Memorable Models From The Golden Age Of Muscle Cars

The 1960s launched the golden era of muscle cars with every major manufacturer offering at least one model. Simply defined, muscle cars are coupes with long hoods, big engines, and a powerful stance, typically performance versions of standard models. The term “pony car” is sometimes used interchangeably with “muscle car,” but for this list, the usual Ford Mustang, Chevrolet Camaro, and Pontiac Firebird suspects are not included. 1. Ford Torino GT 1. Ford Torino GT Ford followed up the successful introduction of its Mustang pony car by releasing the Ford Torino in 1968. Based on the intermediate Ford Fairlane, the Torino was initially an upscale version of the Fairlane. Its Torino GT edition offered a standard 4.9-liter V-8 engine, but its 335-hp 7.0-liter V-8 propelled this coupe into muscle car territory. Known as the 428 Cobra Jet for its 428 cubic-inch engine, these models featured special red and chrome 428 badging to set them apart from other Torino GTs. Three- and four-speed manual transmissions and a three-speed automatic were available. Ford also made available a suspension package with heavy-duty shocks and a front stabilizer bar with this model. 2. Chevrolet Chevelle SS 2. Chevrolet Chevelle SS Introduced in 1964, the Chevrolet Chevelle was an intermediate-sized model sold in coupe, convertible, sedan, and station wagon body styles. Initially known as the Malibu SS, the Chevelle SS name was later separated from Malibu to create a distinct model line. In 1970, the Chevelle SS reached its peak performance level when it was equipped with a 7.4-liter (454 cubic inch) engine making 360 horsepower. A high output version of that engine made 450 horsepower, with just 4,475 copies produced for its lone model year. 3. Pontiac GTO 3. Pontiac GTO Analysts acknowledge that the Pontiac GTO was not the fastest muscle car nor did it excel in handling or in braking. What set the GTO apart is that it lifted Pontiac’s performance image; it was a showroom-ready stock model that the average person could buy and drive without modifying. Based on the Pontiac Tempest, the GTO’s 1964 introduction essentially launched the muscle car segment, a hard top coupe powered by a 389 cubic-inch (6.4-liter) V-8 engine. A three-speed floor-mounted manual transmission with a Hurst shifter was standard; a four-speed manual and a two-speed ST-300 automatic were optional. Metallic drum brake linings, a ride and handling package, and a limited-slip differential were available. 4. AMC AMX 4. AMC AMX General Motors, Ford, and the Chrysler Corporation have been long known as the “Big Three” automakers, representing the top American car manufacturers. By the 1960s, American Motors was the last of the surviving smaller US car companies. Despite its small size, AMC managed to field several memorable models including the AMX, its first muscle car. The AMC AMX was a shortened wheelbase version of the AMC Javelin, an intermediate coupe. Its shorter proportions and two-seat layout made it the poor man’s Corvette in some eyes, yet a surprisingly strong performer because of its light weight. Introduced in 1968, the AMC AMX was offered with four V-8 engine choices, the largest a 390 cubic-inch (6.4-liter) motor rated at 315 horsepower. A Borg-Warner four-speed manual transmission was standard, and each model was equipped with wider tires, special traction bars, and a dual exhaust system. Land speed racing legend Craig Breedlove set more than 100 records with the AMX, leading AMC to order a special run of 50 Craig Breedlove red, white, and blue editions to honor the driver. 5. Plymouth Barracuda

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