Smokey Yunick’s Chevelle
If you haven’t heard about Smokey Yunick, you should, because he is one of the most colorful characters in American racing history. In fact, Yunick was a highly interesting engineer and race car builder. However, he was a grand cheater when it comes to racing propositions. And his attempt to trick NASCAR officials is the stuff of legends.
However, one of the best moments was when he presented his specially prepared Chevelle for 1967 season. He built the car according to NASCAR specifications and everything looked correct. But then somebody parked a stock 1967 Chevelle next to Smokey’s car and the officials noticed that Yunick’s racing car was considerably smaller.
In fact, he built a 7/8th scale replica of a standard car that looked exactly the same as the Chevelle. But, it was narrower, shorter and much lighter, which would give him an unfair advantage on the track. Needless to say, they banned the car, but the legend survived.
21. Oldsmobile 442 Name
Despite the fact that Pontiac GTO takes all the credit as being the first modern muscle car, not a lot of people know that Oldsmobile 442 started the same year as the Pontiac. However, Oldsmobile was much more discrete about advertising a new model, basically, just an option on the Cutlass line. From the beginning, the 442 was marketed as “gentleman`s hot rod” an elegant, well-equipped muscle car with luxury appointments, reserved styling and brutal performance.
The name 442 caused a lot of controversies back in the day but the meaning was pretty simple – 4 barrel carburetor, 4 on the floor and dual exhaust. Of course, you could order it with automatic but if you wanted the most out your 442, you would take the manual.
32. Shelby Lil Red
After almost 50 years or searching, in early 2018 the famous Shelby Lil Red was found in Texas. Known to only a handful of car enthusiasts, the Lil Red was the long lost Shelby prototype and a missing piece of the Shelby puzzle.
So what makes this old Mustang so important? Well, it was a special 1967 notchback model, loaned to Shelby American and fitted with numerous experimental parts and a supercharged 428 engine. The car was used for development of the famous California Special package. However, in late `60s the car was gone and everybody thought that it was destroyed. Until this year.
23. Banshee I
The Banshee I was the first in a long line of Pontiac concept cars that had a strong influence on production models. The first one to emerge in 1964 was extremely advanced with compact dimensions, a lightweight body and a powerful engine. Pontiac conceived it as a “Mustang killer,” but GM was afraid that a sports coupe from Pontiac could affect Corvette sales and they cancelled the project.
24. Baldwin Motion Written Guarantee
Established in 1967 when Baldwin Chevrolet dealership teamed up with Joel Rosen`s Motion Performance, the dealership soon became the place for all your performance needs.
In contrast to other performance dealerships and tuning houses, Baldwin-Motion did very precise tuning of their cars and put out written guarantees that the tuned car will perform in a certain way. For example, their top of the line Phase III 427 V8 Camaro conversion had 500 HP and 10-second quarter mile times guaranteed or your money back. It has been recorded that no owner came back and requested their money back.
25. 1975 Cuda Concept
As you already know, the Barracuda was discontinued in late 1974 and no 1975 model was ever produced. But, did you know that Chrysler was very close to present the 1975 Cuda and move it up in the sports car segment?
They envisioned the 1975 model as a proper sports car with 2+2 seating configuration. It would have a sharp and aerodynamic front end, low roofline and silhouette. There were two prototypes, one with a pop up and one with exposed headlights. However, despite the car’s cool looks, Chrysler decided to kill the idea and sent the Barracuda to the history books.
26. Shelby Europa
When Shelby introduced its line of powerful Mustangs, European enthusiasts took notice and soon the cars were popular on the continent as well as in the States. One of the first Shelby dealers was Belgian racing driver Claude Dubois. After the Shelby production stopped in 1970, Dubois approached Carroll Shelby and asked him for the rights to produce a special line of European spec 1971/72 Mustangs under the Shelby name.
In two years, only about 14 cars were made which makes Shelby Europe an incredibly rare muscle car. Most of them got 351 V8 engines and some received the 429 Cobra Jet.
27. Moonshiners and Muscle Cars
Even though moonshining business was no longer popular in rural America by the time the muscle car era started, the remaining booze smugglers were devoted muscle car customers. However, since loud and obnoxious coupes and convertibles would have been too obvious, illegal alcohol runners used sedans, wagons or even pickups fitted with latest muscle motors, transmissions or suspensions. You’re probably thinking who in the world would buy a 426 Hemi Coronet Sedan? Well, somebody who wanted to keep low key but still needed almost 500 horsepower for a quick getaway.
28. Magnum 500 Wheels
One of the most popular wheel choices in muscle car era were beautiful Magnum 500 wheels introduced in late 1963. First available as 14 inch, they later became available as 16 inch since the dimensions of the wheels grew. The Magnum 500 was arather common factory option on almost all models of muscle cars and Ford, GM and Mopar all used them on their cars.
Interestingly, only one company refused to install them on their muscle cars. No Pontiac was ever delivered with Magnum 500, but with their own version called Rally II wheels.
29. Mopar`s Pistol Grip Shifter
When Mopar presented muscle models for 1970, they introduced numerous improvements, new designs and interior features. One of the most interesting and popular was the Pistol Grip Shifter. In reality, it was just a shifter knob designed like a grip of a revolver which became immensely popular with the buyers. Even today, this is a common aftermarket accessory.
30. Dodge Dart GSS
The main Mopar`s performance hub was in Chicago at Mr. Norm Grand Spaulding Dodge dealership. Owned by Norm Kraus, it was the place where you could order your muscle Dodge or Plymouth and tune it for extra performance. However, Mr. Norm wanted more.
Mr. Norm wanted a 383 V8 engine in a compact Dodge Dart body since he knew that it would sell because Dart was a lightweight car and with a potent 383, it would really be fast. However, he was told by Dodge engineering team that a 383 V8 wouldn’t fit the small Dart engine bay.So, he ordered a brand new Dart and a crate 383 V8 engine, and in a few days’ time a Dodge Dart GSS (Grand Spaulding Special) was born. It was the only muscle car built by an outside company which was covered by factory warranty.
31. Ford T5
If you are not a devoted Mustang fan then Ford T5 means nothing to you. However, if you know the history of Ford`s pony car, you will recognize a special German version of the Mustang. When the Mustang was introduced in Europe it was as popular as it was in the States. However, selling them on German market proved difficult since a small bicycle company owned rights to the Mustang name.
Ford decided to simply rename the Mustang as Ford T5 and sell the cars as such on the German market. Over 10,000 of T5 Mustangs were produced until 1973.
32. Guldstrand GS-90
Dick Guldstrand was a household name to all Corvette fans as one of the best known Corvette racers and tuners. In the early `90s, Chevrolet introduced the mighty ZR1 Vette, but Guldstrand felt it wasn’t enough. So, his shop presented the Guldstrand GS 90 with 475 HP and a host of other upgrades. The GS 90 production was very limited with some sources stating that only about 25 cars were made. However, they are easily recognizable due to custom bodywork and paintjob.
33. Dodge Lil Red Express
In the late `70s, a Dodge Ram truck was faster than a stock Corvette?! The secret of the Lil` Express Truck and its importance was in strict rules of the late ’70s which robbed the V8 engines of its power and vehicles of its performance.
But Dodge found an interesting loophole in regulations which declared that pickup trucks didn`t need catalytic converters. This meant that Dodge could install a more powerful engine and have it breathe easier and deliver more punch than previous models or competitors. And this is how the Lil` Express Truck came to be.
Dodge took the standard D Series short bed truck, added a 360 V8 engine and put big truck-like stacked exhaust pipes right behind the doors. They also installed durable automatic transmission, a red color scheme with signature decals and details and lots of chrome trim. This wild looking special model had 225 hp which was considered much in those days and thanks to revised drivetrain it was the fastest accelerating domestic vehicle in 1978! Just as a reminder, the Dodge pickup truck was faster than all Mustangs, Camaros, and Corvettes in 1978.
34. Sox and Martin Drag Race Cuda
Despite the fact that this Cuda wasn’t an official Plymouth product it was one of the most legendary and best known muscle cars of its day. The Sox & Martin was one of the most successful drag racing teams of the late `60s and early `70s and their favorite weapon was red white and blue Cuda with specially prepared Hemi engine.
The Cuda was thoroughly changed over the standard model but the basic layout was the same. The Hemi engine was fed by two Holly four barrel carburetors along with special ignition system and experimental camshaft. The car won 17 major drag events in 1970 alone proving that it is the fastest Hemi stock car in the world.
35. Shelby de Mexico
If you thought that Shelby Europa is the only foreign Shelby outfit, you are wrong. In 1967, Shelby de Mexico operation started, first as a performance dealer which sold Shelby aftermarket parts but then as a full-fledged car builder which designed and produced specially prepared and race ready Mustangs with Shelby flair.
In 1969, Shelby de Mexico introduced its most popular model based on the regular Mustang coupe. Only about 300 of those interesting cars were made and most of them are still lost in rural Mexico waiting to be restored.
36. Japanese Police Mustang
The Mustang entered police forces in America in the `80s when the SSP package was introduced. However, Japanese Police Forces used the Mustang long before their American colleagues did. In 1973, a brand new Mustang Mach I entered Tokyo police as high speed chaise car.
Back in those days, Japanese cars were all compact and slow so we are sure that the mighty Mustang Mach I had no problems outrunning anything on the road.
37. Astronauts drove Corvettes
Alan Shepard was the first American in the space and he was also a vivid Corvette enthusiast owning several models, including a white ’62 convertible which was a present from GM. Just before the legendary Apollo 11 flight, Neil Armstrong, first man on the Moon, bought a Marina Blue `67 Corvette 427. The relationship between astronauts and Corvette continued when Apollo 12 members all received identical gold 1969 Corvettes. Even today, members of NASA space projects drove America`s favorite sports car.
38. Bullitt Mustang
One of the biggest Mustang legends is the Bullitt movie car. In 1968, the legendary actor Steve McQueen starred in a detective flick “Bullitt” and played a detective who drove a mean looking `68 GT390 Fastback. Two cars were used during the shooting, one reportedly being destroyed and other for close ups and promotional shoots which was driven and modified by McQueen himself, and which was preserved.
The second car was later sold and owned by several owners and finally settled in East Coast of America in hands of a very private owner who wants to remain anonymous and who is fully aware of the importance of this particular car. The owner doesn’t want to sell it, but if and when this car eventually makes its way to the auction block, we are sure that this will be the most expensive Mustang in the world with the price which will break any previous records. In early 2018, this legendary piece of muscle and movie history has resurfaced and Ford is proudly showing it around the world after convincing owner to share his treasure with the rest of the car community.
39. Dukes of Hazzard Chargers
We all have grown up watching those Duke boys evading the sheriff and jumping orange `69 Charger all over fictional Hazzard County. Over the course of 7 seasons and over 100 episodes, TV buffs recorded that the General Lee Charger had over 150 jumps caught on camera. Of course, the car was fine on the screen but in reality producers used over 300 cars which all were sent to scrap after the filming was done.
Back in those days, Chargers were cheap and plentiful so producers didn’t have problem procuring that much cars. Some were so badly damaged that were immediately sent to scrap and some were cannibalized for parts and engines. All in all only around 10 original cars survived and the rest are history.
40. Acid dipping
When you wanted to make extreme performance car in late `60s, one of the first thing you did was to acid dip the body. Back in the day, this was popular method of making the body lighter by totally submerging it into a tank full of aggressive acid which removed all paint from the body, body filler and even some amount of metal, making the car body significantly lighter. The process was first used by race car builders to cheat on the propositions and then it was accepted by anybody who wanted maximum out of their car.
Muscle cars continue to be a popular choice for drivers young and old. They make a bold statement on the road, whether they are a new model or a classic one. Ask any driver, and they can probably name their favorite model of a muscle car. And, even if they can’t afford to buy one, at least many car shows feature them.