When Plymouth introduced the Roadrunner in 1968, it created a revolution in the muscle car segment. They presented an affordable but fast muscle car with a funny name, graphics package and exhilarating performance. But Pontiac wanted a piece of the action, so in 1969 the Judge was born as an option for the GTO.
The Judge became a legend in its field because it took its name from the popular TV show. Also, it was a bright red muscle car with a big spoiler and funky “The Judge” graphics all over it. The GTO Judge wasn’t slow either, with 366 HP and four-speed transmission. Available from 1969 to 1971, the Judge represented a top of the line model, which makes it so desirable today.
Those two letters mean the world to any Dodge fan out there. In fact, they represent one of the most desirable options in muscle car history. The R/T stands for Road/Track and they first used it on the 1968 Dodge Charger. But if you ordered R/T, you got a 440 V8 or 426 Hemi engine, a heavy-duty suspension and lots of other mandatory options.
And all that is what transformed your car into a muscle model of the highest order. The R/T option was also available on Challengers starting in 1970. Also, Dodge used it for several concept cars and production models later.
Chevrolet Corvette ZL1
The ZL1 package was one of the best kept secrets of the late ’60s muscle car world. In fact, not many people even knew about the existence of this car. That is why they only made two. The heart of the ZL1 was the fantastic and basically racing-spec fully aluminum 427 V8. It produced up to 550 HP in mild tune.
This monster of an engine was far more powerful than anything Mopar or Ford had in production at the moment. Chevrolet produced around 200 of those engines. While most of them went to Can-Am racing teams, Chevrolet also made around 12 test Corvettes with that engine in late 1968.
The performance potential was unbelievable, so Chevrolet didn’t want to offer this wild racing engine to the public. So, they never mentioned the ZL-1 option to the press or in their official brochures. However, wealthy individuals close to the factory knew about its existence and could purchase the ZL-1.
Chevrolet’s Super Sport Packages
The double S stands for Super Sport and it is Chevrolet’s prime designation for their performance models starting in 1961. Over the years, Chevrolet produced the Impala SS, Camaro SS, Nova SS and Chevelle SS, among others. In fact, they were even close to introducing a Corvette SS.
The SS package always meant the car came with the biggest engine it could house. In the case of the Impala, that was the 409 or 427 big block. In 1967, Chevrolet introduced the Camaro SS in two flavors, 350 and 396. They were competent muscle cars with lots of power in a compact, pony car package. So, if you are looking for a classic Bow Tie muscle car, the SS is the option to have.
Mercury Cougar XR7
Some people think of a Cougar only as a Mustang with a longer wheelbase and luxury interior. But Mercury’s muscle car was much more than that. With its unique styling and special trim, it was an independent force in the muscle car wars of the late ’60s. The ultimate version that perfectly combined muscle car power with luxury was the mighty Cougar XR-7.
This model had the 390 V8 engine with 320 HP. But buyers could also opt for the GT package, which included a beefed-up suspension, and stronger brakes and steering. Over the years, the Mercury Cougar was in the shadow of the Mustang. However, in recent years, prices have started to come up for this piece of the luxury muscle segment.
Chevrolet Camaro Z/28
The Z/28 is a production option for numerous Camaro models that started in 1967. It was always the lighter, nimbler version compared to the SS models. The first Z/28 package included front disc brakes and a close-ratio four-speed manual transmission. They revised the suspension and steering, adding exterior trim details like racing stripes, vinyl roof and headlight covers.
But the real treat was under the hood. The power came from a 5.0-liter V8 producing 290 HP and a high revving nature. This engine proved to be ideal for the Z/28. It gave the car a thrilling performance while retaining its low weight and nimble handling.
Buick GS 455 Stage 1
Buick was busy producing extremely powerful and capable muscle cars back in the day. But in 1970, they outdid themselves with the GS 455 model. This car featured the famous 455 V8 rated at 360 HP, which could launch the big and heavy car to 60 MPH in just around 5.5 seconds. This was lightning fast in 1970 and its speed is still respectable today.
For those who found that 360 HP and 510 lb-ft of torque wasn’t enough, Buick dealers offered the extremely rare and expensive Stage 1 and Stage 2 kits. They included different intake systems, high compression heads, beefed up engine internals and a sports exhaust. Those cars are extremely rare since many customers were unaware of the existence of such options. In fact, most of the buyers were professional drag racers.
Oldsmobile 442 W30
The 442 is one of the most legendary muscle car names ever. In true Oldsmobile fashion, they thoroughly engineered the 442, building a quality performance machine. This was a car that could stand up to any muscle car legend. However, in 1966, Olds presented the W30 option they marketed “for performance enthusiasts only.”
So, what was the secret of the W30 package? It included a blueprinted engine with more power than standard and a bigger carburetor. It had a hotter camshaft, an aluminum intake manifold and a ram air system. In later years, it got a fiberglass hood and inner wheel wells to lessen the weight of the heavy front end.
Also, they gave it beefier brakes. And then they topped off the W30 package with external insignia and a graphics package. Needless to say, if you are going to buy 442, look for the real W30 since they are a blast to drive.