10 Muscle Cars to Welcome The Grand Tour to America
Now that the boys are jumping the pond and heading to California, we thought we’d put together a list of muscle cars to show them the “POWER” of American cars! With a little bit of convincing from the Hamster, I’m sure even Jeremy would agree with the choices.
For the most part, I basically agree with this list. None of the cars are specifically tagged with a production year, but we’re looking at 68′-71′.
Plymouth Road Runner
The Plymouth Road Runner is a mid-size car with a focus on performance built by Plymouth in the United States between 1968 and 1980. By 1968, some of the original muscle cars were moving away from their roots as relatively cheap, fast cars as they gained features and increased in price. Plymouth developed the Road Runner to market a lower priced, basic trim model to its upscale GTX.
GSX (Grand Sport) was Buick’s contribution to the Classic era American Muscle car list, based on the Skylark platform adding a high performance package available only on the GS 455 starting in 1970. The GSX Performance and Handling package was a $1,100 option on the GS455. The GSX was Buick’s very late entry into the Muscle Car market following less than spectacular sales late in the 1969 model year.
The “4-4-2” name (pronounced “Four-four-two”) derives from the original car’s four-barrel carburetor, four-speed manual transmission, and dual exhausts. Introduced in 1964 model year as an option package for US-sold F-85 and Cutlass models, it became a model in its own right from 1968 to 1971, then reverted to an option through the mid-1970s.
I’m partial to the Camaro, having owned 3 of them over the years. The first-generation Chevrolet Camaro appeared in Chevrolet dealerships in September 1966 for the 1967 model year on a brand-new rear-wheel drive GM F-body platform and was available as a 2-door, 2+2 seat, hardtop or convertible with a choice of six-cylinder and V8 power plants. The first-generation Camaro was built through the 1969 model year.
The short-lived Plymouth Superbird was a highly modified version of the Plymouth Road Runner with well-known graphics and horn. It was the factory’s follow up stock car racing design for the 1970 season to the Dodge Charger Daytona of 1969.
The first generation GTO was a muscle car of the 1960s and 1970s era. Although there were earlier muscle cars, the Pontiac GTO is considered by some, including me, to have started the trend with all four domestic automakers offering a variety of competing models. The name, which was DeLorean’s idea, was inspired by the Ferrari 250 GTO, the successful race car. It is an Italian abbreviation for Gran Turismo Omologato, which means officially certified for racing in the grand tourer class.
The Chevelle is the muscle car’s muscle car and was intended to compete with the Ford Fairlane, and Plymouth Belvedere, and to return to the Chevrolet lineup a model similar in size and concept to the popular 1955-57 models. Enthusiasts were quick to notice that the Chevelle’s 115-inch (2,900 mm) wheelbase was the same as that of the 1955-57 Chevy. Two-door hardtop coupes, and convertibles, four-door sedans, and four-door station wagons were offered throughout the entire run. In line with other Chevrolet series, the two-door hardtops were called Sport coupes. Four-door hardtops, dubbed Sport Sedans, were available 1966 through 1972.
Rare and gorgeous, the Barracuda (particularly the 1970-74 E-Body cars) is a collectible car today, with the high-performance versions and convertibles commanding the highest prices. The small number of Barracudas remaining in existence is the result of low buyer interest (and low production/sales) when the vehicles were new. The remaining cars of any condition are rare, and the outstanding examples fetch high appraisal values today. Original Hemi super stock Barracudas (and similarly configured Dodge Darts) are now prized collector vehicles, with factory (unaltered) cars commanding high prices.
The ’68 GT500KR, like the newest GT500, was the ultimate Ford pony car, sporting a big bad V-8 and scoops and spoilers aplenty. The old car doesn’t look that dissimilar from its modern counterpart, which merely mimics the ’68 Mustang’s iconic styling. Then as now, the Ford is a relatively crude device, the KR having a live rear axle compared with the Corvette’s independent rear suspension and rear drums as opposed to all-around disc brakes.
They sure don’t make ’em like this anymore!
What would your #1 be?
Couldn’t find an uglier ‘Cuda? Seriously, it was a little Mopar-centric and should have had at least one other Mustang – maybe a 429 Boss from ’69? And if you are going to put in a GTO, where the hell is the Judge?