Top Five Classic Muscle Car

Today the term muscle car refers for all sorts of cars with large engines and great performance. However, “back in the day” it described mid-sized automobiles that had big engines stuffed between the fender wells. Corvettes, Camaros, and Mustangs were not considered muscle cars by the purists. Even today many gear heads only consider the mid sized cars from the 1960’s as true muscle cars. Everything else is a sports car, pony car or just a plain old car.

So what was the most important of these original muscle cars? We have chosen five of the most popular cars for a retro comparison to determine the king of the hill. The selectees are the 1961 Chevy Impala SS, the 1964 Pontiac GTO, the 1964 Ford Fairlane, the 1966 Dodge Charger and the 1968 Plymouth Road Runner. Let the showdown begin.

1961 Chevy Impala SS

Many consider this the first true muscle car. A 409 cubic inch motor was dropped into the Chevy Impala and a legend was made. With the help of the Beach Boys and their song about the car (‘She’s so fine, my four-oh-nine’) it became an icon for the baby boomers. Chevy’s marketing for the car described it as designed “for young men on the move…(who) won’t settle for less than REAL driving excitement.”

Performance was very good for the era with Motor Trend driving one from zero to sixty on seven seconds and completing the quarter mile in 14 seconds at 98 mph. The car became a legend.

1964 Pontiac GTO

The GTO was another marketing success for General Motors. Although the car was not the fastest car on the market it quickly became successful as an all a round muscle car. It was relatively affordable, relatively fast and relatively handsome. Many consider it the first modern muscle car. Although that is debatable, it is definitely the first successful muscle car in terms of sales.

Performance was very good with Car Life and Motor Trend both measuring zero to sixty times of less than seven seconds and quarter mile times of around 14 seconds.

1964 Ford Fairlane

In 1964 the Fairlane was redesigned and the tail fins were removed. Other improvements included upgrades to the suspension in order to improve ride-quality. Interior enhancements included full carpeting for the floors and turn signals that turned themselves off after the steering wheel was turned. However, the big news for 1964 was the Thunderbolt. The Thunderbolt was one of fastest dragsters ever produced by a manufacturer. Ford stuffed a heavily modified 427 cubic inch engine with two four-barrel carburetors mounted on a high-riser manifold into the relatively light weight Fairlane. The car had a ram-air induction system with air vents mounted in openings in the grill left by deleting the inboard headlights.

Other modifications included: equal-length headers, a trunk-mounted battery, fiberglass hood, doors, fenders and front bumper, Plexiglass windows, and other lightweight options included deleting the rear door window winders, carpeting, radio, sealant, sun visors, armrests, jack, lug wrench, heater, soundproofing, and passenger side windshield wiper. Performance was amazing. Gas Ronda dominated NHRA’s 1964 World Championship by running his Thunderbolt through the quarter mile in 11.6 seconds at 124 mph. Later, the NHRA changed the rules to require 500 models of a car to be manufactured for Super Stock competition, and Ford, which had been losing $1500 to $2000 on each Thunderbolt sold at the sticker price of $3900, gave up. In the end, it was the NHRA and its ability to change the rules that stopped the Ford from dominating the drag strips for many years.

Although the Fairlane faded form Ford’s performance spotlight as the Mustang took off. It came back in 1966 and 67 as a very nice looking car. Large engines ‘encouraged’ great performance numbers also.

1966 Dodge Charger

Although it resembled a Coronet with a fastback, the production Charger carried design cues from the Charger II concept car. Both maintained the swoopy fastback that was very popular during the mid-sixties. The electric shaver grill used fully rotating headlights that when opened or closed made the grill look like one-piece. Inside, the Charger used four individual bucket seats with a full length console from front to rear. The rear seats and console pad also folded down which allowed for more cargo room inside. In the rear the full length taillights carried the Charger name.

The car was radically different than anything else on the road and when fitted with a street Hemi it was one of the fastest cars on the road. A Hemi equipped car could do zero to sixty in less than seven seconds and the quarter mile in about 14 seconds. It was a big and radically designed car. And best of al, it was fast.

1968 Plymouth Road Runner

By 1968, muscle cars had become fast, luxurious and expensive. The young people that consisted of the primary market for these types of transportation had been priced out of the market. Plymouth recognized this and exploited to its fullest potential. First, the stripped down a Belvedere to its most basic form and then gave it a large motor. Then the marketing department found a simple way to change the image of the car from that of a bare bones racer to a unique automobile. A popular cartoon character and a unique horn was all that was need to bring this car to the masses.

The Road runner was an instant success. The combination of affordability plus outstanding performance had won the day again. Performance was remarkable with 13 second times for the Hemi and 15 second times for the base engine in the quarter mile.

The Winner

All five of these muscle cars were trend setters in their day. But the one that appeals to this author as the greatest of the early muscle cars is the 1966 Dodge Charger. It was a radical departure from the past with its fast back design and the four passenger bucket seats. It just looked like a muscle car. Performance was strong and the price was reasonable. The 1961 Chevy Impala Super Sport is a close second and if more had been made it may have actually won this little compression.

Why Did Muscle Cars Die?

Do you know who Eleanor is? No? Well, for those who do not know who she is, Eleanor is not a person but a 1967 Mustang used in the film, Gone in 60 seconds. This classic vehicle pretty much embodies what a classic muscle car is. People have a general understanding that muscle cars are mean, fast and roaring machines. They are certainly right about that. Typically powered by a V8 engine, these types of vehicles were considered to be the warriors of drag racing world back in the 60’s up to the early 80’s. They all possessed extremely powerful torque thus giving the rider an experience that they would not soon forget. It certainly was not for the faint-hearted when these cars were brought to their full potential.

Of course, at first glance, it’s easy to see why there are many people who love these classic cars. The rock and roll appeal, the sense of youth and freedom that’s associated with it. These are just some of the things that make these cars total stand outs. Shall we talk interiors? Inside, one would be able to find a high performance vehicle with all the design integrity that many cars today can only hope to copy. The sound of its revving engine and the noise that it makes as it goes speeding down open roads will always send chills down a person’s spine.

Sadly, muscle cars did experience a decline due to the strict rules imposed by various politicians. They pointed out that such powerful vehicles can be dangerous both to the driver and the pedestrians. Insurance companies followed suit and increased the charges and rates for all high-powered vehicles thus effectively discouraging any prospective buyer from even considering it. On top of all that, gas prices were rising. Since many of these cars had such powerful engines they easily guzzled gas quickly.

Needless to say, owning a muscle car had become too costly. Then there arose various environmental concerns that wore away the muscle car dominion. Slowly but surely, people started looking for other options, which eventually led to the muscle car’s popularity decline.

Nonetheless, classics never go out of style. Whilst there is no revival foreseeable, the muscle car would certainly remain iconic and would always be one of the most coveted of all vintage vehicles.

Classic Cars – The Best Muscle Cars

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines muscle cars as, “any of a group of American-made 2-door sports coupes with powerful engines designed for high-performance driving.”
Although opinions vary, it is often cited that the 1949 Oldsmobile Rocket 88 is the first muscle car ever created. It was designed with speed and power in mind, using a powerful engine with a lightweight body.

By the mid-1970s some of this market converged into personal luxury performance cars, thus beginning an era where personal luxury trumped lightweight speed.

Performance-type cars began to make a return in the United States during the 1980s, however with new regulations governing safety and pollution combined with increased production costs, these new vehicles were not designed to the formula of the traditional low-cost muscle cars. Introducing electronic fuel injection and overdrive transmission to the remaining muscle car survivors like the Ford Mustang, Chevrolet Camaro and Pontiac Firebird helped sustain a market share for them alongside personal luxury coupes with performance packages.

Karl Brauer, editor-in-chief of the online car review aggregator “Total Car Score” is a self-described fanatic who characterizes muscle cars as his “primary passion.” He compiled a list of what he considers 10 classic American muscle cars, saying, “Vintage car collectors consider these must-haves!”

Karl Brauer’s list:

• 1970 Oldsmobile 442 W-30
• 1974 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am SD455
• 1970 Buick GSX Stage 1
• 1970 Chevrolet Chevelle SS 454 LS6
• 1970 Pontiac GTO Judge Ram Air IV
• 1968 Ford Mustang GT500KR
• 1969 Ford Boss 429 Mustang
• 1969 Dodge Charger Daytona Hemi
• 1971 Plymouth Hemi ‘Cuda
• 1969 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1

Car buffs sometimes refer to classic muscle cars as “overpowered iron beasts” because these cars were built to deliver and beating and also to take one. They often burned rubber, and were anything but agile. Big, heavy, loud and rude, they embodied everything that was great about the American auto industry of the 1960s and 1970s.

American car-maker Chevrolet offered many different types, beginning with the Corvette in 1953, adding the Impala, Chevelle, El Camino, and Nova to its ranks throughout the years.

Dodge threw their hat into the ring beginning with the 1966 Charger, adding the Challenger and Super Bee thereafter.

Other American car-makers offerings include:

• AMC’s AMX and Javelin
• Buick’s Grand National
• Ford’s Mustang and Thunderbird
• Mercury’s Cougar
• Oldsmobile’s Olds 442
• Plymouth’s Barracuda and GTX
• Pontiac’s Firebird and GTO

When restoring muscle cars, people have differing views on whether staying true to the original factory’s work is the best way to go, or whether improving on anything you can is better. One thing to keep in mind is that a well-documented restoration performed by a renowned shop will always hold more value than one that’s undocumented or completed by an unknown shop or individuals.

Muscle cars are experiencing a resurgence in popularity, however finding one in mint condition is near impossible. Finding one that needs to be restored, and/or customized is a different story. So many different things about these cars can be customized, it is best to do your research on what features you would like to customize before getting a bid from someone.

Most likely people who own custom car shops are huge car fans who have learned the skills to do something they truly enjoy doing. Ask to see some of their work before going with a custom car shop, and remember it’s OK to barter when asking for custom work to be done to your muscle car.

Chevy Camaro – A Small, Vicious Animal That Eats Mustangs

While engineers and designers feverishly worked overtime on the development of a four-passenger sports car they code-named the F-car, the Chevy public relations, marketing and advertising team prepared the world for the introduction of a car they called the Panther.All through the summer of 1965 virtually every aspect of the vehicle’s design and development, from preliminary design sketches to clay models, was photographed and carefully documented. Chevy used the assets to create a 30 -minute movie The Camaro, which was later shown on TV and in movie theaters. They also introduced women’s clothing called the Camaro Collection and even a Camaro road race game.

In November, Chevy sales executives and creative people previewed prototype models at the GM Tech Center. Campbell-Ewald, Chevy’s venerable ad agency, immediately began work on catalogs, direct mail and sales promotion materials, along with print, outdoor and TV/radio advertising. In April 1966, at the New York Auto Show Press Conference, Chevrolet sales executives admitted no name had been chosen for the new vehicle, but did announce that pricing of 1967 model will be in the Corvair-Chevy II range.

Throughout early 1966 Chevy agonized over a name for its Mustang-killer. GM’s upper management was nervous about the aggressive connotations of the Panther name. A similar bout of cold feet would later cause the Pontiac version, code named the Banshee, to be renamed Firebird. Over its short lifetime, the F-car had been called by many names including Wildcat, Chaparral, Commander and Nova. It’s also rumored that Chevy considered using the letters “GM” in the name, and came up with G-Mini, which evolved into GeMini and finally Gemini. However, GM’s upper management vetoed the idea, fearing the car might be a failure.

Automotive legend has it that someone at Chevrolet finally proposed the name Camaro and upper management quickly agreed. Although the name has no real meaning, GM researchers reportedly found the word in a French dictionary as a slang term for “friend” or “companion.” It’s rumored that Ford Motor Company researchers also discovered other definitions, including “a shrimp-like creature” and an arcane term for “loose bowels.”

Because a number or pre-launch materials had already been released using the Panther name, Chevy’s most pressing challenge was to now rename their new Mustang killer, the Camaro.

On June 21, 1966, around 200 automotive journalists received a telegram from General Motors stating, “Please be available at noon of June 28 for important press conference. Hope you can be on hand to help scratch a cat. Details will follow.” The mysterious telegram was signed, John L. Cutter – Chevrolet Public Relations – SEPAW Secretary. The next day, journalists received another mysterious telegram stating, “Society for the Eradication of Panthers from the Automotive World will hold first and last meeting on June 28.” Once again, the telegram was signed, John L. Cutter – Chevrolet Public Relations – SEPAW Secretary.

Finally, on June 28, 1966, General Motors held a live press conference in Detroit’s Statler-Hilton Hotel. It was the first time in history that 14 cities were hooked up in real time for a press conference via telephone lines. Elliot M. “Pete” Estes, who replaced “Bunkie” Knudsen as Chevrolet General Manager in July 1965, started the news conference by declaring all participants were now charter members of the Society for the Elimination of Panthers from the Automotive World (SEPAW.) Estes confidently announced that Camaro was chosen as the name for Chevy’s new four-passenger sports car to honor the tradition of beginning Chevy model names with the letter C such as the Corvette, Corvair, Chevelle, and Chevy II. Most automotive insiders agreed it was a ridiculous statement, given the fact that the Chevy Impala was then the best-selling car in the world. Estes then went on to explain that the Camaro name was, “derived from a French word meaning comrade or pal and suggests the comradeship of good friends as a personal car should be to its owner.” Automotive legend also has it that, after the press conference, when a member of the automotive press asked, “what is a Camaro?” a Chevrolet product manager quickly answered by saying, “a small, vicious animal that eats Mustangs.”

Shortly after the press conference, editors from major magazines were invited to the GM Proving Grounds for a hands-on driving experience, hot laps with professional drivers and briefing on all aspects of the Camaro. Dealers saw the Camaro for the first time in August, at the Chevrolet Sales Convention in Detroit. LIFE Magazine teaser ads appeared in early September. On September 25, the first Camaro ads appeared in national newspapers. On September 28, 1966, Chevrolet launched an unprecedented ad blitz consisting of newspapers, magazines, radio, television, outdoor and television advertising.

The very first Chevy Camaro television commercial can still be seen on YouTube. It features a white Camaro RS/SS with the distinctive bumble-bee nose band emerging from a volcano. The voice over proudly introduces “The fiery new Camaro from Chevrolet… something you’ve never seen before.”

Just prior to the official June 29th launch date, a press package with photos, specifications, and line stories were released to newspapers and magazines across the country. Over 100 members of the press were invited to participate in a gymkhana driving competition at the GM Proving Grounds. The same type of event was held one week later in Los Angeles. A group of editors were also selected to drive top-optioned Camaro RS/SS models from Detroit to their home cities so they could publish, “I drove it personally,” feature articles in their local newspapers. Finally, on September 29, 1966, the Chevrolet Camaro was released to the public.

Mustang’s two and a half year head start in the market did little blunt America’s eagerness to see the new Camaro. Chevy dealerships across the country were filled to overflowing with curious and willing buyers. Dealerships were issued special window trim, urged to black-out their windows and extend their showroom hours. Long lines formed to even glimpse the new vehicle. Those waiting in line were also more than willing to debate the merits of Mustang and the still unseen Camaro. It’s rumored that local police were often called help control the crowds.

Once inside dealerships in most metro areas, buyers were treated to not one but three Camaro models. Chevy made every effort to provide their largest dealers with a base sport coupe, Camaro RS and a Camaro SS convertible. The tactic was an extension of the creative approach used in Chevy’s national ads which showed all three Camaro models under a tag line, “How much Camaro you want depends on how much driver you want to be.”

The sticker price of $2,466 for a Camaro base coupe and $2,704 for a base convertible was fully competitive with Ford’s pricing of their 1967 Mustang models which was $2,461 for the standard coupe, $2,692 for a standard fastback and $2,898 for a standard convertible.

Taking a page from Mustang’s success in earning added profit from options and accessories, the Camaro could be ordered with nearly 80 factory options and 40 dealer accessories. Buyers could also option up to a larger 250-inch version of the standard straight six engine, a choice of 327-cubic-inch small-block V8s fed by either a two-barrel or a four-barrel carburetor and two versions of the 396-cubic-inch big-block V8. In order to keep the new Camaro from taking sales away from the Corvette, a corporate edict forbade equipping it with engines larger than 400 cid. Transmission options included a four-speed manual, a two-speed “Powerglide” and in late 1967 the new three-speed “Turbo Hydra-Matic 350”.

The first 1967 Camaro built at the Norwood, Ohio, plant had a VIN ending in N100001; the first built at the Van Nuys, California, plant had a VIN ending in L100001. The 1967 Camaro was the only model year to have its VIN tag mounted on the door hinge pillar. VIN tags on later models were moved so they would be visible through the windshield. 1967 was the only model year to feature side vent windows. 1968 saw the introduction of a fresh-air inlet system called Astro Ventilation. The bumblebee nose stripe included in the SS package also became available as a separate option in March 1968.

As factory-fresh Camaros rolled off the assembly lines at Norwood and Van Nuys, the Chevy team worked just as hard to keep Camaro in the public eye. Camaro, in fact, was chosen as the Official Pace Car for the 1967 Indianapolis 500. A white Camaro RS convertible with a 396 V8 engine, not normally available for that package, and a distinctive blue bumble-bee stripe around the nose paced the field. Over 100 special reproductions of the pace car were also produced as promotional vehicles for Chevy dealerships across the country.

A total of 41,100 new Camaro’s were registered in the 1966 calendar-year and an additional 204,862 in 1967. Ford, on the other hand, sold almost a half million Mustangs in 1967. Still, the battle lines were drawn. Chevy knew they had a winner and devised a bold strategy. If they couldn’t beat Mustang on the showroom floor, they would at least beat it at the track. And while GM wasn’t officially into racing, that didn’t stop Chevrolet engineers from developing the Z/28, one of the most potent and powerful performance packages of all time. But, that’s still another story.

Why Many People Love The 2015 Ford Mustang

The new Ford Mustang is actually the latest model that promises to deliver even bigger and more memorable things. The famous automobile manufacturer has just released this new model. It is redesigned with a spectrum of colors such as Competition Orange, Triple Yellow, and Ingot Silver. The famed steed logoed car may look totally new but it still maintains the distinctive soul of the Mustang.

As what many car enthusiasts say, the new Ford Mustang promises a dynamic driving experience with its perfectly placed shifter and perfectly engineered steering wheel. The 5.0-liter V8 guarantees enhanced power, while the turbocharged four-cylinder EcoBoost engine improves performance. Thanks to technology, today’s Mustang also comes with an advanced communications system and has the ability to detect cars in blind spots. And for disciples of the convertible, the new Ford Mustang now shifts to “topless” in half the time.

Many trusted car dealers and shops may still be highlighting Ford’s other models such as the ever so popular F150, Focus, and Escape, but you might want to check out some blogs online for updates on when the dealership may be getting the redesigned and reinvented Mustang – so you can immediately get your hands on one. Aside from the design updates and tech tweaks, the new Ford Mustang has also been engineered to satisfy both the drag racer and the road trip warrior.

The over-the-top action flick known as “Fast and Furious” may have used the 1967 Mustang, but the 2015 Mustang’s Line Lock may just find this well-known model figuring in future, action-packed car scenes in other movies.

The Line Lock allows you to keep front tires locked while rear tires freely spin (to your drag racing heart’s content) and build traction. According to Ford, this nifty little feature will save racing enthusiasts from spending more money on modifying their Mustang.

Note, though, that the new burnout feature is designed for experienced racecar drivers only. However, if you would rather drive leisurely to more scenic roads instead of the dusty tracks with your handsome new Mustang, it will still deliver the maximum driving experience. If you need more interior and cargo space, though, you could check out the new Ford F150 while you’re taking a quick look at the new Mustang. Ford’s most popular truck has also undergone some pretty cool changes and additions, promising truck loving drivers everywhere a tougher, stronger, and more advanced F150. Now, you have better options and choices.