secs. The economy was between 14 and 16 mpg. While the new price for the 1971 model was £2,542.

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