Choices – 1973 NASCAR Road Cars

Welcome back to Choices. An evolution of a series I wrote years ago where seemingly similar cars are pit against one another in a battle for your affection. It’s like trying to choose your favourite child (although some days that’s easier than others). Your task, if you agree to accept it, is to determine which of the four cars below belongs in each category:

  • One would be your daily driver.
  • One would become a motorsport special (and maybe enlighten us as to what motorsport).
  • One would be locked away in storage for years to come.
  • One would be tossed aside like a used N95 face mask. 

It’s as simple as that. Have fun with the quartet below.

The Contestants

  • 1973 AMC Matador 401
  • 1973 Chevrolet Chevelle Laguna 454
  • 1973 Dodge Charger 440
  • 1973 Ford Gran Torino 429

During the 1973 NASCAR Winston Cup Series, no fewer than six manufacturers participated. Some ran in a limited capacity, but AMC, Chevrolet, Dodge, Ford, Mercury and Plymouth all equipped cars for competition. Here we have gathered the road going versions of four of those vehicles to fight for your favour.

First there is the AMC Matador. An unlikely combatant, the Matador was entered in the first race of the season, a road course, and dominated for the victory. Before you is a shiny new 1973 Matador with the largest available engine, a 401 cu. in. V8 making a stout 255 hp.

Next up is the 1973 Chevrolet Chevelle Laguna. After switching to one midway through the season, it’s the car Benny Parson won the Winston Cup Championship with that year. The most potent road version of the car in 1973 is a Chevelle Laguna 454 making 245 hp and available with a manual transmission.  

The Ford Torino never won a NASCAR race in 1973, unlike its cousin, the Mercury Cyclone. But we have entered the 1973 Ford Gran Torino anyway in this battle, fitted with the 429 cu. in. engine making a paltry 201 hp.

Finally, there is the Dodge Charger. Forever Dodge’s choice of vehicle when it came to NASCAR, the Charger continued to find success in 1973. The best road going version came equipped with a 440 cu. in. V8 that developed 280 hp – the most of any car here.  

My Choices

To start out, I’ll select the Chevrolet Chevelle Laguna 454 for my road car. Despite giving up a bit of power to other cars here, it does have the largest engine and is the only one available still with a manual transmission.

Next, I’ll make the Dodge Charger 440 my race car. With the most power already, there is tons of support for the 440 engine to make the Charger a drag strip champion.

Finally, I chose to put away the Gran Torino 429 as Ford fans go crazy for these cars. I’ll stuff it in storage to be sold at a later date to fund my retirement.

That means the poor AMC just can’t catch a break and is left behind here.

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