To be called a muscle car, a vehicle must be rear-wheel drive, have a big, powerful engine and have been built in the United States in the 1960s and 70s. While the look and feel of a muscle car is instantly recognizable to most people, there are some that made an impact. Here are five of the most iconic American muscle cars.
- 1964 Pontiac Tempest GTO
Many consider this to be the first muscle car. In response to a General Motors ban on involvement in auto racing, engineers developed it as a way to preserve the company’s image as a leader in performance. They outfitted this family vehicle with a 389-cubic inches (cid)V8 engine that was capable of 325 hp. While other cars were faster and more powerful, this was the one that started it all.
- 1970 Chevrolet Chevelle LS6 SS 454
This car is perhaps one of the most recognizable and desirable muscle cars out there. Sometimes called “the king of the streets”, this model was outfitted with a 454-cid engine that could reach 450 hp.
- 1969 Dodge Charger R/T SE
Television buffs with recognize this one as “General Lee,” the car from the Dukes of Hazzard. It was also one of the more luxurious muscle cars ever made, with some models coming with leather seats, a sport steering wheel and other extras not available from competitors. It was luxurious under the hood as well, with its 375 hp 440-cid Magnun V8 engine.
- 1971 Plymouth Superbird 440
This distinctive looking car was designed to meet the NASCAR requirements of the day. Equipped with a standard 440-cid V8, it could be upgraded to a 425 hp Hemi V8 engine. While most of these cars didn’t make it to a racetrack, the trendsetting body made waves.
- 1970 Oldsmobile 4-4-2 W-30
In 1970, GM dropped its cap on engine sizes in order to keep up with the competition. This allowed Oldsmobile to make a 445-cid V8 standard on all 4-4-2s. The optional W-30 package was lighter than the base model and allowed the engine to reach 370 hp.
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