Home Cars 21 Best and Most Influential Plymouth Muscle Cars
Cars

21 Best and Most Influential Plymouth Muscle Cars

Vukasin HerbezAugust 29, 2018

Although muscle cars are one of Detroit’s most successful car classes, muscle car credentials are not enough to keep one brand on the market. The discontinuation of Pontiac in 2010 is the latest example, But, even before that, Detroit was killing their famous names due to poor sales and low production numbers. And the first company to experience this scenario was Plymouth in 2001 when it closed its doors after 73 years in the business.

They presented Plymouth in 1928 as a low-cost manufacturer below Dodge and Chrysler. And it occupied that market position for decades, all the way to the end. Over the years, Plymouth was always successful. In fact, its sales numbers were just behind Ford or Chevrolet. The Plymouths were dependable, high-quality automobiles at affordable prices that appealed to a wide audience.

However, when muscle cars exploded on the American car scene, Plymouth realized it had a chance to be more than just an economy car brand. So, it jumped on the performance bandwagon using the best Mopar engines, delivering exciting cars to the public.

Today, you will remember some of Plymouth’s best muscle car. These cars became classics of the genre due to their style, power and speed and because the company is no longer in business. The first Plymouth muscle cars appeared in the late ’50s, but in the ’60s and ’70s, the brand dominated the segment, as well as the race tracks.

  1. 1958 Plymouth Fury

Before the Fury was a separate model, it was an option on the Belvedere. So for 1958, this model benefited from Chrysler’s new Golden Commando engine. The mighty Hemi was gone, but Chrysler didn’t abandon the performance market. The Golden Commando had 350 CID displacement, hotter equipment and delivered 305 HP.

Plymouth even experimented with a fuel injection setup, but the system proved problematic. And this caused the factory to compensate car owners and give them a conventional four-barrel setup. If the fuel injection worked as it should, it could’ve produced up to 315 HP.

  1. 1962 Plymouth Savoy Super Stock 413

Mechanically almost identical to the Dodge Dart 413 Max Wedge, the Savoy Super Stock was Plymouth’s version of a drag strip special. It featured a different design, but the platform was the same, as well as the engine. And it was the mighty 413 Wedge with 420 HP in top trim.

But the automatic transmission was the favorite option, because it was even better for launching off the line than the standard three-speed manual. In those early days, Chrysler didn’t offer a four-speed manual, so the automatic was a better choice. The Savoy Super Stock 413 was the first car to break the 12-second quarter mile time record for stock cars. But this was just the beginning.

  1. 1964 Plymouth Barracuda

Plymouth introduced the Barracuda just two weeks before the Mustang, in April of 1964. So, it was the first Pony car they ever made. Plymouth based it on the standard Valiant platform. And since the automotive world was anticipating the Mustang due to the reports coming from Ford, Chrysler decided to introduce a car in the same segment.

The Barracuda had modest underpinnings with three engines available, two straight sixes and one V8. So the designers had to come up with an interesting design to attract more buyers. So, the 1964 Barracuda had a big panoramic rear glass window. Also, it had a sleek fastback body line that was advanced for the period.

Although Barracuda didn’t have the same success as the Mustang, it showed that the future of the Pony car market and segment was in Plymouth’s hands.

  1. 1964 Plymouth Belvedere A-864

The biggest news in the Mopar clan for 1964 was the return of the mighty, legendary Hemi 426 engine. Chrysler realized that other manufacturers had caught up with the powerful 413 and 426 Max Wedge engines. So, the only solution was to bring back the Hemi as the ultimate drag strip weapon. This wasn’t the famous Street Hemi they introduced two years later, in 1966 as a regular production option.

This was a race-spec Hemi that was not street legal in most states they didn’t sell to the public. The 426 Hemi was rated at 425 HP, but the real output was much more than that. And in 1964, Chrysler built just 70 copies, 35 as the Dodge 440 hardtop and 35 as the Plymouth Belvedere hardtop. Most of the cars produced had an automatic transmission but some had a four-speed manual.

  1. 1965 Plymouth Belvedere Altered Wheelbase

Chrysler didn`t offer the Race Hemi lightweight models for 1965. Instead, they went a step further and produced a handful of altered wheelbase Plymouths and Dodges for professional racers and the new FX class. The Factory Experimental (FX) class in the NHRA championship was a predecessor to today’s funny cars class. Basically, it was a place where factory supported teams could race cars that resembled stock vehicles.

And they equipped them with an engine, drivetrain or body modifications that could never be on a street car. Chrysler decided to make six Dodge Coronets and six Plymouth Belvederes with altered wheelbases. They simply moved the whole floor plan 15 inches forward, placing the rear axle just behind the driver. This helped the weight distribution and traction off the line.

Those altered wheelbase cars were never street legal. They featured numerous interesting combinations, such as fuel injected, supercharged or turbocharged engines. Today, real altered wheelbase cars are extremely rare and are a valuable piece of muscle car history.

  1. 1967 to 1971 Plymouth GTX

Plymouth revealed the GTX in 1967 as a luxury option in the Belvedere lineup. And they based this model on the same platform as the Coronet. However, it was much more luxurious and had a 375 HP 440 V8 as standard. Plymouth wanted the GTX to compete with luxury cars of the period, so they installed almost all the possible creature comforts.

Also, they added a special trim to distinguish the GTX from the rest of the model lineup. The GTX was a gentleman’s hot rod with all the options. It had a nice interior and exterior details and only one optional engine choice – the mighty 426 Hemi. The 440 Magnum was the standard engine, but if you wanted the ultimate Plymouth muscle luxury, you had to go for the Hemi.

Because it was significantly more expensive than the rest of the Mopar muscle car line up, the GTX was never that popular, so it is rare today. The early ’70s came and muscle cars lost their power and torque figures. So, Plymouth discontinued the GTX in 1971 to keep it from being a disgrace to its fire-breathing predecessors. And that is why the ’71 GTX is the last of its breed and a fantastic muscle car.

  1. 1968 to 1974 Plymouth Roadrunner

When it first appeared in 1968, the Plymouth Roadrunner was an influential, important muscle car. It introduced the new trend of inexpensive and fun cars and was also a strong seller, which affected the whole segment. The whole idea behind the Roadrunner was simple. Present a low priced but powerful model to attract people with a limited budget but a strong need for performance.

The most appealing thing about the Roadrunner was that Plymouth used the cartoon character of a roadrunner from the popular Willie E. Coyote cartoon. Chrysler paid $60,000 for the rights to use the name and design, and everybody thought the company was crazy for doing so. But the sales results proved everybody wrong. Also, the Roadrunner was the first muscle car with crazy graphics, starting the trend.

The Roadrunner had a bench seat, no luxury options and manual steering. But it came with the powerful 383 V8 as the base engine. Also, buyers could also opt for 440 or the mythical Hemi 426. In 1969, the Roadrunner got a convertible option for those buyers who wanted an open-air driving feel.

However, the majority of Roadrunners the produced were two-door hardtops. For just above $3,000, you could be the proud owner of a Roadrunner in 1970. However, if you wanted a few options and the Hemi engine, the price would quickly rise to over $4,000.

  1. 1968 Plymouth Barracuda Hemi Drag Car

The 426 Hemi engine was not a regular production item in the Barracuda until 1970 model year but for 1968 racing season, Plymouth produced 50 drag racing specials using the Barracuda Fastback bodies and 426 race spec Hemi engines. The actual manufacturing was shared with Dodge Hemi Dart in Chrysler’s Hamtramck, Michigan plant.

As Dodge Hemi Dart, Barracudas came as pure racing, non-street legal vehicles to be sold only to racing teams. Of course, they too were painted in primer ready to be personalized by the racers.

  1. 1969 Plymouth Barracuda 440

Pony cars wars were getting serious as Mustang defended its position as the bestselling model in its class. And the Camaro/Firebird duo was attacking it with everything GM had at the moment. Chrysler was a formidable competitor since the restyled Barracuda had more muscle with the introduction of the optional 383 engine. Also, it had two more body styles, a convertible and notchback coupe.

However, the biggest news for 1969 was the introduction of Barracuda 440 V8. It was a monster pony car with the biggest engine they ever installed under the hood of a car in that segment. Plymouth wanted to be a dominant force in the stock class of drag racing championships. But they needed a proper weapon with a big block engine and tons of torque.

And the Barracuda 440 was exactly what they needed, even if it was a handful to drive. Worse yet, it required a complicated production process since the big 440 didn’t fit in the small Barracuda engine bay without extensive modifications. The Barracuda 440 had 375 HP and massive 480 lb-ft of torque. This made it fast but also hard to launch due to loads of wheel spin.

Also, with the tight fit of the engine, there wasn’t space for a power steering pump, so you had to use your muscles to turn this compact but overly powerful car. Plymouth only made a handful of these models, which makes them hard to find today.

  1. 1970 Plymouth Superbird

As one of the craziest muscle cars they ever produced, Plymouth has one of the most recognizable graphics packages they ever presented to the public. The Superbird was an attempt to win the famous Aero Wars in the late ’60s to early ’70s NASCAR championships. To homologate the car for racing, Plymouth built just under 2,000 roadgoing Superbirds, selling them all over America.

They based the car on the Roadrunner. It came with a 440 V8 as standard and 426 Hemi as the only engine option. However, to make it aerodynamically efficient, Plymouth installed a nose cone, hideaway headlights and an enormous spoiler on the back. Also, it transformed the rear glass from a standard concave shape to a regular one. And it proved more slippery in wind tunnel testing.

The Superbird came with a wild graphics package along with the choice of bright colors. All cars had a vinyl roof to hide the rear glass conversion scars. The added big “Plymouth” lettering on the rear fender and the roadrunner bird logo holding a racing helmet. So, this was muscle car art in its prime.

  1. 1970 Plymouth AAR Cuda

The 1970 model year was undeniably the pinnacle year for classic muscle cars. Never before or since there were so many muscle cars on offer and so many memorable and sought-after machines. The Pony car wars were at full swing with the new Firebird, Camaro, Dodge Challenger and the improved Plymouth Barracuda. 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 who used ‘Cudas in the Trans Am championship. It came with a 340 V8 small block and a special plastic hood in matte black paint with a hood scoop. Also, it had a rear spoiler and interesting side graphics including the big AAR logo. But this version was more expensive than the regular 340 ‘Cuda and that is why they only made 2,724 of them.

  1. 1970/71 Plymouth Barracuda Hemi

Two of the biggest Chrysler legends from the classic days of muscle car culture are the Barracuda and the 426 Hemi engine. All through the ’60s, those icons of the industry didn’t mix, at least not in street legal cars. So in 1970, Plymouth offered this legendary engine in the Barracuda body style, creating one of the fastest, most desirable muscle cars ever.

The mighty Hemi engine was an expensive top of the line option for 1970 and 1971 available in coupe or convertible form. It cost around $900 over the price of the standard Barracuda. And they installed it in just about 600 coupes and 17 convertibles during the two-year production period. They rated the power at 425 HP. But, everybody knew the orange monster delivered more than 500 HP straight from the box.

  1. 1970 Plymouth Duster 340

As an economy brand, Plymouth was active and successful at the lower end of the market since the early ’60s with the Valiant model. But by the late ’60s and early ’70s, the compact market had grown, so Plymouth introduced the Duster 340. This model was a junior muscle car since it looked like its bigger competitors. However, it had a smaller 340 HP engine they rated at 275 HP.

But Plymouth never anticipated the success the Duster 340 achieved, so they doubled the production in just a few months. The 340 was a good muscle car despite being a compact model. In fact, the 275 HP engine moved the light body to respectable 0 to 60 mph times of just over six seconds. The car may be half the size of some of the heavy hitters of the era, but it was almost as fast.

Also, it cost just under $3,000, which was extremely affordable. Interestingly, after the original muscle car era ended in 1974, Plymouth continued to offer the Duster 340 but with the 360 engine option. And it delivered less power due to rising emissions standards.

  1. Plymouth Fury GT

Despite being an economy brand in the Chrysler Corporation, Plymouth had a surprisingly large number of muscle cars during the ’60s and ’70s, as well as numerous special versions. Their luxury muscle car was the GTX. But in 1970, the Fury GT debuted as the biggest model on offer.

The Fury GT was a two-door coupe version of the Fury sedan. But in a GT guise, it was a full-size muscle car with the perfect combination of looks and power. Under the hood was a well-known 440 V8 with a three-carburetor setup and 375 HP on tap. Buyers could choose between the 727 Torqueflite automatic and a four-speed manual.

And if you wanted a real performance, you would choose the manual. However, despite the power and looks, the Fury GT wasn’t a big performer since it was still a heavy car. In combination with a relatively high price tag, it proved to be a slow seller. So, after just one year in production, Plymouth discontinued the GT model.

  1. 1976 to 1980 Plymouth Volare Roadrunner

Back in 1976, Plymouth introduced the Volare. It was a successful mid-size model they produced in many variants and exported worldwide. The Volare was the twin to the Dodge Aspen. And it featured a rear-wheel drive platform, a wide arrange of engines and a sleek design. Both Dodge and Plymouth had successful muscle models in the past, so the heritage was still strong when they introduced the Volare.

This was the perfect platform for a muscle car if it weren’t for the grueling emissions and safety regulations that killed the performance. But, Plymouth tried and presented the Volare Roadrunner that featured a 316 V8 engine and a measly 160 HP. But what it lacked in the performance department, the Volare Road Runner compensated in looks.

It had a full body kit with rear window louvers, a spoiler, a graphics package and sports wheels. Some versions even featured a T-top roof, which was a cool choice back in the day. Later, Plymouth introduced the 360 V8 with 175 to 196 HP. Although this improved the performance, it still was quite slow.

The production ended in 1980 after four years on the market and not many finished examples. Today, it is a collector’s car since it looks cool and has an interesting history. This is despite the fact it classic muscle car fans thought the Roadrunner name should go on a better performing machine. Also, all Volares had rust issues, so the number of surviving cars is low.

  1. 1967 Plymouth Barracuda

In 1967, the Barracuda got its first major restyle job with improved performance and looks. In an attempt to catch the Ford Mustang and attract some of its popularity, the Plymouth designers presented three body styles. They offered a fastback coupe, notchback coupe and for the first time. a sleek convertible.

They expanded the engine lineup, too. So, buyers could choose from five power plants starting with the modest 225 Slant Six and ending with the mighty 383 V8.

  1. Plymouth Belvedere Hemi

Plymouth presented the 426 Hemi in 1966 as a street engine with an advertised power of 425 HP. Everybody knows that the rating was conservative, but Chrysler decided to keep the real output a secret. And one of the first Plymouths to receive this monster of an engine was the 1966 Belvedere intermediate model.

Similar to the Dodge Coronet, the Belvedere was big enough to accommodate the large Hemi, yet light enough to be a performance machine. Despite its plain looks, the Belvedere Hemi was a serious muscle car.

  1. Plymouth Prowler

The hot rod culture is one of the key ingredients of the American automotive landscape. However, no company ever dared to present a factory built hot rod until 1997. That is when Plymouth presented the Prowler, a retro-futuristic roadster with a V6 engine and fantastic looks.

They imagined it as a follow up to the Viper. And the Prowler was a hit on the car show circuit, so Chrysler wanted to capitalize on that. Despite having an initial success, the car proved to be a failure. This was mainly due to the fact that customers expected V8, not V6 power.

  1. Plymouth Hemi Cuda Sox and Martin

Although this ‘Cuda wasn’t an official Plymouth product, it was one of the most legendary and best-known muscle cars of its day. And the Sox and Martin ‘Cuda was one of the most successful drag racing teams of the late ’60s and early ’70s. In fact, their favorite weapon was a red, white and blue ‘Cuda with a specially-prepared Hemi engine.

They thoroughly changed the ‘Cuda over the standard model, but the basic layout was the same. The Hemi engine was fed by two Holly four-barrel carburetors, along with a special ignition system and experimental camshaft. And the car even won 17 major drag events in 1970 alone. This proved that it is the fastest Hemi stock car in the world.

  1. Plymouth Roadrunner Wagon

Plymouth never officially sold the Roadrunner Wagon but still, car enthusiasts have converted quite a few cars. They built the Roadrunner on the Belvedere platform, which meant every panel fit. So, crafty muscle car fans could take ordinary Belvedere Wagons and put Roadrunner front ends on them.

But, the conversion wouldn’t be complete if the Roadrunner Wagon retained the Belvedere drivetrain. So, they installed the Roadrunner engine, suspension and components, creating one of the fastest station wagons available. Also, some people even installed Hemi engines, creating the fastest family car in the world at the time.

  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. And in the Barracuda, it was available in 1969 as a limited production model. However, in 1970, it was a regular production engine option.

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

Advertisement
Please wait 5 sec.