You can trace the history of the muscle cars to the 1949 Oldsmobile Rocket 88. The glory days of this genre begins way back 1965 but because of the rapid elevating price of gas and towering insurance cost, the glory days saw its sunset on 1970.
There is no settled definition about muscle cars but most specialists agree that these are small 2 door cars packed with a high displacement engine that can mostly be found on larger full-sized sedans.
Manufacturers engineered muscle cars for the straight-line speed, inspiring more than a rare Saturday nighttime drag race between traffic lights. Either built or sold in vast numbers, muscle cars were a temptation, attracting buyers into showrooms where they would pay for more ordinary models. Yet, the muscle car mystique lives on. Here’s our list in model-year order.
1967 Pontiac GTO
The period of muscle cars characteristically mark its foundation with the 1964 GTO. Dodging a General Motors ban against putting big engines (any engine that’s larger than 330 cubic inches) into small cars, according to MotorTrend.com in 1964, Pontiac slips a 389-cubic-inch v8 hooked on its Tempest as a selection called GTO . The response was colossal that the car won over GM execs, paving the way for the establishment of Chevrolet, Oldsmobile, Buick and Pontiac muscle cars.
1968 Plymouth Road Runner Hemi
With all the details of a jar of nitroglycerin, the Plymouth Road Runner Hemi was pure scorching power. With a 425-horsepower, 426-cubic-inch Hemi V-8 engine, this car has all it takes to prove to be one of the all-time great performance cars. The Road Runner struck fear into the hearts of the Saturday night country-road drag racing crowd.
According to HowStuffWorks.com, before giving a free rein to the fist Road Runner in 1968, Plymouth licensed the Road Runner name and likeness from the Warner Brothers. It went a step further in capitalizing on the cartoon character’s speedy image by mounting a horn sound imitating the cartoon bird’s “beep beep”.
1969 Ford Mustang Boss 429
The Mustang Boss 429 is what you can get if a carmaker wants to meet NASCAR regulations. While getting the pleasure from a well respected reputation, the Boss 429 wasn’t a monster slayer right out of the box. Though packed with 375 horsepower 429-cubic-inch V-8 engine, this car can be overpowered by others on this list.
What makes it really outstanding is that it was mostly hand-built. Since the engine wouldn’t fit in a standard Mustang without extensive modifications, Ford farmed out its assembly to Michigan-based Kar Kraft. In appearance, very modest distinguished the Boss 429 other than a hood scoop and a trunk mounted spoiler. Less than 1,400 were manufactured from 1969 to 1970 and that makes the Boss a rare bird.
1969 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1
Today’s Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 is named for the well-knowned 1969 Camaro ZL1. Base on the Chevrolet’s iconic 427 V-8 engine, the ZL power plant had an aluminum block in place of the regular 427’s iron one. Although it was formally rated 427’s 430 horsepower, most independent testers pegged the output as being much higher. The ’69 ZL1 not only had the most dominant Chevrolet engine offered to the public for decades, it is also the rarest production car that Chevrolet had ever made. With the price of $7,200 and there is only less than 70 ZL1 built.
1970 Buick GSX Stage 1
Buick has come into the muscle car market as one of the most luxurious and most powerful brand. It emerged first as an option on the 1965 Skylark; Gran Sport became a separate nameplate in 1967. By 1970, a 455 cubic-inch V-8 engine motorized the Gran Sport. It produced a large 510 pounds-foot of torque. Those with Stage 1 tuning and engine tweaks delivered 360 horsepower to the rear wheels. There are faster contenders but the GSX was only one of its kinds.
1970 Plymouth Hemi ‘Cuda
The Barracuda was formerly based on the Valiant; but in 1970, the barracuda was redesigned and finally shifted away from the valiant’s design. Plymouth created a limited number of the Hemi ‘Cudas, which was of course highly prized today.
The 1970 Plymouth Barracuda was powered by a variety of six and eight cylinder engines, but the most outstanding was equipped with dual-carburetor. The Hemi ‘Cuda could certainly go against with the era’s top-tier muscle cars, as the carmaker gave its muscle cars a suspension modified to heavy-metal acceleration.
1970 Chevrolet Chevelle SS454
1970, the climax of the muscle-car era and the Chevelle SS 454 has a substantial piece of evidence for that argument. There are two versions of 454cubic-inch V-8 offered by Chevrolet. The LS5 generated a very inspiring 360 horsepower, while the LS6 punched out a whooping 450 ponies. The Holley Four-barrel carburetor of the LS6 version is the reason why SS 454 is on this list. There’s no other muscle car can equal the exceptional horsepower of the 1970 SS 454.
The design of the SS 454 could also blow its competitors, Chevelle’s swept-back roofline offered the illusion of speed even when in idle. The bulge hood was part of the design, alerting spectators that something extraordinary was happening under it.