What is the first car that pops into your mind when somebody says, “muscle cars”? Most people think of the powerful 1970 Hemi ‘Cuda, the mighty 1968 Charger, the sleek 1967 Mustang or the sporty 1969 Corvette. For lovers of American muscle cars, there is no shortage of choices. But, even though most muscle cars are fire-breathing horsepower and torque monsters, several models fell short of the mark.
The slowest muscle cars are mostly the models they produced in the late 1970s and early ’80s. That was when rising emissions and safety standards almost killed the muscle car segment. Starting in 1971, the government implemented laws that forced U.S. car manufacturers to drop power levels.
For this reason, most people consider the late ’70s the dark ages of American car performance. They didn’t possess the main thing that differentiates a regular car from a muscle car, and that is power. So, keep reading to enjoy a slow ride through muscle car history to revisit some of the lesser-loved cars in this segment.
1974 Pontiac GTO
They downsized the once-mighty Pontiac GTO from a separate model to only a trim line option for the 1974 Pontiac Ventura. For most GTO fans, it was sad to see the once glorious muscle car downgraded to just a trim level. All they did was slap some decals on an economy model and add a 5.7-liter V8 engine that delivered only 200 HP.
As a result, Pontiac experienced slow sales in the GTO line for a few years. Despite the relative success of the smaller Trans Am/Firebird line, the GTO line wasn’t popular enough to justify investing in a separate model. Most people considered the 1974 GTO a pathetic attempt to recapture the former glory of the GTO. However, the automobile market didn’t fall for this trick.