Nostalgia swells when many think back to the 1960s and 1970s, remembering the introduction of the American muscle cars. For some, it was their first car, their first and only true love. For others, the muscle car was one they could only dream of owning.
And then for some, their love of the high-performance sports coupe comes only from photos of the cars their parents once owned.
The two-door, rear-wheel-drive muscle cars, usually fitted with a V8 engine, were designed for street use, but also for drag racing, a favorite pastime in the ’70s. The love of the muscle cars also spread across the world, with cars soon after being manufactured in the United Kingdom, Australia and several other hot spots.
Although there are dozens of popular muscle cars, spanning two decades, take a look here at 9 of our favorites.
The Firebird was built by Pontiac from 1967 to 2002. The name “Firebird” was also previously used by Pontiac’s parent company General Motors (GM) for the GM Firebird 1950s and early 1960s concept cars. The 1971 Trans Am was a trim option in the second-generation Firebirds.
The first generations of the Pontiac GTO were built for the 1964 to 1974 model years. The GTO was selected as Motor Trend Car of the Year in 1968. The GTO model was revived for the 2004 to 2006 model years as an import for Pontiac.
The full-sized Chevrolet Impala debuted in 1958, named after the African antelope. By 1965, it had become the nation’s best-selling car and remained Chevy’s most popular full-sized car through the mid-80s. Super Sport, or SS, is the performance option package offered by Chevrolet on a limited number of its vehicles. The package was first made available for the 1961 Impala.
First-generation Mustangs were manufactured by Ford from 1964 to 1973. The introduction of the Mustang created a new class of automobile known as the pony car, with long hoods and short decks. With each revision, the Mustang saw an increase in overall dimensions and in engine power.
The Charger (B-body) is a mid-size car, produced by Dodge from 1966 to 1978. During the early-1960s, automakers were exploring new ideas in the personal luxury and specialty car segments. Chrysler, fast to enter the specialty car market, selected their Dodge Division to enter the marketplace with a bigger model to fit between the “pony car” Ford Mustang and the “personal luxury” Ford Thunderbird.
The Super Bee, based on Dodge’s two-door coupe the Coronet, was produced from 1968 to 1971. At the time, it was a low-priced but powerful muscle car. Super Bee was named for its “B” body design.
The Chevelle, a mid-sized muscle car, was produced by Chevrolet in three generations from 1964 through 1977. Part of the General Motors (GM) A-Body platform, the Chevelle was one of Chevrolet’s most successful nameplates.
The Chevrolet Camaro is an automobile manufactured by Chevrolet and classified as a pony car, with some versions also designated as a muscle car. It went on sale in September 1966 for the 1967 model year and was designed as a competing model to the Ford Mustang. The car shared its platform and major components with the Pontiac Firebird, also introduced in 1967.
The short-lived Plymouth Superbird was a highly modified version of the Plymouth Road Runner with well-known graphics and horn. It was the factory’s follow-up stock car racing design for the 1970 season to the Dodge Charger Daytona of 1969.
—Compiled by Christy Hinko