While walking through the Long Beach Swap Meet last weekend, I saw some guy in a tube-chassis Duster cruising the parking lot on his way to the car corral and it got me pondering the fact that you don’t see super sick street machines anymore. Remember when every cruise night had several cars with wall-to-wall tires, and blowers and tunnel rams were the norm? Now the most evil car at a cruise night or local car show is the one with 13-inch brakes and 20s on it. Sure, you might find a big-tired car at the street races once in a while, but the influx of small-tire, stock suspension racing has driven us away from sick and nasty big-tire cars. I’m not saying I miss the days of 13-second cars with 33×21.50 Sportsmans on the back, but how about the sinister look of a Cuda with fatties, a Hemi, a tunnel ram, and a glovebox full of 9-second timeslips to back up the smack talk the 4-inch exhaust was delivering?
And today, you can forget about Pro Street. Those poor guys that still show up at the burger joint are looked at like the guy that still has a mullet. Way back in the day, I used to have a formula for what ET a car should run based on tire size. If a car had 12-inch- wide tires it needed to run a 12.00 or better, and for each additional inch of tire width, it needed to be a second quicker. I’m sure few actually hit the mark, but those that did were enough to keep me happy. They were the ones that made street racing in the ‘90s so mythical in our young minds. And then, somewhere along the line, things changed.
It was no longer cool to run 9s on a big tire when guys were running 9s on a small ones. We all got infatuated with small-tire, stock-suspension cars, and all the big-tire cars just seemed to fade away. Why? Is a small-tire car really more of a street car than a big tire car? Larry Larson, Denny Terzich, and many others have logged thousands of miles in tubed cars driving back and forth across the country on Hot Rod’s Drag Week and I can’t think of a reason why a 33×21.50 Sportsman is any less streetable than a 295/35/20.
And why do I still hear people, while building a Pro Touring Camaro, say that a big-tire car is something they always wanted? These comments are most often followed by some street racing story about a tubbed car that used to run like a raped ape, and looked like Satan’s chariot. But no matter how much they wax poetic about those memories of old, there is almost no chance that they will actually build an example of their own.
Well I say it’s time to change. My Nova is a backhalf car, with the too-tall cowl hood, deck spoiler, and 12.50-inch wide tires that still seem to impress people, but I want more. Lots more. I want to bring back the sinister, evil, fire-breathing street machines of old. I want mechanical fuel injection with Crower stacks sticking through a flat hood. I want wheelie bars on the street. I want a 5-inch exhaust that makes children and tree huggers cry. I want 33×18.50 ET Streets. I want the big tire car you just can’t stop staring at.
And if that makes me the guy with the mullet, I’m okay with that.