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American Muscle Cars

Updated on June 15, 2016

If you were an American muscle car fan of the 1960s and 1970s, you had a lot to choose from. Muscle cars ruled the road back then and it didn’t matter whether you were a Mopar, Ford or Chevy muscle car fan, there was something for everyone. Just the sound of one coming down the road was enough for all of us kids to stop what we were doing to see what kind of car it was. Actually, not much has changed as I still do that today.

Mopar muscle cars like the Dodge Challenger, Plymouth Road Runner or Hemi 'Cuda shared the road with the Chevelle SS 396 and Camaro Z-28 among others. Of course Ford and Pontiac also had muscle cars that were equally as powerful. Below I have some photos and comments about three of my favorites during that time, the Pontiac GTO, the Dodge Super Bee and the Ford Mach 1.

American Muscle Cars - Pontiac GTO
American Muscle Cars - Pontiac GTO
American Muscle Cars - Pontiac GTO convertible
American Muscle Cars - Pontiac GTO convertible

Pontiac GTO

The original Pontiac GTO was built by the Pontiac Division of General Motors from 1964 to 1974 and is considered one of the classic muscle cars of the 60s and 70s. In the early years, the GTO (which stands for Gran Turismo Omologato) closely resembled the Pontiac Tempest/LeMans.

The first generation, starting in 1964 was an option package for the Pontiac LeMans. This package included a 389 cu. in. V8 with a four-barrel carburetor and dual exhaust. Among other things, the package also included a floor-shifted three-speed manual transmission with Hurst shifter, stiffer springs, hood scoops and GTO badges. You could spend more money and add a four-speed manual transmission, metallic drum brake linings, limited slip differential and a handling package, all of which increased performance. A GTO equipped with all the goodies would go from 0–60 MPH in 6.6 seconds and run the quarter mile in 14.8 seconds.

The GTO was restyled for 1965 with the car becoming a little longer and a little heavier. Rated power increased to 335 hp. More restyling came in 1966, where the GTO became a separate model, rather than an optional performance package. The GTO was restyled again in 1967. (Front disc brakes became an option in 1967) The GTO came in three body styles, hard top, convertible and sport coupe. GTO sales for 1967 were still a robust 81,722 cars. Pontiac promoted the GTO as the "GTO Tiger," but everybody I knew just called it the "Goat."

Pontiac GTO Collection

American Muscle Cars - Dodge Super Bee
American Muscle Cars - Dodge Super Bee

Dodge Super Bee

The Dodge Super Bee was a muscle car built by Dodge between the years 1968-1971. Even though the Super Bee was brought back in 2007 and subsequent years, it was not the same car to Mopar muscle car fans.

The original Super Bee was Dodge's low-priced muscle car and counterpart to Plymouth's Road Runner. Plymouth had already come out with the Road Runner (which was selling well) and that motivated the Dodge division of Chrysler to come out with a competitor. The first Super Bee was based on a 1968 Dodge Coronet convertible and was introduced at the 1968 Detroit Auto Show. The Super Bee got its name from the "B" Body designation given to Chrysler's midsized cars, such as the Dodge Coronet, Charger and Plymouth Road Runner.

Both the Dodge Super Bee and the Plymouth Road Runner were built by different divisions of the Chrysler Corporation (both competing to be the ("Chrysler Performance Division") and were very similar. The Super Bee was however, slightly longer and heavier. Among the other slight differences were that the Dodge came with fancier grille and taillight ornamentation and die cast chrome plated "Bee" medallions and of course, that cool stripe with the bee logo that wrapped around the tail of the car.

The Super Bee was also available with Hemi power (rated at 425 hp) a heavy-duty suspension, an optional Mopar four-speed manual transmission, and high-performance tires.

American Muscle Cars - Ford Mustang Mach 1
American Muscle Cars - Ford Mustang Mach 1

Ford Mustang Mach 1

The Mustang Mach 1 was a performance model built by Ford which had an original production run from 1969 through 1979.

The Ford Mustang premiered in 1964 as a sports car that was meant to attract younger buyers into Ford products. It wasn't long before Ford saw the need to create high performance Mustangs to compete with the Chevrolet Camaro and Pontiac Firebird. In 1969, the following factory performance Mustang models were available (Boss 302, 429, Shelby GT350, GT500 and the Mach 1).

The Mach 1 started with the fastback "Sports Roof" body and added other items such as a matte black hood with hood pins, chrome gas cap and wheels, optional chin and rear deck spoilers and more.

Standard equipment was a 351W Windsor motor with a 3 speed manual transmission, but you could also get a 390 cu. in. or 428 cu. in. Cobra Jet or Super Cobra Jet in its place. Standard on the Mach 1 was a nice looking but still cosmetic hood scoop. You could get the more functional "Shaker hood" which was an air scoop mounted directly to the top of the motor that would channel fresh air into the engine. The Mach 1 went on to break numerous USAC speed and endurance records at Bonneville.

Muscle Car Poll

Which of these three muscle cars is your favorite?

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Comments

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    • reagu profile image

      reagu 

      7 years ago from Los Angeles

      I've been partial to the Mustangs, but Cudas are worth a second look.

    • vietnamvet68 profile image

      vietnamvet68 

      8 years ago from New York State

      My opinion is that the 1970 SuperBee was the best muscle car, because i bought a 1970 Canary Yellow Super Bee when i returned from Vietnam. Best car i ever owned wish i had it today.

    • Juggergnost profile imageAUTHOR

      Juggergnost 

      8 years ago

      Thanks, Robert!

    • robert hoagland profile image

      robert hoagland 

      8 years ago

      good hub

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