A lot of people are fond of muscle cars due to their raw power and amazing appearance. By definition, a muscle car is a vehicle that runs on a high-displacement engine. Hence, it is capable of producing so much power to conquer almost any type of road. With this power, it can turn an open highway into its own runway. Furthermore, a muscle car comes with a sporty look but bulkier than those regular sports cars. Though some don’t consider pony cars as muscle cars, we may take them under the same category. Hence, for the sake of this article, we can consider the Fords and the Chevrolets as muscle cars as well.
Muscle cars are perfect for spectacular showroom displays. Moreover, they are also built for street racing. Oftentimes, muscle car drivers participate in drag racing, trying to beat each other in order to avoid getting stuck on the red light.
For a better appreciation of these mean beasts on the road, we came up with the 20 baddest muscle cars of all time. Take a look quickly or they might just run past you.
20. 1970 Ford Mustang Boss 429
The National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) required at least 500 production cars to acknowledge the Ford Mustang Boss 429 in the competition. Hence, Ford had no choice but to settle with the limited production just to qualify and be sold to the public. Being one of the special gems in NASCAR, it even has a unique Kar Kraft “KK” number. Nonetheless, until today, it is one of the rarest muscle cars on an avid collector’s list, even with a price tag of $250,000. With its trademark that preserves Ford’s ground-pounding engine, the Boss 429 was known as a true American legend.
19. 1964 Pontiac GTO
The Pontiac GTO was a fine example of an American muscle icon, even though the sales manager of Pontiac doubted its success and it was initially an optional package for the Pontiac Tempest. With an unexpected sale of more than 30,000, the GTO beckoned the launch of the muscle cars era. It was offered in two-door-post coupe, two-door hardtop, and convertible.
The legendary icon was even considered the first muscle car not only because of its affordability but also because of its exceptional performance. It also received the Motor Trend Car of the Year (1968) award.
18. 1968 Plymouth Road Runner
The Plymouth Road Runner was almost called “La Mancha,” which meant dry land or wilderness. Fortunately, Plymouth thought that the character of the road runner fit the concept of the car.
They paid Warner Bros. $50,000 to use the name and an additional $10,000 for the “beep beep” horn. Based on the B-body cars, it also was recognized in street racing for its powerful and lightweight engines. The important parts of the Road Runner were enhanced whereas the unimportant ones were removed, raising it to be one of the better high-power muscle cars at that time.
17. 1969 Pontiac Firebird
General Motors also used the name “Firebird” in the 1950s and early 1960s, but Pontiac had its own take too. Usually compared to its cousin, the Pontiac Firebird is referred to as the cheaper version of the Camaro. However, it possesses a bigger engine than the said vehicle.
It does have unique features such as the new headlights and fenders. The new headlights were put in a different position, detached from the grill. The wide-ranging fenders and extensive appearance blared a more muscular aura. It also offered Trans Am, which was identified as the performance and appearance package, with only 689 hardtops and eight convertibles produced.
16. 1968 Chevrolet Chevelle SS
Recognized as one of Chevrolet’s successful nameplates, the Chevrolet Chevelle was undoubtedly difficult to beat in the said competition of muscle cars. As stated by automobile race car driver Patrick Bedard, “If you heard sixteen little hammers, the racket of solid lifters, you knew the guy was dangerous.”
The Chevelle was offered in coupes, sedans, convertibles, and station wagons. It was equipped with the most powerful engine option, the L78. In addition to that, the Concours package, which had high-class interior and exterior trim, was also available. Indeed, it was a high-end car.
15. 1970 Ford Mustang Mach 1
Originally introduced to the public as the Levacar Mach 1 at the Ford Rotunda, the Ford Mustang Mach 1 was known as a sports pony car, specially made to the young car enthusiasts. Though the reign of the Mach 1 ended in 1978, its comeback as a high-performance type of the New Edge platform was most-awaited, which paid tribute to its historical beginning that goes back to the 1970s wherein the model year had two versions: a standard one and the 428-cobra jet. Surprisingly, the standard one yielded 15 horsepower higher than the high-end one. However, both can reach approximately 200 km/h top speed.
14. 1969 Mercury “Cale Yarborough” Cyclone Spoiler
The Mercury “Cale Yarborough” Cyclone Spoiler was limited to one production year in 1969 with only 617 models mass-produced. As the name suggests, the Cyclone Spoiler was dedicated to former NASCAR Winston Cup Series motorist and owner Cale Yarborough. The colors red and white of the vehicle were also identical to his race car, excluding the graffiti.
It boasts the largest engine available, the eminent 428 CJ Ram Air. Because of its moniker, the Cyclone Spoiler was featured in several TV shows and magazines, such as the Muscle Car TV and Mustangs and Fords.
13. 1966 Buick Riviera
The Buick Riviera used to be Cadillac’s La Salle II prototype, but the luxury brand turned it down, which was one of the greatest mistakes they made. The Buick Riviera, particularly the second-generation models that were restyled, had the perfect combination of visual appeal, size, and power. Buick focused on the aesthetics to fend off a sophisticated but aggressive look.
12. 1970 Dodge Dart Swinger 340
The growth of the Dodge Dart Swinger 340 started with the first appearance of its name, Dart, in a car show in 1957. Focusing on the front and rear of the automobile, it turned out to be a cheaper version of the full-size Dodge three years later, and included a shorter wheelbase. Then, it was up for sale as a mid-size car in 1962. At last, it became a compact car from 1963 to 1976. To pass up rivalry between the Dodge Challenger and Dodge Dart, the company applied some changes on the latter. For instance, adjustments in the grille and contour for the fourth-generation models were initiated.
11. 1949 Oldsmobile Rocket 88
Debatably, the Oldsmobile produced the first American muscle car, and not Ford. Oldsmobile introduced it as Rocket 88 in 1949, a few years after World War II. The Rocket 88 had a top speed of 97 mph and can reach 60 mph in 13 seconds, which was considered an achievement decades back. It was powered by a V8 engine with a lighter body frame resembling a rocket ship structure, which was designed by Gilbert Burrell. Because of its improved compression ratio, it was also fuel-efficient. However, the rear drum brakes were not that consistent and efficient so it would take some time for the vehicle to come to a halt.
10. 1968 Shelby Mustang GT500KR 428 Cobra Jet
The Shelby Mustang GT500KR 428 Cobra Jet was the product of the successful agreement between Ford and Shelby. Their main objective was to outperform the Corvette by Chevrolet, which Shelby had bitter feelings for since it did not provide him the parts that he needed to build another Cobra before. They even went as far as to shock the public by hiding the fact that the GT500KR was capable of 400 horsepower, not only 335 horsepower.
There was no room for wonder as to why actors like Lee Marvin and Bruce Willis were enchanted to own one of the Shelby Mustang GT500KR 428 Cobra Jets, since the vehicle was reviewed to have exceptional handling, braking, and acceleration.
9. 1964 Ford Fairlane Thunderbolt
The Fairlane Thunderbolt was manufactured under Ford, but the hype beast was produced with the help of Dearborn Steel and Tubing (DST). DST created the first eleven models by hand whereas Ford partially assembled the succeeding ones. With only 100 units produced, the Fairlane was sure to have the NHRA Super Stock title for Ford. DST also had to cope with the block V8 that had to fit under the hood so they adjusted the body frame. The ground-pounding engine aided in winning car races, gaining the National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) title in 1964, but the track beast was too extreme for street use that it was not idyllic on public roads.
8. 1970 Plymouth Duster 340
Regardless of its unnecessary details, the Plymouth Duster 340 was commended for its great handling and exceptional performance. Car owners recommended it as a great pick to start off in the muscle industry. The compact supercar was based on the Valiant, which Plymouth started producing in the 1960s. With little to no differences, it was even regarded as the same Valiant model excluding the cars sheet metal and door skins. However, every car has its own game plan and it didn’t allow itself to lose. Unexpectedly, it hit the lucky lane and boomed with more than 250,000 cars sold.
7. 1965 Chevrolet Impala SS
Based on the name of the fast running antelope in South Africa, the Chevrolet Impala SS possesses the yet to be beaten record of more than a million models sold in the production year. It was known as the best-selling car but also the priciest. Starting from its 1958 model, it has already reached more than ten million sales. It was even described as “a prestige car within the reach of an average American citizen” by car enthusiasts.
6. 1970 Plymouth Super Bird
Created to contend with Dodge’s Daytona, the Plymouth Super Bird was one of the wing cars of Chrysler. The wing car was intended to join the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR). It was rumoured to have elevated wings because of its trunk. However, as stated by engineer John Pointer, the purpose of those wings was for faster acceleration, which was their main objective. It was merely a coincidence that it fit perfectly in the trunk.
5. 1955 Chrysler C-300
The C-300, with 300 horsepower as the name boasts, slipped in perfect timing because the 1950s was the period when Americans were open to welcome new ideas including the peculiar car frame. Commended for more than sixty years of existence, the Chrysler C-300 marked the beginning of the 300-series letter cars. It was also praised for outstanding handling and flat cornering that were characteristics of a sports car, winning the first NASCAR Grand National Race and AAA Championships.
4. 1963 Chevrolet Corvette
The improved 1963 Chevrolet Corvette was one of the muscle cars that dominated the car industry. It was based on Bill Mitchell’s 1957 SS racer and XP-720 prototype. It was known for having headlights that were not visible to the naked eye, but we could clearly see some Chevrolet’s adjustments on the model. For example, it was available as a sport coupe and convertible. It also had a steel frame and independent suspension. One of the disadvantages of having the Corvette was the trunk lid couldn’t be opened. Nonetheless, the interior was improved by offering comfort to the passengers, especially the driver, with its relaxing seats.
3. 1969 Chevrolet Camaro
Before the Camaro, it was the Panther. Holding the title of top best-selling Chevrolet model for ten consecutive years, the 1969 Chevrolet Camaro was arguably the most popular. Almost 250,000 models were sold at that time of its release, appealing mostly to young car enthusiasts. It was probably because of the hugger’s more aggressive and hard-hitting look offered as a standard sport coupe or a super sport car. Surprisingly, Chevrolet even marketed the last of the first generation as the 1970 model with little to no modifications. At present, the latest version of the Camaro holds a special place in the police force.
2. 1970 Chevrolet El Camino SS
The mighty Chevrolet El Camino SS was categorized as a vehicle that is strong enough to be a delivery truck and tow truck. Because of this, in North America it was classified and titled as a truck. It is primarily because the El Camino was the peak of Chevrolet’s car based truck reign. It was also manufactured as a response to overpower the Ford Rancher. At 4-speed manual and with 7 inches wide tires, it can get to 60 mph in 6.6 seconds.
1. 2016 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat
The Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat is driven by the mighty 6.2-liter Hemi V8 engine. It is offered in 8-speed automatic transmission, but it is also available in 6-speed transmission. In 3 seconds, the Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat can hit 60 mph and in the next few seconds, it can reach the top speed of 204 mph, making it a contender as one of the fastest muscle cars in the word.
Aside from being the cheetah in the car industry, it is the most powerful car manufactured in America with a roaring 707 horsepower as well. However, challengers need to think twice of buying this bad boy since it’s worth more than $60,000.
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