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Class of 1970: The 20 Best Models from the Pinnacle of the Muscle Car Era

Vukasin HerbezJanuary 18, 2019

  1. Ford Torino 429 SCJ

Ford’s intermediate muscle car, the Torino, returned for 1970 with a 429 Cobra Jet engine they rated between 370 and 375 HP. Ford wanted this car to fight the big dogs in the muscle car segment like the Dodge Charger and Pontiac GTO.

With interesting styling, a semi-fastback roofline and a powerful Cobra Jet engine, the Torino was one of the best cars in its class for 1970. It was also available as a convertible, and with or without the Ram Air intake hood scoop.

  1. Mercury Cougar Eliminator

Despite being a twin brother to the Mustang, the Mercury Cougar gained a cult following. It even managed to create a name of its own in the late ‘60s. But for the 1970 muscle car wars, the Mercury had something special in the form of the Cougar Eliminator. The Cougar Eliminator was a top of the line model with several interesting engine choices.

You could get a Boss 302 engine, high revving 5.0-liter V8, 351 Cleveland or the famous 428 Cobra Jet. If you compared this model to the Mustang range, you could say the Eliminator was a cross between a Boss 302 and a Mach I Mustang. However, the Cougar was slightly longer than the Mustang and had slightly better handling and comfort.

  1. Oldsmobile 442 W30

The 442 is one of the most legendary muscle car names in automotive history. In true Oldsmobile fashion, they thoroughly engineered the 442 to be a quality-built performance machine. And it was a car that could stand up to any of the muscle car legends. But in 1966, Olds presented a W30 option, which they marketed “for performance enthusiasts only.” However, in 1970 this package got a whole new meaning with the introduction of the mighty 455 V8 engine.

Even though they rated it at 370 HP, it was a grossly underrated figure. The 1970 Oldsmobile 442 was luxurious, fast and powerful and a bit more expensive than other muscle cars. However, the Oldsmobile engineers put a lot of time and effort into making it one of the most capable cars on the market. In fact, they gave it numerous tweaks and improvements not available on any other GM models.

  1. Oldsmobile Rally 350

In an attempt to fight the tightening regulations that were destroying the muscle car class, Oldsmobile introduced the bright yellow Rally 350 model. It was a clever way to avoid high insurance premiums with a smaller but still powerful 350 V8 engine producing 310 HP. This model was basically a 442 muscle car with a smaller engine and a lower price.

The most interesting feature was the bright yellow paint along with the yellow bumpers, spoiler and wheel inserts. It looked like somebody dropped the Oldsmobile Cutlass in a tank of bold yellow paint. Other manufacturers introduced similar models, but this Oldsmobile is best known due to its unmistakable appearance.

However, the Rally 350 wasn’t a big success on the market despite its clever engineering. Also, they only built 3,547 examples in 1970. Although most Oldsmobile performance cars are well-known among car enthusiasts, they forgot about the Rally 350 so it is rarely seen today.

  1. Plymouth Superbird

As one of the craziest muscle cars Plymouth ever produced, they offered the Superbird in 1970 only. In order to homologate the car for NASCAR racing, Plymouth built just under 2,000 road-going Superbirds, selling them all over America. They based the car on the Roadrunner and it came with a 440 V8 as standard and a 426 Hemi as the only engine option.

However, to make it as aerodynamically efficient as they could, Plymouth installed a nose cone, hideaway headlights and an enormous spoiler on the back. Also, it transformed the rear glass from the standard concave shape to a regular shape, which proved more slippery in wind tunnel testing.

  1. Plymouth Hemi Cuda

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. But in 1970, Plymouth offered this legendary engine in the Barracuda body style, immediately creating one of the fastest, most desirable muscle cars they ever made.

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 only installed it in approximately 600 coupes and 17 convertibles during its 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. Plymouth Cuda AAR

The pony car wars were at full swing in 1970 with the new Firebird, Camaro, Dodge Challenger and the much-improved Plymouth Barracuda. But 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, which used ‘Cudas in the Trans-Am championship.

It came with a 340 V8 small block, special plastic hood in matte black paint with a hood scoop, rear spoiler and interesting side graphics, including the big AAR logo. This version was somewhat more expensive than the regular 340 ‘Cuda and that is why they only build 2,724 of them.

  1. Pontiac GTO Judge

They introduced the Judge package in 1969 and it returned for 1970 with even more power, unique details, and performance. The big rear spoiler and funky Judge graphics were back, too. But since Pontiac redesigned the GTO line for 1970, the Judge looked better and meaner, as well.

The biggest news was the availability of the mighty 455 big block engine with the Ram Air III or Ram Air IV intake system. Both engines had ratings of a conservative 370 HP, but everybody knew they produced much more power. Due to the stiff competition, the GTO wasn’t as popular as before. However, car fans still regard it as one of the best muscle cars around.

  1. Pontiac Firebird Trans Am

A special version for 1969, the 1970 Trans Am was a full-fledged member of the Firebird lineup. The Trans Am featured a high-revving 400 V8 engine. Although it was smaller than the 455 V8 in the GTO, it was faster because the Firebird was lighter than the GTO. The engine was also available in two stages depending on the type of Ram Air induction.

Also, the horsepower varied between 345 and 370 HP. Design wise, the 1970 Firebird was great looking car especially with the Trans Am trim. Also, it came with front and rear spoilers and had a beautiful paint job. With the 57/43 weight split, the Trans Am handled like dream.

These are the cars from the class of 1970 and the 20 best models from the pinnacle of the muscle car era. Have you seen one of these lately? If you want to own one, move fast, because they are becoming quite rare and hard to find.

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