Tam spots a ’78ish Camaro, and waxes lyrical on the lack of performance in the Malaise Era:
Even the highest-zoot 350-c.i. engine available in the Z-28 was a wheezing smog motor that put out four horsepower less than the normally aspirated 2.8L 6-cyl in my Z3. Car and Driver clocked 7.3 seconds to sixty and a 16.0 ¼-mile time from a 4-speed car with a 3.73 rear end, which would barely keep up with Marko’s new minivan, but was pretty beastly in that benighted era. (And most Camaros then were 305-motored cars with slushboxes, which wouldn’t accelerate hard enough to pull a greased string out of a cat’s ass.)
Long about 1978, the Mrs. and I took delivery of a ’76 Nova, a 305-motored car with a slushbox, and in terms of feline string removal, it barely kept up with her 96-hp ’75 Toyota Celica (5-speed manual, 3.73 rear end) which, when the marriage went sour, became my 96-hp ’75 Toyota Celica, which I drove until the mid-Nineties. Neither car was exactly frugal: we got maybe 16 mpg out of the Chevy, and the Toyota managed only about 18 in town, though it did better out on the road. Weirdly, fuel economy improved slightly after an Exxon station in Redondo Beach tweaked the carb and the timing enough to somehow pass a California smog test in 1988 despite the lack of a catalytic converter. Even more weirdly, the absolute best gas mileage I ever saw on the Celica was 29 mpg, achieved with a tailwind on Interstate 35 with a curio cabinet lashed to the roof, which should tell you how good the stock aerodynamics were.