What You Might not Know About American Muscle Cars

1969 Dodge Charger Daytona

With the heyday of the American Muscle Car behind us but also being reborn, it’s good to know a few facts about muscle cars that you may have never known or heard.  The 1960s and 1970s offered us some of the most powerful torque-rich cars on the planet at the time that you could witness racing on a Friday night at an open road to show whose car was the one that would come out on top.  This era ended with the stricter emissions regulations of the 1980s, these cars were a thing of the past until manufactures started pulling more from less in recent years.  Here’s what you might not know about muscle cars.

1968 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500

1968 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500

Even though most enthusiasts look for the 1965 and 1966 models of the Shelby Mustang the models in 1967 and 1968 offered more fun in the engine area and were actually built to beat some of the competition of the time.  This was from the 355 horsepower 428 cubic inch big block V8 that was under the hood of this Mustang.

1984 Chevrolet Corvette

1984 Chevrolet Corvette

This car was important because it marked the beginning of the fourth generation of the Corvette after the longest run in history of any generation of a car.  The third generation ran from 1968 until 1982 and skipped 1983 to give us the new 1984 production of the Corvette.  This new car used a small block V8 with rear-wheel drive and only offered 205 horsepower.  After some upgrades and performance tweaks this eventually become a high powered sports car once again.

1969 Dodge Charger Daytona

1969 Dodge Charger Daytona

As the name states, this car was built for winning races at Daytona.  Dodge took this car to a wind tunnel for testing and found giving it a large and tall rear wing, a flush rear window and a long sloped nose cone improved the aerodynamics significantly.  This car then became the first car to break 200 mph in NASCAR history and won the race at Daytona.  After this car and its Plymouth twin won several races over a couple years, NASCAR banned them from racing anymore.

1970 Oldsmobile 442

1970 Oldsmobile 442

The 442 is a name taken from the four-barrel carburetor, four-speed manual transmission, and dual-exhausts.  This car shared a platform with the Chevelle and the GTO offering a huge 445 cubic inch big block V8 engine that came in with 360 horsepower and 500 lb.-ft. of torque.  All this power game the car the ability to reach sixty mph in under six seconds.

1978 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am

1978 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am

Sometimes a movie helps sell cars and in 1978 the movie Smokey and the Bandit made the Firebird Trans Am more popular than ever.  At the same time, Pontiac increased the horsepower from 200 to 220 for the Firebird and added a special sport tuned steering package to the car which gave it the ability to speed around the track faster than the Corvettes of that time.

1969 Ford Mustang Boss 429

1969 Ford Mustang Boss 429

This is a classic muscle car that was built to race in NASCAR but never got the change.  This massive 429 cubic inch V8 engine pumped out 375 horsepower and had a huge amount of airflow and aerodynamic features (for the time) to make it one mean beast.  Because this huge engine didn’t originally fit in the engine bay of the Mustang there were many modifications done in order to fig this huge engine under the hood and create what has become one of the most sought after cars on the planet.  Because these cars are so rare and desired some now will bring a price of as much as $200,000 when sold today.

1970 Chevrolet Chevelle LS6

1970 Chevrolet Chevelle LS6

The Chevelle became one of the favorites of muscle cars lovers as it represented one of the first examples of GM relaxing its rule for large engines in midsize cars.  This beast carried in the biggest of them all, a 454 cubic inch V8 LS6 engine.  The output of the monster showed up at 450 horsepower and 500 lb.-ft. of torque.  With a couple modifications this car actually was much closer to 500 horsepower and gave a zero to sixty time of only 5.4 seconds and a quarter mile time of 13.8 seconds.  This Chevelle marked the first time in history GM allowed a car that wasn’t the Corvette to have more horsepower than it.

1969 Pontiac GTO Judge

1969 Pontiac GTO Judge

With the GTO Pontiac owned the muscle car world during the 1960s and the 1964 GTO is still thought of as the first real muscle car ever.  John DeLorean was in charge of Pontiac at the time and even though he was expected to make a car with a smaller engine he went the other direction and gave us the Judge, which he named after a popular skit on TV.  This car could make 360 horsepower easily and with some added brute could reach as high as 370.  The GTO Judge Ram Air IV convertible was the rarest of these cars ever made as there were only five built in 1969.

1969 COPO Camaro

1969 COPO Camaro

The COPO designation stands for Central Office Production Order which was meant to be a way for fleet sales teams to order heavy duty suspensions for cop cars and stain-proof interiors for taxicabs but as some dealers found out they could order Camaros through this system and have a Camaro that Chevrolet didn’t intend for the public to own.  This gave us a Camaro with a 427 big block V8 that offered 425 horsepower as well as the ZL-1 427 V8 that had 430 horsepower, much the same as the Corvettes of the time.  Because only 69 ZL-1 Camaros were built these cars fetch a hefty price at auction.

1987 Buick GNX

1987 Buick GNX

Even with the muscle car era long gone, Buick attempted to bring back some of the awesomeness of the time by offering this Grand National version of the Regal coupe n a hot rod form that upped the horsepower from 245 to 276 and gave a time from zero to sixty of only 4.6 seconds.  This power plant was a turbocharged V6 and with many of these engines left over after the 1987 year GM put the remaining engines in the next version of the Trans Am for 1989 which was a 20th Anniversary edition and rated it at 250 horsepower even though many knew they could pull more from this car with just a few simple modifications.

With a little muscle car history and so many cars that have their body styles showing back up in our automobile world for modern times.  This gives us a modern era muscle car time to fully enjoy, but for anyone who wants to restore, rebuild, or just learn more about muscle cars, the 1960s and 1970s were the golden years when gas prices were cheap and emissions were not even considered, giving us the high powered simply run engines to make our favorite cars run at some of the highest rates possible for the time.

 

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