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Is American Muscle Making a Run Again?

Updated on June 24, 2011


Remember some of the classic muscle cars from the 60’s and 70’s that stand as the icon of times. Well if you don’t or you are too young you are still in luck as many of these cars have outlasted time. Others have taken the name up to new generations still in production. How do these new models stack up to their predecessors from 40 years ago? The following are five muscle cars of the new generation that, unlike the Malibu that became a lame mid-size and the GTO that stopped production in 2006, these have brand new models rolling out now. Some may have taken short breaks between production but how many great cars were made in the 80s and 90s anyway?

Chevy Camaro

The Chevrolet Camaro is one of the classic muscle cars so popular that the good condition classics are worth up to 20 times their original cost. The Camaro brand was first released in 1966 as a rival to the also very popular high selling Ford Mustang, as Chevy told reporters that a Camaro is “a small, vicious animal that eats Mustangs”. This model lasted over 5 generations, taking only 7 years off this decade before racing back into the market. Did that time prove beneficial?

First Generation: The first generation released in the late 60’s entered the market of the pony cars and muscle cars in style. Arguably one of the most recognizable cars even today, this car was a classic 2 door 2+2 seating, convertible or coupe. It was made to replace the not so safe Corvair that was not standing up to the Mustang. The SS includeda 350 cu. in. (5.7 L) V8 and the Z/28 featured the 302 cu. in. (4.9 L) V8 with 290 HP, within the regulations of the Trans Am series. Between the Z/28, SS, and RS, a total of 221,306 cars were produced in 1967. The base price was about $2,500 and are estimated to get anywhere between 12 to 15 MPG.

Fifth Generation: In 2009, Chevy, on the heels of a government bailout and bankruptcy of GM, rereleased the classic Camaro. This new model, with a 220 cu. in. (3.6 L), 312 HP engine is a sportier design upgrade to the fourth generation model. It efficiently attainsthis power on 17 MPG city and 28 MPG highway. The base price of this model is $22,805 and the car posts a 0-60 time of about 4.2 seconds. Whether you like the new changes or you just prefer the classics, the technology that comes with the new models is still amazing. Along with hands free blue tooth, turn-by-turn navigation, and a USB port, the company also boasts their new Head-Up Display (HUD). The HUD projects the speed, RPM, radio station and more on the windshield and comes standard on the 2LT and 2SS models. If you like the classics all these gadgets and under-hood filling technology may seem like its taking away from the car, but this is how the fifth generation rides in safety and comfort.

Ford Mustang

The pioneer of the muscle car trend, the Ford Mustang has been a major icon of the American Dream. Originally released in 1964, based on the Ford Falcon, this powerhouse never looked back, as production has continued through thelast57 years. Started as a pony car, it attained the muscle standard in 1971. The Mustang led the way through the 60’s and 70’s as the muscle and pony cars, with the long hoods and shorter rear decks, that was merely followed by others. With the new release of the fifth generation, how does this pony gallop alongside its grandfathers?

First Generation: The beginning of a legend. The first generation of Mustangs lastedfrom 1964 to 1973 when production shifted directions amidst the gas crisis but spanning the legendary years between ’67 and ’72. Between 1964 and 1970, about 2,000,000 of these cars were sold. The first cars came with a 170 cu. in. (2.8 L) straight 6, basing around $2368 and posting about 106 horses, 105 horsepower engine and one Mustang logo on the grill. The notorious 1969 Mustang held a 302 cu. in. (4.9 L) V8, casing 220 HP. With options, the ‘69 could hold up to 375 in the Boss model. The base price for this year was around $3500.

Fifth Generation: With a new president comes change, and with change comes a bigger,badder engine for the Mustang. The 2012 model engine comes with a power packed efficient V6, or the street tearing 5.0 V8. The V6 model top 305 HP with an incredible 31 MPG highway and 19 city. The V8 orders a whopping 412 HP, with 390 lb-ft ortorque and still 26 MPG highway. Whichever model you choose you are guaranteed to feel the power of American without the pinch of gas prices. Maybe this new model is walking in some tall shoes, but with HP in the fours and MPG still above 25, we may just have a new classic.

Dodge Charger

That thing got a Hemi? The power pack of Dodge was awesome then and its back! The Charger was one of Dodge’s best drag racing, road scorching, power packed machines. Known for its role in the Dukes of Hazard, this monster could win any race it needed, whether the Hazard County Derby or a race with a few police. Unfortunately, between generation uno and the last generation, there hasn’t been much impressive from the Charger, but it’s back guns a-blazing.

First Generation: The first generation was released in 1966 and lasted until 1978, basedon the B-Body. Over that span it managed to really pack the punch when it came to power. The ’69 model came with a 318 cu. in. (5.2 L) 375 HP engine on the standard, but the 426 Hemi upgrade brought that up to 425 HP if you really had the balls. This upgrade only cost an addition $650, not much more than the cost to add the bird decal to a firebird back then, but for a much better return on investment. The base price of the Charger was $4,641, and 89,200 were produced.

Third Generation: From police getaway car to police car? To the dark side? That’s right, the new Dodge Charger is the newest cadet in many local and state police forces, and for good reason. The 2011 model packs about 300 HP in a fuel sipping V6, getting 27MPG highway and 18 city. It can accelerate from 0 to 60 in just under 6 seconds and costs only about $25,395 base. That’s cool an all, but if you’re in the market for some new muscle, check out the 2012 Charger. The new SRT8 features a 6.4 L Hemi V8, packing 465 HP and lb.-ft. of torque. Even better, it has a better MPG than the previous 2011 model with its new Fuel Saver Technology that goes down to 4 cylinders when not all 8 are needed. In addition, the new model has some new body features, especially noticeable in the rear lights and bumper, as well as new suspension that adjusts for the conditions, new leather seats with carbon panels, and a new instrument panels that can tell the driver information like 0-60 times, quarter mile times, and g-force, all from your front dash. With all this competition on the new muscle cars, Dodge has really stepped it up with this one and the new Charger may be taking the reins of the street.

1953 'Vette
1953 'Vette

Chevrolet Corvette

The corvette, another favorite in the hearts of automotive world. Not actually considered a muscle car, this American sports car still was a force to be reckoned with on the trackand on the streets, and it is still flying strong. Originally named after a small warship, the Corvette brand was started in 1953 with the release of the first concept, only in convertible. This new car was made right after the war as the new stylish sports car that has lasted for 6 generations and over 50 years.

First Generation: The first generation was started with the 1953 model and lasted through 1962. Only 300 1953 models were produced, made out of long lasting fiberglass that has allowed 225 to still be around even today. In 1954, the production increased from 300 to 3,640 cars as the popularity of the Corvette took off immediately. The ’53 model had a 265 cu. in. (4.34 L) V8 that packed 150 HP and cost an estimated $3,500 base.

Third Generation: By the time the last 60’s came around and cars like the Camaro were just starting out, the Corvette was already in its 3rd Generation. The ’69 model packed a 350 cu. in. 300 HP engine to compete with the popular Camaro and Mustang of the time. The Corvette still proved popular, producing 38,762 cars that year, not as much as either but not getting crushed by the popular muscle. The ’69 Corvette is estimated to only get about 10 MPG however, and was estimated base price of about $4,781, about the price of a Mustang and Camaro combined at the time.

Sixth Generation:The sixth gen Corvette promises nothing but power and luxury, but at a price. The 2011 models base at about $49,045, again costing the price of a Camaro and a Mustang combined. The new models does house 430 HP in its base coupe, with 16 city and 26 highway MPG and a top speed of 190 MPH, as well as a 0-60 time of 4.2 seconds. The LS9 supercharger 6.2 L engine on the other hand packs 638 bhp, 604 lb.-ft. of torque, and a top speed of 205 MPH. For this upgrade, it will cost you 6 figures to control these 640 break-horses.

Dodge Challenger

Rounding out our list of cars is the Dodge Challenger. Similar to the Charger, production of the Challenger has come and gone over the years, but the newest line is back to make up the lost time. The Challenger was started in 1970 when it was built directly as a third party member to the Camaro/ Mustang market. The remake of the car in the 21st Century served the same purpose as all these cars make a comeback.

First Generation:The first generation of Challenger was built a few years into the established muscle car market, giving it reason to try something new. This car, modeled more after the Cougar, was designed as a larger more luxury car that could still pack a punch. The base engine on this luxury was a 225 cu. in. (3.7 L) 230 HP apparatus, costing a base around $5,000. With the upgradable Dodge HEMI R/T, many drivers were able to take model and give it 425 HP, almost doubling the powerful stallions.

Third Generation: The new model of the Challenger was rereleased in 2008, going ballsy with a massive car and massive engine in a major gas crisis. The 2011 model, costingabout $25,495, houses a 305 HP machine that still manages 27 MPG highway, despite a 2 ton tank as a body. The V8 HEMI carries 475 HP and 14 city and 23 highway MPG, ranging around $44,380 base for its 0-60 potential of 5 seconds. The 2012 models all have very similar statistics as ’11, with the exception of the new SRT8. When the Challenger already outpowered the Mustang and Camaro of the new generation, the new SRT8 for 2012 with leave them far in the dust, packing the greatest heat of the three. The new 392 carries a 6.4 L HEMI V8 with 475 HP and 460 lb.ft. of torque and a six speed manual transmission (or 5 speed automatic if three pedals is too many for you). This new power ought to really get the adrenaline flowing and can only be a glimpse into what the future may bring.


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    • Leaderofmany profile image

      Leaderofmany 6 years ago from Back Home in Indiana

      Did you know the Third generation Challenger (2008)were numbered on the inside? I owned a 2009 now I have a 2012 and I love it even more.

    • melpor profile image

      Melvin Porter 6 years ago from New Jersey, USA

      Good hub. It was a good read down memory lane. All these cars were popular during my high school and college years and I remember seeing a red 2+2 Mustang for the first time in 1964. That was a nice looking car back then.