I know that many people have done similar posts on the best muscle cars ever. It’s generic. I DID NOT take any of their lists for this post! Since the Ford Mustang is 1 year away from 50, I thought that it would be nice to honor the Mustang and its competitors through the ages. Enjoy.
Since Ford broke created the muscle car segment in 1964 with the Mustang, there have been many other cars that have redefined the term of muscle car. Every car buff will crack a grin when he/she sees one of these muscle cars. Below the description of each car, you can drool over the picture of the car.
- 1964 Ford Mustang: The Ford Mustang created the muscle car segment. To this day, it is still a sales and performance leader. Plus, it’s got looks and heritage to back it up. You can’t beat the good ol’ formula of a big V8 engine mated to a manual transmission and rear-wheel-drive. Ford says that they might add their EcoBoost V6 to the Mustang. Whatever they do, I’m hooked!
- 1970 Buick GSX: A derivative of the already-amazing Buick GS, the GSX added crazy into the mix. It had a monstrously underrated 455-cubic-inch V8 engine that Buick rated at 360 horsepower and a thundering 510-lb-ft of torque. They say that such a car can never be built again. They’re right! Only 678 1970 Buick GSX were ever produced.
- 1968 Pontiac Firebird Coupe: If you think of the Pontiac Firebird, a bland, uninspired 1990s coupe comes to mind. If it’s not that, it’s the hood icons from the 1980s, right? But, the Firebird goes back to 1968, when the muscle car era was in full swing. It came with a bellowing 400-cubic-inch V8 that was good for at least 335 horsepower. Then, there were the small blocks. But, that’s another story for another time.
- 1969 Plymouth Roadrunner: The Plymouth Roadrunner was a cheaper, stripped-down sister to the Plymouth Superbird favored by Richard Petty. The 440 Six-Barrel Roadrunner models had no hubcaps and a lift-off fiberglass hood. Most hoods stayed off. That engine was almost as fast and nearly as powerful as the smaller, lighter, and more powerful 426 Hemi for which Mopar ruled the dragstrip with. The economical-yet-fast 383-cubic-inch small block was a good option for the budget-conscious. The car shown below is a 440 Six-Barrel Roadrunner in Mango Orange.
- 1970 Chevrolet Chevelle 454 SS: The Chevrolet Chevelle was already a fast car, but Chevy wanted to be the biggest, baddest, fastest, of them all. They shoehorned a 7.4 liter (454 cubic inch) V8 into the car. It made a totally bonkers 450 horsepower at 2000 RPM! It represented the limit of the horsepower wars. To this day, it is still the most powerful stock big-block engine ever made.
- 1965 Pontiac GTO: The Pontiac GTO scared the living daylights out of cops, Ford, Chevy, and Mopar. It was based on the already-quick Belvedere coupe. It weighed a scant 3500 pounds, it eventually offered a 455-cubic-inch engine, and it was fast. Scary fast. It ruled the streets until 1968, with the introduction of the Shelby GT500KR.
- 1969 Chevrolet Camaro COPO: COPO stands for Central Office Production Order, which is where all of the orders for the cars come into. To thank the tireless staff, Chevrolet built a Camaro that ruled the dragstrip well into the 1980s. It was street-legal, and only 69 were built. 27 owners returned them because they were too fast. Go figure. It had a 427-cubic-inch V8 under the hood.
- 1970 Plymouth Hemi Barracuda: The AAR Cuda was the fastest, with its walloping 426 Hemi V8 engine. It was offered with no less than FIVE high-horsepower engines, a four-speed manual transmission, and dragstrip times into the low 13-second range. While its nose-heavy weight distribution made for sketchy handling, nobody was digging their fingers out of the dashboard when they were going down the dragstrip (if you don’t know what I am talking about, watch Planes, Trains, and Automobiles!).
- 1970 Ford Mustang Boss 302: Ford wanted to beat Chevy in Trans-Am racing, so they had to build a car that would win. The size limit for the engine was 302 cubic inches, and Ford made use of every single cubic inch. It was grossly underrated at 290 horsepower, which matched the also-grossly-underrated 290 horsepower of the 1969 Chevrolet Camaro Z28. That was good for a 0-60 time under 7 seconds, and a quarter mile time of 14 seconds. While it wasn’t a COPO Camaro, it certainly was fast.
- 1969 Chevrolet Camaro Z28: Guaranteed to stir emotion in any automotive enthusiast’s heart, the Chevrolet Camaro Z28 was a total monster of a car. It had a 302-cubic-inch V8 that was severely underrated at 290 horsepower. While Chevy fans moaned and grieved about the new small-block V8, it sparked the fire that started the legendary 350 V8, and the slough of small-blocks after it. Little was left to be desired.
- 1969 Dodge Charger: If you don’t recognize the iconic 1969 Dodge Charger, then you simply didn’t see the Dukes of Hazzard in the 1980s. The earliest of the bad@#$ Chargers had the 440 Magnum V8 cranking out 375 horsepower. The 440 Magnum engine weighed half a ton by itself, but the car was so powerful that weight was of no worry…
- 1967 Shelby GT500: Essentially a factory-authorized tuner Mustang, the Shelby GT500 had a Ford Police Interceptor 428-cubic-inch V8 stuffed under the hood. It was one of the fastest cars of its day on the dragstrip and the roads. A version of the GT500 was used for Gone in 60 Seconds.
- 1970 Ford Mustang Boss 429: The costliest Ford at the time that wasn’t a Shelby was the Mustang Boss 429. Ford wanted an engine to use for NASCAR, so they had to build at least 1,000 cars with that engine for homologation reasons. The car was perfect for races such as the Daytona 500.
- 1966 Shelby Cobra 427 S/C: Quite possibly the rarest Shelby ever made, the Cobra 427 S/C was a twin-turbocharged version of the already-speedy Cobra 427. It made an estimated 480 horsepower at the wheels. One was made for Bill Cosby. The other was made for Carroll Shelby, the man who invented a legend. Bill Cosby sold his because it was too fast. Its next owner put it into a lake at 130 mph. Shelby’s was sold in 2007 for a massive $5.5 million. The Cobra S/C shown is Shelby’s Cobra S/C.
- 1968 Chevrolet Corvette L88: The L88 was an engine destined for NASCAR. It made 550 horsepower. Chevy had to build at least 1,000 cars for homologation purposes. They ended up building over 8,000.
- 1970 AMC Javelin Rebel Machine: While AMC is best known for the Gremlin and the AMX, the Javelin Rebel Machine was one screaming machine! The engine was the standard AMC 390-cubic-inch V8. For just $500, you could get over 400 horsepower and a quarter mile time in the high 12-second range.
- 1970 Pontiac GTO Judge Ram Air IV: The Pontiac GTO was already a speedy car, but buyers wanted more. Pontiac came out the the GTO Judge, which packed a 455-cubic-inch V8 into a stylish car. It was scary fast, beautiful, loud, and amazing. Now, it’s time to move on to the modern muscle cars…
- 2013 Ford Mustang GT500: The Mustang GT500 has been a staple of epic burnouts and horsepower. The 2013 Mustang GT500 makes 662 horsepower from a supercharged, 5.8-liter V8. It goes to 60 in a scant 4.0 seconds. Ford claims that the GT500 can go 200 mph. Motor Trend got the GT500 all the way to a ridiculous 197 mph. But, given a long, flat, straight piece of road, there is no doubt that the GT500 will go 200 or more. I’m sensing my readers setting something up (hint, hint!).
- 2000 Ford Mustang Cobra R: The Ford Mustang Cobra R showed the world that the 1960s were NOT a bygone era. It was fast, and it looked like it was straight out of Fast & Furious! It packed a walloping 385 horsepower and 385 lb-ft of torque from a 5.4-liter V8. That meant that it has one of the best exhaust notes you’ll ever hear! It’s still one of the most capable American cars to ever hit the road.
- 2002 Pontiac Firebird WS-6 Trans Am: After 35 years, the Pontiac Firebird and Trans Am models flared out. However, they weren’t going to go out without a bang. It made up to 345 horsepower from an all-aluminum engine, and it looked speedy. Had GM not killed Pontiac in 2009, it is highly likely that the Firebird would have been sold alongside the Chevrolet Camaro.
- 2004 Mercury Marauder: They say that rugby is a hooligan’s sport played by gentlemen. I don’t doubt them. The Mercury Marauder was the fastest American sedan of its day. It gave out an ominous appearance, and it was adequately fast for the average grandparent. Thanks to the bench seats, limited-slip differential, and the aluminum driveshaft and upgraded transmission, it was the last cool Mercury built before Mercury was axed in 2011.
- 2007 Dodge Charger Super Bee: A homage to the rumbling kings of the track from the 1970s, the 2007 Dodge Charger Super Bee didn’t disappoint. It was a souped-up SRT8 model, which meant that it had the 6.1-liter Hemi V8 engine that produced a mighty 425 horsepower. It only came in one paint scheme: Detonator Yellow with Marauder Black. Other versions were sold in 2008 and 2009, but Yellow/Black is the only way to go for a speedy muscle car, right?…
- 2012 Dodge Challenger SRT8: The Dodge Challenger has long held a special place in my heart. Why? Because it looks amazing, it’s fast, and it’s loud. It offers exclusivity, speed, comfort, power, and an unforgettable exhaust note. Plus, there’s 24 paint schemes to choose from. Then, there’s the pinstriping that Dodge offers.
- 2008 Dodge Magnum SRT8: Exclusivity? Check. Speed? Check. Looks? Check. While the Dodge Magnum was a Dodge Charger station wagon, it never quite lived up to its name. That is, until Dodge took the Charger SRT8 and turned it into the Magnum SRT8. If you want to embarrass your neighbor who thinks he’s cool because he owns a Camaro SS, take him to the dragstrip and challenge him to get to 60 mph before you. He won’t.
- 2009 Ford Mustang Bullitt: If you watched the Steve McQueen movie, Bullitt, then you’re probably wishing that your significant other will get you a Mustang that looks and handles like the one used in the film. He/she shouldn’t spend a lot of money on a bad-handling old Mustang that sounds good and looks cool. Well, they should, but the 2009 Mustang Bullitt will always hold a place in any Ford Mustang enthusiast’s heart. It’s 4.6-liter V8 gave 15 more horsepower to the driver, it had absolutely no badges on it, and it was painted Highland Green, just like the original.
- 2010 Chevrolet Camaro SS: The Chevrolet Camaro SS may have vision that is worse than a bunker with no windows, but it looks cool, it’s fast, and it can embarrass a lot of fancier, more expensive cars around a track (in some versions). The manual SS has 426 horsepower from a slightly detuned Corvette LS3 engine. If you want even more exterior/interior styling, get one with the RS package. It adds cool lights to the headlights, it has unique rally-style gauges, and it’s a bit faster.
- 2013 Chevrolet Camaro SS 1LE: Quite possibly the best-handling Camaro…ever. The Chevrolet Camaro SS 1LE is a track-day monster that can be driven every day. Easily, happily, and quietly. It starts off as the Camaro SS, but it then adds the 1LE performance package, which adds wheels and brakes from the ZL1, and various suspension bits from the Corvette ZR1.
That’s all, folks!