History of american muscle car

Instead they have big engines for people daring enough to use them. What more do you need?

America's Muscle Car Romance: Reignited and It Feels So Good

The pages are thick, glossy paper. Every photo is displayed in as much vibrant color as is possible, often with multiple images of different aspects of the same car. The inside front cover is a stunning full-spread image of a bright red Dodge Super Bee and the inside back cover is a just as stunning image of a bright red Chevrolet Camaro both faced to be visually driving out of the book.

The original art and photography are wonderfully done. American Muscle Cars is a fantastic book, sized perfectly for any coffee table.

The muscle car industry took off over the s. The Rocket 88 was soon surrounded by competition. Two significant contributions to the industry were the Chrysler Corporation Hemi and the Chevrolet small- block V8. A Hemi is a series of V8 engines with a hemispherical combustion chamber originally made by Chrysler in The Hemi was introduced the Chrysler C, giving it hp and its historic name.

The small-block V8, made in , was essential for developing lightweight muscle cars. The engine became a GM corporate standard and was used in their cars for 50 years.

Our Verdict

Big, powerful engines in lightweight cars resulted in incredible speed but poor handling. Compellingly, drag racing grew in popularity. The momentum of the muscle car industry came to a momentary stop when the Automobile Manufacturers Association decided to put a ban on factory-sponsored racing in Manufacturers would not advertise performance-related components of their passenger cars, publicize results, or associate their vehicles with auto racing in any way.


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The ban was in response to an accident at the 24 Hours of Le Mans race. Pierre Levegh, driving a Mercedes-Benz, brushed another car, sending him crashing into the stands at mph. The combustion along with rocketing car fragments resulted in 84 deaths including that of Pierre Levegh. This is known as the most catastrophic accident in motorsports history. Mercedes-Benz stopped racing that year and returned to the track 32 years later. Switzerland banned auto racing and lifted the ban only recently in When the Automobile Manufacturers Association met in , the president of GM, Harlow Curtice, suggested a self-imposed auto racing ban.

7 Best American Muscle Cars of All Time | The Manual

The industry anticipated this ban would pre-empt the government from imposing racing regulations. However, the automakers involved in the Automobile Manufacturers Association could not keep up with competition from non-association carmakers, and the ban was lifted in Speed mattered most as drag racing held its vast popularity into the early 60s. The engines developed and grew while the cars remained the same size. Performance models of cars were also being produced.

The Dodge Dart was a cornerstone of early 60s muscle cars because it had a 13 second quarter-mile drag-strip run. As the desire for faster drag times grew, manufacturers focused their resources on creating faster cars. This meant grapefruit size holes were drilled into the chassis rails which made the car significantly lighter. The GTO had both the appeal and the muscle to make it a benchmark in muscle car history.

It deceptively looked like a simple Tempest and offered an option that bypassed a GM rule of producing midsize cars with engines greater than CID. This unit of measurement is no longer used today, CID engine equals 5. In its first year, Pontiac sold over six times as many cars as predicted. It was deemed dangerous to drive, and although only were made, it is still remembered as an excellent muscle car. The Ford Mustang was also released in The Mustang came with sharp looks, plenty of options, and a low price, but deficient power.

As a result, it created a new market: the pony car. Pony cars are often confused with muscle cars because they look similar and some have power. But like the GTO, looks can be deceiving and the power of a pony car is to a great extent inferior to that of a muscle car. Contrary to popular belief, the Corvettes of the s era were not considered muscle or pony cars. Other automakers turned out competitive cars like the Chevrolet Camaro and the Pontiac Firebird.

Plymouth tried to diversify by making a budget muscle car: the Road Runner. Soon the market became saturated and the automotive companies started losing money. In , federal safety and emissions rules came into play. There was also a new safety lobby led by attorney Ralph Nader. These influences and regulations could have threatened the industry; yet with the 70s steadily approaching, the muscle car industry was at its peak. The Camaro, Mustang, and Firebird were being spectacularly upgraded. The GTO dropped in price and was presented with an entirely new look; hood scoops was prominent as well.

Muscle Cars

The Dodge Charger became exceptionally popular and the Daytona model was specifically famous for its wing. GM returned to the pony car scene by redesigning the Camaro and Firebird. The muscle and pony car industry was booming at the end of the decade, but a crash was imminent. The early 70s brought about change in the auto industry. The government put in new emission limits and carmakers started producing engines that ran on low-lead fuel. Manufacturers detuned the powerful engines of the s to meet the government standards.

New federal motor vehicle safety standards forced automakers to change the bumpers to heavier, sturdier metals, adding weight and further cutting performance. These new restrictions significantly downgraded the performance of the muscle cars. This was the first oil crisis the United States ever faced and fuel shortages caused a shocking spike in gas prices.

Insurance companies cracked down on performance cars because the muscle cars of the late 60s were deemed unsafe. This, coupled with inflation, made the price of owning a muscle car too high for the target market. It made more sense for Americans to buy small compact cars, both imported and from Detroit. The people who could afford muscles would not buy them due to lacking performance.

Classic Muscle Cars vs the Modern World

The devastatingly low demand for muscle cars led most of the big-block cars to be discontinued by The cars that survived, like the Plymouth Road Runner, were dressed up and not built for speed. Even the pony cars left the market — by , only the Camaro and Firebird remained. The Mustang had left the pony car market and evolved into a high-end compact. Through the mid 70s, the Firebird dominated the ever shrinking market because of the new, improved handling and lack of competition. Other pony cars hit the market, focusing on style rather than performance.

As the s approached, manufacturers grew accustomed to federal regulations.

Pontiac GTO

The third generation of the Mustang was released in with a new look and a V8 option. The low-torque V8 sold well and it seemed as though performance cars would become popular once more. But in the same year, America faced another gas crisis. The crisis was over in creating a demand for performance cars once again.

If you are all hooked now and want to learn more about the history of the muscle car, I can only recommend you watch the following series. With gas prices down, America was ready to be redefined as a country of speed. New technology was emerging and Detroit started producing compact cars. Engines that conformed to federal regulations accommodated small cars.

The advanced technology consisted of solid-state electronics and computer integration of spark timing, air intake, and fuel injection. Muscle cars could now return because of safety, big but compliant engines, and more efficient production methods.

Top 10 Muscle Cars of The ‘60s and ‘70s

Ford and GM began turning out redesigned pony cars. Ford was at the front of the pack with the Mustang and GM released the third-generation Camaro and Firebird. These three cars had bigger engines than their 70s precursors, but they were still relatively small.