BUNKIE KNUDSEN Semon Emil “Bunkie” Knudsen was born in Buffalo, New York, in 1912. His father, William S. Knudsen, was a three-star general and also a former president of General Motors. William’s enthusiam for automobiles passed on to his son Bunkie, who became interested in all things mechanical. Even as a teenager, Bunkie was an accomplished mechanic, able to fix or even assemble an automobile. Bunkie joined General Motors in 1939 and then quickly rose through the ranks to top management in the company. In 1968, Bunkie moved to Ford, but political infighting led to his dismissal in 1969. Bunkie Knudsen died in 1998 in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan.
was just as important as the way they looked on the outside. Owners were paying for something that made them feel special. Not for nothing had the
Camaro’s designers aimed for a fighter plane feel for the interior. But it was the two top Firebirds, the 400 and the 326HO, that finally entered true muscle car territory. The HO took the standard 326-cu in engine and added a 10.5:1 compression, Carter four-barrel carburetor, and dual exhaust, among other things. According to Pontiac, this boosted power by a modest 14 percent to 285 hp (212.5 kW). This figure is generally considered to have been under-rated, with the true figure at 300 hp (224 kW) or more. The official torque figure seems more believable, at 359 lb ft (486.8 Nm). To proclaim to the world that one had bought an HO, the car sported long body stripes and “HO” badges: in this instance, the HO stood for ”High Output”. At the end of that first 1967 model year, 82,560 Firebirds had found buyers, which was surely not as many as Pontiac would have liked, but the car was hamstrung by missing the first five months of the sales season. That was partly why Chevrolet managed to sell over 200,000 Camaros in the same year. Both were a long way off Mustang figures, but the figures were good enough. And in 1968, the Firebird’s first full year on sale, 107,000 cars were sold. In fact, 1968 would head the Firebird’s sales record for eight years. This, of course, was the height of the muscle car 14 High Performance: The V8 Revolution Scan here to take a closer look at the Firebird 400 Ram Air.
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