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The 1960s and 1970s birthed the American muscle car scene, a beloved American pastime for many who enjoy learning in regards to the different car specs and a hobby for collectors who can afford it. This period of energy created some of the rarest and most iconic muscle vehicles packing large torque-rich V8s the world has ever seen.
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Today, some muscle vehicles could be found for comparatively reasonably priced prices—although they’ll doubtless want plenty of TLC (like this ’66 Barracuda for $5,500). Mint-condition models are one other story; among the many most costly muscle automobiles ever bought are a 1967 L88 Corvette Convertible, 1971 Hemi Cuda Convertible 4-Speed, a 1967 Chevrolet Corvette L88 2-Door Coupe, and a 1962 Shelby Cobra CSX2000 which sold for $3.2 million, $3.5 million, $3.eighty five million, and a whopping $13.seventy five million, respectively.
Emissions and other laws would tame muscle cars in the Nineteen Eighties, but these aging beasts of the highway still come with some surprising stories as well as some surprising horsepower—and, as always, total badassery.
Got a need for speed? Check out these auto stories from Popular Mechanics:
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The Barracuda is a badass journey with the power to go from zero to 60 in lower than 10 seconds because of its 235-hp engine. Although there are fairly a quantity of first-generation muscle vehicles that are tough to come up with now, the ’66 Barracuda isn’t certainly one of them.
Hemmings reports that the first-gen Barracuda can be obtained “with relative ease.” Barracudas are distinctive in look due to their heavy, low profiles and the massive rear window that lends a futuristic look to this classic.
First-gen Barracudas had been modified versions of the Plymouth Valiant—sometimes they have been even known as Valiant Barracudas—and had weaker engines (for a muscle automotive at least) that ran on lower than 150 hp.
Fast Fact: There’s a difference between a Barracuda and a ’Cuda, with the latter being extra of a performance automobile. The ’Cuda first appeared in 1969 and featured a 330-hp engine.
The legendary 1965 Mustang Shelby GT350 was a severe high- efficiency machine. In reality, some buyers that very first year felt these automobiles have been slightly too hardcore, and on the identical time Shelby was on a rampage to chop costs. So for 1966, Shelby changed, deleted, or made elective some of the car’s signature high-performance options just like the adjustable Koni shocks, the fiberglass hood, free-flowing (and loud) aspect exhaust retailers, and that totally locking Detroit Locker rear differential.
Fast Fact: But if you checked the nice print, there was a Paxton supercharger option out there for 1966. The $700 possibility was claimed to boost the 289 cid V8’s 306-hp output by 46 p.c. That’s most likely a bit generous, however it was nonetheless a wonderful energy enhancer. But the supercharger cost practically 1 / 4 of the car’s unique price ticket and just 12 prospects have been willing to pay. Ford Mustang Shelby GT500
The first two years of Carroll Shelby’s Mustangs are the most desirable to many Mustang purists. Those 1965 and 1966 GT 350s have been light, merely styled, and ideal for track work. But the later 1967 and 1968 cars supplied extra fun underneath the hood and have been the machines of choice when you needed to win drag races.
For the first time, ’67 to ’68 GT 500 Shelbys got here with 355-hp, 428-cubic-inch big-block energy under the hood. Car testers of the day noticed quarter-mile time slips within the mid-to-low 14-second bracket—quick for the day. The Shelby Mustangs received extra scoops and flashier styling than the older vehicles to match the newfound power and torque. And the even faster KR (King of the Road) high-performance model was out there in 1968 too.
Fast Fact: The 1967 Shelby Mustangs used Mercury Cougar tail lamps, however the 1968 models used lamps from the ’66 Ford Thunderbird.
Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Redeye
This beast is essentially the most highly effective Challenger Dodge makes. The base 2020 model (pictured) will set you again about $70,000 to start. Dodge introduced the Challenger in 1969, with Hellcat being introduced a lot later in 2015.
The Redeye packs a powerful punch and can breeze by way of a quarter mile in 10.8 seconds. And once we say highly effective, we mean highly effective; the Redeye weighs in at a whopping four,514 pounds, but continues to be capable of haul ass, due to a 797-hp engine. The finest part? You get the beautiful look of a classic automobile with fashionable amenities and features we all know and love.
Fast Fact: Challengers remain beloved among newbie and lifelong automotive fanatics alike. The most precious models are the ones produced between 1970 and 1974, with some being sold upwards of six figures. Not too shabby for an organization that began as a bicycle producer. ½ Dodge Super Bee A12
The Super Bee was essentially a high-performance version of the Dodge Coronet. In 1968, the ‘Bee came standard with a 383-cid V8 or the legendary monster 426-cid Hemi. But halfway by way of the 1969 mannequin year, Dodge made the 440-cid Six-Pack (three two-barrel carburetors) out there. Known internally as option code A12, it wore a matte-black, lift-off fiberglass hood with a massive forward-facing scoop.
The A12 Super Bee produced 390 hp and a ridiculously potent 490 lb-ft of torque. And that occurred to be identical torque spec as the Hemi. So, you acquired nearly the same thrust in a extra streetable package—and at a cheaper price, too.
Fast Fact: The Six-Pack-equipped A12 Super Bees went through final meeting by an outside vendor called Creative Industries in Detroit. The first one hundred had been constructed as 383 Coronets at the Chrysler Assembly Plant after which shipped to Creative for 440 Six-Pack engine set up along with a few of the A12-specific features. And the first one hundred of those big-block engines have been equipped with Edelbrock aluminum consumption manifolds. After the engines obtained common manufacturing status, they have been fitted on the plant with Chrysler-cast aluminum intakes. Baldwin-Motion Phase III GT Corvette
Baldwin-Motion was the primary Corvette tuner, and the machines that firm created have been legendary. Baldwin Chevrolet, a supplier in Baldwin, New York, would ship new Corvettes to Joel Rosen’s Motion Performance pace shop down the highway for modifications. Motion would build these serial-production specialty Corvettes to order. It was Rosen’s dream in late 1968 to build a model new, fast, and functional all-American GT sports activities car.
The sensuously styled Phase III GT was a stunner. It had a singular fastback rear window, a efficiency suspension, and as much as 600 dyno-tuned horsepower from both a 427-cid or 454-cid big-block V8s. Although one Motion ’Vette did obtain a smaller LT1-spec 350-cid V8.
Fast Fact: When the daddy of the Corvette, chief engineer Zora Arkus-Duntov, caught wind of their operation, it could have been bad news for Motion. Instead, when Duntov first noticed the GT at its launch on the 1969 New York International Auto Show, he gave the machine his blessing. According to Marty Schorr, who labored intently with Rosen on the cars, Duntov stated, “I actually like your Corvette, Joel. Unfortunately, we can’t do what you do.” Only 12 have been constructed between 1969 and 1971.
Mr. ChoppersWikimedia Commons
The AMX/3 was a stunningly cool, mid-engined unique. Its development was a global collaborative effort between an AMC team led by Dick Teague (head of design), ItalDesign, Italian engineer Giotto Bizzarrini, and even some work was carried out by BMW. The three,300-pound sports activities automotive was powered by an AMC 390-cid V8 that packed 340 hp and was backed by a four-speed handbook. It could reportedly accelerate to 60 mph in simply over 5 seconds and high one hundred seventy mph—solid numbers for the time.
But the machine by no means formally made it to AMC showrooms, partially because of cost. It would have required a sticker price reportedly near $15,000 and just some thousand dollars shy of Lamborghini’s Miura.
Fast Fact: Six prototypes were of this car have been built (plus a rumored seventh elements car) and a few of them ended up in non-public garages. These surviving AMX/3s look extra like production vehicles than prototypes. And one of them offered at an public sale in 2017 for almost $900,000.
Mr. ChoppersWikimedia Commons
The third generation of America’s sports automobile, the Corvette, had an incredibly long term: 1968 to 1982. So when it came time for GM to launch the next-generation C4 Corvette, there was wild hypothesis concerning the automotive. Some predicted it will use a mid-engine chassis, like an Italian exotic. And others thought it would use a rotary engine, like Mazda’s.
In the end, the next Corvette wasn’t radical. It still had a small-block Chevy V8 up front driving the rear wheels. That first yr, it cranked out a meager 205 hp. But after a switch to a new, tuned port fuel-injection system in later years, horsepower jumped—and so did performance. Five years later, Chevy debuted the primary ultra-performance Corvette for the explanation that Nineteen Sixties: the 375-hp ZR-1.
Fast Fact: There is no manufacturing 1983 Corvette. Although 1982 was the final year for the third-generation Corvette, Chevy determined to wait until the 1984 mannequin yr to launch the all-new automobile. Why? Some sources claim tighter emissions laws necessitated more time for development. Others say high quality glitches at the factory have been the actual purpose. All we know is each 1983 Corvette prototype was destroyed, besides one: a white car that now lives at the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Kentucky. Dodge Charger Daytona
The 1969 Dodge Daytona and its sibling, the 1970 Plymouth Superbird, are arguably the most radical vehicles to emerge from the muscle automobile wars. But the Daytona, as the name may counsel, wasn’t designed for street racing. It was built to win Nascar races on the superspeedways—the longest and quickest tracks.
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To increase top velocity, engineers took the Charger to the wind tunnel. The aerodynamic modifications to the big Dodge included a nearly 2-foot-tall rear wing, a flush rear window, and a longer, sloped nostril cone. The results have been impressive. The race model of the Daytona grew to become the primary car in Nascar historical past to interrupt 200 mph. After numerous Dodge wins in 1969 and a few by Plymouth in 1970, Nascar’s new rulebook banned these vehicles. The manufacturing vehicles, which got here packing a 440 big-block or the legendary 426 Hemi, are sought-after collector vehicles right now that deliver greater than $150,000 at auctions.
Fast Fact: The Daytona’s aerodynamic modifications over these of a standard Charger helped lower the coefficient of drag to 0.28—an excellent figure even by today’s requirements. But did that massive rear wing really have to be so tall to maximise rear-end downforce? According to legend, no. The reason for the exaggerated height of the wing was so that the trunk lid on the manufacturing automobiles may move beneath it and absolutely open. Pontiac Catalina 2+2
Greg GjerdingenWikimedia Commons
The high-performance GTO model of Pontiac’s Tempest is regarded in plenty of circles as the original muscle automotive, and it added some critical heat to the automaker’s lineup for 1964. The following year, Pontiac decided to work that same magic on its bigger cars by dropping a 338-hp, 421-cid V8 into the all-new massive body Catalina to create the 2+2 performance model. It was a terrible name, however a beastly machine, especially should you spent a couple of extra bucks and upgraded to the 421 H.O. which made 376 hp. The 2+2 famously used broad, eight-lug hubs and included a beefier suspension, bucket seats, a Hurst shifter, and particular badging.
Fast Fact: The high-performance automobiles Pontiac equipped to the automotive press through the Sixties were sent to Royal Pontiac in Royal Oak, Michigan, earlier than landing in writers’ arms. Royal was a dealership, nevertheless it was additionally a tuning shop that supplied Pontiac-approved pace parts for its shoppers. And it’s likely a few of the finest components ended up on these Pontiacs as a result of the Catalina 2+2 that was tested by Car and Driver at the time couldn’t solely hit 60 mph in three.8 seconds and cost via the quarter-mile in 13.8 seconds, nevertheless it was faster round a observe than the Ferrari the journal utilized in that comparison test. It’s secure to say no factory-equipped Catalina 2+2 may repeat that feat with out some Royal pace components.
The 442 (which will get its name from its four-barrel carburetor, four-speed handbook, and dual exhausts) was based on the Cutlass and have become the hot muscle machine for the Oldsmobile division. It shared its platform with two other scorching GM machines, the Chevy Chevelle SS and the Pontiac GTO. And like the GTO, the 442 was solely a trim degree firstly. But by 1970, you can get a huge 455-cid big-block V8. And when equipped with the much more potent W30 parts, the motor made 360 hp and a whopping 500 lb-ft of torque. It might hit 60 mph in less than 6 seconds, which was very quick for the time—especially for an Olds.
Fast Fact: Actor James Garner raced a beefed-up 1970 Olds 442 in the NORRA Mexico a thousand (a precursor to the Baja 1000), where it won second in school. The Goodyear Grabber, because it was recognized, was built by legendary Baja-race-vehicle guru Vic Hickey and sponsored by Goodyear tires. The automobile was lately restored and put up on the market. Pontiac Firebird Trans Am
By the late Nineteen Seventies, muscle automobile performance was a mere shadow of what it had been years earlier. The newest emissions controls, mixed with high gasoline prices and stratospheric insurance coverage prices, brought on most automakers to severely dial back horsepower.
But not Pontiac. The Trans Am had been using a new wave of recognition since its starring function within the movie Smokey and the Bandit. For the 1978 mannequin 12 months, Pontiac added to the excitement by truly growing the horsepower of its top-level Trans Am from 200 to 220. The brand additionally developed a particular handling bundle known as the WS6 that added a sport-tuned suspension, wider 8-inch wheels, new tires, and quicker steering. The outcome was a Pontiac Trans Am that was truly quicker and dealt with better around a monitor than the Chevy Corvette.
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Fast Fact: The Pontiac’s T-top roof, which first grew to become an choice in 1976, was as shut as a purchaser might get to a convertible Trans Am. These lift-out roof sections have been initially made by Hurst and have been often identified as the Hurst Hatch. The downside was, they leaked. This led Pontiac to develop its personal T-tops within GM’s Fisher physique division and launch the option halfway via the 1978 model year. So some ’78 Firebirds have Hurst T-tops and others have the Fisher items. You can spot the distinction as a outcome of the Fisher glass roof panels are larger than the Hurst Hatch ones. Ford Mustang Boss 429
In the late Nineteen Sixties and early Nineteen Seventies, Nascar was in its golden age. Automakers took the enterprise of stock-car racing seriously and would dream up engines and bodywork for racing that have been usually too wild for the road. All the automakers needed to do was promote 500 of these radical cars they usually could run them in Nascar.
The Boss 429 Mustang was such a beast. Although the Mustang didn’t compete in Nascar, the 375-hp, 429-cid V8 under its hood was designed specifically for racing and built to rev to 6000 rpm. The downside was, this motor did not carry out well on the street. It was slower than the other big-block Mustangs at the time.
The Nascar-bound V8 was monstrously giant and did not fit in a inventory Mustang’s engine bay. So Ford contracted Kar Kraft in Brighton, Michigan, to deal with the job. The firm relocated the shock towers, widened the track of the entrance finish utilizing unique componentry, relocated the battery to the trunk, and fitted a smaller brake booster—all to make room for this beastly power plant to fit in the Mustang. Today, the rarity and mystique behind the Boss 429 has pushed values at auction well beyond $200,000.
Fast Fact: Therewere really three totally different 429 engines installed within the Boss 429 between ’69 and ’70. The hardcore “S-Code” was put in in early automobiles and crammed with race-duty parts. But the S-Code had warranty issues, reportedly due to an incorrect assembly process. So the “T-Code” with lighter-duty elements was utilized in some cars. The later “A-Code” model of the 429, outfitted with smog tools and a brand new valvetrain, appeared towards the end of production.
When GM relaxed its longstanding rule forbidding engines larger than four hundred cid to be installed in midsize cars, it set off a muscle frenzy throughout the company’s divisions. Oldsmobile put the large 455-cid into its 442, and Chevy put in a unique 454-cid V8, the LS6, into its Chevelle SS.
A conservative estimate of the LS6’s power places it at 450 hp and 500 lb-ft of torque. But thanks to its high eleven.25:1 compression ratio and giant Holley 780 CFM carb, the LS6’s actual output in the Chevelle SS was closer to 500 hp, many experts claim. Our friends at Car and Driver examined one in 1970 and found it hit 60 mph in just 5.four seconds, working via the quarter-mile in 13.eight seconds. And that was with the skinny low-grip tires of the day; that very same car with trendy rubber could be a lot quicker. The LS6 carries the best factory horsepower ranking of all muscle automobiles.
Fast Fact: The Chevrolet Corvette has at all times been Chevy’s high efficiency car. And up until the LS6, GM wouldn’t enable some other Chevy to carry a horsepower rating larger than that of the Corvette. But somehow that stance was relaxed for 1970; the highest horsepower engine you can get in a 1970 Corvette was a 390-hp LS5 454. An LS7 was deliberate with 465 hp, however it was by no means officially bought. So why no LS6? An LS6 Corvette was offered for 1971, however its potency slipped (at least officially) to 425 hp.
Pontiac owned the muscle scene within the early Sixties. In fact, the 1964 Pontiac GTO is widely regarded as the very first of the breed. But by 1968, that automotive had plenty of competition. The thought within Pontiac was to make a less expensive model of the GTO with a smaller 350-cid engine called the ET (for “elapsed time”), a drag-racing term.
Pontiac boss John DeLorean didn’t like that idea. To him, no GTO may have an engine that small. Instead, the staff built a automotive one step up from the common GTO. DeLorean himself named the car after a popular skit on the TV present Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In. The Judge featured the 360-hp Ram Air III engine standard, but consumers may also go for the extra hardcore 370-hp Ram Air IV. The rarest of all had been the GTO Judge Ram Air IV convertibles—only five have been in-built 1969.
Fast Fact: The authentic TV industrial for the Judge featured the rock band Paul Revere and the Raiders singing in regards to the GTO out on a dry lakebed. According to the guide Pontiac Pizazz, by Jim Wangers and Art Fitzpatrick, the lead singer, Mark Lindsay, was a car man and beloved the Judge, so he wrote a music about it. Wangers claims this business is taken into account one of many earliest rock-music movies.
Chevrolet’s Central Office Production Order (COPO) system was designed for fleet gross sales; it was supposed to spec out heavy-duty suspensions for cop vehicles and stain-proof interiors for taxicabs. But enterprising sellers with the right connections, such as Yenko Chevrolet in Pennsylvania, discovered that Camaros might be ordered this manner, too. And given the best order codes, the vendor could spec out a fire-breathing monster of a Camaro that Chevy didn’t really want you to own.
The production order 9561 specified a 427 big-block V8 rated at 425 hp—just like a Corvette. But the even rarer COPO 9560 referred to as for an all-aluminum ZL V-8. Though this engine was rated with simply 5 extra hp, it was widely identified that this race-spec engine delivered more like 550 hp. Only sixty nine ZL-1 Camaros were constructed, and these automobiles command prices in the $400,000 range at an public sale.
Fast Fact: The aluminum ZL V-8 in the 9560 COPO Camaro is essentially a race engine. Chevy originally developed this 427 motor for the Chaparral racing team to make use of within the Can Am collection. There are no exterior emblems on a ZL-1 Camaro that let you know what’s under the hood—only plain-vanilla Camaro badges.
Long after the big-block V8-powered muscle automobiles of the 1960s and Seventies went, Buick brought again some of that magic in the 1980s. The Buick GNX, primarily based on the Grand National (which is itself a hot-rod model of the Regal coupe), was outfitted with a potent, turbocharged V6. The GNX bundle brought the Grand National’s horsepower from 245 up to 276. Car and Driver examined one in 1987 and recorded a 0-to-60-mph time of just four.6 seconds, making it one of the quickest vehicles on the market. Buick made only 547 of these black beasts. Many have been squirreled away into storage as investments.
Fast Fact: Buick had quite a number of of those engines left over when it stopped production of the GNX—so Pontiac picked up the turbo V6s and put them in the th Anniversary Trans Am. It was conservatively rated at simply 250 hp, however true GM fanatics knew the potential that lay underneath the hood of that Trans Am.