Who Loves a 1960’s Muscle Car?
The now considered “Golden Age” of muscle cars brought us some of the meanest and most enjoyable machines ever to ride on the roads of this great country. With the popularity among not just younger crowds, but also more mature and experienced auto shoppers the age of muscle cars was born in the 1960’s and gave us at least one model from each and every manufacturer to compete with the rest.
All of these muscle cars of the day were claiming to be the best, but here are some very memorable models that gained a great deal of attention, even if they did not show up as the fastest of the time.
Ford Torino GT
Because the Mustang was already very popular, Ford built the Torino to be an upscale version of the Fairlane. The Torino was introduced in 1968 and the GT model came equipped with a 4.9-liter V8 engine but the larger powered version is what made history for the Torino with a 7.0-liter V8 that brought in 335 horsepower. The engine was actually a 428-cid model which was carried over to the badges of the car with the chrome 428 on the sides and rear. The Torino GT was available with three and four-speed manual transmissions as well as a three-speed automatic. The suspension offered a set of heavy duty shocks and a front stabilizer bar because Ford knew this car was going to be ridden hard.
Chevrolet Chevelle SS
Production of the Chevelle began in 1964 as an intermediate coupe, convertible, sedan and even a station wagon. Originally this car was the Malibu SS but eventually separated to show distinction between model lines. The 1970 Chevelle was the peak performer for Chevrolet as it was powered by a 7.4-liter V8 that was a huge 454-cid and had an output of 360 horsepower. There was also a higher output model that made 450 horsepower.
The Pontiac GTO was the model that the Tempest grew into. In 1964 the introduction of the GTO meant Pontiac was trying to build a muscle car that needed little to no modification in order to drive. The GTO never had a reputation for being a great car to control but it always had a large engine and a light body that was powered in 1964 by a 389-cid engine 6.4-liter V8 engine and a three-speed floor mounted manual transmission as standard offering with a four-speed manual and a two-speed automatic as options. The GTO has been a muscle car of legend for many years mostly because it was so easy for so many to enjoy its awesome power.
As one of the smallest automotive companies, AMC has several memorable cars. The AMX was the first muscle car from AMC which offered an AMC Javelin look on a shorter wheelbase as an intermediate coupe. As a model that was introduced in 1968 the AMX was offered with four V8 engine choices, the largest of which was the 390-cid 6.4-liter engine that offered up 315 horsepower. This engine was mated to a four-speed manual transmission. The AMX was equipped with wide tires, special traction bars and a dual exhaust system. In fact, the AMX became a car of legend when racing legend Craig Breedlove set more than 100 records in the car which eventually had the company offering a special run of Craig Breedlove versions (50 to be exact) which were offered in red, white or blue, which is about as American as you can get.
The Barracuda was based on the underpinning of the Valiant and came to market just be for the Mustang showed up from Ford. It was small at first and was mostly compared to the Mustang through the first two generations, but in 1969, the Barracuda gained muscle car status with a larger size that shared a platform with the Challenger. The 426-cid 7.0-liter HEMI V8 which produced 425 horsepower was the most famous engine found in this car which also had a four-speed manual transmission and option for a three-speed automatic. Only a few hundred were made with this big engine and only 21 convertibles in the short two year run for the 426-cid engine.
The Buick GSX was the muscle car offering from this brand, which showed GM having every brand in the muscle car business except for Cadillac. The Gran Sport was based on the Skylark but the GSX was the most memorable version. The GSX was introduced in 1970 and was powered by a 455-cid 7.4-liter V8 engine that showed off 360 horsepower and 510 lb.-ft. of torque and was mated to a four-speed manual transmission. The Buick GSX was available in yellow or white with racing stripes, which limited the look of the car since other colors were not offered, but plenty of owners had them redone to their own satisfaction.
Even though cars of today routinely have more horsepower than the ones from the muscle car era, at the time these were the power monsters. At a time when cars could more easily be tuned in your own garage and all maintenance done at home, these cars were some the most memorable that took to the road and gave us a great feeling of excitement and passion for high powered, fast moving cars that could boast huge numbers on the lot and back them up on the road.