Good old American muscle is a hard thing to beat, so here are our top 10 best muscle cars ever built
- 1. 1964 Pontiac GTO
- 2. 1970 Chevrolet Chevelle SS 454
- 3. 1970 Plymouth Road Runner Superbird
- 4. 1967 Chevrolet Camaro Z/28
- 5. 1949 Oldsmobile Rocket 88
- 6. 1965 Shelby Mustang GT-350 new
- 7. 1968 Chevrolet Corvette L88
- 8. 1964 Ford Fairlane Thunderbolt
- 9. 2015 Dodge Challenger Hellcat
- 10. 1971 Plymouth Hemi 'Cuda
To even consider what the best muscle cars of all time are, a simple question must be answered first. What is a muscle car? For many, a muscle car has to be American (and therefore made by the likes of Chevrolet, Ford or Chrysler), it has to have a big V8 engine and it has to come from the era when the people who lived one quarter mile at a time had never heard of Vin Diesel.
As a result, it is classic American automobiles such as Dodge’s original Challenger that many regard as the cream of the muscle car crop. Quite often, these older vintage cars have had their iconic status cemented thanks to appearances in cult films, such as Ford’s Mustang in Bullitt and Pontiac’s Trans Am in Smokey and the Bandit.
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In truth, these legends from the sixties and seventies did not start the muscle car movement. All the way back in the late 1940s Oldsmobile decided to shoehorn a V8 under the bonnet of a model designed to use a less powerful six-cylinder engine. Following the tyre tracks of Oldsmobile, in 1957 a V8-powered Rambler Rebel arrived and found much success on the drag-strip – which is basically an American institution.
It wasn’t long before other US car brands were slotting large engines into everyday cars and using motorsport success to help drive sales. Soon muscle car power outputs were getting close to (and sometimes exceeding) 500bhp – but the 1973 fuel crisis soon cut demand for these big capacity, petrol hungry models. If it hadn’t, who knows how crazy the performance figures would have got. A terrifying thought considering how bad some early muscle cars were at going around corners and stopping.
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The seventies also marked the USA’s introduction of the American Clean Air Act – which ushered in more emissions control equipment. No bad thing, but the technology hampered engine performance. As such, the American muscle car slipped into the shadows until well after the year 2000.
Pontiac was the first marque to get things going again when it relaunched a GTO model, while Chrysler and Dodge soon followed with a new 300C and Charger. All were powerful, modern-day takes on cars that had ancestry dating back to the muscle car’s heyday. Since then we’ve seen new interpretations of a range of classics including the Chevrolet Camaro, Ford Mustang and Dodge Challenger – all packing monster V8 muscle and performance to match.
Click the links and read on for our top 10 guide to some of the best muscle cars to ever tear up the tarmac…
The 10 best muscle cars of all time
- 1964 Pontiac GTO
- 1970 Chevrolet Chevelle SS 454
- 1970 Plymouth Road Runner Superbird
- 1967 Chevrolet Camaro Z/28
- 1949 Oldsmobile Rocket 88
- 1965 Shelby Mustang GT-350
- 1968 Chevrolet Corvette L88
- 1964 Ford Fairlane Thunderbolt
- 2015 Dodge Challenger Hellcat
- 1971 Plymouth Hemi 'Cuda
- 1Introduction – currently readingGood old American muscle is a hard thing to beat, so here are our top 10 best muscle cars ever built
- 21. 1964 Pontiac GTOThe original 1960s muscle car, the Pontiac GTO had amazing performance for its day
- 32. 1970 Chevrolet Chevelle SS 454The Chevelle Super Sport was Chevrolet's 60s muscle car monster
- 43. 1970 Plymouth Road Runner SuperbirdIt's remembered primarily for its rear wing but the Plymouth Road Runner Superbird had much more to offer than that
- 54. 1967 Chevrolet Camaro Z/28Chevrolet's answer to the Ford Mustang, the Camaro is a classic muscle car in its own right
- 65. 1949 Oldsmobile Rocket 88The Oldsmobile Rocket 88 is often credited with being the original muscle car
- 76. 1965 Shelby Mustang GT-350 newThe Ford Mustang is a muscle car icon and the Shelby versions are the ones to have
- 87. 1968 Chevrolet Corvette L88More of a sports car in the eyes of some, the Chevy Corvette L88 still ticked many muscle car boxes
- 98. 1964 Ford Fairlane ThunderboltThe Ford Fairlane Thunderbolt was a street-legal drag racer with a mighty 7.0-litre V8
- 109. 2015 Dodge Challenger HellcatThe Dodge Challenger Hellcat is a muscle car for the modern era, channeling the spirit of the originals
- 1110. 1971 Plymouth Hemi 'CudaPlymouth's Barracuda became a muscle car legend with a Hemi V8 plumbed in
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