1967 Chevrolet Corvette 427

It is a well-acknowledged fact that the 1960s represents the Golden Era of the muscle car. With impetus coming from Ford’s Mustang I and Mustang II concept cars, the automobile industry saw the rise of these power maniacs with one even reaching zero-to-60 mph for a full 1.3 seconds better than the top dog from the 1940s.

In honor of the period, Car and Driver shares their list of the 12 “quickest-accelerating cars from the kickin’ ’60s,” something that Carroll Shelby will definitely be proud of. Descriptions and photos are from the past issues of Car and Driver magazine when they first tested and featured these muscle machines.

  1. 1969 Chevrolet Corvette 427 — 5.3 seconds

1969 Chevrolet Corvette 427

C/D; September 1969: “One of the most extraordinary things about the Corvette is its overall smoothness. Most cars having an excess of 400 hp are jerky, neck-snapping, uncivilized, and bull-like, but the Corvette’s controls are so well designed that utter novices can jump aboard and drive like veterans—up to a point. . . . Power comes so effortlessly that neither car nor driver is ever called upon to strain in the slightest.”

  1. 1968 Chevrolet Camaro Z/28 — 5.3 seconds

1968 Chevrolet Camaro Z28

C/D; July 1968: “The Lime Rock pit straight is a wavy, gray blur. Up front two roaring Holleys are trying to suck a hole in the at­mosphere. ‘A 7000 rpm redline? Christ Almighty, it’s gonna burst.’ But it doesn’t, and Sam Posey snaps the shift lev­er into fourth at seven grand as the speedometer climbs past 110 in one of the absolute wildest street machines ever to come out of Detroit. No question about it: we’re in the middle of one of the most beautiful goddam road tests in the annals of mankind.”

  1. 1966 Plymouth Satellite 426 Hemi — 5.3 seconds

1966 Plymouth Satellite 426 Hemi

C/D; April 1966: “As a machine for sitting down in and going fast—and never mind all that jazz about what it looks like or how the windows fit—that’s where Chrysler Corporation’s Hemi-426 really gets the job done. It offers the best combination of brute performance and tractable street manners we’ve ever driven. Passengers, even knowledgeable enthusiasts, can ride around in the car and never know what a bomb it is, unless the driver chooses to unleash the might of all those big Omigawd-ferocious horses. . . . It just doesn’t feel like a seven-liter engine—except for the fact that you’re suddenly doing 120 mph and you don’t know how you got there.”

  1. 1964 Porsche 904 — 5.3 seconds

1964 Porsche 904

C/D; September 1964: “Even with street mufflers and air cleaners, the 904 comes on like the loudest part of a war movie soundtrack. That old Porsche trait, spitting back through the carburetors, is still there, as was a certain amount of lusty backfiring. . . . The loudest noise at 60 mph is your heart pounding in anticipation, and normal conversation is utterly impossible at 100 mph. . . . For the first time since the original series of 50 Porsches were built in Austria, the engine is ahead of the axle in a Porsche production car. . . . This engine differs from previous Porsche two-liters in having wilder cams, bigger valves, and more fin area. . . . Oh sure, only 130 horsepower. It didn’t seem hardly enough to do any more than pool all our blood along our jellied spine, break our glasses across the bridge of our nose, and leave the impression of our belt buckle on our stomach.”

  1. 1965 Ford Mustang GT 289 — 5.2 seconds

1965 Ford Mustang GT 289

C/D; October 1964: “Driving the hot [271-hp] Mustang is a sensational—if noisy—experience, especially with the ‘short’ final-drive ratios preferred by the drag-strip set. We got acceleration figures almost in the Cobra class with the 4.11 ratio, but this made it an impossible car on the highway. . . . Mustang salesmen will have to work harder next year, but we think the car has secured its beachhead and will go on to further conquests.”

   7. 1969 Plymouth Road Runner 426 Hemi — 5.1 seconds

1969 Plymouth Road Runner 426 Hemi

C/D; January 1969: “The Hemi-powered Road Runner is one hell of an Econo-Racer. . . . What is it like on the street? Breathtaking. The Hemi Road Runner has more pure mechanical presence than any other American automobile—even more than the Z/28 Camaro which is another thinly disguised race car we’ve grown to love. . . . The exhaust explodes like Krakatoa and the wailing howl of surprised air being sucked into the intakes turns heads for blocks. Baby, you know you’re in the presence.”

  1. 1967 Ford GT40 Mark III — 5.1 seconds

1967 Ford GT40 Mark III

C/D; June 1967: “We have never driven a car that attracted so much attention. People would stop dead in their tracks, drop their jaws, and stare open-mouthed. Even cops would react at first with astonishment, then do a double take, and—by the time they figured we must be doing something wrong—we were gone. . . . The overall stability of the car makes the driver feel completely safe at speeds upwards of 120 mph. . . . The Mk. III’s acceleration isn’t much better than that of a hot supercar, as its quarter-mile acceleration of 13.8 seconds at 105 mph indicates, but it keeps on pulling long after most supercars have quit.”

  1. 1968 Dodge Charger 426 Hemi — 4.8 seconds

1968 Dodge Charger 426 Hemi

C/D; November 1967: “Dodge stylists have shown that they can create a car in the current idiom with originality, combining just the right amount of tasteful conformity with that novelty and freshness which attracts attention. . . . Rated conservatively at 425 hp and 490 lb-ft of torque, the Hemi propelled the Charger through the quarter-mile traps at just over 105 mph, covering the distance in 13.5 seconds—not bad for 4346 pounds [of] test weight.”

  1. 1967 Chevrolet Corvette 427 — 4.7 seconds

1967 Chevrolet Corvette 427
C/D; May 1967: “The Corvette has come a long way since it was introduced in 1953. In the beginning, the Corvette was a cute little two-seater. It sure enough looked like a sports car, but underneath the radical fiberglass bodywork was a puny 235 cu. in., 150-horsepower ‘Blue Flame’ six and a two-speed Powerglide transmission. Everybody laughed. Even Thunderbird owners knew they had something closer to a sports car.”

  1. 1964 Pontiac Tempest GTO — 4.6 seconds

1964 Pontiac Tempest GTO

C/D; March 1964: “Most knowledgeable enthusiasts reacted negatively when Pontiac announced that their new Tempest sports model was to be called the GTO. They felt, as we did, that Pontiac was swiping a name to which it had no right. Like Le Mans, Grand Prix, Monza, Spyder and 2+2, this was another of those hard-to-digest bits of puffery from the Detroit/Madison Avenue axis. Our first look at the car made us feel a little better, because it is handsome, and then we got a call from correspondent Roger Proulx, raving about the car’s acceleration and handling, so we arranged to test a Pontiac Tempest GTO.”

  1. 1963 Shelby Cobra 260 — 4.5 seconds

1963 Shelby Cobra 260

C/D; March 1963: “Very simply stated, the AC Cobra attained higher performance figures than any other production automobile we have tested [to date]. . . . Even with the mild [street-tuned] engine, the torque characteristics were incompatible with most street driving, with a flat spot below 2000 rpm and a really devastating noise at maximum torque. . . . The hair-curling level of performance the Cobra provides will certainly give the ranks of big production-car racers pensive moments.”

  1. 1965 Shelby Cobra 427 — 4.3 seconds

1965 Shelby Cobra 427

C/D; November 1965: “Several years ago, the manufacturers of a posh Brit­ish grand touring car got a fair amount of mile­age out of the claim that their vehicle could accelerate from 0–100 mph and brake to a complete stop in less than 25 seconds… Alright, you say, if 25 seconds from 0–100–0 isn’t so hot anymore, what the hell is?”


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