NASCAR races were one of the most important battle arenas of the muscle car war. Back in the late ’60s, superspeedways were places for clashes between Detroit manufacturers. The most interesting period was in the late ’60s when NASCAR rules allowed modifications to car bodies to make them more aerodynamic.
Most manufacturers jumped at this opportunity. One of the most famous and influential was the 1969 Charger Daytona. They only produced 504 of strictly as homologation specials. With all the upgrades, the Daytona proved to be successful on the race tracks. It managed to do a record 217 mph run in almost stock configuration. That only shows how good the design and engineering was behind this project. The standard engine was a 440 V8, so only about 70 cars received the legendary 426 Hemi.
Back in the early â60s, the performance market was not an interesting segment for mainstream dealers. However, specialized dealers like a man named Norm Kraus paid attention to the performance market and youthful buyers. When the muscle car era launched, Kraus’ dealership was ready with a full selection of performance cars and parts. But the real climb to fame was when Kraus did something Dodge thought was impossible.
He wanted to put a 383 V8 engine in a compact Dodge Dart body. Kraus knew it would sell because the Dart was a lightweight car, and would be fast with the potent 383. However, Dodge engineering told him a 383 V8 wouldn’t fit the Dart’s small engine bay. So he ordered a new Dart and a crate 383 V8 engine, In a few days, the Dodge Dart Grand Spaulding Special (GSS) was born. Even though the Dart GSS was a specially-built tuner model, it proved to be an influential piece of Mopar history.
The biggest news for 1969 was the introduction of the Barracuda 440 V8. It was a monster pony car with the largest engine ever installed in that segment. Plymouth wanted to be a dominant force in the stock class of drag racing championships. They needed a big block and tons of torque. The Barracuda 440 was exactly that even if it was a handful to drive.
It required a complicated production process since the big 440 would not fit in the small Barracuda engine bay. The Barracuda 440 delivered 375 HP with a massive 480 lb-ft of torque. All that made it fast, but it was also hard to launch due to wheel spin. Because of the tight fit of the engine, there wasn’t enough space for a power steering pump. Drivers had to use their muscles to turn this compact but powerful car. Plymouth only made a handful of these models, which makes them highly desirable today.
The Superbird has one of the most recognizable designs ever presented. To homologate the car for racing, Plymouth built just under 2,000 road-going Superbirds. Based the car on the Roadrunner, they only offered it for one year in 1970.
It came with the 440 V8 as standard and 426 Hemi as the only engine option. To make it as aerodynamically efficient as they could, Plymouth installed a nose cone, hideaway headlights and an enormous spoiler on the back. They also transformed the rear glass from the standard concave shape to a regular design, which was more slippery in wind tunnel testing.
The 1970 model year was undeniably a pinnacle year for classic muscle cars. Never before or since were there so many memorable Mopar machines. The pony car wars were in full swing with the new Firebird, Camaro, Dodge Challenger and the new, improved Plymouth Barracuda. One of the most interesting 1970 Barracudas was the rare AAR âCuda.
The AAR âCuda was a limited production model to commemorate Dan Gurney’s All-American Racing team, which used âCudas 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. They added a rear spoiler and interesting side graphics that included the big AAR logo. This version was more expensive than the regular 340 âCuda. They only made 2,724 of them.
Chrysler presented the 300 Hurst in 1970 as a special limited edition. It was a special model based on the new full-size Chrysler platform. They built it in limited numbers at around 500 with the help of transmission company Hurst. It featured a special white and gold paint job and a rear spoiler integrated into the rear deck lid.
Under the hood, there was a mighty 440 V8 engine with 395 HP that could propel the two-ton beast to respectful acceleration times. But because they only offered this model for one year only, people soon forgot about it. True Mopar aficionados always remember these gold and white behemoths.
Even though Plymouth had the Barracuda, its stablemate Dodge didn’t enter the segment until 1970. Some muscle car historians say Dodge was late for the party. But the Challenger was so good, it left its mark on history. Mopar’s E-Body models, the Barracuda and Challenger were new for 1970.
They featured a new design and better construction and a wider, longer body. Although their designs were different, they shared some interchangeable parts, as well. For the Challenger, buyers could get a powerful 383 V8, as well as the big 440 and the famous 426 Hemi. Depending on the specifications, differential ratio, and gearboxes, Challengers could accelerate to 60 mph in the 5.5 to 5.7-second range. That was considered quite fast for 1970.
Two of the biggest Chrysler legends from the classic days of the muscle car culture are the Barracuda and the 426 Hemi engine. All through the â60s, those icons of the industry didn’t mix, at least not in street-legal cars. In 1970 Plymouth offered this legendary engine in the Barracuda body, immediately 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. They installed it in about 600 coupes and only 17 convertibles during its two-year production period. The power was rated at 425 HP. But everybody knew the orange monster delivered more than 500 HP straight from the box.
As an economy brand, Plymouth was active and successful at the lower end of the market starting in the early â60s with the Valiant. But by the late â60s and early â70s, the compact market had grown, so Plymouth introduced the Duster 340. This model was a junior muscle car. It had a smaller 340 HP engine they rated at 275 HP.
Plymouth never anticipated the success the Duster 340 achieved, so they doubled the production in just a few months. The 275 HP engine moved the light body to respectable 0 to 60 mph times of just over six seconds. The car may have been 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. After the original muscle car era ended in 1974, Plymouth continued to offer the Duster 340.
Despite being an economy brand in the Chrysler Corporation, Plymouth had a surprisingly large number of muscle cars during the â60s and â70s. 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.
In 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. However, despite its power and looks, the Fury GT wasn’t a big performer because it was such a heavy car.
The muscle car era affected the truck segment, which resulted in a few special versions and more powerful engines. However, nothing changed the truck industry more than when Dodge introduced the Lil’ Express Truck in 1978 as the first full-size muscle truck in the world. The secret of the Lil’ Express Truck and its importance lies in the strict rules of the late 1970s, which robbed V8 engines of their power. But Dodge found an interesting loophole in the current regulations that declared pickup trucks didn’t need catalytic converters. This meant Dodge could install a more powerful engine and allow it to deliver more punch than previous models or competitors.
Dodge took a 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 a more durable automatic transmission. This wild-looking special model had a 225 HP engine, which was considered powerful in those days. Thanks to a revised drivetrain, it was the fastest accelerating domestic vehicle in 1978. It was faster than muscle cars like the Mustang, Camaro, and the Corvette. Today, these cool-looking Dodge trucks are highly sought-after and command high prices
While Europe was embracing the hot hatch class and developing it further in the mid-’80s, America seemed uninterested. The Golf GTI sold well in the states, but domestic manufacturers weren’t producing any hot hatches until the legendary Carroll Shelby teamed up with Dodge to introduce his version of the compact Omni model. Dodge called it the Omni GLH, meaning, “Goes Like Hell.”
It was one of the best affordable performance models money could buy. Nobody expected Dodge could produce a hot hatch that could beat the European competitors. With Shelby’s help, it did just that. Shelby took the 2.2-liter four-cylinder and added a turbocharger. This gave the Omni GLH a total output of 175 HP and a 0 to 60 mph time of less than seven seconds. Dodge gave the GLH some suspension modifications and other upgrades so it could handle all that power.
Produced from 2004 to 2006, Dodge Ram SRT-10 is one of the craziest pickups ever produced. Just look at the specs. The 8.2-liter V10 engine with over 500 hp, a 0 to 60 time of fewer than 5 seconds, and a fuel economy in single digits. Top it all out with a crazy bright red or yellow paint job and two racing stripes, and you’ll get the idea of what the SRT-10 is all about.
It was something you couldn’t miss if you saw it on the street. Of course, with the price tag of over $45,000, the SRT-10 wasn’t exactly a sales hit but they did produce a decent number in its three-year production run.
Despite the fact that the Charger went away in the late ’80s and Chrysler retired the nameplate, the legend of the glorious Mopar muscle car model never really disappeared. During the ’90s and the rise of the SUV market, Dodge presented several concepts that kept the fire burning and Mopar fans hopeful their favorite muscle car would be reincarnated. And it was in 2005, but in a four-door guise which raised a few eyebrows.
The brand-new Charger sedan debuted as a true American four-door with a 5.7-liter Hemi V8 engine as a top engine choice. Immediately, this was a fantastic success since it combined modern technology with retro Mopar styling and Hemi power. It wasn’t what many Mopar fans asked for but it was a proper performance car. The engine choices started with 3.6-liter V6 and buyers could the new 350 HP 5.7-liter Hemi. But Dodge didn’t forget the burning muscle car market and soon after the introduction of the regular model, the Charger SRT-8 was released. Under the hood was a 6.1-liter Hemi with 425 HP and fantastic performance that connected with the Hemi Chargers of Mopar past.
If a driver were to need an SUV with 475 HP and the ability to carry seven passengers, or a small school bus in case your kids are terribly late for school, and you need to get them there in a hurry. The Dodge Durango SRT was your Mopar vehicle.
With 6.4-liter Hemi and 475 HP, this is a pure Dodge muscle car in an SUV package. In contrast to other vehicles on this list that were mostly useless as real SUVs, the Durango is pretty capable. Not only it is amongst the biggest and has three-row seating, but it can also carry and tow the biggest loads, which makes it practical and usable in real life.
Despite the fact that muscle cars are faster than European sports coupes, some Mopar fans still want a good old American muscle coupe with a roaring V8 and a lot of attitude. For those folks, Dodge has the Challenger, a retro Mopar muscle car with modern technology, and a fantastic Hemi V8 with 6.1 liters and 485 hp.
Our price limit doesn’t allow you to buy a crazy Challenger Hellcat with 707 hp and rear tires as wide as the highway, but you can still get the Scat Pack version, which is more than enough. The 0 to 60 mph time is in the 4.5-second range, which is decent, and top speed is close to 170 mph.
Ever since the four-door Charger was released it became a popular model. In 2011, the second generation was introduced featuring fresh design, more options but mostly unchanged platform and engine choices. Dodge kept the SRT model in the lineup, but Mopar fans knew the Charger was capable of much more. So finally in 2014, the Hellcat arrived and the Mopar community went crazy. After all, the reaction was totally expected since the 6.2-liter supercharged V8 with 707 hp is a monster that shouldn’t be released on the streets.
But Dodge did just that, allowing the general public to buy one of the fastest and most powerful muscle cars ever built. Despite being overpowered in any aspect, Dodge Charger Hellcats are surprisingly good to drive and can be docile at low speeds. Only when you press the throttle and unleash the fury of 707 horses you can feel the brutality of the Hellcat package. The 0 to 60 mph time is in the high 3-second range and the car can top 200 mph.
There were fast SUVs before Jeep introduced the Trackhawk, and there will be long after the Trackhawk is discontinued. However, this glorious machine deserves a place on our list for two reasons. First, the 707 Hellcat Hemi engine under the hood.
Second, with a 3.4-second 0 to 60 mph time, it’s faster than some supercars. The Trackhawk is a brutal machine that is highly unusual and influential. It is a proper Mopar muscle SUV. It just shows that a high horsepower Hemi engine can make anything a proper muscle car, even a full-size SUV.
What is the definition of a Mopar muscle car? A two-door coupe with a big V8 engine and rear-wheel drive? Well, Dodge has a different vision. For decades, muscle cars were rear-wheel drive only vehicles, and in 2016, Dodge introduced a special model in its Challenger lineup called GT AWD.
It’s a Challenger with recognizable coupe styling, retro charm, and aggressive stance, but underneath the body is a V6 and intelligent all-wheel-drive system. There are no more smoky burnouts and rear wheels on fire. Instead, now there are loads of traction even in the toughest conditions. At the moment, Dodge Challenger AWD is the only all-wheel-drive production muscle car ever built. Unfortunately, Dodge offers the GT AWD only with the V6 engine. Although the V6 is relatively powerful with 305 HP, we still wish it to be available with a proper Hemi V8.
If for any reason, 707 HP from the Hellcat package is not enough for you and you want the ultimate modern Mopar muscle car and the most powerful street Hemi engine ever made, then the Demon package is just the thing. With standard fuel, it delivers an insane 808 HP.
The rest of the Demon package is equally insane from the special transmission, suspension, and brake to widebody stance and exterior details. The acceleration from 0 to 60 is less than 3 seconds, and under full power, the Demon will accelerate with 1.8 G force. That’s faster than being dropped off a cliff. The car is capable of covering a quarter-mile in less than 10 seconds straight from the box. If the reports are true and Chrysler is considering discontinuing the Hemi engine lineup, this is the best way to go for Mopar fans.