Ford Mustang Grandé, The Sporty Compacts of 1973

1973 Ford Mustang Grandé

This quote from Consumer Guide’s ’73 Auto Test magazine says almost everything you need to know about the performance potential of the vehicles discussed below:

“A COMBINATION of three factors nearly spelled the doom of the cars in this class: Insurance companies hiked the premiums on muscle cars, the government imposed power-stealing emission controls, and the buyers themselves displayed a radical change in automotive tastes.”

The text went on to suggest that Detroit was adapting to these changes, and that “Sporty Compact” car sales would flourish again. Of course, all of this was written either late in 1972 or very early in 1973–just months before the 1973 OPEC (Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries) oil embargo and the oil crisis it caused would change the American automotive landscape forever.

Quite suddenly, Dodge Challengers and Pontiac Firebirds were passed over by young car shoppers in favor of imported vehicles and domestic economy cars such as the Chevrolet Vega and Ford Pinto.

All 0-60 mph times quoted below come from the aforementioned issue of Consumer Guide, as do all the specs. If you’re puzzled by how slow these vehicles seem to be—so are we. We blame the emissions equipment, and an evaluation team that handled the test cars with kid gloves.

The 10 Fastest Cars of 1973*


AMC Javelin: 12.9 Seconds

1973 AMC Javelin

1973 AMC Javelin

Curb Weight: 3013 pounds

Engine: 360-cubic-inch V8

Horsepower: 195

Axle Ratio: 2.87:1

Observed Fuel Economy: 13.6 mpg


Chevrolet Camaro LT: 13.8 Seconds

1973 Chevrolet Camaro LT

1973 Chevrolet Camaro LT

Curb Weight: 3275 pounds

Engine: 350-cubic-inch V8

Horsepower: 175

Axle Ratio: 3.42:1

Observed Fuel Economy: 12.8 mpg


Dodge Challenger Rallye: 12.9 Seconds

1973 Challenger Rallye

1973 Challenger Rallye

Curb Weight: 3331 pounds

Engine: 340-cubic-inch V8

Horsepower: 240

Axle Ratio: 3.23:1

Observed Fuel Economy: 12.0 mpg

The Cars of “Adam 12”


Ford Mustang Grandé: 15.4 Seconds

Ford Mustang Grandé

1973 Ford Mustang Grandé

Curb Weight: 3253 pounds

Engine: 302-cubic-inch V8

Horsepower: 141

Axle Ratio: 3.00:1

Observed Fuel Economy: 10.5 mpg


Mercury Cougar XR7: 13.0 Seconds

Cougar XR-7

1973 Cougar XR7

Curb Weight: 3523 pounds

Engine: 351-cubic-inch V8

Horsepower: 177

Axle Ratio: 3.50:1

Observed Fuel Economy: 10.5 mpg


Plymouth Barracuda: 14.8 Seconds

1973 Plymouth Barracuda

1973 Plymouth Barracuda

Curb Weight: 3261 pounds

Engine: 318-cubic-inch V8

Horsepower: 150

Axle Ratio: 3.23:1

Observed Fuel Economy: 13.5 mpg


Pontiac Firebird Espirit: 12.0 Seconds

1973 Firebird Esprit

1973 Firebird Esprit

Curb Weight: 3365 pounds

Engine: 400-cubic-inch V8

Horsepower: 170

Axle Ratio: 3.42:1

Observed Fuel Economy: 11.2 mpg

The 10 Slowest Cars of 1973*

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