10 Muscle Car-Era Features That Need to Come Back


According to Dodge’s press information from the SEMA show in Las Vegas this week, Dodge will produce 1,000 special-edition 2014 Challenger R/Ts with “shaker” hoods, which are hoods with large air intakes that protrude from an opening in the center of the hood. The name “shaker” comes from the scoop’s tendency to shake from the torque of the engine to which it is attached.

It goes without saying that this feature is stupendous, and a reminder of a once-great time for wild performance-inspired car features. Here are ten that we’d like to see back on modern cars.

The Shaker


Lots of cars had shaker scoops in the muscle car era, including the Ford Mustang Cobra Jet, the 1970 Barracuda, the Ford Torino, Pontiac GTO, Pontiac Trans Am and the 2004 Ford Mustang Mach 1.

PHOTOS: See more of the 2014 Dodge Challenger R/T Shaker

But who owns the name? Nobody, it looks like. Dodge did have SHAKER decals on the underside of the hood near the shaker opening, but there doesn’t appear to be a copyright for it. In fact, in Plymouth ‘Cuda literature in 1970, it was referred to by the acronym “I.Q.E.C.A.G”, which stood for “Incredible Quivering Exposed Cold Air Grabber.” That is also an acceptable name.

The Grabber


Similar to the Shaker, the Grabber or “Air Grabber hood” was a means of forcing cold air into the carburetor. Grabber hoods first appeared on the 1970 Plymouth Road Runner and GTX as a flip-up door that jammed air into the engine.

PHOTOS: See more of the 1970 Plymouth Road Runner Convertible

Ford resurrected the name in the form of the 1971 Ford Maverick Grabber, which came with a “Dual Dome” hood. Ford sold the Maverick Grabber between 1971 and 1975.

Liquid Tire Chain


This is one most people don’t believe is real until they actually see it. According to Chevrolet order guides (in 1969 only) you could select RPO V75 and you’d receive two cans of something called “Liquid Tire Chain Traction Improver,” inserted into two sleeves in the trunk. When you pressed a dash-mounted button, the material in the cans – Agent Orange? Napalm? Dioxin? – would spray on the tires and provide added traction in the snow and ice.

PHOTOS: See more of the 1969 Chevrolet Camaro RS

Seriously. For reals. Apparently, the option ran $22, and was only selected on 188 cars in the 1969 model year before it was discontinued.

Hood Birds

Hood Bird

If there’s anything more uniquely American, obnoxious and awesome than the spread wings of a Phoenix on the hood of a Trans Am, we don’t know what it is. Interestingly, GM design chief Bill Mitchell had a penchant for the John Player Special cars racing in Formula 1 in the 1970s, and had a motorcycle painted to match. When the Trans Am concept was being prepared for 1970 Chicago Auto Show, drawn up based on the Firebird logo. Two cars had the bird in full regalia on the hood, but never made it to the show circuit or production. Hood birds would arrive in full force in 1974.

PHOTOS: See more of the 1973 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am

Nosecones and Basket Handles


The Dodge Charger Daytona and the Plymouth Superbird were iconic cars, but they weren’t influenced by the dragstrips the way muscle cars were, or by the road courses like Trans Ams, Z/28s and AMXs. The Charger Daytona and Superbird were fully influenced by the superspeedways at Daytona and Talladega. Flush rear windows, nosecones and two foot tall rear wings allowed race versions of the Daytona to crack the 200 mph barrier for the first time. They helped lower drag to 0.28 Cd, a figure that puts this flying brick in the same league as the Chevy Volt.

PHOTOS: See more of the 1969 Dodge Charger Daytona

His ‘n’ Hers Shifters

Dual Gate

The name Hurst came up with for this shifter – which you could buy as an accessory for any floor-shifted automatic in the 1960s and 1970s – was the Dual/Gate shifter. The idea was that under normal driving conditions, you’d leave it in drive, but when you wanted to get jiggy wid it, you could simply bang through the gears (up or down) on the right side of the gate with complete safety thanks to the neutral lockout. No missed shifts, no false neutrals.

It got the informal name “His ‘n’ Hers,” because the marketing materials suggested the normal mode was “a mild-mannered setup just for ‘her.’” The Dual/Gate was standard equipment in the Hurst/Olds, which arrived in 1968, and remained in Hurst/Olds Cutlasses until 1979. Kind of sexist, don’t you think? We’ll take it back, but perhaps with a name change.

The Humbler


“The Humbler’s here…this is the way it’s going to be, baby.” That was the tagline in the 50 second commercial Pontiac ran in 1970, for the “Vacuum Operated Exhaust” that showed up late in 1969 and 1970. When you wanted to keep the cops happy, you left the dash-mounted organ-stop closed, but when you wanted to impress the ladies, you pulled the lever and completely uncorked the exhaust. It’s a feature that’s going to be increasingly available now on cars like the shaker-equipped Challenger in 2014.

PHOTOS: See more of the 1970 Pontiac GTO

Sure, it’s available on cars like the Corvette , and Porsche Panamera, but we want the “dual-mode” exhaust setup to proliferate to lesser models.

Hood Tachs

Hood Tach

Hood-mounted tachometers were a feature unique to Pontiac Trans Ams and GTOs in the late 1960s and early 1970s. The idea was to get the tachometer right in front of your eyeballs so you could monitor the revs and shift at the redline without looking down at the dashboard. The truth is, of course, that nobody really stares at the tach while they’re flogging the bejesus out of their muscle car, and leaving a relatively sensitive mechanical device out in the rain and snow pretty much guaranteed that the needle would be at permanent zero before the warranty ran out. Still cool to look at, though.

Factory Tissue Dispenser

1961 Pontiac Accy Tissue Dispenser 1

Unclear whether these were designed to dry the tears of the Ford guy you raced against, or to pat the welling eyes of your chick when you opened up that Humbler and the dames came a-runnin’, but in the 1960s, you could buy factory tissue dispensers for a lot of muscle cars.

The dispenser mounted under the dash and swiveled outward, conveniently located to lop off a kneecap if you were ever in a crash. Ralph Nader probably had wet dreams about banishing these from the automotive landscape.

Road Runner Horn

Road Runner Horn

Is there anything cooler than the ‘Meep Meep” horn – that cost Plymouth $10,000 to develop – that came with the Road Runner between 1968 and 1970?

Of course there isn’t. Meeting adjourned.

Image Sources: HighPerformancePontiac.com, AutoTraderClassics.com, ClassicIndustries.com

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