Turmoil was very much a part of life in the United States in 1967. Race riots escalated in cities throughout the country, as did the war in Vietnam. Protest, rebellion and distrust of authority became popular with the youth of America, particularly those on college campuses. The counterculture crusade was in full swing, as was the musclecar movement. Detroit was dishing out performance with a shovel! Sophistication came to the ranks of muscle-cars, as companies honed their products to a fine edge. The nitty-gritty of styling and image gimmicks were pursued, while some cost-cutting tricks were explored. The year witnessed the birth of the Camaro and the arrival of the Firebird, GM's long-awaited answers to the ultra-successful Mustang. On a 108-inch wheelbase, they had the popular long-hood, short-deck ponycar styling, with a setback engine location that gave good traction and handling.
Mopar "letter cars" hit the streets too. Though Chrysler was the last of the Big Three to get its "GTO"-type cars into the showrooms, it wasn't because the company was slower to see the market trend or tool up. The Mopar sales people were simply willing to lose a year to get a better feel for what this new street market really wanted. And the wait paid off. Chrysler really turned the tables on the GM and Ford forces. The new '67 Dodge R/T and Plymouth had the usual intermediate-sized body as the others did. But instead of holding engine size to around 400 cubic inches as CM and Ford did, Chrysler dropped in its 440-cube "Magnum" high block, with special big-port heads, strong hydraulic cam, beefed-up bottom end and split-flow exhaust manifolds.
With 30 to 40 more net hp than the GM and Ford standard musclecar engines, the Mopars could turn quarters in the mid-14s at 95 to 98 mph, bone stock. The competition couldn't touch them. It was a real coup for Chrysler, especially when a buyer could order the wild Street Hemi package for an extra $750 or so. Mopar fanatics were well taken care of in 1967.
Probably the youths least interested in street muscle were the "hippies," a movement supposedly born on Easter Sunday in New York's Central Park, with love as the theme. Hippies, when they had wheels, were driving VW vans and probably blocking the fast lane of whatever road they happened to be on. Flower Power, rather than horsepower, meant long hair, free love, drugs and the psychedelic sound born in San Francisco. The Jefferson Airplane was the first band to uncover the commercial potential of this brand of music when "Somebody to Love" hit the AM Top 10. The group had played its first acid rock in an obscure night club called the Matrix. In no time at all, other groups jumped on their coattails with hits of their own. Often their names were more creative than their music. How could we ever forget the Peanut Butter Conspiracy, It's A Beautiful Day or Dan Hicks and His Hot Licks?
Rock music was quickly becoming more than just music. It was now a symbol of both youth and the times. In March, Jimi Hendrix set his guitar ablaze on a stage in London. The Bee Gees made it to the English charts for the first time, and The Doors made headlines with "Light My Fire." A Playboy magazine survey reported that 47 percent of the nation's college students admitted to smoking marijuana, the bulk of them from high-income families. The Beatles signed an ad appearing in British newspapers urging marijuana's legalization. By the end of the year they would be hobnobbing with the Ma-harishi Mahesh Yogi and denouncing drug use. Tripping on LSD was common in hippie communes, which flourished in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Boston and Atlanta.
Grammy winners included The Beatles for the album Sgt. Pep per's Lonely Hearts Club Band and The 5th Dimension for the song "Up, Up and Away." The Casinos, a Cincinnati group, had their lone hit, called "Then You Could Tell Me Goodbye." It was a great song for slow dancin'. The Summer of Love found Chevrolet executives wearing a big smile as thev could look back several months and call the '67 Camaro a success. But earlier in the season, they realized that the 350-cubic-inch, 295-hp motor would be no match for the new 390
Mustang. Good thing they hada396 on the shelf, good for all the way up to 375 hp. It was obvious GM was declaring all-out war in the ponycar market. A look at the freshly introduced Firebird would underscore that m statement. Borrowing GTO's 400-cubic-inch mill, the Firebird's big-| gest engine option was rated at 325 hp, whether or not it came equipped with the Ram Airpack-age. Identical engines in the GTO ^^ were rated higher because GM had an iron-clad internal policy that limited all its divisions to a maximum of 1 hp per 10 pounds of vehicle weight. With the Firebird on the scales at 3250 pounds, engines would have a ceiling of 325 hp. There was even a power-limiting tab on the Quadrajet's secondary throttle linkage to meet this edict, which you could bend out of the way to pick up an instant 25 hp.
Another anti-performance GM policy was a ban on multiple carburetion systems on passenger cars. This meant that the Tri-Power GTOs and tri-carb Olds 4-4-2s became history overnight. That made GM service people happy, because the complex throttle linkages had been the source of many warranty headaches. It was ironic that in the 12-year cycle of the Vietnamese calendar, 1967, the year the GTO lost its multiple carbs, was the Year of the Goat. But the GTO didn't lose its sales appeal, as the 389 was increased to 400 cubic inches. Split-flow exhaust manifolds and Ram Air were great options to have under the hood as the driver hummed along to "Baby, I Need Your Lovin' " by Johnny Rivers.
The Corvette, because it was classified a sports car, escaped the tri-carb ruling and incorporated a new three carburetor setup for the L71 427, rated at 435 hp. The vacuum diaphragm system never worked as well as the single-quad L72 of the prior year, though for pure street muscle not much could touch that beautiful big-block. Chevy also produced 20 L88-pow-ered cars, for competition use only— awesome then as a powerhouse, awesome today as a collectible.
A less obvious but very important performance breakthrough in the GM camp was the new Turbo Hydramatic 400 3-speed automatic. Prior to this, big-horsepower GM variants were limited to 4-speeds or wimpy 2-speed Powerglides. Americans were just beginning to learn what the automobile was doing to their environment. Pollution controls were becoming far more evident, though in 196 7 it was just the tip of the iceberg. The California Air Resources Board (CARB) was the strictest in the nation when it came to smog devices, much as it is today.
Drive-in theaters were still popular and plentiful, and those attending who actually watched the movies saw films like The Graduate, Guess Who's Coming to Dinner, Cool Hand Luke and Bonnie and Clyde. However, 25,700,000 TV sets were tuned to the final episode of "The Fugitive" in August, a night that drive-in theaters should've closed up, gone home and watched too. Frisbees were becoming more popular by the day, as were Super Balls, bounced around by young and old alike. It was also impossible to go into a college dorm without seeing a poster of some sort tacked to a wall and students wearing buttons that said Ban the Bra, Black Is Beautiful and Make Love, Not War.
Rarely in U. S. history had protestors swarmed the streets damning the government. President Lyndon Johnson was not immune to the barrage. In fact, he was usually the target of it. Student upheavals often targeted the administration and "his" Vietnam War, which grew more frustrating and hideous every day. He did manage to meet with Soviet Premier Aleksei Kosygin in New Jersey, where the two agreed not to let any crisis push them into war. Muhammad Ali was stripped of his heavyweight boxing title after refusing to fulfill had military obligation. In his last title defense before the forced retirement he knocked out Zora Folley. Fortunately, he would fight again, but not in his prime.
Members of the establishment, raised during an era when children were to be seen and not heard, came unglued over outspoken youth. Spiro Agnew, then governor of Maryland, called student demonstrators "malcontents, radicals, incendiaries, and civil and uncivil disobedients." Another time he described the universities as "circus tents or psychiatric centers for over-privileged, under-disciplined, irresponsible children of well-to-do blase permissivists." Funny, he made no mention of felons.
Full-sized Chevrolets were reskinned completely and could still be had with the Impala SS package and 425-hp 427s. The real butt-kickers were the lighter Biscaynes with that engine combination. Chevelles remained basically as they were in 1966. Chevy managed to scoop Ford on one thing, the Z/28. Originally planned for limited production just to make the body and 302-cube engine available for SCCA Trans-Am racing, the car was an instant hit. Because the rules required a production power-plant of 305 cubic inches or less, the late Vince Piggins pulled an old hot rodder stunt. The 283 was too small and the 327 too big. But when a 283 crank went into a 327 block, Chevy wound up with the legendary 302. Too bad Chevy could build only 602 units after a late start. This was a musclecar innovation capable of high 14-second quarters at 95 to 98 mph. And what a handler!
Over at Buick, the big news was that the 15-year-old Nail Valve V8 was finally replaced with a brand-new, modern big-block with lighter weight, better breathing and higher rev potential. The Gran Sport 400 was competitive on the street at last. Jayne Mansfield should have -stayed away from Buicks. She died in a horrifying wreck in Louisiana, when the Buick she was riding in plowed into a truck on a lonely stretch of highway. As the race to the moon progressed, the U.S. was dealt a severe setback when astronauts Virgil Grissom,_ Edward White and Roger Chaffee perished in a launch pad fire aboard Apollo I. The country was still in shock as NASA dug in with both heels, refusing to lose momentum in its shot at the moon.
Woodie Guthrie also passed away that year, but his son Alio had a big hit with "Alice's Restaurant," whose theme was draft evasion. Vietnam j may have had the | Ho'Chi Minh Trail, but we had a trail of our own heading straight for Canada, as some 10,000 I young American expatriates were | making new homes there.
Mario Andretti won the Daytona 500 in a 427 Ford Fairlane with the new "tunnel port" cylinder heads, while A.J. Foyt won his third Indy 500 in a Ford-powered Coyote. Foyt also shared the driving chores with Dan Gurney, as they piloted a Ford GT-40 to victory in the Le Mans 24-hour race. The World Driving Championship , better known as Formula One, was taken by New Zealander Denis Hulme. Richard Petty was NASCAR's champ, driving a Plymouth.
Movie fans mourned the passing of Spencer Tracy, Vivian Leigh and Basil Rathbone. Bert Lahr, known for his role in The Wizard ofOz and later for funny potato chip commercials, also died in 1967.
The very successful Mustang received its first major redesign, bigger and heavier of course, but wider as well. This allowed room for a big-block, namely the mild 390 "GT" engine rated at 335 hp. The Mustang had at last achieved true musclecar status.Another important development at Ford in '67 was that the 427 8-barrel engine became a regular production option in the mid-sized Fairlane and Mercury Comet. With a neat hood scoop and cold air system, it made for an awesome street competitor. The engines were available in a variety of combinations with different outputs.
"Rock It to Me—Sock It to Me," and that's exactly what the folks from Dearborn, Flint, Lansing, Highland Park and Motown did to us in '67 with their musclecar offerings. After all, rough idles were really in that year!
Formula One Championship:
Danny Hulme (New Zealand) / Brabham-Repco
Billie Jean King d. A. Jones (6-3 6-4)
John Newcombe d. W. Bungert (6-3 6-1 6-1)
- The Graduate
- Bonnie and Clyde
- Guess Who's Coming to Dinner?
- In the Heat of the Night
- Cool Hand Luke
- Best Picture - In the Heat of the Night
- Best Actor - Rod Steiger (In the Heat of the Night)
- Best Actress - Katharine Hepburn (Guess Who's Coming To Dinner)
- "I'm a Believer," - The Monkees
- "To Sir With Love," - Lulu
- "The Letter," - The Box Tops
- "Light My Fire," - The Doors
- "Windy," - The Association
- "Ode to Billy Joe," - Bobbie Gentry
- "DaydreamBeliever," - The Monkees
- "Happy Together," - The Turtles
- "Somethin' Stupid," - Nancy and Frank Sinatra
- "I Heard It Through the Grapevine," - Gladys Knight and the Pips
- "Incense and Peppermints," - Strawberry Alarm Clock
- "Can't Take My Eyes Off You," - Frankie Valli
- "Groovin'," - The Young Rascals
- "Little Bit O' Soul," - The Music Explosion
- "The Rain, the Park and Other Things," - The Cowsills
- Ernesto "Che" Guevara (Marxist Revolutionary)
- Vittorio Valletta (Honorary President of Fiat, his last great act to set up a factory in Russia to produce 600,000 cars per year)
- Upton Sinclair (Author)
- Jayne Mansfield (Playboy Playmate of 1955 and not so great Actress)
- Spencer Tracy (Actor and lover to Katherine Hepburn)