Home Cars Living Legends: These Memorable Muscle Cars Still Last A Lifetime

Living Legends: These Memorable Muscle Cars Still Last A Lifetime

Vukasin Herbez April 26, 2023

Photo Credit: Auto WP

Dodge Challenger

Even though Plymouth had the Barracuda, the first pony car model introduced two weeks before the Ford Mustang, its stablemate Dodge didn’t enter the segment until 1970. Some muscle car historians said that Dodge was almost late to the party. But the Challenger was so good that it truly left its mark and reserved a place in history. Mopar’s E-Body models Barracuda and Challenger were new in 1970. They featured a unique design, better construction, and a larger body (via Motor Trend).

Dodge Challenger
Photo Credit: Hot Rod

There was no significant mechanical difference between the Barracuda and the Challenger, only the design. But these two cars also had some interchangeable bodywork parts. The Challenger got full firepower from Mopar’s engines, and buyers could get a powerful 383 V8, a hefty 440, and the famous 426 Hemi. Of course, the best performers were the 440 and the Hemi. Depending on the specifications, differential ratio, and gearboxes, Challengers equipped with those engines could accelerate to 60 mph in the 5.5 to 5.7 seconds range, quick for 1970.

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Mercury Cougar Eliminator

Despite being a twin brother to the Mustang, Mercury Cougar gained a cult following and managed to create a name of its own in the late ’60s. For the 1970 muscle car wars, Mercury had something special in the Cougar Eliminator (via Heacock Classics).

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The 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 compare this model to the Mustang range, you could say that Eliminator was a cross between Boss 302 and Mach I Mustang. However, the Cougar was slightly longer than the Mustang and had better handling and comfort.

Photo Credit: Vista Pointe

Oldsmobile 442 W30

The 442 is one of the most legendary muscle car names. In true Oldsmobile fashion, the 442 was a thoroughly engineered and quality-built performance machine and a car that could stand up to any muscle car legends. In 1966, Olds presented a W30 option which was marketed “for performance enthusiasts only.”

Foto Credit: Hagerty

But for 1970, this package got a whole new meaning with the introduction of the mighty 455 V8 engine with 370 HP, which was a grossly underrated figure. The 1970 Oldsmobile 442 was luxurious, powerful, and more expensive than the rest of the similar muscle cars. However, Oldsmobile engineers put a lot of time and effort into making it one of the most capable cars on the market with numerous tweaks and improvements unavailable on other GM models (via Top Speed).

Photo Credit: BaT

Pontiac Firebird Trans Am

What was a special version for 1969, for 1970, 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 found in GTO, it was faster because Firebird was lighter than GTO.

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The engine was also available in two stages depending on the type of Ram Air induction, and power varied from 345 to 370 HP (via Motor Trend). Design-wise, the 1970 Firebird was a great-looking car, especially in Trans AM trim with front and rear spoilers and a beautiful paint job. With a 57/43 weight split, the Trans Am handled like a dream.

Foto Credit: Auto WP

Chevrolet Camaro IROC-Z

The third-generation Camaro was famous. But after a while, the buyers wanted more performance and power. So Chevrolet delivered that in the legendary IROC-Z version in 1985. The IROC-Z was a tribute to the Chevrolet-sponsored International Race of Champions racing series (via Car Gurus).

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However, it was more than an appearance package and a cool name. Under the hood was a 350 V8 with 225 HP and in later versions, 245 HP. Buyers could opt for manual or automatic and tuned suspensions and steering. Chevrolet even offered a cool-looking convertible: the first Camaro ragtop in 18 years. The IROC-Z proved to be a popular and influential muscle car that finally brought some actual performance to buyers.

Photo Credit: Mecum

Shelby GT 500

Even though Mustang had some performance versions like the GT with the 289 HiPo V8 engine or Shelby GT 350 in 1965, the first actual performance Mustang with a big block engine and respectable 0 to 60 mph times was the 1967 Shelby GT 500. Bigger and more powerful than before, the 1967 GT 500 featured a new design, modified front and rear end, and a hefty 427 V8 engine with 335 HP and 420 lb.-ft of torque (via Hagerty).

Photo Credit: Mecum

In those days, Ford was notorious for underrating the power output of their engines, and 335 HP sounded too little for the big 427. The enthusiasts claim that the real power was closer to the 400 hp range, and the performance figures backed that claim. The 0 to 60 mph time was 6.5 seconds which was suitable for the day, and thanks to suspension modifications, the GT 500 could handle the curves well, too.

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