Ford Mustang forms the pillar of American automotive history. It is still in production and is the only original muscle car to remain in production even after four decades. Mustang was introduced in 1964. It was available in coupe and roadster body styles. The long hood and athletic body captured the imagination of car buyers. Initially, it was powered by a 2.8-litre OHV straight six cylinder engine that generated only 101 bhp. But later, it was powered by a 4.7-litre V8 engine that produced 217 bhp. Within just eighteen months of production, Ford had built one million Mustangs. The galloping horse badge was specially created for the Mustang. The car never claimed to have great looks, but its admirers loved the way it was. The original Ford Mustang costs very high in the classic car market.
The stylish Pontiac GTO made its debut when the muscle car era was just being initiated. It is from the club of earliest muscle cars of the world. The GTO shows an arrogant attitude with rumbling dual exhausts, a racy front hood with two scoops and a big V8 engine. The V8 engine occupies a neat 389 cubic inches under the hood thus it has a stylish long hood. Other additions to the car include a firmer suspension, fancy wheels, and abundant use of chrome accents. It also carries special 14-inch wheels with 6-inch wide rims and red stripe performance tyres. It was equipped with a 6.5-litre V8 engine that gives an output of 325 bhp and runs from 0-100 km/h in 7.7 seconds.
After witnessing the overwhelming success of the Ford Mustang, General Motors
introduced the Chevrolet Camaro in 1967. Camaro is slang in French for friend. For more than four decades, Camaro has been in the forefront of choice for many speed enthusiasts. The earlier models were available in coupe or convertible body styles. Critics opined that General Motors had equipped every engine in every Camaro with pushrod actuated valve design. The company never fitted the early Camaro with an overhead cam engine.
It was powered by a rugged 230 cubic inch straight six cylinder engine that generates 140 bhp. Camaro also had a huge list of options which included engine that produced up to 375bhp. A unique Z28 package, fitted in only few variants got 6.5-litre engine that offered 400 bhp. General Motors which had put a cap on engines above 6.6-litre capacity lifted it for Camaro to market the ultra-high-performance variant 7.0-litre engine producing 425 hp. Chevrolet Camaro is still under production in United States.
Soon the manufacturers started moving from the original style of muscle cars available to masses. The new muscle cars were bigger and more expensive. They were designed for exclusivity. Chrysler ventured into this segment under its brand Plymouth. Interestingly, Plymouth paid Warner Brother $ 50,000 to use the name roadrunner, a famous cartoon bird character. Plymouth insisting on taking the name as the new car was able to cover 1/4 mile in 13.5 seconds. The car was basically a stripped out machine with well-tuned suspension, brakes, and steering column. The base model was equipped with a 6.3-litre engine that produces a massive 335 bhp. Plymouth also offered a 7-litre Hemi engine which gives 425 bhp. It was one of the best engines of the muscle car era.
Dodge Challenger is one of the classic muscle cars that have now become a collector item. It was Chrysler's answer to the Ford's Mustang and Chevrolet's Camaro. The challenger was a potent combination of impressive horsepower and athletic pony car styling. People loved its handsome and rugged styling. When it arrived in 1970, the muscle car era was already on it peak. The challenger sported a long wheelbase, large dimensions and luxurious interior particularly aimed at wealthy American youngsters. In the first year of its launch, the Challenger received a 230 bhp, 3.7-litre engine on the base model. There were several other engine options like 5.6-litre, 6.3-litre, and the heavy 7-litre and 7.2-litre Hemi engines that churn out 425 bhp and 390 bhp, respectively.
Sadly, the hype stayed only for a year and by 1972, the sales started dropping as demand for muscle car dries out. The production of challenger stopped in1974. The challenger name has been revived in 2008 and it is now in production albeit without its muscle status.
Ford Fairlane Thunderbolt
The Fairlane, which borrows its name from the Henry Ford's estate, was fitted with an innovative lightweight 3.6-litre V8 engine. It was called the thunderbolt. Though the original Farilane cars began production in 50s, it was redesigned in mid 60s and was given a muscular look. Ford
designed Fairlane for drag racing which was fitted with a 7-litre V8 engine with four barrel carburetors. To increase performance it was given an acrylic glass windows and fiberglass hood/doors/fenders and front bumpers, which reduces weight. With the peppy engine, the car generates 500 bhp.
The thunderbolt was based on Fairlane 500, a two-door pillared sedan. It could accelerate from 0-100 in 6 seconds and achieves a top speed of 200 km/h. It was the fastest drag racing car ever produced. The size and weight of the car was increased in 1968 and 1970 which led to successive losses in race circuits. Only the first 11 Thunderbolt were painted in maroon, known as Vintage Burgundy by Ford and all the others models were available only in white.
The brand Oldsmobile exists no more but some of its products have left an unforgettable mark on speed enthusiasts. Following Pontiac, Oldsmobile, a brand under the General Motors umbrella, created a monstrous engine for a midsized car. It was hastily designed as a response to the Pontiac GTO. The 442 was initially introduced as new variant for the Cutlass and the F-85 models. The muscle car was equipped with the huge l5.4-litre engine that delivers 310 bhp.
It was named as 442 to denote the four barrel carburetor and four-speed manual transmission with twin exhausts. Special packages offered with it provide updated springs, excellent shock absorbers, and an anti-roll bar. The 442 was more European as it could go around corners easily unlike it straight line speedsters. The 442 could go from 0-100 km/h in 7.5 seconds and could achieve a top speed of 185.6 km/h. Oldsmobole sold only 2,000 cars of this model. When General Motors recommended unleaded petrol for the car in 1970, performance dropped and so did sales.