10 American muscle car icons and their absolute best model years
The legacy of the muscle car dates back to the 1940s, when Oldsmobile equipped the Rocket 88 with a V8 engine rather than the standard six-cylinder. The combination of the roaring engine and lightweight structure were examples of the hot rod culture that was quickly taking root in various American circuits.
By the 1960s and 1970s, the muscle car had evolved into muscular and aggressively built two-door models. During this time, American manufacturers started producing muscle cars like crazy. These cars come with upgraded packages of higher specifications and cosmetic changes. Their interiors, however, were predominantly Spartan as they were primarily motorized.
Their popularity has skyrocketed since then, assuring automakers of the suitability of the segment as an alternative. sports cars. Over the years, several muscle car models have become revered classics due to their popular success and distinctive attributes, but they all had that model year that everyone revered the most.
1970 Plymouth Road Runner
The first generation of the Plymouth roadrunner was based on the Belvedere. It had two powertrain options which were a 6.3-liter Hemi and a 7.0-liter Hemi. These were rated at 335 and 425 horsepower, respectively, and there was a choice of a three- or four-speed automatic transmission.
The Plymouth Roadrunner improved the front and rear styling for the model year, but the cabin was sparse as the midsize car was built with performance in mind.
1970 Chevrolet Chevelle SS
The 1970 SS has often been called the nicer Chevelle. It had muscular fenders and an intimidating grille between the quad headlights. The SS models also had the brand’s hood. The grille treatment was also blacked out and partitioned off by a body color bar with the SS logo mounted on it.
Under the hood was a 7.4-liter V8 that produced 450 horsepower and sent 500 pound-feet of torque to the rear wheels. The SS managed to accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in an astonishing 6 seconds.
1965 Shelby Mustang GT350
The GT350 was a big hit when it was released, as it had a rich heritage of performance thanks to Caroll Shelby. It was originally designed as a two-seater muscle car and one of Ford’s first legitimate ones.
The engine was a 4.7-liter V8 producing 272 horsepower. The GT350 also stood out from other Mustangs as they were all white with blue racing stripes. It’s a hell of a bully the driving is so rough, but subtlety was not the priority with the first generation.
2021 Dodge Challenger Hellcat
The newest Hellcat model is the best representation of the race-ready SRT daemon yet. Under the hood beats a supercharged 6.2-liter Hemi V8 with tuned calibration, resulting in 807 horsepower. The Challenger can handle 0 to 60 mph in a time of 3.2 seconds, making it the fastest producing muscle car.
It also offers the choice between a six-speed manual transmission and an eight-speed automatic transmission. The cabin was also fitted with standard leather trim and current technological amenities.
1963 Corvette Stingray
The split-window Corvette is one of the all-time favorite muscle cars in history due to its beauty and stunning performance for the time. It was the start of the second generation and the first time the Corvette was offered in a coupe format.
The split window attribute is a defining aspect that other Corvettes didn’t have. Under the elongated hood was a 5.4-liter V8 that produced 250 horsepower, although there were variants that could reach 360 horsepower. With all that power and little weight, the split window Stingray managed to hit 60 mph in 5.8 seconds.
Related: This Is What Made The 1963 Corvette Stingray So Awesome
1968 Chevrolet Camaro Z28
The 1968 Z28 was characterized as the rarest Camaro ever built and was designed for the track. The engine was a 302 cubic inch 4.9 liter V8 with a power of 290 horsepower. 0-60 mph was reached in 7.4 seconds and the top speed was 135 mph.
Its drag racing heritage was also based on the National hot rod association racetrack, which was the pinnacle of motorsport in the 1960s. Several modified the engine and suspension for racing purposes with great success. over the years.
1977 Pontiac Trans-Am
Pontiac has made a myriad of stunning Trans Am models over the years, but none come close to the iconic 1977 Trans Am “Bandit”. Immortalized by its role in Smokey And The Bandit, this muscle car is still part of the pop culture and is highly coveted by all muscle car enthusiasts. Aside from the Screaming Chicken graphic and the hood scoop, one of the standout features of the Firebird Trans Am was the coke bottle design.
The car’s cool factor is so great that it allows even enthusiasts to overlook how underpowered it was, being powered by a 6.6-liter V8 producing just 180-200 horsepower, depending on the trim.
1970 Plymouth Hemi Cuda
The Plymouth was redesigned for 1970, so it ditched the fastback and adopted the muscular structure of the coupe. The highlight of the model came from the large split front grille with round headlights, rear fenders and integrated bumpers.
It had various engine options, although the most important were the 7.0 and 7.2 liter V8 engines generating 390 and 425 horsepower. This allowed an acceleration of 60 mph in 5.8 seconds and a top speed of 155 mph. The interior received a lot of attention as the convenience features consisted of an AM stereo and cassette player.
1969 Dodge Charger Daytona
The 1969 Daytona has a rich history due to its success on the track. Apparently, when Chrysler introduced these winged models, they immediately dominated racing. It was so much that NASCAR instituted a rule to limit engine displacement for all cars.
After all, it was also the first model to reach 200 mph at Talladega in 1970. The wing, which is 58 inches wide, provided enough downforce to keep the car on the ground despite the enormous power. The engine was a 7.0-liter Hemi capable of 425 horsepower.
1970 Ford Torino Cobra
The 1970 Torino Cobra was redesigned in favor of the coke bottle style, which was popular at the time. It also featured a pointed front end and quad headlights. The front and rear bumpers were also slim and fitted along the curved lines of the body.
Under the hood, beat a 7.0-liter Thunder Jet V8 mated to a four-speed top-load transmission. It was rated at 360 horsepower, which earned it a quarter-mile time of just under 13 seconds, which was very impressive at the time.
Some of the best versions of these cars included cars from manufacturers with very recognizable names even today.
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