Home Cars The Greatest American Muscle Cars Of All Time, Ranked
Cars

The Greatest American Muscle Cars Of All Time, Ranked

Vukasin HerbezJuly 8, 2022

Photo Credit: Edmunds

69. Chevrolet SS

Although the Chevy SS is now out of production, some car dealers may have unsold models you can buy right now. And you should do that since the SS is one of the best affordable performance sedans on the market today. With a 6.2-liter V8 delivering 412 HP, precise steering, and neutral handling, this car rivals Europe’s finest sports sedans.

Photo by: Motor Trend

Its performance numbers are respectable since a 0 to 60 mph sprint is possible in just 4.7 seconds while its top speed is over 150 mph. The SS is a good proposition for people who need a practical sedan but want a sports car. The SS is destined to be a future classic, so grab yours today (via Motor Trend).

Photo Credit: Pinterest

68. Ford Mustang Boss 351

In 1971, the Mustang received another restyle that would be the final one of the first generation. It featured a new sharper look with a much wider track. Unfortunately, the Boss 302 and Boss 429 versions were gone.

Photo Credit: Auto WP

But there was one interesting model introduced in 1971 called the Boss 351. Available for only one year, the ’71 Mustang Boss 351 was one of the rarest Mustangs Ford produced as Ford made only 1,800 of them. It was powered by a highly-tuned version of the 351 V8 engine with around 330 HP (via Road and Track).

1977 Camaro Z28 | Chevrolet camaro, Camaro, Old muscle cars
Photo Credit: Pinterest

67. Chevrolet Camaro Z/28 1977

Like all muscle cars in the 1970s, the Camaro faced tightening emission and safety regulations, resulting in a loss of power and performance. The early second-generation models looked promising. But just a few years after, the Z/28 was gone. The most powerful V8 model had around 165 HP (via AutoEvolution).

Photo Credit: GM

However, the 1977 model is essential for two reasons. First, it marked the return of the Z/28 option after a few years of absence. The ’77 Z/28 had just 185 horses, but it looked wild with a unique body kit and spoiler. However, the second reason is much more interesting. In 1977, the Camaro finally outsold the Mustang for the first time since 1967.

Plymouth Fury GT
Photo Credit: Fury

66. Plymouth Fury GT

Despite being an economy brand in the Chrysler Corporation, Plymouth had a surprisingly large number of muscle cars. Their luxury muscle car was the GTX, but in 1970, the Fury GT debuted as its biggest model on offer (via Hemmings).

Photo Credit: Mopar

In GT form, 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.

1963 Oldsmobile Jetfire | F102 | Indy 2017
Photo Credit: Mecum Auctions

65. Oldsmobile Jetfire

Back in the early ’60s, Oldsmobile was known as an innovative company that was not afraid to introduce new systems in their cars. In those days, every GM division was competing to present something new and better. So, Oldsmobile chose turbocharging as the new technology they wanted to perfect (Via CarThrottle).

Foto Credit: Auto WP

The Jetfire V8 included state-of-the-art technology. The new V8 delivered 215 HP, which was one HP per cubic inch. This made it one of the best performance cars of the day. With a 0 to 60 mph time of around eight seconds, it was almost as fast as the Corvette. However, the Jetfire had problems from the beginning.

Photo Credit: Edmunds

64. AMC Javelin

AMC wanted to get into the muscle car game so for 1968 they prepared two interesting models. One was the Javelin and the other was the AMX. Those two models shared drivetrains and engines. The Javelin was modern-looking as a four-seat, two-door muscle/pony car supposedly ready to battle the Mustang and Camaro (via How Stuff Works).

Javelin SST
Photo Credit: Hot Rod

It came with a long list of optional extras and featured several V8 engines. But the top engine configuration was the 390 V8 producing 310 HP, producing respectable performance. In fact, it was the first AMC model that got some street credit from muscle car enthusiasts.

Foto Credit: Mecum

63. Chevrolet Bel Air Fuelie

Since introducing the legendary 1955 Bel Air V8 model, Chevrolet has improved massively. But in 1957, Chevy presented the most advanced engine option of all American car manufacturers at the time – fuel injection (via Zero260).

Foto Credit: Mecum

Offered as a performance package for the Bel Air, “Fuelie” consisted of a unique fuel injection induction system that replaced carburetors. The 283 V8 engine had up to 270 HP with standard dual quads and 283 HP with fuel injection. Despite the slight difference in output, the fuel injection option delivered more power and was more efficient than the standard intake.

Photo Credit: Auto WP

62. Ford 7-Litre

Mustangs and Thunderbirds were the most famous, recognizable Fords of the ’60s, so the Ford 7-Litre is a forgotten luxury muscle model. In fact, many people are not even aware of its existence, but this is an interesting, powerful car. Under the hood was the 428 V8 with a respectable 345 HP, which delivered a convincing performance (via Hemmings).

Ford Galaxie - Car
Photo Credit: Hot Rod

There was also a heavy-duty suspension, power everything, a choice of special colors, and the 7-Litre badges on the sides to identify this model. In muscle car history, the 7-Litre was forgotten for quite a while. But in recent years, its popularity has grown.

Photo Credit: GM

61. Chevrolet Impala SS

As the muscle car era came to an end, Chevrolet discontinued the Impala SS, only to resurrect it in 1994. Since the early ’90s marked the return to performance, Chevrolet installed the famous 5.7-liter LT1 V8 engine in this full-size rear-wheel-drive sedan (via Car and Driver).

Foto Credit: GM

Then, they equipped it with a heavy-duty suspension and components, creating a modern-day muscle legend. The engine delivered 260 HP and propelled the big sedan from 0 to 60 mph in seven seconds. Although not exactly spectacular numbers, for the mid-90s, those were quite good results.

Photo Credit: GM

60. Pontiac Trans AM 20th Anniversary

In 1989, Pontiac was celebrating the 20th anniversary of its favorite muscle car, the Trans Am. What better way than to introduce a limited run of 1500 cars to commemorate the occasion? Pontiac decided to install Buick’s 3.8-liter turbo V6 from the GNX and create the fastest Trans Am of the decade (via Top Speed).

Photo Credit: GM

The white commemorative edition could accelerate 0.1 seconds faster from 0 to 60 mph than the GNX at 4.6 seconds. The reasons were simple as it incorporated better weight distribution and gearing from the Pontiac gearbox.

Photo Credit: Ford

59. Ford Thunderbird Supercharged

To consumers, the Thunderbird was a luxurious two-seater with low production numbers and a high price tag. However, its style and performance raised the collective car consciousness, which created the muscle car segment in following years. Ford introduced the Thunderbird in 1955 and it outsold the Corvette immediately (via Auto Evolution).

Photo Credit: Ford

But in 1957, Ford introduced two engine options that set the standards for car performance. They have a special place in the history of American muscle cars. Mounting a Paxton or McCullough supercharger on top of the optional 312 V8 engine gave the Thunderbird 300 HP. If that wasn’t enough, Ford offered the even hotter 340 HP version of the same supercharged engine intended for racers.

Photo Credit: Hot Rod

58. AMC Rebel Machine

The modest success of the 1969 AMC SC/Rambler encouraged the company to produce another special, one-year-only muscle car in the form of the Rebel Machine. AMC presented the Machine in 1970 with the same mechanics (via Hemmings).

AMC Rebel
Photo Credit: Hot Rod

But this time, they gave it more power at 345 HP. It had a cool name and a patriotic color scheme. Also, it had a Ram Air induction hood with a 0 to 60 time of fewer than six seconds. All that made it a reasonable choice for any street racer.

Dodge Demon
Photo Credit: Bring A Trailer

57. Dodge Dart Demon

The Dart has gone through several incarnations throughout its run. While the Dart isn’t the first nameplate that comes to mind when you think of muscle cars, it could hold its own. The 1971 Dart Demon was a special-edition muscle car that offered a great amount of power (via MotorTrend).

Photo Credits: Pinterest

Although you might not consider the Dart a true muscle car, the Demon was a special edition. With the polarizing paint job and the distinct performance of the Demon, it might just be one of the most forgotten muscle cars on the road.

Photo Credit: Car Domain

56. Plymouth Barracuda 440

The 1969 Barracuda featured a classic body style before the Plymouth E-Body muscle car got a thorough restyle for the 1970 model year. But the biggest news was the new 440 model featuring the biggest engine ever installed in that segment. The Barracuda 440 was a one-year-only model with 375 HP and a massive 480 lb.-ft of torque.

Photo Credit: Auto WP

Although that made it fast, it was hard to launch due to too much wheel spin. Due to the tight fit of the engine, there wasn’t space for the power steering pump. That meant drivers had to use their muscles to turn this compact, overly powerful car (via Motor Trend).

Photo Credits: Pinterest

55. Pontiac Firehawk

The SLP Firehawk was an interesting late muscle car. The model first appeared in 1995, marking the start of a successful venture between GM and the Street Legal Performance Company in New Jersey. This was an outside firm that produced performance kits for Firebirds (via New GM Parts).

Photo Credits: Car and Driver

However, the cars weren’t just improved base models; they were much more. The SLP Formula Firehawk had a 5.7-liter V8 engine with 300 or 315 HP, a lofty number for 1995. The six-speed manual version could accelerate from 0 to 60 in 4.9 seconds, making it one of the fastest production cars in America. The package cost $6,500 more than a regular Trans Am.

Plymouth Duster
Photo Credit: Hot Rod

54. Plymouth Duster 340

By the late ‘60s and early ‘70s, 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 rated at 275 HP (via American Muscle Carz). Plymouth never anticipated the success the Duster 340 achieved, so they doubled the production in just a few months.

1971 Plymouth Duster 340 SOLD / 136762 - YouTube
Photo Credit: Youtube

The 275 HP engine moved the light body to respectable 0 to 60 mph times in 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.

Photo Credit: Mecum

53. Pontiac Trans Am Turbo

The late ’70s were a sad time for muscle cars. However, Pontiac produced some memorable cars through its Special Edition models. In fact, they dressed up the Trans Am and turned it into a street icon. The main model was the Trans Am which came either with a 4.9-liter turbo engine or a 400 NA V8. However, neither of those powerplants had more than 220 HP during the 1977 to 1981 production run (via Motor Trend).

Photo Credit: Mecum

Affectionately called the “Screaming Chicken,” it had a highly stylized flaming bird logo on the hood of the car that was extraordinarily modern for the standards of the day. The 1977-78 Firebird Trans Am gained international fame by appearing in the cult movie “Smokey and the Bandit.” It helped triple the sales numbers, turning the Trans Am into a movie legend as well as a muscle car icon.

Also Read: Top 30 Iconic Movie Cars.

Photo Credits: Mecum

52. Chevrolet El Camino SS

The El Camino was conceived as a half-car/half-truck for carrying light loads. But in 1970, Chevrolet introduced the wildest El Camino of all in the form of the El Camino SS 454 (via Hemmings).

Photo Credits: Hot Rod

The mighty 454 V8 LS6 was a 7.4-liter Chevrolet big block engine with a 450 HP official rating. The engine delivered around 500 HP in real life. In the El Camino SS, this engine provided significant performance numbers close to the best regular muscle cars of the day.

Photo Credit: Mecum

51. Dodge Dakota Shelby

The Dakota was a compact pickup truck that was dependable, tough-looking, and came with a wide arrange of engines and trim levels. But Dodge wanted more, so they decided to build a performance version. They tapped the legendary Carroll Shelby, who was working with Chrysler at the moment, to create it (via Mopar Insiders).

Photo Credit: Dodge

Shelby took a regular production Dakota and installed a 5.2-liter V8 engine with 175 HP. Although power output was relatively small, the Dakota was light and had lots of torque. That meant this compact truck had a convincing performance. Shelby also dressed up the Dakota with a special paint job and trim.

AMC AMX (1968)
Photo Credit: Hot Rod

50. AMC AMX

The main difference between the 1968 AMC Javelin and AMC AMX was that the AMX was a two-seat model. Interestingly, it was the only two-seater on the U.S. car market other than the Corvette. With a shorter wheelbase, 390 V8 engine with 360 HP, and a reasonable price, the AMC AMX was a capable muscle car (via Bring A Trailer).

1968 AMC Javelin and AMX
Photo Credit: Automobile

The Javelin proved to be a sales success but the AMX was tough to sell. People wanted more room in their muscle cars, so a two-seater AMX was rather obsolete. It lasted on the market for two years. But although it was successful in many drag racing championships.

Also Read:

Ford thunderbird
Photo Credit: Car Domain

49. Ford Fairlane Thunderbolt

In 1964, Ford introduced its new factory-built drag racer, the Fairlane Thunderbolt. Ford used a plain Fairlane two-door sedan and removed all but the essentials. That made the Thunderbolt lighter with big power. Under the hood was the new 427 V8 FE with a factory output of 425 HP (via RK Motors).

Photo Credit: Auto WP

However, most experts think the real output was closer to 600 HP. The high numbers were due to the special intake manifold and pistons as well as its high-performance heads. Ford only made 100 Thunderbolts in 1964, selling them to professional racers for one dollar each.

Foto Credit: Auto WP

48. Buick Riviera GS

Buick conceived the Riviera as a personal luxury coupe. But they managed to turn it into a proper luxury muscle car with the GS package. in 1965, Gran Sport or GS featured revised suspension, a bigger 425 engine, and a host of other performance upgrades (via Schmitt).

Foto Credit: Auto WP

However, in this version, the Rivera was a true world-class automobile. It delivered 360 HP with 0-60 acceleration times of 7.9 seconds, figures that were better than most sports cars of the period.

Photo Credit: Mecum

47. Dodge Charger Daytona

NASCAR races were one of the most important battle arenas of the muscle car wars. So back in the late 60s, superspeedways were places of many fierce clashes between Ford, Chevrolet, Dodge, Plymouth, and Pontiac. Dodge decided to create a racing car with a special front end, flush rear glass, and a big rear spoiler. The Charger Daytona was one of the first cars they developed in a wind tunnel (via Supercars).

Photo Credit: Mecum

The Charger Daytona proved to be successful on the race tracks and even managed to do a record 217 mph run in almost stock configuration. This proved how good the design and engineering behind this project were. The standard engine was 440 V8, but only about 70 cars received the legendary 426 Hemi.

Virginia Classic Mustang Blog: 1966 Mustang 289 HiPo K Code Convertible For Sale
Photo Credit: Virginia Classic Mustang Blog

46. Ford Mustang 289 Hi Po

Although the Mustang looked sporty, it shared modest underpinnings with the economy Falcon. Its engine lineup included mild versions of inline-six and small V8 units. The power output was nothing special and the performance was somewhat below expectations. Ford responded with an interesting engine called the K-Code (via Petrolicious).

Photo Credit: Ford

The K-Code was the 289 V8 but with the milder, more street-friendly tune and 271 HP, more than enough for the performance Mustang fans asked for. Introduced in 1965 and available until 1967, the 289 HiPo was the first Mustang that ran as well as it looked.

Foto Credit: Mecum

45. Buick GNX

The story of this model is an interesting one. Back in 1982, Buick started experimenting with turbocharging its line of standard V6 engines. In 1987 came the ultimate version they called the GNX, or Grand National Experimental. It featured the same 3.8-liter turbocharged V6, but with 275 HP and 0 to 60 mph times of 4.7 seconds (via American Muscle Car Museum).

Foto Credit: Mecum

Suddenly, there was a turbocharged V6 coupe that broke every classic muscle car mold out there. It was even faster than a Ferrari. At that moment, the Buick GNX was the fastest accelerating production model in the world. But at $29,000, it wasn’t exactly budget-friendly. However, legend says some owners paid for their cars just by street racing with them.

Foto Credit: Auto WP

44. Chevrolet Camaro IROC

The third-generation Camaro was a well-received and popular car. Still, after a while, buyers wanted more power. So Chevrolet delivered it in the form of the legendary IROC-Z version. Introduced in 1985, the IROC-Z was a tribute model to the Chevrolet-sponsored International Race of Champions (IROC) racing series (via Motor Trend).

Foto Credit: Mecum

Under the hood was a 350 V8 with 225 HP in early versions and 245 HP in later versions. Buyers could opt for manual or automatic, and the suspension was tuned as well as steering. Chevrolet even offered a cool-looking convertible, the first Camaro ragtop in 18 years.

Photo Credit: Ford

43. Ford Mustang SVT Cobra

The SVT Cobra was an important model for the Mustang dynasty because it featured two firsts. The first was adding a factory supercharged engine and the second was an independent rear suspension. The Ford Special Vehicle Team (SVT) took a standard 4.6-liter engine block and mounted different heads. They also added a supercharger to get 390 HP and 390 lb.-ft of torque. Rumor was that it delivered more than the advertised 390 HP (via Car and Driver).

Photo Credit: Auto WP

So to handle all that power and torque, Ford equipped the SVT Cobra with an independent rear suspension. A setup similar to the first Ford GT, it increased stability at high speeds and hard launches. Also, it made this Mustang handle like a dream.

Photo Credits: Pinterest

42. Dodge Charger Super Bee

The Charger Super Bee was a one-year-only model that was kind of an entry-level muscle car. It sold at lower prices but had updated equipment and a 440 engine as standard. The Super Bee was a relatively popular proposition for people looking for a classic performance machine in vivid colors with tire-shredding performance (via Hemmings).

Photo Credits: Mecum

The base 440 delivered 370 HP, but the Six Pack option was capable of 385 HP. The Hemi was the only other engine option, but rare because only 22 cars received that engine.

Photo Credit: Ford

41. Ford F-150 Lightning

In 1999 along with the new, totally redesigned generation of F-150 trucks came the new Lightning. This time it was much more aggressive and packed much more firepower. Ford installed its 5.4-liter V8 with a supercharger, good for 360 HP at first and 380 HP later (via Edmunds).

Pickup truck - Ford Lightning
Photo Credit: Ford

Also, performance numbers were sublime because the Lightning could accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in five seconds and top 140 mph. Those figures were more suited to a Porsche 911 than to a regular pickup truck that could haul cargo just like any F-150.

1968 Plymouth Road Runner
Photo Credit: Mecum

40. Plymouth Roadrunner

When it first appeared in 1968, the Roadrunner was an influential, important muscle car. It introduced the new trend of inexpensive and fun cars and was also a strong seller, which affected the whole segment. The idea behind the Roadrunner was simple. It was to present a low-priced but powerful model to attract people with a limited budget but a strong need for performance (via Mecum).

Photo Credit: Mecum

The Roadrunner had a bench seat, no luxury options, and manual steering. But it came with the powerful 383 V8 as the base engine. Also, buyers could also opt for 440 or the mythical Hemi 426. In 1969, the Roadrunner got a convertible option for those buyers who wanted an open-air driving feel.

Dodge Lil' Red Express Truck
Photo Credit: Car Domain

39. Dodge Lil’ Red Express

The secret of the Lil’ Express Truck and its importance lies in the strict limitations of the late ’70s that robbed V8 engines of their power. Dodge found an interesting loophole in the regulations that declared pickup trucks didn’t have to have catalytic converters. This meant Dodge could install a more powerful engine and have it breathe easier to deliver more punch than previous models or competitors (via Dodge Connection).

Photo Credit: Pinterest

That’s how the Lil’ Express Truck came to be. Dodge took a standard D Series short bed truck and added a 360 V8 engine. Next, they added big truck-like stacked exhaust pipes right behind the doors. They also installed a durable automatic transmission with a red color scheme.

Chevrolet Camaro - Chevrolet Chevelle
Photo Credit: Mecum

38. Chevrolet Camaro ZL1

In the late ’60s, Can-Am was a famous racing series and it featured prototype class cars with V8 engines. Chevrolet wanted to purpose-build a power plant for this championship and produced an all-aluminum 427 big block called ZL-1 in 1969 (via Motor Trend).

Photo Credit: Mecum

It was a high-revving, 7.0-liter V8 with around 550 HP. Chevrolet produced about 200 of those engines. While most of them went to Can-Am racing teams, 69 ZL-1s were installed in C.O.P.O. Camaros and sold to drag teams. The Camaro ZL-1 was totally the same as the regular 1969 Camaro on the outside, but it was so fast it was barely street legal.

1970 Dodge Challenger R/T, Vanishing Point
Photo Credit: Hot Rod

37. Dodge Challenger 440

The Dodge Challenger didn’t enter the segment until 1970. Although some muscle car historians say Dodge was too late to the party, the Challenger left its mark and reserved a place in history. It featured a new design and better construction, as well as a wider and longer body. Also, buyers could get a powerful 383 V8 as well as the big 440 and the famous 426 Hemi (via Auto-Data).

Dodge Challenger
Photo Credit: Hot Rod

But the best performers were the 440 and the Hemi. And depending on the specifications, differential ratio, and gearboxes, Challengers equipped with those engines could accelerate to 60 mph in 5.5 to 5.7 seconds. Drivers considered that extremely quick by 1970 standards.

Photo Credit: Auto WP

36. Chrysler C300

Even before muscle cars were a thing, Chrysler produced a series of high-performance luxury coupes and convertibles with unbelievable performance and unmistakable style. They called the model the 300. The C300 was the first model in 1955. People called them the Letter Series, and those upscale cruisers were some of the fastest and most powerful models ever.

Photo Credit: Pinterest

They equipped the first models with early Hemi engines that could produce 300 horses; hence the name. The early Chrysler “Letter Series” models were the first American-made cars with 300 HP ratings. With the introduction of advanced intake setups, different engine power levels rose so these big, heavy cars achieved impressive acceleration times (via Dan Jedlicka).

Photo Credit: Hot Rod

35. Plymouth GTX

Plymouth revealed the GTX in 1967 as a luxury option in the Belvedere lineup. They based this model on the same platform as the Coronet. However, it was much more luxurious and had a 375 HP 440 V8 standard. Plymouth wanted the GTX to compete with luxury cars of the period, so they installed almost all possible options (via Hemmings).

Photo Credit: Auto WP

Also, they added a special trim to distinguish the GTX from the rest of the model lineup. The GTX was a gentleman’s hot rod with all the options. It had nice interior and exterior details and only one optional engine choice – the mighty 426 Hemi. The 440 Magnum was the standard engine, but if you wanted the ultimate Plymouth muscle, drivers went for the Hemi.

Foto Credit: Hagerty

34. Pontiac Catalina 421 “Swiss Cheese”

In the early 1960s, Pontiac realized that racing helps sell cars and the famous Detroit mantra “Win on Sunday-Sell on Monday” works. Pontiac had a good base for a fast super-stock car in the form of the two-door Catalina. It had a potent 421 V8 engine, but it needed to add power and subtract some weight. So to do the latter, Pontiac engineers manufactured numerous aluminum parts like bumpers, fenders, and a hood (via Supercars).

Foto Credit: Hagerty

Interestingly, they soon nicknamed the car, “Swiss Cheese” since they also drilled holes in the frame to save a few pounds more. With its high compression 421 V8 engine delivering 410 HP, these Catalinas were lightning quick.

Foto Credit: Mecum

33. Chevrolet Impala SS 409

The legendary SS (Super Sport) package has its place in muscle car history as it brought performance to the general public. This was one of the first high-performance automobiles that were relatively affordable. Just through mild modifications to the engine, it could produce up to 409 HP which was enough to propel the Impala from 0 to 60 mph in six seconds (via Motor Trend).

Foto Credit: Mecum

At the time, it was Corvette territory. Chevrolet presented the SS package, which featured bucket seats and sports trim. It came with the 348 V8 engine with 350 HP. However, the most attractive option was the 409 V8 with up to 409 HP if drivers opted for a dual-quad intake system.

Foto Credit: Auto WP

32. Buick GSX

In 1970, Buick decided to introduce the ultimate muscle car in the form of the legendary and scarce Buick GSX. The GSX stood for Gran Sport Experimental. It was a visually upgraded Gran Sport with Stage 1 performance package. It was available in two bright colors – Saturn Yellow and Apollo White (via GM Heritage).

1970 Buick GSX in Saturn Yellow Should Really Light Your Fire - autoevolution
Photo Credit: AutoEvolution

The power output was the same (345 HP/510 lb.-ft). And because Buick’s 455 was significantly lighter than Chevelle’s 454 or Plymouth’s Hemi 426, the GSX was a winner in street races across America. However, despite all the qualities of the GSX and numerous accolades by the motoring press, Buick built less than 700 examples.

Ford Mustang Mach 1 - Shelby Mustang
Photo Credit: Ford

31. Shelby GT500 KR

In 1968, Ford introduced the 428 Cobra Jet engine and Carroll Shelby was about to use it in his line of Mustangs. Shelby wanted to do something special and the result was the GT 500 KR. “KR” stands for “King of the Road”. They rated the 428 Cobra Jet at 335 HP (via Supercars).

Shelby Mustang - Ford Mustang
Photo Credit: Mecum

But everyone knew that the engine delivered more than 400 HP and 400 lb-ft of torque. Production was highly limited and they loaded the GT500 KR with lots of special interior luxury. Unfortunately, they only produced the GT 500 KR for the 1968 model year, dropping the version for 1969.

Foto Credit: Mecum

30. Pontiac Catalina 2+2

In the mid-’60s, the Pontiac GTO was the car to have, but it wasn’t the only stellar performance machine coming from Pontiac. There was another pure muscle car icon in the form of the Catalina 2+2. Since the Catalina was a full-size model, it was eligible for engines over 400 CID according to GM rules of the time. This meant that the Catalina 2+2 came with the famous 421 V8 (via Hemmings).

Foto Credit: Mecum

It was the same as the GTO, which boosted your car’s power to 376 HP. Also, buyers could order limited-slip differentials and heavy-duty steering. All that made the Catalina 2+2 well-appointed, but unfortunately expensive too.

Photo Credit: Mecum

29. Yenko Camaro 427

The Yenko family started a Chevrolet dealership in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania, in 1949. In the late ’50s, when Don Yenko started managing the business, the company slowly turned to the performance car market, first with a series of race-prepared Corvettes. Don himself raced with complete conversion jobs based on various Chevrolet models.

Photo Credit: Mecum

Very soon, with the introduction of the Camaro in 1967, Yenko started converting it to 427 V8 power and selling them as Yenko Super Cars. In addition to more power, wild graphics, and a long list of optional extras, Yenko even offered a factory warranty and heavily promoted his models (via Supercars).

Foto Credit: Auto WP

28. Chevrolet Nova SS

The Nova was Chevrolet’s compact car introduced first as the Chevy II in the early ’60s. The small and affordable model was just a scaled-down Chevelle or Impala. Still, by the end of the ’60s, it obtained serious street credibility since it became a favorite street racer’s weapon. The combination of Nova’s lightweight body and potent V8 engines made it very fast (via Motor Trend).

Foto Credit: Auto WP

Chevrolet introduced the SS 350 and SS 396 versions in 1968/9, which were extremely fast. The 1970 model wasn’t changed and still retained classic styling and two powerful V8 engines as an option. Independent tuners like Yenko even offered brutally quick 427 conversions.

Photo Credit: Edmunds

27. Dodge Charger Hellcat

In 2014, Dodge presented the Hellcat and the muscle car community went crazy. The reaction was expected since the 6.2-liter supercharged V8 with 707 HP is a legit monster of a muscle car that shouldn’t be driven on the streets. But Dodge did just that, allowing the public to buy one of the fastest, most powerful muscle cars ever built (via Dodge).

Photo Credit: Auto WP

It’s only when you unleash the fury of its 707 supercharged horsepower that you will feel the brutality of the Hellcat package and the power going to the rear wheels. The 0 to 60 mph times are in the high three-second range and the car can top 200 mph. There’s no better proof that the legend of the Dodge Charger as a muscle car is alive and well.

Photo Credits: CAS

26. 2014 Chevrolet Camaro Z/28

The legendary Z/28 version returned for the 2014 model year in an interesting and extremely capable package. Once again, the Z/28 was a track day car and a road racing-oriented Camaro. It came with brakes, suspension, and steering dedicated to precision and driving dynamics. Under the hood was a 7.0-liter V8 from the Corvette Z06. It delivered 505 HP and provided more than enough power (via GM Authority).

Photo Credits: CAS

The rest of the car was all highly engineered for precision. Chevrolet gave it stiffer shocks and thicker anti-roll bars as well as special wheels and brakes. The new Camaro body shed 300 pounds, which helped the Z/28 achieve better numbers at the racetrack.

Photo Credit: Mecum

25. Ford Mustang Boss 429

The mythical Mustang Boss 429 is a proper homologation special legend. Ford conceived it in 1969 as a pure racing engine they intended to use in the NASCAR championship. The Boss 429 featured a different engine architecture than the rest of Ford’s big blocks. First, it was much wider and had semi-Hemi combustion chambers. That helped it achieve higher revs and get better flow inside the head to produce more power and torque (via Supercars).

Photo Credit: Mecum

Factory rated at 375 HP, this unit truly produced over 500 HP and more in race trim. Ford decided to put this engine into the Mustang, creating a limited-production Boss 429. But NASCAR decided not to homologate it since the series only accepted intermediate and full-size cars.

Foto Credit: Auto WP

24. Chevrolet Chevelle SS 454

The Chevelle was always a trendy muscle car. Its combination of affordable price, excellent design, and powerful engines was a hit with buyers. For 1970, Chevrolet offered an expanded line of engines, including the famous 454 V8 big blocks. The regular version was called LS5, and it was mighty, but there was an even stronger LS6 variant installed in just 3,700 cars (via Hemmings).

Foto Credit: Mecum

The LS-6 had almost racing compression of 11.25:1 and used a bigger carburetor and stronger engine internals. It was rated at 450 HP, but it is more likely that it produced over 500 HP.

Photo Credit: Auto WP

23. Plymouth Superbird

As one of the craziest muscle cars ever produced, the Roadrunner Superbird has one of the most recognizable designs ever. To homologate the car for racing, Plymouth built it for one year only in 1970. They produced just under 2,000 road-going Superbirds, selling them all over America (via FOX News).

Photo Credit: Mecum

Plymouth based the Superbird on the Roadrunner, equipping it with a 440 V8 as standard and 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.

Photo Credit: GM

22. 2012 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1

Chevrolet knew the Camaro platform could handle much more than 426 HP thanks to its fantastic cornering speeds. So it was only natural that as soon as the new generation hit the streets in 2010, Chevy engineers started developing a performance version. The first of those was the Camaro ZL-1 first released in 2012.

Photo Credit: GM

The ZL-1 was a special 427 V8-powered drag beast from 1969 and its 2012 counterpart followed the same formula. Chevrolet took the biggest and most powerful engine GM had, which was a 6.2-liter supercharged V8, and stuffed it into the Camaro. The result was a 580 HP street terror with the highly advanced Magnetic Ride suspension, performance Goodyear tires, Brembo brakes, and more (via Evo).

Photo Credit: Auto WP

21. Shelby GT 350 R

Even though Ford based the Shelby on the Mustang GT, much of the suspension, design, aero package and engine were new. The most significant single difference was the fantastic Voodoo engine, which has a 5.2-liter displacement, 526 HP, and 429 lb.-ft of torque. The main feature of this high-revving powerplant is the flat-plane crank technology (via Car and Driver).

Photo Credit: Auto WP

Ford’s investment in the Shelby GT350R paid off and the performance is mind-boggling with 3.9-seconds 0 to 60 times. But the numbers don’t do this car justice. The Shelby GT350R is a pure sports car that delivers fantastic driving dynamics as well as an unforgettable driving experience.

Photo Credit: FCA

20. Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk

There were fast SUVs before Jeep introduced the Trackhawk. However, this glorious machine deserves a place on this list for two reasons. First, for the 707 Hellcat Hemi engine under the hood. Second, its 3.4-second 0 to 60 mph time makes this SUV faster than some supercars (via Jeep).

Photo Credit: FCA

The Trackhawk is a brutal machine that is highly unusual and influential. It is a proper muscle car in SUV form. That shows how a high horsepower Hemi engine can make anything a proper muscle car, even a full-size SUV.

Photo Credit: Pinterest

19. Ford Mustang Mach I

The original Mach I debuted as an affordable performance version of the Mustang Sportsroof in 1969. It featured a long list of options and three engines. The base was the 302 V8, then the 351 V8 and the top-of-the-line model with the mighty 428 Cobra Jet. Despite the fact that Ford built over 20,000 examples in 1969, only a small number had the Cobra Jet engine (via Mecum).

Photo Credit: Pinterest

But this was the definitive option to have. Only 428 CJ-equipped Mach Is had true performance potential and could beat other muscle cars on the street. The 428 Cobra Jet was rated at 335 HP but everybody knew that it produced more than 400 HP.

Photo Credits: Mecum

18. Oldsmobile 442 W30

The 1970 model year was big for the Oldsmobile 442 and all GM muscle cars. General Motors lifted its corporate ban on putting engines bigger than 400 CID in intermediate bodies. So all GM muscle cars including the 442 got the big block and more power. But in 1970 the 442 got the mighty 455 V8 with 370 HP and 500 lb.-ft of torque.

Photo Credits: Mecum

Since the 442 was more luxurious than other muscle cars, it was also somewhat heavier. This made it a little slower. However, it was still an extremely capable machine with 0 to 60 mph times of 5.7 seconds (via Motorious).

Photo Credit: GM

17. 2022 Chevrolet Camaro SS

The ZL1 might steal the headlines when it comes to horsepower and insane 0 to 60 numbers. However, the standard Camaro SS is still the best choice. If you want an exciting muscle car but have a budget, keep your eye on. With incredibly composed chassis, precision steering, and excellent suspension, this Camaro is arguably the driver’s car (via Chevrolet).

2016 Chevrolet Camaro and Camaro SS via GM
Photo Credit: GM

Under the hood is the venerable 6.2-liter V8 with 455 HP. It’s capable of getting the 2022 Camaro SS to 60 mph in just 4.0 seconds. The top speed is a pretty respectable 183 mph. Unfortunately, you will need the German de-restricted Autobahn to prove Chevrolet’s claims.

Photo Credits: Mecum

16. Pontiac Trans Am SD455

By 1974, almost all muscle cars were extinct from the market. And sadly, those that remained were robbed of their power and style. However, there was one model that managed to survive and offer as much performance and power as possible – the 1974 Trans Am Super Duty 455 (via Motor Trend).

Photo Credits: Mecum

They carried the SD 455 model over from 1973, but in the new package, it featured a better suspension and brakes. The standard 455 V8 produced only 215 HP, but in SD trim it developed 290 HP, which was absolutely fantastic for 1974.

Photo Credit: Ford

15. Ford Mustang 5.0 GT

The rise in power of domestic cars during the 1980s brought the first real performance to the Mustang range in nearly 20 years. The Fox-body Mustang grew more and more powerful with each model year, starting from 175 HP in the 1983 model (via Motor Junkie).

Photo Credit: Ford

By the late ’80s, the venerable 5.0-liter V8 engine was pumping 225 hp and 300 lb.-ft of torque which translated to some solid 0 to 60 mph times. This car marked a return to the roots with a strong V8 engine and exciting performance. Also, the late ’80s Fox-body GT was very popular, so they are plentiful today.

Photo Credit: Mecum

14. Dodge Viper RT/10

The original Viper in the early ’90s was what happens when talented individuals with a clear goal set out to make the perfect car. Under the hood was an 8.0-liter fully aluminum V10 delivering 400 HP and 465 lb.-ft of torque. It secured the Viper’s place as one of the most powerful new models on the market (via Car and Driver).

Photo Credit: Auto WP

With a price tag of over $50,000 and 0 to 60 mph times of 4.6 seconds, the Viper beat many European exotic machines. Its performance established the Viper as one of the best-looking, fastest cars of the early ’90s and the legend of America’s deadliest snake began.

1969 Ford Torino Talladega | F185.1 | Indy 2022
Photo Credit: Mecum

13. Ford Torino Talladega

Ford was always successful in NASCAR championships. So when Dodge started moving with their specially-prepared Chargers, Ford reacted with the Aero-warrior model they called the Torino Talladega. Next, they added a few slippery details and homologated them for the superspeedway (via Silodrome).

Photo Credit: Mecum

Ford built a total of 754 Talladegas, using many of them for racing. In contrast to the extreme Charger Daytona, Ford decided to modify the front and the back of a regular Torino, removing the pointy wings and front end. This approach proved to be successful, so the Torino Talladega won many races.

Photo Credits: Mecum

12. Hurst/Olds

One of the most successful collaborations between a major car company and a small aftermarket outfit was the deal between Hurst and Oldsmobile. Back in the late 1960s, Hurst transformed the Oldsmobile 442 into one of the fastest cars available on the North American market (via Driving Line).

Photo Credits: Mecum

Oldsmobile shipped partially disassembled 442s to Hurst where they installed the biggest engine Oldsmobile had, the mighty 455 V8 with 390 HP. The Hurst Olds package also got numerous other performance upgrades like the ram air induction system. They also added a heavy-duty suspension and brakes.

Photo Credit: Mecum

11. Dodge 330 Ramcharger

For 1963, Dodge and Plymouth presented a new design and upped the power of the legendary 413 Max Wedge motor to 426 CID displacements. Dodge presented a plain-looking Ramcharger version of their two-door 330 model. It was a bare-bones two-door sedan with a bench seat and 426 cubic inches of pure power in the front (via Supercars).

Photo Credit: Mecum

The upgrades all allowed more power, 426 cubic inches, and an insane 6,500 rpm limit. Chrysler claimed their new 426 Max Wedge engine delivered 415 HP with standard 11.0:1 compression, 425 HP, and an optional 13.5:1 ratio. However, most experts claim the real power output was much higher at closer to 500 HP. In 1963, this was one of the quickest cars in the world.

Photo Credit: Edmunds

10. Cadillac CTS-V

For years, Cadillac was without a proper performance series necessary to compete with BMW or Mercedes. But finally, the V-Series was born. It was all Cadillac lovers dreamed of with its powerful engines (via Motor Trend).

Photo Credit: GM

Arguably the most successful was the second-generation CTS-V model produced between 2008 and 2014. Under the hood was a supercharged 6.2-liter V8 delivering 556 HP. That made the CTS-V the most powerful performance sedan on the market. With 0 to 60 mph time of just 3.8 seconds, the second-generation CTS-V was one of the fastest four-door vehicles on the planet. You could say it’s a true muscle car sedan.

Photo Credit: FCA

9. Dodge Challenger Demon

If for any reason, the 707 HP from the Hellcat package is not enough and you want the most powerful street Hemi engine ever, the Demon package may be the best option for you. With standard fuel, it will deliver an insane 808 HP, but if you use the high octane stuff, it will pump out almost 840 HP.

Photo Credit: FCA

Its acceleration from 0 to 60 is less than three seconds, and under full power, the Demon will accelerate with 1.8 G force. That is faster than jumping off a cliff. This car is capable of covering a quarter-mile sprint in less than 10 seconds straight from the dealership (via CNet).

Photo Credit: Auto WP

8. Plymouth Hemi Cuda

Two of the biggest Chrysler legends from the classic days of the muscle car culture are the Barracuda and the 426 Hemi engine. In 1970 Plymouth offered this legendary engine in the Barracuda body, immediately creating one of the fastest, most desirable muscle cars ever (via AutoExpress).

Photo Credit: Auto WP

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 was rumored to have delivered more than 500.

Corvette Stingray
Photo Credits: Hot Rod

7. Chevrolet Corvette L88

Chevrolet produced the second-generation Corvette (C2) from 1963 to 1967. It was one of the most beautiful and aggressive-looking cars of the muscle car era. It was also a popular and successful racing car in the hands of many private racing teams. Corvettes equipped with the L-88 engine were in a class by themselves since the aluminum head produced close to 600 HP (via The Manual).

Photo Credits: BJ

Also, the L-88 had a mandatory heavy-duty suspension, brakes, and handling package. Chevy developed this option for racers. But it was expensive, almost doubling the price of the base ’67 Corvette. That’s why it is one of the rarest, with only 20 in coupe and convertible form.

Photo Credits: AutoEvolution

6. Mercury Cougar XR-7

Some people think of a Cougar only as a Mustang with a longer wheelbase and luxury interior. But Mercury’s muscle car was much more than that. With its unique styling and trim, it was an independent force in the muscle car wars of the late ’60s. The ultimate version that perfectly combined muscle car power with luxury was the mighty Cougar XR-7 (via Hemmings).

Photo Credits: Autoevolution

This model had the 390 V8 engine with 320 HP. But buyers could also opt for the GT package, which included a beefed-up suspension and stronger brakes. Over the years, the Cougar was in the shadow of the Mustang.

Photo Credits: Pinterest

5. 2020 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500

It seems that every new generation of the Shelby GT500 pushes the envelope even further. Each model delivers so much power, it’s hard to comprehend. Just look at the latest 2020 model. From the outside, it looks like a menacing Mustang. But the real surprise lies beneath the metal (via JD Power).

Photo Credits: Pinterest

The massive 5.2-liter supercharged V8 engine delivers 760 HP and sends it to the rear wheels through an intelligent 10-speed automatic. This interesting combo makes the new GT500 the perfect combination of old-school muscle and modern technology. The result is even more astonishing as it takes just 3.3 seconds to get to 60 mph with a 180-mph top speed.

Photo Credit: Pinterest

4. 1969 Pontiac Trans Am

The 1969 Trans Am featured big-block power from the famous 400 V8 engine equipped with the Ram Air III or IV intake system. The difference between those engines was significant since the Ram Air IV featured many improved engine internals and components. But they rated both at 366 HP, which was understated (via Volo).

Photo Credit: Pinterest

However, this special version with its signature white paint, blue stripes, and Rally II wheels proved to be a tough seller. Sadly, they only sold 634 Firebird Trans Am. And among those, only eight were convertibles.

Photo Credits: Pinterest

3. Chevrolet Camaro Baldwin Motion

Think again if you believe Yenko was the classic Camaro tuner. There were several well-known names in the business, but the most extreme was Baldwin Motion (via Silodrome). Their 427 conversions for the early 1970s models were simply the best. Baldwin Motion installed numerous exceptional performance parts.

Photo Credits: Pinterest

They delivered them with a written warranty that the vehicle could achieve 10-second quarter-mile times and produce 500 HP. Today, Baldwin Motion Camaros are highly sought-after and valuable pieces of muscle car history.

Photo Credits: Pinterest

2. Ford Mustang Boss 302

The third redesign of the Mustang appeared for the 1969 model year and the car grew again. Ford produced it for only two years in 1969 and 1970. The Boss 302 featured a 302 V8 engine conservatively rated at 290 HP. The real output was closer to the 350 HP mark though (via Ford).

Photo Credits: Mecum

The Boss 302 was a model Ford intended for racing in the Trans-Am championship. Apart from the blackout hood, spoiler on the trunk, and other details, it featured a stiff, track-tuned suspension, a close-ratio gearbox, and a high-revving engine.

Pontiac GTO (1964)
Photo Credit: Hot Rod

1. 1964 Pontiac GTO

A young engineer named John Z. DeLorean thought of a genius idea. He wanted to install a big, powerful 396 V8 into a light, intermediate Tempest two-door body. He knew it was an easy and affordable way to create a true performance machine. For just $295, buyers could get a high-performance 396 V8 with 325 HP in a standard or 348 HP in the famous Tri-Power form (via Muscle Car Facts).

Pontiac GTO
Photo Credit: Hot Rod

The package included a manual transmission, unique trim, GTO decals, and dual exhaust. And since the car was light, the Tempest GTO delivered a convincing performance. In fact, in 1964, it was one of the quickest American cars on the market. Even Corvette owners weren’t safe from Tempest GTOs lurking at stop lights across the country. The big sales made it clear the GTO was a hit among younger buyers and that a star was born.

Advertisement
Please wait 5 sec.