Home Cars 20 Best Classic Pony Cars Detroit Has Ever Made

20 Best Classic Pony Cars Detroit Has Ever Made

Vukasin Herbez October 13, 2018

  1. 1969 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am

In 1969, Pontiac wanted to present a model they could homologate for Trans Am racing. As a part of GM, the factory was still under the racing ban, but many car fans and private teams used Pontiac products. So the factory wanted to introduce a version they could easily modify for racing. And that is how the Firebird Trans Am came to be.

To mask their intentions, Pontiac introduced the Firebird Trans Am as a loaded version. It featured big block power from the famous 400 V8 engine with the Ram Air III or IV intake system. But the difference between those engines was significant since the Ram Air IV featured improved engine internals and components.

However, both engine options received ratings of 366 HP, which they underrated. And this special version came with its signature white paint and blue stripes. Also, it had Rally II wheels and other updated equipment. But it wasn’t as popular as Pontiac hoped, so they only sold 634 Firebird Trans Ams. And among those, only eight were convertibles.

The significance of the 1969 Trans Am is that this limited production model encouraged Pontiac to produce the Trans Am for almost all model years after that. And today, it is famous as the top of the line version of the regular Firebird.

  1. 1970 Plymouth AAR ‘Cuda

The 1970 model year was the pinnacle year for classic muscle cars. Never has there been so many muscle cars and memorable machines. The pony car wars were at full swing with the new Firebird, Camaro, Dodge Challenger and Plymouth Barracuda. But one of the most interesting 1970 Barracudas was the rare AAR ‘Cuda. The AAR ‘Cuda was a limited production model to commemorate Dan Gurney’s All American Racing team.

They used ‘Cudas in the Trans Am championship. The AAR version came with a 340 V8 small block engine and a special plastic hood in matte black paint with a scoop. Also, the ‘Cuda had a rear spoiler and side graphics with the big AAR logo. But this version was more expensive than the regular 340 ‘Cuda, so that is why they only made 2,724 of them.

  1. 1970 Dodge Challenger 440

Plymouth had the Barracuda, the first pony car model they introduced two weeks before the Ford Mustang. But its stablemate, the Dodge Challenger didn’t enter the segment until 1970. Although some muscle car historians say Dodge was too late for the party, the Challenger left its mark and reserved a place in history. Mopar’s E-Body models, the Barracuda and Challenger were new for 1970.

They featured a new design and better construction, as well as a wider and longer body. There were no significant mechanical differences between the Barracuda and the Challenger, except the design. However, these two cars had some interchangeable bodywork parts, as well. Dodge revealed the Challenger with the full firepower of a Mopar engine. Also, buyers could get a powerful 383 V8, as well as the big 440 and the famous 426 Hemi.

But the best performers were the 440 and the Hemi. And depending on the specifications, differential ratio and gearboxes, Challengers equipped with those engines could accelerate to 60 mph in 5.5 to 5.7 seconds. Drivers considered that extremely quick by the standards in 1970.

  1. 1970/1 Plymouth Barracuda 426 Hemi

Two of the biggest Chrysler legends from the classic days of muscle cars are the Barracuda and the 426 Hemi engine. All throughout the 1960s, those icons of the industry didn’t mix. However, in 1970, Plymouth offered this legendary engine in the Barracuda body style.

And this move immediately created one of the fastest, most desirable muscle cars ever made. The mighty Hemi engine was an expensive, top of the line option for 1970 and 1971. But it was available in a coupe or convertible form. And it cost around $900 over the price of the standard Barracuda.

Plymouth installed it in approximately 600 coupes and only 17 convertibles during its two-year production run. They rated the power at 425 HP. However, everybody knew the orange monster delivered more than 500 HP straight from the box.

  1. Chevrolet Camaro ZL1

GM had a notorious corporate ban on engines bigger than 400 cubic inches. That meant that Ford and Chrysler with the Mustang and Barracuda had more power than the Camaro. So, a team of witty Chevrolet engineers thought of a way of producing big block Camaros. And in 1969, they built exactly 69 ZL1 COPO Camaros.

Those cars were drag strip monsters with over 500 HP from an all-aluminum 427 ZL1 V8. Despite being a racing car, the Camaro ZL1 made its mark on the muscle car market. In fact, it is still one of the most famous Camaros from the 1960s.

  1. Ford Mustang GT 390

The Mustang got its first redesign in 1967 when Ford presented a slightly bigger, more luxurious model. The design was even better and more elegant, and the options list was longer than ever. The performance lovers finally got a big block option in the 390 FE V8 engine producing 325 HP.

The legendary Steve McQueen immortalized the 390 GT Mustang when it appeared as a co-star in the famous detective flick, Bullitt, in 1968. The Highland Green 390 Fastback made history with one of the best car chases ever. And that famous movie scene promoted the 390 engine to legendary status.

  1. Plymouth Barracuda 440

Although the 440 will always be in the shadow of the all-mighty Hemi, it is a better engine for everyday use. In the Barracuda, it was available in 1969 as a limited production model. But in 1970 it was a regular production option.

With 375 HP on tap, it was less powerful than the Hemi. But in real life conditions, it was just as fast. The 440 was better suited for normal driving and easier to maintain. Yet the Hemi was rarer and more expensive. But if most drivers had to choose, the 440 would be the best choice.

  1. Shelby GT500 KR

In 1968, Ford and Shelby presented a special one year only model they called the GT500 KR. The “KR” was short for “King of the Road.” And this 1968 Shelby was exactly that. With 428 Cobra Jet under the hood they conservatively rated at 335 HP, this pony car was lightning fast.

The GT500 KR also had several special features and external add-ons. But it also came with a higher price tag. So, they built just over 1,500 examples of them in 1968.

  1. 1970 Chevrolet Camaro Z28

The 1970 model year marked the arrival of a new, second-generation Camaro that featured a radical restyle. The modern semi-fastback roofline was the main feature, as well as the new platform. There was also the absence of convertible option. But the early 1970s Camaros were proper muscle coupes with power and style to back this claim.

With a revised suspension, braking and four-speed manual transmission, the Z/28 was once again a sharp and precise sports car. And it could accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in just 5.8 seconds. Better yet, it handled like an expensive European exotic.

  1. Pontiac Trans Am 455

The 1971 Firebird and Trans Am were practically identical to the 1970 models. But they still represented one of the best muscle cars on the rapidly changing market. And sadly, 1971 was the last true muscle car model year when buyers could get those high powered. legendary engines.

The 455 V8 delivered 335 HP. However, most muscle car enthusiasts argue they underrated the engine, so the numbers were conservative. In fact, even with higher compression in the Trans Am H.O. version, that 455 V8 had the same horsepower figure. So, the real output was closer to 400 HP with a powerful performance and top speeds.

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