The late 1950s represented something of a turning point for American automakers as horsepower and performance became increasingly important to consumers. Engines like the 392 HEMI and GM’s 283 small-block V8 came out of this era, giving Americans their first taste of what would soon become known as muscle cars. But that didn’t mean that every muscle car was made equal.
The Truth About Cars dug up this pair of vehicular tests starring Tom McCahill, the famed auto journalist who graced the pages of Mechanix Illustrated. McCahill dreamed up some pretty tough obstacles for a bonanaza of classic American cars, and the suspension test in particular is wildly entertaining to watch.
The first video, at ten minutes in length, compares the acceleration and handling of various automobiles, including several discontinued brands like Windsor, Mercury and Oldsmobile. McCahill unabashedly praises the speedy Chryslers, which leave the competition in the dust (literally) thanks to the combination of a front torsion bar suspension and those gigantic HEMI V8s under the hood. The braking tests also see Chrysler take the top spot, while the Oldsmobile plows through the fake tractor obstacle.
But the second video is where the really good stuff is, as McCahill thrusts the test cars through a series of suspension tests that really highlights the differences between brands. While the Chrysler-built Windsor levels off quickly after a serious bump, the Oldsmobile it is compared with bounces up and down for a while, jostling passengers and cargo alike.
But none of that compares to what McCahill does to an unfortunate Cadillac later on in the same video. Skip ahead to the 8-minute mark if you want to see what rough roads do to a classic Caddy, and be prepared to cringe. Suffice to say, automotive suspensions have come a long way in the past 60 years.