You'd think that winning two World Wars together would have been a great bonding experience, but the British disdain of American cars runs deep.
Perhaps they're still upset over losing that other war, the one in 1776 where a makeshift militia of hillbillies with pitchforks trounced one of the best-trained, best-equipped empires in human history. Yeah, like that wasn't totally embarrassing. Whatever the reason, our friends across the pond find the American formula of brute horsepower and straight-line speed a bit too crude for their sophisticated, tea-sipping proclivities. Or at least that's the perception you'd get by watching TV, but truth be told, one curly haired ogre on the BBC's Top Gear doesn't speak on behalf of the entire United Kingdom. As it turns out, there are plenty of Brits who love American muscle cars, and brothers Chris and Nick Hall are two such Englishmen. One drives a 1968 Firebird. The other drives a 1970 Nova. The Hall's have given both their cars the full Pro Touring rubdown, and their efforts serve as the perfect model for improving British-American enthusiast relations.
In fairness, the disdain for the other guy's rides goes both ways. Just like the Brits find our infatuation for straight-line speed perplexing, we don't quite understand what's so exciting about 90hp diesel hatchbacks either. They call them "hot hatches," but we've yet to figure out where the hot part comes from. As is usually the case when comparing different cultures, the misunderstanding is a product of our respective environments. While our wide-open spaces welcome long stretches of WOT shenanigans, their tight and windy roads favor smaller, more nimble machines. Although the two schools of thought seemed like they were at odds, the Hall brothers seized the opportunity to merge the two together. "Growing up in England, I was surrounded by twisty, fun, driver's roads. Having also grown up around American muscle cars, I knew that my Firebird needed a suspension that could handle our twisty roads like a modern car. I also wanted an overdrive transmission so the car wouldn't be stuck in the slow lane like all the other old cars on the motorway," Chris explains.
Chris and Nick now call Arizona their home, and the desert climate has done wonders for their complexions. More importantly, it's made living the Pro Touring dream much easier for the siblings. Restoring Detroit iron no longer requires them to ship parts internationally, and the gas costs half as much here as back home in the UK. Not surprisingly, the Hall's went to town as soon as they got here. Chris built himself a 550hp Firebird complete with a Tremec overdrive and suspension pieces from Hotchkis and Global West. Nick's Nova is no slouch either, equipped with an LS2 small-block, C5 Corvette brakes, a 9-inch rearend, and a four-link rear suspension. Yes, the redcoats are back, but they aren't looking to force overpriced tea down American throats this time around. Instead, they're showing us Yanks how their Pro Touring muscle cars represent a harmonious convergence of British and American hot rodding ideals.
How Much Do They Weigh?
Late-models are way too porky. When the mission at hand is hustling around a road or autocross course as quickly as possible, excessive weight is merely ballast that's forced to change directions with the car, burning up tires and brake pads in the process. With cars like fifth-gen Camaros weighing nearly 4,000 pounds, many 1964-72 muscle cars offer a substantial weight savings. Chris Hall's first-gen F-body and Nick Hall's X-body are perfect examples, as both platforms have always been known for their low-mass benefits. Granted that popular aftermarket upgrades like overdrive transmissions and heavy-duty rearends add mass, Chris's Firebird tips the scales at 3,483 pounds. That's a very impressive figure considering that the 'Bird packs a heavy Pontiac 400 underhood. Although Chris hasn't made a dedicated effort to reducing weight, upgrading the motor with aluminum heads and an aluminum intake manifold knocked a huge chunk of weight off the front end. Furthermore, the Firebird is remarkably well balanced. Chris had the RideTech crew corner-weight the car at the Scottsdale Goodguys event, where it checked in at 960 pounds on the left front, 977 pounds on the right front, 763 pounds on the left rear, and 783 pounds on the right rear.
Even more impressive in the low-mass department is Nick's Nova. While GM X-body and F-body platforms are nearly identical, Nick's Nova has the advantage of an all-aluminum LS2 compared to the big Pontiac 400 in his brother's car. Consequently, it weighs in at a scant 3,134 pounds. That's nearly 800 pounds lighter than a fifth-gen Camaro. Likewise, the Nova proved to be remarkably well balanced on the RideTech scales as well with 820 pounds on the left front, 817 pounds on the right front, 746 pounds on the left rear, and 751 pounds on the right rear. Just as eye opening is the Nova's 52/48 percent front/rear weight distribution. Sure, fat tires can help hide the detrimental effects of a heavy car, but put those same fat tires on a lighter car and you'll run even faster.