Ok, here is some more totally worthless and meaningless observstions about Starsky's Torino.
Read at the risk of forfeiting valuable minutes of your life...
The season one cars were 400M-2V cars, the engine developed by Ford as a modification of the discontinued 351 "Cleveland" engine.
A relatively light-weight small-block engine, the 400 did not hamper the handling of the car all that much.
However, the big tire/ jacked-up look the producers did for the Torino had serious negative consequences as far as compromising handling.
First, Ford ( and most other car manufacturers) design-in a fairly abundant amount of understeer into the stock suspension, which most experts agree is a far safer set-up for the average driver than a nuetral-steer or oversteer design.
The jacked-up rear suspension modification on Starsky's Torino moves the static center-of-gravity of the car dramatically forward, inducing even more understeer into the situation.
This in turn moves much more of the car's static weight onto the front springs than they were ever designed to handle. This seriously degrades the handling performance during braking and cornering maneuvers.
Here are several screen-shots from the first season with the car under some heavy, induced-oversteer sequences. Notice how the outside front corner of the car dips dramatically in these turns. This is because more dynamic weight has been transferred to the outside front corner during the maneuver, which would hold true for any vehicle. It is simply increased on the Torino due to the jacked-up stance.
The big rear tires also contribute negatively, simply because they are wider and have a larger contact-patch with the road than the stock tires would. This extra grip only causes the front tires to lose thier grip on the road first, due to their smaller contact-patch. This only exacerbates the already worsened amount of understeer.
To alleviate this, there are a few driving techniques, as well as some simple modifications that would help...none of which appears to have been used on "S&H" by thier stunt drivers.
Stiffer front springs and/or a larger, more-aggresive front anti-sway bar are the obvious first choices to make, but the producers probably did not do this for a variety of reasons: First, it is an expense that their too-tight production budget probably could not justify. Secondly, they didn't actually own the cars...they were leased from Ford and would eventually have to be returned, which could have incurred more expense in de-converting them back to stock if required.
In lieu of changing the front springs, simple screw-in "knuckles" that are installed into the existing front springs would help to stiffen up the springs a bit, as well as to lift the front end of the car up 1/2" or so...helping to even out the front-heavy center-of-gravity induced by the jacked-up rear.
I am of the opinion the the first-season cars did in fact have either 1/2" or maybe even 1" knuckles inserted into their front springs. The cars appear to have a noticeably higher front-end height over stock, and they also seem to handle the high-speed "fishtail"( oversteer) turns adequately.
Getting the rear tires to lose traction in the turn, but not the front tires is the trick to a good drifting turn sequence.
Higher tire pressures in the rear tires are the first and easiest method to influence this, as the higher pressure creates less rolling resistance and less traction for that tire. 70-80 lbs psi would be typical for this kind of maneuver.
Strangely, it appears this was never done on this show, for if anything the rear tires seem to have consistently and visually obvious very low tire pressures...making the stunt far more difficult.
A driving technique called the "Scandi Flick" is very common with stunt drivers to produce these big Hollywood-style smoking-tire, sideways slides.
Basically, approach the turn at a steady coasting speed, and right at the beginning of the turn you fairly accelerate while fairly slightly turning to the outside of the turn ( to the right for a left-hand turn). This moves the center-of-gravity rearward and to the left of the car. Immediatly accelerate hard while turning left...the rearward bias of the center-of-gravity acts like a pendulum to swing the back of the car around more forcefully, while the slowing speed begins to move the center-of-gravity forward, lowering weight on the rear wheel, and heavy acceleration at this exact moment will easily get the rear wheels spinning, inducing the drift/ sideways slide. A balanced application of engine power and opposite-lock steering will allow you to control the car and "steer" the car through the slide, even though it appears to be out of control. This technique is called "throttle-induced oversteer" and has been a racer's basic technique for many decades.
The more low-end, instantly available power ( torque) that the car has, the more ability you have to do this type of driving succesfully.
It is far easier to do than to explain...millions of teenage boys have been driving their first cars like this for more than 50 years!
Unfortunately, the Torinos used on "S&H" were severely underpowered in stock trim, and California law forbade any engine modifications to them. This made them generally very difficult to get into a "throttle-induced oversteer" condition, and when they did there was not enough engine power to maintain the drift throughout the entire turn.
The stunt drivers ( Chuck Picerni?) would try to overcome this somewhat by entering the turn at a higher speed so they could "toss" it into the slide, but the heavy weight of the car coupled with the low power could not carry it through the turn before momentum was lost and traction was restored.
This is why you would often see the Torino get about halfway or 2/3rds the way through a drift, then abruptly lose speed, regain traction...which would jerk the car violently in the other direction, and then slowly motor away.
Great sound effects, and creative editing would make all this not so obvious to some people, but it is all right there for you to see if you look.
If anyone is still with me here...I won't blame anyone who bailed already...here are some screen-shots from season 1, the small block cars. Note specifically the higher-appearing front-end and the amount of high ( but not excessive) front-end "dive".