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Old 09-09-2008, 01:59 PM
 
Location: Eastern Washington
8,737 posts, read 20,571,515 times
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They didn't import them to the States, but the Lotus Carlton may indeed be the greatest sleeper of all time, in terms of being the most "wolf in sheep's clothing" in character. Pity it's impractical to import one.

Lotus Carlton - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


YouTube - Omega Lotus demonstration
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Old 09-09-2008, 02:09 PM
 
Location: Austin TX
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Quote:
Originally Posted by burdell View Post
I always liked the mid-engined Renault R5 Turbo, up to about 110-120 where it's brick-like aerodynamics took over it would stay with just about anything and could also turn a corner.
I would not consider the R5 a sleeper more like...see me I'll blow your doors off!
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Old 09-09-2008, 03:14 PM
 
Location: Northridge/Porter Ranch, Calif.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sunsprit View Post
IMO, what separates these cars from USA large displacement V8 powered cars ... such as Cadillacs with 500 cu in motors ... is that the USA cars had strong off the line performance and the power to run well into the 100+ mph range. But what they didn't have was the suspension, brakes, chassis integrity, and ability to confidently/safely cruise those speeds except on a smooth and straight road. Put them on roads with some twisties and they lost their composure very quickly ... while the cars I've mentioned still had adequate tire smokin' off the line performance and the ability to run with high end two seat sports cars.
Cadillac could have made their cars to run on twisty roads at high speeds, but the Cadillac buyers didn't care about that. They cared about a nice, smooth and quiet ride and big, soft seats.
In that area, Cadillac succeeded very well. For instance, for the 1976 model year (the last year before downsizing began) 304,485 Cadillacs were built.

Incidentally, I can drive both of my two Cadillacs on roads with curves which have a 35-40 mph speed limit at 50 mph. They handle better than many people think. And why are you comparing a 6-passenger, 19 foot long, 5,000-lb Cadillac to a two seat sports car? It would be like me saying you can't fit 6 people into a 2-passenger sports car. Of course not, they were not designed to fit 6 people! Just like Cadillacs (back then) were not designed to corner at 80 mph.
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Old 09-09-2008, 04:16 PM
 
7,892 posts, read 19,819,732 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fleet View Post
Cadillac could have made their cars to run on twisty roads at high speeds, but the Cadillac buyers didn't care about that. They cared about a nice, smooth and quiet ride and big, soft seats.
In that area, Cadillac succeeded very well. For instance, for the 1976 model year (the last year before downsizing began) 304,485 Cadillacs were built.

Incidentally, I can drive both of my two Cadillacs on roads with curves which have a 35-40 mph speed limit at 50 mph. They handle better than many people think. And why are you comparing a 6-passenger, 19 foot long, 5,000-lb Cadillac to a two seat sports car? It would be like me saying you can't fit 6 people into a 2-passenger sports car. Of course not, they were not designed to fit 6 people! Just like Cadillacs (back then) were not designed to corner at 80 mph.
But Cadillac DIDN'T build very high horsepower cars with impressive HP/weight ratios to run on twisty roads. IMO, this was a very incongruous combination to have such massive horsepower/instant torque and limited handling and brakes. I used an Eldo convertible to tow my sailboats for years in the late 1960's simply because it was so effortless to do the towing, and all my trailers had brakes.

Apparently you are quite unfamiliar with the sleeper cars I was citing ... these were the largest 4 door luxo sedans from their respective manufacturers, and hardly "sports" cars in any sense of the concept. The 300SEL and 6.9 MB's were both large 5 passenger cars, and the 745I BMW was a 5 passenger luxo sedan, too. And they were 5,000 lb cars, too.

Unlike common misconceptions ... not every MB is a two seat SL roadster, just like not every Chevrolet is a Corvette. For that matter, MB built some real dogs in the SL performance department ... 190SL's, 230SL's, 107 chassis 280SL's .... and Chevy built some Corvettes with less than impressive performance, too ....

Your ability to drive a Cadillac slightly over the posted speed limit in lower speed ranges is about as impressive when talking about "sleeper" cars as bringing up the fact that Cadillac's could motor along at low speed in top gear better than many other makes for years. The only place I've ever seen Cadillac be a competitive car was in ice racing a few years back. But I do have the real "sleeper" car for you ... a Doble. Able to outrun virtually anything of the luxury cars of it's era, absolutely silent in it's operation, and well able to go past 100 mph in cruise mode. You did have a slight delay, however, in getting started for the first run of the day, even if the flash boiler could get it going in less than a minute ... I got to work on one of these and drive it in the 1960's ... and it was pretty impressive back then.

Last edited by sunsprit; 09-09-2008 at 04:27 PM..
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Old 09-09-2008, 05:00 PM
 
Location: Northridge/Porter Ranch, Calif.
18,026 posts, read 14,825,041 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sunsprit View Post
But Cadillac DIDN'T build very high horsepower cars with impressive HP/weight ratios to run on twisty roads. IMO, this was a very incongruous combination to have such massive horsepower/instant torque and limited handling and brakes. I used an Eldo convertible to tow my sailboats for years in the late 1960's simply because it was so effortless to do the towing, and all my trailers had brakes...
Cadillacs of the '60s and '70s were just fine for the driving they were intended for. As for "limited handling," again, I can drive both of my Cadillacs ('69 Fleetwood Brougham and '76 Fleetwood Limousine) easily higher than the posted speed limits on twisty roads. As for braking, a Consumer Reports test of a '68 Sedan de Ville showed very minimal brake fade... pedal pressure was 50 lbs for the 1st stop and went up to only 55 lbs for the 10th consecutive stop. A Motor Trend test of a '69 Coupe de Ville showed a 60-0 mph brake result of 149.8 feet. Not much different than some modern cars. A '69 Chrysler Imperial did even better... 116.7 feet, better than many modern cars!

Motor Trend tested a '64 Sedan de Ville and were impressed with the power (8.5 sec 0-60 with a car weighing 5,050 lbs), the brakes and the handling.
For the handling, they said "over the mountain stretches, we still maintained a high average speed. We got this mostly by hard acceleration between corners, hard braking for turns, and by limit-of-adhesion cornering." They said they wanted to wring out the car and find its faults. They reported that the faults are few ("even the understeer characteristics aren't so excessive as you'd expect in a car of this size and weight").

Quote:
Apparently you are quite unfamiliar with the sleeper cars I was citing ... these were the largest 4 door luxo sedans from their respective manufacturers, and hardly "sports" cars in any sense of the concept. Unlike common misconceptions ... not every MB is a two seat SL roadster, just like not every Chevrolet is a Corvette. For that matter, MB built some real dogs in the SL performance department ... 190SL's, 230SL's, 107 chassis 280SL's .... and Chevy built some Corvettes with less than impressive performance, too....
I mentioned 2-seat sports cars because you mentioned them in the 1st place!

I am familiar with the cars you posted. I have a road test (Road & Track, Nov., 1968) of a Mercedes 6.3 300 SEL (price as tested: $13,997). With a 1/4 mile of 15.1 secs @ 90 mph, it couldn't quite keep up with a $3,200 '68 Dodge Dart GTS 340 which in a Car Life test (April, 1968) ran a 14.68 @ 96.2 1/4 mile.

Top speed with the R & T test Mercedes was 131 mph. In the text they say that the factory claims a top speed in excess of 140 mph, but the R & T staff found it hard to believe...
"The power and torque drop off as the engine speed goes beyond the 4100 rpm power peak and the car showed not the slightest inclination toward wanting to run at the 5400 rpm that would be required to attain 140 mph."
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Old 09-09-2008, 05:21 PM
 
Location: Northridge/Porter Ranch, Calif.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sunsprit View Post
Your ability to drive a Cadillac slightly over the posted speed limit in lower speed ranges is about as impressive when talking about "sleeper" cars as bringing up the fact that Cadillac's could motor along at low speed in top gear better than many other makes for years.
Speaking of that, it is intersting to compare the top gear rpm of a '69 Cadillac and a '69 Mercedes 6.3...

---------------------- '69 Cadillac------------ '69 Mercedes
---------------------- Coupe de Ville---------- 6.3 300 SEL
Engine/hp------------- 472-cu-in/375---------- 386/300
Torque---------------- 525 lbs/ft@3000 rpm---- 435@3000 rpm
Wheelbase/length----- 129.5"/225"------------- 112.2"196.9"
Curb weight---------- 4,780 lbs---------------- 4,010 lbs
Transmission---------- 3-speed auto----------- 4-speed auto
Rear Axle ratio-------- 2.94:1------------------ 2.85:1

In top gear----------- 98 mph @ 3500 rpm------ 103 mph @ 4100 rpm

Interesting... considering that the Merc has a slighter higher axle ratio and one more speed in its transmission, I would think that the rpm would be lower in 4th gear at 103 mph. This shows how well the Cadillac drivetrain was engineered.

Quote:
Able to outrun virtually anything of the luxury cars of it's era, absolutely silent in it's operation, and well able to go past 100 mph in cruise mode. You did have a slight delay, however, in getting started for the first run of the day, even if the flash boiler could get it going in less than a minute ... I got to work on one of these and drive it in the 1960's ... and it was pretty impressive back then
Hate to break it to you, but a full 10 years before that 6.3 Mercedes, Chrysler had cars like the '57 300-C. With a 392-cu-in engine and 375 hp (390 hp optional), these 4,400-lb cars could easily cruise at 100+ mph and had a top speed of 135-150 mph, depending on the engine installed and the axle ratio. These were high-performance luxury cars which in addition to their speed handled very well. In some cases, better than many cars which were a lot smaller.
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Old 09-09-2008, 07:08 PM
 
Location: Mesa, Az
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OK: I got yur car, Fleet!

How about a Cadillac CTS-V with a 6.0L V8/6 spd stick?
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Old 09-09-2008, 09:26 PM
 
7,892 posts, read 19,819,732 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fleet View Post


I mentioned 2-seat sports cars because you mentioned them in the 1st place!

."
Not at all. I mentioned three 4 door large sedans as "sleeper" cars.
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Old 09-09-2008, 10:53 PM
 
7,892 posts, read 19,819,732 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fleet View Post
Speaking of that, it is intersting to compare the top gear rpm of a '69 Cadillac and a '69 Mercedes 6.3...

---------------------- '69 Cadillac------------ '69 Mercedes
---------------------- Coupe de Ville---------- 6.3 300 SEL
Engine/hp------------- 472-cu-in/375---------- 386/300
Torque---------------- 525 lbs/ft@3000 rpm---- 435@3000 rpm
Wheelbase/length----- 129.5"/225"------------- 112.2"196.9"
Curb weight---------- 4,780 lbs---------------- 4,010 lbs
Transmission---------- 3-speed auto----------- 4-speed auto
Rear Axle ratio-------- 2.94:1------------------ 2.85:1

In top gear----------- 98 mph @ 3500 rpm------ 103 mph @ 4100 rpm

Interesting... considering that the Merc has a slighter higher axle ratio and one more speed in its transmission, I would think that the rpm would be lower in 4th gear at 103 mph. This shows how well the Cadillac drivetrain was engineered.

The limitation of the 6.3 Benz drivetrain was the transmission. There's a lot more history ... which we need not go into here ... as to why the german cars of the 60's had such poor automatic transmissions. But it was the major shortcoming of the 6.3 car, and gave it rather brutal driving characteristics compared to the smooth shifting USA trannies, with a lower overall gear ratio than your comparable Caddy example. A strong 6.3 would smoke the rear tires all the way through 1st gear and lurch hard into 2nd with yet more wheelspin before settling down and putting all the power on the ground ... but these cars were really built for the higher speed performance and not as a drag racer.

Part of the disparity of MB's claims re the 6.3 performance came at the detuning of the car for the USA market. Euro spec 6.3's had motors in a much higher state of tune, with different cams ... and significantly, a different spec injection pump set up to deliver fuel at the higher anticipated autobahn speeds the cars were expected to be driven.




Hate to break it to you, but a full 10 years before that 6.3 Mercedes, Chrysler had cars like the '57 300-C. With a 392-cu-in engine and 375 hp (390 hp optional), these 4,400-lb cars could easily cruise at 100+ mph and had a top speed of 135-150 mph, depending on the engine installed and the axle ratio. These were high-performance luxury cars which in addition to their speed handled very well. In some cases, better than many cars which were a lot smaller.
The thread topic was "sleeper" cars. Given all the hoopala and publicity about Chrysler's hemi motors and the 300C car as a milestone in a family performance sedan, there was nothing "sleeper" about these cars. Everybody knew that these could really haul in a straight line after R&T and C&D ran their tests. I grew up with a family that had owned Chrysler Imperials and 300C's since the early 1950's, and put more than a few miles on them; the steering was vague and the body roll was almost as impressive as all the chrome on the inside and outside of these cars. The bench seating was no support, either, for aggressive driving.

I'd certainly differ with you about these cars "handling well", when I've driven a fair number of 1950's Alfa Romeos, Porsche Speedsters, and even some lowly Morgan's and Triumph's and MG's and Jaguar's ... which had their strength in a balance of handling/braking/horsepower as opposed to all their marbles in the bucket of horsepower.

A friend's BMW 507 with the carbureted pushrod 3.0 liter V8 would have blown your USA muscle cars off the road racing tracks with it's much more sophisticated handling and braking ... but there's nothing "sleeper" about a 507, especially it's new price/limited production. Nor was there anything "sleeper" about the high end Italian exotics ... they looked as fast as they would go. We won't even get into OSCA's or Pegaso's or Lotus cars ... way too expensive, too rare, and certainly not "sleeper" cars by any stretch of the imagination.

You can trot out all the examples you want of domestic cars that had big V8 motors stuffed in them .... and were marketed as "go-fast" or "pony" cars, or whatever special or limited production they had from the domestic manufacturers ... and everybody knew what these cars were about. No surprises here, and certainly no "sleepers" in the bunch. But very few ... outside of a 1/4 mile run or a brief run down a relatively straight freeway were known for having good suspension, brakes, luxury car equipment and interiors and capable of maintaining high speeds on the twisties for any amount of time.

It's why Shelby, as one "tuner" example, made such an impact on the marketplace with his high horsepower make-overs of an otherwise mundane Falcon chassis ... ooops, that was marketed as a Mustang bodywork exercise by Ford. He didn't stop with the horsepower increase to improve the overall car performance. But, again ... none of the cars bearing Shelby's name on them were "sleepers"; everybody knew from the marketing and the road test reports that these cars hauled. Come to think of it, I drove a Ford Falcon with a 260V8 and 4 speed manual from Colorado to California at Thanksgiving break in 1965, and that car had no issue with running across Nevada and the California deserts at 100-110. But it sure didn't have any brakes up to anything except normal freeway driving, and it certainly wasn't a "luxury" car in it's appointments, road manners, or equipment ... a "sleeper" only in it's straight line performance. There were many other American tuners who did similar make-overs of stock cars in their respective era's ... Lockhart comes to mind, for example.

The proof of the pudding, so to speak ... is to look at what cars folks put on the tracks and what kind of lap times they could produce. Given that the name of the game is to get around the track the fastest at any price, you didn't see stock Cadillacs (I'm not picking on them, there's lots of other big V8 USA cars) in the races. If they'd have been such good handling/braking/performing cars, folks would have been flocking to them for racing (along with other GM products, or Ford products, or Chrysler products) ... but they didn't. We did see Cadillac motors dropped into other chassis (Allards, for one) for track racing, but that was the extent of their presence anywhere except on the road. Modern "Stock car" racing seems to have developed into a specialized form of car re-development and manufacturing .... there's little more than meets the eye of a casual onlooker that's truly common stock of muscle cars that get to the tracks ... and again, we're not looking at luxury cars that are "sleepers", we're looking at some pretty hot purpose built cars.

Even the vaunted USA Corvettes with V8 high horsepower didn't run well against much smaller displacement Porsches in the 50's-60's ... because the little german roadsters could blow them off the track if there were a lot of turns instead of a 1/4 mile being the deciding factor. I got dragged to a couple of autocrosses in SoCal in the late 1950's/early 1960's ... and the 356 series 100-110 HP cars could well out-do the big V8's in lap times, too. Later 904's could similarly do serious lap times on modest sized motors ... but again, no sleepers here, even as a "sports car".

Anyway, back to the thread at hand .... the topic was "sleepers". Big V8 powered USA cars of almost any era simply aren't sleepers, no more than a Morgan +8 or a Sunbeam Tiger is a "sleeper". You pretty well know in advance what these cars are all about.

The cars I cited as "sleepers" ... especially the 745I BMW ... are rather unexpected in their performance coming from large luxury sedans as they have the brakes and suspension to really get around and do it in a comfortable manner and fashion at very high speeds.

I certainly wasn't looking for an argument about your Cadillac's ... which haven't been shown to have anywhere near the combination of straight line performance and handling (oh, wait a minute ... you tossed that away because Cadillac didn't need to build "handling" cars because their clientele didn't value that aspect) compared to such a machine as the 745I ... or the 6.3. At least, to my limited knowledge ... nobody had taken a late 1960's 4 door sedan Cadillac in stock trim around a road race track at competitive F1 lap speeds for several laps, as MB did with the 300SEL6.3 in 1968. So, if it makes you feel good about your choice of cars ... compare the paper specs all you want. This is a situation where the "specs" don't necessarily reveal all there is about the cars and their real world performance on the road ....

Oh, by the way ... without having to google it, do you even know what a Doble car is?

Last edited by sunsprit; 09-10-2008 at 12:12 AM..
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Old 09-10-2008, 12:30 AM
 
Location: Northridge/Porter Ranch, Calif.
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Originally Posted by ArizonaBear View Post
OK: I got yur car, Fleet!

How about a Cadillac CTS-V with a 6.0L V8/6 spd stick?
Nope, too small for me. When I think Cadillac, I think BIG! Like this:
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