I don't write about nearly enough muscle cars here at #bcotd, mostly because I've never really been able to figure them out. And it's probably too late. With street racing all but blotted out, there seems to be little reason for keeping muscle car tradition alive, too: even the Big Three's hottest muscle cars are tested on the Nürburgring Nordschleife.
Now that Chevrolet can sell a Camaro because of its handling, imagine a world in which an AMC Gremlin was more desirable when fitted with a 6.6-litre V8 engine. Yes, that's a 401 cu in engine inside the nose of a car that's as long as a shoe.
It's all thanks to Randall AMC in Mesa, Arizona. At their facility, this compact 1/4 mile chariot was converted from a Gremlin 304 V8-equipped model to a 401-XR.
The 20 conversions carried out from 1972-'74 started at just $2,995 Usd., which is about $16,000 today. How expensive could the car get? It all depended on how many new parts you wanted to fit: Randall AMC had access to all parts catalogues relevant to the car and could build you a more luxurious example or a 401-XR fast enough to…well…wait…how fast was it?
At a weight of 1,270 kg (2,800 lbs) and with a "standard" 255 horsepower quoted by the AMC factory for its 401 engine, buyers could expect a 1/4 mile time of just 13.90 at around 105 mph (169 km/h)—on par with what a Porsche 928 S would do.
Equipped with a few more dealer-fit modifications, and the 401-XR recorded a 1/4 mile time of 12.22 seconds at 115 mph (185 km/h). To match that in a modern car, you'd need to roll up to the tree in a car comparable to, say, a Porsche 911 GT3, KTM X-Bow, Ferrari 612 Scaglietti, or an Audi R8.
Fast? Yes. Insane? Definitely.
Most importantly, though, in the context of today, a tire-shredding, rear-drive hatchback with enough speed in a straight line to slay Aston Martins is pretty weird, isn't it?