Muscle Cars are fast performance cars manufactured for the most part in Detroit, Michigan from 1964 through 1975. Muscle car manufacturers placed substantial V8 engines in mid-sized vehicles, giving them lofty levels of performance and setting off a strong rivalry between the manufacturers to produce the most powerful and quickest muscle cars on sale throughout those times.
Although auto makers had occasionally experimented with placing the performance based V-8 engines in a lighter mid-size platforms, and full-size cars such as the Ford Galaxie and Chevrolet Impala had high-performance models, Pontiac received most of the credit for starting the muscle car era with its Pontiac GTO. Started by Pontiac a, the GTO was far more trendy than anticipated, and inspired many imitations and an advance towards performance, both in the true muscle car class of intermediate vehicles as well as smaller muscle cars like the Ford Mustang, Plymouth Barracuda and AMC AMX, and more luxurious and pricey cars such as the Buick Riviera.
However, a large part of the demand behind muscle cars was that they were mostly reasonably priced models that young drivers could manage to pay for and use them for drag racing. For example, Chevy placed an exceptionally large 396 cubic inch engine in its small Nova body. This would be equivalent to taking Chevrolet Cobalt and putting a Corvette Z06 engine in it. Mopar also had several low-cost models, such as the Super Bee and Roadrunner.
Between 1964 and 1971, the Detroit corporations were in a competition for the bragging rights to the highest horsepower engine and offer the fastest muscle cars for sale. Horsepower numbers generally hit their peak in 1970, with the Chevelle SS 454 from that year is usually considered to have had the highest output, producing 450 horsepower. By 1971, most muscle cars began to fall out of support with Pontiac’s Trans-AM model being the only lingering one by 1975.
While they were fast cars in a straight line, most had poor performing brakes, suspensions and tires which were inadequate to handle the acceleration and speeds the engines made possible. These factors have mostly been addressed by after-market suppliers.
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