Yeah, that stamp’s got a HEMI

Richard Petty Dedicates Muscle Cars Forever Stamps
Limited-Edition Stamps Celebrate High-Performance Cars from the ’60s and ’70s
 
By Gerry Miles

Years ago, the only way to communicate was by mail. Letters. Hand-written thoughts. Nothing was abbreviated. Texting meant you used words that were part of your collective thoughts that comprised the letters. Penmenship – nice cursive letters that you were taught in school or punished for not performing properly by a nun drew extra praise.

None other than King Richard Petty is behind a set of limited edition set of stamps called “America on the Move: Muscle Cars Forever.”

The limited edition stamps feature five iconic muscle cars: the 66 Pontiac GTO, the 67 Shelby GT-500, the 69 Dodge Charger Daytona, the 70 Plymouth Hemi Cuda and the 70 Chevelle SS.

“The Muscle Cars stamps celebrate an exciting era in American automotive history,” said Richard Petty. “These examples of raw power bring back fond memories for me and my family, a testament to how aerodynamics transformed racing. I’ve been around racing and muscle cars all my life. These stamps bring back the memories of our racing heritage in the ‘60s and ‘70s. This is a great way to share our stories, old and new, about the Petty history in racing.”

The Muscle Cars stamps are being issued as Forever stamps in self-adhesive sheets of 20 (four of each design). Forever stamps are always equal in value to the current First-Class Mail 1-ounce price.

1966 Pontiac GTO

Pontiac GTO

The Pontiac GTO ushered in the American muscle-car era in the mid-1960s, just as the first baby boomers began to come of age. The first GTO was born when engineers dropped a 389-cubic-inch V8 engine, which was built for a full-size sedan, into an intermediate-size Pontiac Tempest LeMans. Initially offered simply as an option on the Tempest LeMans, the GTO — which in Italian stood for Gran Turismo Omologato, or in English, Grand Touring Homologated — became its own model in 1966.

Available as a hardtop, coupe or convertible, the 1966 Pontiac GTO was equipped with a standard 335-horsepower V8 engine. The “Goat” could really move. In tests, it went from 0 to 60 mph in 6.8 seconds. It also looked much different than its predecessors. Starting in 1966, the car featured curvy Coke-bottle styling and a split grille.

1967 Shelby GT-500

Shelby GT 500

Manufacturer Carroll Shelby’s take on the Ford Mustang reflected his roots as a race car driver. The 1967 Shelby GT-500 was powered by a 428-cubic-inch, 355-horsepower Police Interceptor engine. The car also featured a rear spoiler and optional dealer-installed LeMans stripes. Rocker panel stripes came standard on the 1967 Shelby GT-500, which also sported grille-mounted headlights. A scooped fiberglass hood, extended nose, and interior roll bar and shoulder harnesses further enhanced the race car feel.

The 1967 Shelby GT-500 was more than just a racer. The improved suspension softened the ride, resulting in a vehicle that was comfortable to drive on the highway as well as on the track. The car was both striking and rare; only 2,048 were built. A customized or original version of the 1967 Shelby GT-500 has appeared in contemporary movies and magazines, rekindling American pop culture’s fascination with the model. In 2007, Ford reintroduced the Shelby GT-500 into the Mustang model lineup.

1969 Dodge Charger Daytona

Dodge Daytona

The outrageously styled 1969 Dodge Charger Daytona was designed to dominate on the racetrack. The car, which underwent wind-tunnel testing before its release, took the checkered flag at its NASCAR debut in September 1969 at Alabama International Motor Speedway in Talladega. The production version of the car was powered by a standard 440-cubic-inch, 375-horsepower Magnum engine. A limited number of Daytonas also were available with a 426-cubic-inch Hemi, a race-inspired engine Chrysler introduced earlier that decade. Chrysler first used a version of the Hemi — a high-performance engine with hemispherical combustion chambers — in automobiles in the 1950s.

1970 Plymouth Hemi ’Cuda 4-0_USPS13STA022f

The 1970 Plymouth Hemi ’Cuda, a performance-oriented alter-ego of the standard 1970 Plymouth Barracuda, oozed power. The car’s 426-cubic-inch Hemi engine was a 425-horsepower beast. The car was part of what Plymouth called “The Rapid Transit System.” The 1970 Plymouth Hemi ’Cuda was “our angriest, slipperiest-looking body shell wrapped around ol’ King Kong hisself,” one advertisement bellowed.

1970 Chevelle SS

Chevelle SS

With features like optional twin racing stripes, the 1970 Chevelle SS looked fierce. SS stood for Super Sport, a fitting designation for this power car. A 396-cubic-inch engine was available, but a 454-cubic-inch engine option gave the 1970 Chevelle SS credibility among muscle car enthusiasts. Two versions of the 454 engine were available: the 360-horsepower LS-5 and the 450-horsepower LS-6. For its sheer power, the latter has become legendary among car buffs.

Presuming that there are some that still prefer to write letters vs. e-mail, those few may view the America on the Move: Muscle Cars Forever stamps, on Facebook at facebook.com/USPSStamps, on Twitter @USPSstamps or on the website Beyond the Perf at beyondtheperf.com/2013-preview. Beyond the Perf is the Postal Service’s online site for information on upcoming stamp subjects, first-day-of-issue events and other philatelic news.

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