American Muscle Cars

How did muscle-car madness start?

Everyone seems to have a list of the best American muscle cars of all time and it is something that many people are passionate about.  I am going to jump in with my list of the top 5 muscle cars of all time.

Many enthusiasts feel that muscle cars got their start with the 1949 Oldsmobile Rocket 88. Others feel that the genre really ran from 1965 to about 1970 before losing out to high gas prices, more stringent exhaust emissions regulations and increasing costs of insurance.

What defines a muscle car? Although there isn’t an official definition, most experts can agree that it’s a smaller, 2-door, 4+ passenger car that is powered by a high-displacement engine typically found in a larger, full-size sedan.

Some purists will argue that pony cars, such as the Ford Mustang and Chevrolet Camaro, aren’t really muscle cars at all but I love them and I think they deserve a place in this list.

Car makers engineered muscle cars for straight-line speed, that inspired the occasional Saturday night drag race between traffic lights. Muscle cars were neither built nor sold in huge numbers but they were good bait and lured car buyers onto car lots where they would purchase more ordinary models. Here’s our list in model-year order.

1967 Pontiac GTO


Ignoring General Motors’ ban against putting large engines — anything over 330 cubic inches — into small cars, Pontiac place a 389-cubic-inch V-8 into its Tempest as an option called the GTO in 1964, according to  The response was so tremendous that the car won over GM executives and paved the way for a stable of Chevrolet, Oldsmobile, Buick and Pontiac muscle cars.

Because of its historic significance, the 1965 model could represent GTO on my list, but 1967 was the first full model year of availability with ram air through a functional hood scoop on the GTO. It was a 400-cubic-inch V-8, delivering 360 horsepower. Continue reading “American Muscle Cars”