For almost 50 years, car enthusiasts have been questioning the basic definition of a muscle car. Is it an American-made two-door coupe or convertible with a powerful V8 engine? Must it have a V8, or will any powerful engine do? Can it be an import or only a full-blooded American machine? Can it be front-wheel, all-wheel drive or just a rear-wheel drive model?
All these questions divide the muscle car community, but the most controversial question is about the number of doors. Muscle car purists claim there are no four-door muscle car sedans, only performance sedans. But some car fans and even car historians, beg to differ. Although there are some proper four-door muscle cars, the earliest performance machines were sedans with powerful engines.
Even during the 60’s at the pinnacle of the original muscle car culture, Detroit produced several fast, powerful sedans they could call muscle cars. Yet they disguised these beasts in a comfortable sedan form. This list of 18 four-door American muscle cars will show you that muscle cars come in four doors, too. So read on to discover how the four-door muscle car segment is far bigger and more interesting than you think.
1. Oldsmobile Rocket 88
Oldsmobile presented two important things for the 1949 model year: the 88 model series and their new 303 CID V8 engine they called the Rocket V8. Both introductions would prove influential in Oldsmobile’s history. The 88 model was relatively light and compact, and the Rocket V8 had a two-barrel carburetor with 135 HP on tap. The combination of a light body and powerful engine in the 1949 Oldsmobile 88 was the first muscle car from Detroit.
Their new model was available as a two and four-door, but the four-door was more popular with buyers. Today, whenever someone mentions the 1949 Rocket 88, everybody thinks about the coupe. However, what they don’t know is the first proper muscle car was also available as a sedan. The 1949 Olds 88 enjoyed success with customers but also on the racetracks, too.
It won six out of nine NASCAR races that year, proving competitive on the drag strip, as well. The car was the theme of one of the first rock and roll songs, Rocket 88, by Kings of Rhythm. This makes this car extremely influential in automotive history, as well as in the history of rock and roll.