Performance cars

[Episode 4 | 1978 : Mike]

Mike discusses the validity of a Datsun as a 'muscle car' with his friend Ben. He visits the 'Tippy' to acquire some spare parts that Ben has requested and is introduced to the 1971 Ford GT-HO that the Tippy is remodelling.


The Australian curriculum: History

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The Australian Curriculum: History aims to ensure that students develop: 

  • interest in, and enjoyment of, historical study for lifelong learning and work, including their capacity and willingness to be informed and active citizens 
  • knowledge, understanding and appreciation of the past and the forces that shape societies, including Australian society 
  • understanding and use of historical concepts, such as evidence, continuity and change, cause and effect, perspectives, empathy, significance and contestability 
  • capacity to undertake historical inquiry, including skills in the analysis and use of sources, and in explanation and communication.

History activities [3]

Activity 1: Muscle cars
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Subtheme(s): Inventions and electronic media; Transport

'XB', '351-GT', '250ci', 'six-cylinder' ... what do these things mean? To a car enthusiast, it all makes sense. The 'muscle cars' of the 1960s and 1970s were flamboyant racing machines, attracting a large community of enthusiasts.

  • Ask students to research iconic cars from the 1970s. Make a list of these cars and create a database. The database can be presented as a poster or as an electronic version that all students have access to. Use the following websites as a guide. Encourage students to complete additional research:
  1. Motore,
  2. Falcon GT Club of Australia,
  3. Old,

  • Ask students to create a web page for a car sales company that sells Australian muscle cars from the 1970s. The web page can be set up as a classifieds page similar to those in an online newspaper or trading site. The layout must include the following components:
  1. a company logo designed by students
  2. background information on iconic cars from the 1960s and 1970s (all cars must be Australian)
  3. a list of five cars for sale in the classifieds section, including their descriptions and prices
  4. images, diagrams and information on the history of each car.
  • Ask students to complete the activity electronically or on paper, and then to participate in a sharing and viewing session.


Activity 2: Environmental impact
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Subtheme(s): Inventions and electronic media; Transport

Cars have had a dramatic impact on our natural environment. Air quality is compromised, greenhouse gases are emitted, and there is evidence of the overuse of natural resources and noise pollution. Muscle cars are regarded as not being environmentally friendly.

  • Ask students to compare and contrast cars of the 1970s with the cars of today. They can use the table in Student Activity Sheet H4.2 or create a table of their own. Have students compare the following features in the table:
  1. structure
  2. materials
  3. components.
  • Discuss the materials used to make cars in the past and today. What are the various engine capacities of the cars and what amount of natural resources are used? Focus the discussion on the effects these cars have on the environment.

  • Ask students to design and create the perfect muscle car. The design should take into consideration the environmental needs and responsibilities of today. The modern muscle car can be presented electronically or as a poster. Kahootz 3 is an ideal 3-D animation software program to use. The software is available for purchase from the Australian Children's Television Foundation (ACTF) website at
  • Ask students to create their modern muscle car in 3-D using materials available in the classroom.


Activity 3: Men and machines
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Subtheme(s): Inventions and electronic media; Transport

This clip shows how some men and boys are obsessed by cars, particularly performance cars. The passion for cars presents a language of its own.

  • List the cars that are referred to in this clip. View the script of Episode 4: 1978: Mike to identify the cars. Included in the references should be:
  1. Holden Kingswood HQ
  2. Holden Monaro GTS
  3. Ford Cobra
  4. 1971 Ford XY GT-HO
  5. LJ Torana GTR XU-1

  • Assign a car to each group and ask students to research their car and find images of it. Organise a Grand Prix quiz where the students identify ten key facts. Share this information in class. The questions and answers should be written on cards.
  • The cards from all groups are then pooled in a question bank. Ask the students random questions from the bank. Anyone can answer the questions. Points should be given for correct answers and deducted for wrong answers. The group with the most points are the Grand Prix winners and are awarded a prize.


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