Here’s a list of real American muscle cars. We will be talking about the ‘60s cars that represent the finest American vehicles. There are no pony cars like Mustangs (which we love) and no sports cars like Corvette (we also love) are included in this list. Pure Muscle only.
- 1963 Impala Z11 427
In 1963, Chevrolet launched the Z11 option for their Impala line. It includes the legendary 409 engine that was modified and developed into a 427 cid that makes an amazing 430 hp. It has special heads, valves and two-piece aluminum intake manifold sporting dual quads. This incredible engine wasn’t the only interesting feature of this Z11 option, Chevrolet also include different items like hood, fender and bumpers that are made of aluminum that lighten its overall curb weight.
This package was available for everyone but it appears that they only sold it to chosen racers. However, the 1963 Impala SS with a standard 425 hp was already fast for a common driver. There’s over 50 Impala Z11 that were sold in 1963 and only 7 of them still exist today.
- 1964 Ford Thunderbolt
It was a factory experiment only. Ford Fairlane Thunderbolt was built specially as a lightweight competitive car that was made up of various fiberglass and aluminum parts. Ford wants to participate and grab the NHRA Super Stock title. Since the highly customized Ford Galaxie with their powerful 427-cid V-8 is not enough to beat contenders like Dodge and Plymouth muscle cars, their only option and the most obvious answer was to mount their 427 into the midsize Fairlane.
Led by Andy Hotton of Dearborn Steel Tubing, the front end received a massive reconstruction to accommodate the engine. The headlamp bezels were turned into air intakes that feed the engine through huge hoses. Other things that they did to reduce the weight was the removal of street items like sun visors, radio, heater, wheel covers, passenger side windshield wiper, arm rest, rear window cranks, mirrors, carpeting, trunk mat, lug wrench, jack and spare tire. They also used the same front seats that are used in Ford’s police package.
Ford Thunderbolt was sold into the public with the price tag of $3,780. Only 100 of those were manufactured in ’64 and 2 in 1965.
Even though it was legally approved to use in public, Ford Thunderbolt was not suitable for everyday use.
- 1969 AMC SC/Rambler
This car was a two-door sedan body style that has a front mounted engine which gives power to the rear wheels. American Motors Corporation made a deal with Hurst Performance to create this head turner SC/Rambler. This car surprised everyone with its 390 cid with 315 hp V-8 engine; it was a race-ready production vehicle. With the affordable price of $3,000, Rambler can keep up with other popular cars in that era. “SC” stands for Stock Car and there are no additional options for this car except for the AM radio and all manufactured cars shares the same interior design that has plain gray vinyl with bench seats that has red white and blue headrest.
The most admirable characteristic of this car was its large functional “Ram Air” induction hood scoop. AMC released 3 batches of Rambler and the first batch shares the same color scheme. The first 500 units were painted in white with red panel running the side of the car and blue stripe in the roof. The second batch with another 500 cars has a “B” trim. It was also the same colors except, the red and blue stripes are narrower. The third batch uses the same scheme from the first batch.
A total of 1,512 SC/Ramblers were built and most of the surviving cars mostly came from the first batch. This was one of the rarest cars of that era.
- 1968 Dodge Charger R/T
The first generation Dodge Charger was a mid 1966 surprise when it came out while the redesigned second generation produced more sales. Based on the Chrysler B platform, 1968 Dodge Charger was an eye candy because of its unusual body styling which renders a sleek “coke bottle” with the black-out front grille with hidden headlights. Dodge’s R/T designation was meant for cars that are built for street racing with heavy duty suspensions that gives a better quality handling. 1968 Charger was powered with the incredible 440 Magnum V-8 with an amazing 375 hp.
With the price tag of $3,500, this car can run a quarter mile in just 15 seconds. With an additional $600, you can get a Charger which is powered with a Hemi that can run a quarter mile with just 13 seconds. Only 475 are manufactured with this configuration while a total of 96,000 Chargers are produced in 1968 and 17,000 of those are with R/T designations.
- 1969 Ford Fairlane/Torino Cobra
Even though these cars are Fairlane, it was officially called as Cobras according to Ford’s brochures and advertisements. It was launched as Ford’s counterpart for Plymouth’s Road Runner. This line offered two body styles, the hardtop that is also known as the “formal roof” and the other one is the familiar “sportsroof” fastback. Basic models have the 302 cid V-8 engine and 3-speed manual transmission as a standard. The optional Cobra performance package features the 428 Cobra Jet V-8 with 335 hp and Holly 4bbl. Customers can choose to include the additional bucket seats, hood scoop, clock, tachometer, power disc brakes, 4.30:1 rear axle gearing and the Ram Air which doesn’t increase the horsepower but increases its performance peak to 5,600 rpm.
It can run a quarter mile in 14.5 seconds. Almost 14,000 Cobras were sold in 1969 and larger percentage of those is in fastback version while an estimated 3,000 are in hardtop version.
- 1969 Plymouth Roadrunner
The design for the 1969 model was almost the same as the 1968. There are only few exterior changes made and this includes the taillights, grille, side marker lights and the new Road Runner decals. They also added a convertible version for the 1969 model. Standard package includes the 383 cu in engine while an optional 426 cu in Hemi is also available. During the run, another engine option became available and it is the 440 engine with three Holley 2-barrel carburetors. This “440 Six Pack” doesn’t have wheel covers or hubcaps. The price of this car was only $3,000 but it can run a quarter mile in 13.5 seconds.
Roadrunner’s top speed was 140+ mph and almost 80,000 cars with different configurations were sold in 1969.
- 1966 Oldsmobile 442
Did you know that pre-1968 Oldsmobile 442 are not real car model? Actually it was only an option package for Oldsmobile Cutlass. This 4-4-2 is the result of the growing competition between Oldsmobile and Pontiac. The surprise success of the high-performance GTO version of Pontiac LeMans intermediate caught the attention of Oldsmobile and as a response; they planned to launch an upgraded Cutlass as their counterpart. The 442 package includes four-barrel carburetors, 4-speed manual transmission and dual exhaust.
The 1966 442 had a diffident design compared to other Cutlass. The standard package includes the L78 400 cid engine with a single 4bbl carburetor that makes 350 horsepower. The ’66 model also has additional two new optional engines. These engines are the L69 that has a three two-barrel Rochester 2GC carburetors on a progressive linkage that produce a 360 hp with 44- lb-ft of torque and the rare W30 that has an outside-air induction system.
Finding a W30 nowadays is like finding a needle in a haystack, only 54 W30s are manufactured by the factory and 97 were dealer-modified installations.
- 1969 Dodge Coronet R/T and Super Bee
These versions of the 1969 Dodge Coronet have a lot of similarities that’s why these cars are in just one number although they have each own advantages. Numerous cars receive the R/T designation of Dodge since 1967 and in 1969, many Mopar fans choose the cheaper Coronet Super Bee not only because of its unique rear-end bumble stripping but it was also the Dodge’s counterpart for Plymouth’s Roadrunner.
Though it was less luxurious than the Roadrunner, the performance was almost the same. Super Bee was heavier and it was riding on a 117-inch (3,000 mm) wheelbase. These two cars were almost identical except for the minor exterior changes done on the Super Bee like the larger rear wheel openings, more detailed grille and taillight ornamentation. It was also available with the Hemi engine, heavy duty suspension, and an optional Mopar A-833 4-speed manual transmission.
A “six-pack” version of Dodge’s 440 cubic-inch engine was included to the options during its run. The Dodge Coronet R/T also received an additional engine option during its mid year sale. Almost 6,800 R/T’s are manufactured in 1969 and 400 of those were convertible.
- 1966 Chevrolet Chevelle SS 396
The “Super Sport” was initially intended for Impala in 1961 and it eventually used also in various models including Chevelle in 1964. The 1966 model of Chevelle was considered to be the best design it ever received. Both convertibles and sport coupes versions have the reinforced frames and improved front suspensions. Its external design was highlighted by the classic forward-thrusting front fenders. There are three available performance engines for the ’66 model and this includes the 396 cid V-8. The standard was rated at 325 hp, an optional 360 hp and another optional 375 hp. An extra third engine option was also available, the L78 396 that brags a 375 hp which is not marketed by GM.
The SS 396 series lasted for just a couple of years from 1966 to 1968.
- 1967 Pontiac GTO
Just like the 442, GTO was initially an option package for the famous 1963 Pontiac LeMans. In 1966, GTO became its own model until 1972. The last model of the first generation received few minor redesigns. Eight tail lights replaced the louver-covered tail lights and the GTO emblems that are originally located at the rear part were moved to the chrome rocker panels. The 1967 GTO was available in hardtop, convertible and Sports coupe body styles.
Pontiac installed the Rochester Quadrajet four-barrel carburetor rather than the previous tri-power carburetor configuration. A bigger 400 cid engine was mounted for the 1967 model and it was available in three different models. The economy engine featured a two-barrel carburetor rather than the Rochester Quadrajet and it makes a 265 hp while the standard engine 335 hp. Of course the high output option produced the highest horsepower with 360 at 5100 rpm and produced 438 lb-ft of torque. Pontiac also made an option for front disc brakes.
It was Motor Trend’s Car of the Year in 1968. There are almost 82,000 GTO that are sold in 1967. 65,000 of those are hardtop, over 9,000 units for convertibles and approximately 7,000 units for Sports Coupe.
GTO was revived and once again went on sale in 2004 to 2006.
1963 Plymouth/Dodge 426 Max Wedge
Rather than a particular vehicle, this bonus item was more about an engine. This one is about the 426 RB Wedge that is also known as Max Wedge. For sure, that name indicates tremendous power. It was launched by Mopar in 1963 and initially, this engine was built for racing purposes only. According to the advertisements provided, it is not a “street machine”. And “it was designed to be run in supervised, sanctioned drag-strip competition.” This engine was usually paired with Savoy, it was the lightest Plymouth model that was pictured above but it can also be used in more luxurious cars like the Belvedere and Sport Fury models though it can be ordered in any offered model. That also includes wagons and convertibles. In 1963, over 2,000 Mopars are produced with this engine. It brags dual quads with 13.5:1 compression. This awesome combination can make 425 of horsepower at 5,600 rpm.
I hope you enjoy our list of top ten real American muscle cars. Do you think there’s a car that deserves to be in the list? Send us your suggestions so we can make a part two!