1970 Dodge Challenger Drag Races 1971 AMC Hornet, It's Closer Than You Think

Whether we're talking about Fords, GMs, or Mopars, the golden muscle car era saw large numbers of cool high-performance cars arrive in showrooms. And more than 50 years later, they're all desirable classics.
1970 Dodge Challenger R/T vs 1971 AMC Hornet SC360 drag race 6 photos
Photo: Cars And Zebras/YouTube
1971 AMC Hornet SC3601971 AMC Hornet SC3601970 Dodge Challenger R/T1970 Dodge Challenger R/T1970 Dodge Challenger R/T vs 1971 AMC Hornet SC360 drag race
But while we tend to remember rigs like the Chevrolet Camaro, Ford Mustang, Dodge Charger, and Plymouth Barracuda, offerings were not limited to the "Big Three." American Motors Corporation, for instance, also developed a handful of noteworthy muscle cars.

The Rebel Machine, Javelin, and AMX are the most iconic, but I'm not here to talk about them. We're going to take a closer look at the Hornet, a classic that usually flies under the radar. But this one shouldn't because it's not a regular Hornet, but a beefed-up SC360 version.

Fitted with a 360-cubic-inch (5.9-liter) V8 with a four-barrel carburetor, the SC360 left the showroom floor with 285 horsepower and 390 pound-feet of torque on tap. When equipped with the Go Pack, like the example you see here, t also got a four-speed manual and a ram air hood.

Granted, the SC360 isn't as powerful as other muscle cars from the era, but it's notably lighter than most of its competitors at only 3,234 pounds (1,467 kg). For instance, it's a whopping 700 pounds (318 kg) lighter than the 1970 Dodge Challenger R/T this blue Hornet races in the video below.

The R/T in question packs a massive 440-cubic-inch (7.2-liter) V8 under the hood. Thanks to a four-barrel carb, it sends an impressive 375 horsepower and 480 pound-feet of torque to the ground. That's an extra 90 horses and 90 pound-feet of torque. Since both cars have four-speed manuals and 4.10 rear gears, it sure looks like this race could be decided by the power-to-weight ratio.

However, we can't rely on these numbers to try and guess the outcome because both cars compete in the Pure Stock Muscle Car Drag Race series. If you're not familiar with it, this drag racing class allows a big number of upgrades under the hood. So while these classics might look stock on the outside, they usually hit the track with 500 to 700 horsepower at their disposal.

I don't know exactly how powerful these cars are, but both are powerful enough to run the quarter-mile in less than 14 seconds. And they're actually very close. Somewhat surprisingly, the first race goes to the Hornet, which posts the longer sprint but wins thanks to a better start.

But the Challenger driver turns things around with a couple of impressively fast passes. He wins the second duel with a 13.29-second run and makes an even more convincing sprint during the third race, stopping the clock at 13.16 seconds and 109 mph (175 kph). The Hornet remains consistent at around 13.6 clicks for both runs.

This footage was recorded at the 28th Annual Pure Stock Muscle Car Drag Race in September 2022 and you won't get to see a similar pairing anywhere else. That's because these cars are quite rare. Only 916 Challenger R/Ts were built in this configuration in 1970, while AMC put together just 306 Hornet SC360s with the four-barrel 360 and the four-speed manual. So hit the play button below to enjoy a rare quarter-mile encounter.

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About the author: Ciprian Florea
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Ask Ciprian about cars and he'll reveal an obsession with classics and an annoyance with modern design cues. Read his articles and you'll understand why his ideal SUV is the 1969 Chevrolet K5 Blazer.
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