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Muscle car is a term used to refer to a variety of high-performance automobiles.

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines muscle cars as "any of a group of American-made 2-door sports coupes with powerful engines designed for high-performance driving.

A large V8 engine is fitted in a 2-door, rear wheel drive, family-style mid-size or full-size car designed for four or more passengers. Sold at an affordable price, muscle cars are intended for mainly street use and occasional drag racing.They are distinct from two-seat sports cars and expensive 2+2 GTs intended for high-speed touring and road racing. Developed simultaneously in their own markets, muscle cars also emerged from manufacturers in Australia, South Africa, the United Kingdom, and elsewhere.

Opinions on the origin of the muscle car vary, but the 1949 Oldsmobile Rocket 88, created in response to public interest in speed and power, is often cited as the first muscle car.

It featured America's first high-compression overhead valve V8 in the smaller, lighter Oldsmobile 76/Chevy body for six-cylinder engines as opposed to bigger Olds 98 luxury body.

Musclecars magazine wrote:he idea of putting a full-size V8 under the hood of an intermediate body and making it run like Jesse Owens in Berlin belongs to none other than Oldsmobile.The all-new ohv V8...Rocket engine quickly found its way into the lighter 76 series body, and in February 1949, the new 88 series was born.

Other manufacturers showcased performance hardware in flashy limited-edition models. Chrysler led the way with its 1955 C-300, an inspired blend of Hemi power and luxury car trappings that became the new star of NASCAR. With 300 horsepower (224 kW), it was advertised as "America's Most Powerful Car".Capable of accelerating from 0 to 60 mph (97 km/h) in 9.8 seconds and reaching 130 miles per hour (209 km/h), the 1955 Chrysler 300 is also recognized as one of the best-handling cars of its era.

Two years later, the Rambler Rebel was the fastest stock American sedan, according to Motor Trend.The popularity and performance of muscle cars grew in the early 1960s, as Mopar Dodge, Plymouth, and Chrysler and Ford battled for supremacy in drag racing.

The 1962 Dodge Dart 413 cu in (6.8 L) Max Wedge, for example, could run a 13-second 1/4-mile dragstrip at over 100 miles per hour (161 km/h). By 1964, General Motors' lineup boasted Oldsmobile, Chevrolet, and Pontiac muscle cars, and Buick fielded a muscle car entry a year later.

For 1964 and 1965, Ford had its 427 cu in (7.0 L) Thunderbolts, and Mopar unveiled the 426 cu in (7.0 L) Hemi engine. The Pontiac GTO was an option package that included Pontiac's 389 cu in (6.4 L) V8 engine, floor-shifted transmission with Hurst shift linkage, and special trim. In 1966 the GTO became a model in its own right.

The project, led by Pontiac division president John DeLorean, technically violated GM's policy, limiting its smaller cars to 330 cu in (5.4 L) displacement, but the new model proved more popular than expected, and inspired GM and its competitors to produce numerous imitators.

The GTO itself was a response to the Dodge Polara 500 and the Plymouth Sport Fury, which in 1962 had been shrunk to intermediates.

American Motors, though late entering the muscle car market, produced "an impressive array of performance cars in a relatively short time," said Motor Trend. "

The first stirrings of AMC performance came in 1965, when the dramatic, if ungainly, Rambler Marlin fastback was introduced to battle the Ford Mustang and Plymouth Barracuda."

Although the Marlin was a flop in terms of sales and initial performance, AMC gained some muscle-car credibility in 1967, when it made both the Marlin and the "more pedestrian" Rebel available with its new 280 hp (209 kW; 284 PS), 343 cu in (5.6 L) "Typhoon" V8.
In 1968, the company offered two pony car muscle car contenders: the Javelin and its truncated variant, the AMX.Although the sales of true muscle cars were relatively modest by total Detroit production standards, they had value in publicity. Competition between manufacturers meant that buyers had the choice of ever-more powerful engines. A horsepower war was started that peaked in 1970, with some models advertising as much as 450 hp (336 kW; 456 PS).

Muscle cars attracted young customers into showrooms, and they bought the standard editions of these mid-size cars. To enhance the "halo" effect of these models, the manufacturers modified some of them into turn-key drag racers.Ford built 200 lightweight Ford Galaxies for drag racing in 1963. All non-essential equipment was omitted. Modifications included fiberglass panels, aluminum bumpers, traction bars, and a competition-specification 427 cu in (7.0 L) engine factory rated at a conservative425 hp (317 kW; 431 PS).

This full-size car could run the quarter mile in a little over 12 seconds. Also built in 1963 were 5,000 road-legal versions that could be used as every day drivers (Ford claimed 0-60 in less than 6 seconds for the similarly powered 1966 Galaxie 500XL 427).Another Ford lightweight was the 1964 Ford Thunderbolt that utilized the mid-size Fairlane body. A stock Thunderbolt could run the quarter-mile (402 m) in 11.76 seconds at 122.7 mph (197.5 km/h), and Gaspar "Gas" Ronda dominated the NHRAWorld Championship with his Thunderbolt with a best time of 11.6 seconds at 124 mph (200 km/h).

 The Thunderbolt included the 427 engine with special exhausts; though technically legal for street use, the car was too "raucous" for the public roads, according to a Hot Rodmagazine quote, "for driving to and from the strip, let alone on the street in everyday use".

Massive traction bars, asymmetrical rear springs, and a trunk-mounted 95-pound (43 kg) bus battery were intended to maximize traction for the 500 bhp (373 kW)car.Sun visors, exterior mirror, sound-deadener, armrests, jack, and lug wrench were omitted to save weight.
The car was given lightweight Plexiglass windows, and early versions had fiberglass front body panels and bumpers, later changed to aluminum to meet NHRA regulations.Base price was US$3,780.A total of 111 Thunderbolts were built, and Ford contracted Dearborn Steel Tubing to help with assembly.

In 1963, General Motors' Chevrolet division produced 57 full-size Impala coupes equipped with option package RPOZ-11,which added $1237.40 to the vehicle base price. They were the only automobiles the division ever built expressly for drag racing.

The package included a specially modified W series 409 engine, now displacing 427 cubic inches, and was officially rated at 430 bhp. Actual horsepower was approximately 480–520, depending on the state of tune and the available fuel.With a compression ratio of 13.5:1, tuning the engine for maximum horsepower required high-octane fuel.

The RPOZ-11 package had numerous modifications to reduce weight, including aluminum hood, fenders, fan shroud, and bumpers. Sound-deadening material was removed, as were non-essentials such as heater and radio. Other racing features included a two-piece intake manifold, special exhaust manifolds, cylinder heads and pistons, a deep-sump oil pan, and cowl-induction air cleaner. The RPOZ-11 package was discontinued when General Motors ceased involvement in racing in 1964.

 Australia developed its own muscle cars around the same period, the big three manufacturers being Ford Australia, Holden or Holden Dealer Team by then part of General Motors, and Chrysler Australia.

The cars were specifically developed to run in the Armstrong 500 (miles) race and later the Hardie Ferodo 500.

The demise of these cars was brought about by a change in racing rules requiring that 200 examples had to be sold to the general public before the car could qualify homologation.

In 1972, the government banned supercars from the streets after two notable cases.

 The first instance was a Wheels magazine journalist driving at 150 mph (240 km/h) in a 1971 Ford XY Falcon GTHO Phase III 351 cu in (5.8 L).

While the car was getting exposure in the press, the second incident occurred in George Street, Sydney, when a young male was caught driving at an estimated 150 mph (240 km/h) through the busy street in a 1971 Ford Falcon GTHO Phase III, drag racing a Holden Monaro GTS 350.

This was known in Australia as "The Supercar scare"Ford produced what is considered to be the first Australian muscle car in 1967, the 289 cu in (4.7 L) Windsor  powered Ford Falcon GTXR.

Months later, in 1968, Australia would see its first homegrown two-door muscle car, the Holden Monaro GTS 327.

 Ford continued to release faster models, culminating in the Ford Falcon GTHO Phase III of 1971, which was powered by a factory modified 351 Cleveland.

Along with its GT and GTHO models, Ford, starting with the XW model in 1969, introduced a "sporty" GS model, available across the Falcon range.

The basic GS came with a 188 cu in (3.1 L) six-cylinder engine, but the 302 cu in (4.9 L) and351 cu in (5.8 L) Windsor (replaced by the Cleveland engines for the XY) V8 engines were optional.

Ford's larger, more luxurious Fairlane was also available with these engines and could also be optioned with the 300 bhp (224 kW) 351 cu in (5.8 L) "Cleveland" engine.General Motors Holden produced the Holden Monaro with 161 cu in (2.6 L), 186 cu in (3.0 L) (186 and 186S specification) 6-cylinder engines, 307 cu in (5.0 L), 327 cu in (5.4 L), and 350 cu in (5.7 L) Chevrolet smallblocks, and later253 cu in (4.1 L) and 308 cu in (5.0 L) Holden V8.

This was followed by the release of four high-performance Toranas, the LC GTR-XU1 (1970–1971), LJ GTR-XU1 (1972–1973), L34 (1974), and the A9X (1977).

In South Africa, Chevrolet placed the Z28 302 Chevrolet smallblock into a Vauxhall Viva coupe bodyshell and called it the Firenza CanAm.
Basil Green produced the 302 Windsor powered Capri Perana.

In addition, Australian HT and HG GTS Monaros (1969–71) were exported in CKD form and were given a new fascia and rebadged as the Chevrolet SS, which were sold until about 1973. Falcon GTs were also exported to South Africa and rebadged as Fairmont GTs. The Australian XW Falcon GT was called the 1970 Fairmont GT, and the XY Falcon GT was called the Fairmont GT.
The Falcons were re-badged as Fairmonts because of the bad reputation of the American Falcons at the time.

The Fairmonts were almost the same as their Australian cousins apart from a few cosmetic differences.

 Ford fitted V6 engines to the Dagenham-built 2944 cc Capri 3000GT (designated 3000E in more luxurious trim) and the Capri 2600GT, which was produced at Ford's plant in Cologne. In Europe, GM responded with the six-cylinder Opel Commodore GTE Coupe.

 Based on the mid-size Opel Rekord, it matched the Fords for performance.

 Later, both Ford and Vauxhall produced high-performance versions (known colloquially as Q-cars) of their family cars for the UK market.

In the late 1980s, there was resurgence in ponycar popularity with the Chevrolet Camaro and the Ford Mustang, and in the early 1990s Fords SVT (Special Vehicle Team) program wanted to increase the power and performance. Ford’s 1995 SVT Cobra R was the first 300-horsepower vehicle, but was limited to 250 models. The GM and Ford market rivalry continued throughout the late 1990s, where Mustang Cobra and Camaro SS were both rated at 300+ horsepower for standard production models.

For larger cars available in the U.S., the full-size, 4-door Chevrolet Impala SS was available from 1994 to 1996 as a high-performance version of the Caprice, equipped with a Corvette-derived 5.7 L V8 LT1 engine and other specific performance features and body styling using the options found on the Caprice 9C1 police package.

The Impala SS nameplate was resurrected in 2003 as a high-performance version of the standard Impala with larger and/or supercharged engines. General Motors discontinued its F-body pony-car models, the Chevrolet Camaro and Pontiac Firebird, after 2002, but brought back the GTO in 2004 as a rebadged Holden Monaro imported from Australia. Sales were poor and the "new" GTO was discontinued after three years.

 The Pontiac brand was eliminated after the 2010 model year.

Ford's Special Vehicle Team also released the 2003 SVT Cobra, now supercharged, but stopped production after 2004 to make way for the new generation Mustang.

For the 2012 model year, Ford brought back the Boss 302 with a 444 hp (331 kW) 5.0 V8.For 2003 and 2004, Mercury revived its Marauder nameplate as a high-performance version Mercury Grand Marquis, based on the Ford Crown Victoria Police Interceptor.

In 2005, a "retro-inspired" version of the pony car Ford Mustang drew its design cues from the original 1960s Mustangs. In 2007, Ford and Shelby also re-released a new G.T. 500, with Super Snake and King of the Road editions added in 2008.

Saleen introduced a special edition echoing the Boss 302 Mustang, naming it the "S302 Parnelli Jones" after the Trans-Am series driver from the 1960s and 1970s, Parnelli Jones.

A subsequent similar model followed with Dan Gurney's namesake.

In 2004, Chrysler introduced their LX platform that served as the platform for a new line of rear-wheel drive, V8-powered cars using the new Hemi engine, including a four-door version of the Dodge Charger. It was also available as a station wagon the Dodge Magnum and the performance of the new models equaled many of the vintage muscle cars.

Dodge revived two "classic" model names with the Charger: Daytona in 2006 and the Dodge Charger Super Bee in 2007.GM's Cadillac division introduced the XLR roadster in 2004 that was produced alongside the Chevrolet Corvette in GM's manufacturing plant in Bowling Green, Kentucky. This led to the creation of the Cadillac V-series for the luxury CTS sedan, sold as the CTS-V.

 Australian Ford and Holden are currently producing high-performance vehicles.

For instance, Holden has its SS and SSV Commodores and Utilities, and HSV has more powerful Holden based versions and has produced a limited edition HSV W427  a Commodore fitted with the seven litre LS7 V8 from the C6 Corvette Z06 from 2008–2009.

 Ford Performance Vehicles produces enhanced versions of the Ford Falcon under the FPV name.

As of 2012, current models include supercharged V8 powered GS sedan and utility, supercharged V8 powered GT sedans, and turbocharged inline 6 cylinder F6 sedans and utility.

Holden Special Vehicles currently produces high-performance versions of various rear-drive Holden Commodore sedans that are fitted with high-performance (400 hp) V8 engines. Vauxhall introduced the Monaro to the UK in 2004. This was a re-badged Holden Monaro fitted with a 5.7 litre Chevrolet Corvette engine, or in VXR form with the engine bored out to 6.0 litres. Sales were disappointing, however, and the car was withdrawn from the Vauxhall range in 2007.

 United States


Motor Trend identified the following models as "musclecars" in 1965:

1962–1965 Dodge Dart / Plymouth Fury 413/426 Max Wedge/426 Hemi

1964–1965 Ford Thunderbolt 427

1965–1969 Buick Skylark Gran Sport

1965–1970 Dodge Coronet/Plymouth Belvedere 426-S

1965 Chevrolet Chevelle Malibu SS

1965–1967 Oldsmobile Cutlass 442


 Road & Track identified the following models as "musclecars" in 1965:

1964–1965 Pontiac Tempest Le Mans/GTO
1965–1975 Buick Riviera Gran Sport
1965–1969 Buick Skylark Gran Sport
1965–1970 Dodge Coronet/Plymouth Belvedere 426-S
1965 Chevrolet Chevelle Malibu SS
1965–1967 Oldsmobile Cutlass 442

Car and Driver also created a list of the 10 Best muscle cars for its January 1990 issue.

1966–1967 Plymouth/Dodge intermediates with 426 Hemi
1968–1969 Plymouth/Dodge intermediates with 426 Hemi
1970–1971 Plymouth/Dodge intermediates with 426 Hemi
1966–1967 Chevy II SS327
1966–1969 Chevrolet Chevelle SS396
1968–1969 Chevy II Nova SS396
1969 Ford Torino Cobra 428
1969 Plymouth Road Runner/Dodge Super Bee 440 Six Pack
1970 Chevrolet Chevelle SS454
1969 Pontiac GTO
1984–1987 Buick Grand National
1983–1987 Chevrolet Monte Carlo SS



Chrysler VH model

1971–1972 Charger R/T E37 (101 built)
1971–1972 Charger R/T E38 (280 bhp (210 kW))—3 Speed Gearbox (Track pack and Big tank were options and a fully blueprinted engine) (316 built)
1972–1973 Charger R/T E48 (two built)
1972–1973 Charger R/T E49 (302 bhp (225 kW))—4 Speed Gearbox (Track pack and Big tank were options and a fully blueprinted engine) (149 built)
1972–1973 Charger S/E E55 (275 bhp (205 kW))—727 Torqueflite Auto (340 cubic inch Chrysler LA engine) (124 built)
1969–1971 Valiant Hardtop (318 or 360ci V8s)


 VJ model (R/T nomenclature dropped) were:

1973–1974 Charger E48 (169 built)

1973 Charger E49 (4 built)

1973–1974 Charger 770 E55 (212 built)


1967 XR Falcon GT (289)
1968 XT Falcon GT (302)
1969–1970 XW Falcon GT (351)
1969–1970 XW Falcon/Fairmont GS 302 and 351
1969 XW Falcon GTHO Phase I (351W)
1970 XW Falcon GTHO Phase II (351C)
1970–1971 XY Falcon/Fairmont GS 302 and 351
1970–1971 XY Falcon GT (351)
1971 XY Falcon Phase III GTHO (351)
1972 XA Falcon Phase IV GTHO

4-door (only four made: three prototypes, one production) (351)

1972–1973 XA Falcon GT hardtop coupe/4 Door Sedan (351)

1972–1973 XA Falcon GS Hardtop/Sedan/Ute (302, 351)

1973 XA Falcon Superbird (302)

1973–1976 XB Falcon GT hardtop coupe/4 Door Sedan (351)

1973–1976 XB Falcon/Fairmont GS Hardtop/Sedan/Ute (302, 351)

1974–1975 XB Falcon John Goss Special (302)

1976–1979 XC Fairmont GXL (302C or 351C as the desirable GT Power-pack Option)

1978 XC Falcon Cobra 5.8, Bathurst Homologation
1979 XD Fairmont Ghia ESP (302C, 351C)
1982-84 XE Fairmont Ghia ESP (302C, 351C)


1968–1969 HK Monaro GTS (327)
1969–1970 HT Monaro GTS (350)
1970–1971 HG Monaro GTS (350)
1971–1974 HQ Monaro GTS (350)
1974–1976 HJ Monaro GTS (308)
1970–1971 LC Torana GTR XU-1 (186)
1972–1973 LJ Torana GTR XU-1 (202)
1974–1976 LH Torana SL/R 5000 (308)
1974 LH Torana SL/R 5000 L34 (308)
1976–1978 LX Torana SL/R 5000 (308)
1976–1978 LX Torana SS (308)
1977 LX Torana SL/R 5000 A9X (308)
1977 LX Torana SS A9X (308)

1971–1975 1st generation Opala SS with engine 250 I6
1975–1979 2nd generation Opala SS with engine 250-S I6
1979–1980 3rd generation Opala SS with engine 250-S I6

1976–1979 1st generation Caravan SS
1980 2nd generation Caravan SS



1971–1975 1st generation Maverick GT 302 V8

1975–1979 2nd generation
Maverick GT 302 V8

1966–1971 Galaxie 500 289 V8

1971–1980 LTD Landau 302 V8

1980–1983 Landau 302 V8



1969–1975 Dart 318 V8

1971–1979 1st generation Charger R/T 318 V8 (1969 Dart modified sold under the name of Charger)

1980 2nd generation Charger R/T 318 V8 (1976 Dart modified sold under the name of Charger)




1975–1979 GTB S1
1980–1988 GTB S2
1988–1994 AMV
1979–1988 SM4.1






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