For many car enthusiasts, their personal list of the best muscle cars is a matter of opinion. Restoring and enjoying muscle cars has been a popular hobby for both men and women for the last few decades. The raw power behind these machines, combined with the sleek, aerodynamic designs have attracted car enthusiasts since the 1960s. This list of the top five best muscle cars includes some of the all-time favorites, based on performance and popularity.
Best Muscle Cars: The Dodge Charger
The 1968 Dodge Charger was completely restyled, and featured a long hood, a hidden headlamp grille, a sleeker, curvier body and a lot of chrome. In 1968, this car went for a mere $3,500. The Dodge Charger was available in two versions, the R/T and the standard. The sales for this car exceeded expectations, selling more than 96,000. While the standard version of the ‘68 Charger was definitely powerful enough, even more horses were available by getting the 426 Hemi engine. The cost of this engine was an additional $600, but due to the significant amount of power it provided, it’s no wonder people shelled out the extra cash. The front of the car featured a full width grille and concealed headlights. The inside included vinyl bucket seats, a three spoke steering wheel, ashtray light and electric clock. Many car enthusiasts feel that the ‘68 charger was the most appealing car of the 1960s.
Popularity of Ford Muscle Cars
In the 1960s, Ford Mustangs were pretty popular cars. They were more affordable than other muscle cars on the market and they were available in three different body styles. The arrival of the Mustang Shelby GT500 KR in 1968 featured an engine that included larger exhaust manifolds and improved breathing heads. This model became instantly iconic, due to the 428 cobra jet engine that boasted 400 horsepower and 440 pound feet of torque. The Cobra 428 jet engine replaced the past 428 engine, but was replaced in 1969 with the Super Cobra jet engine. On the outside, the Shelby features a fiberglass tail and nose section, four side air scoops, and hood scoops that are functional. On the inside, this model included such amenities as a functional rear seat, power steering and air conditioning. In ’69 Ford restyled the Mustang, ending the era of the GT500, with the 1969 Mustang not selling quite as well.
The Ford Torino was produced from 1968 until 1976. Designed to compete with the Chevelle SS, and the 1967 Camaro, the Torino Talladega featured the 428 Cobra jet V8 engine. The engine was rated at 335 horsepower, but it was considered underrated, with the real amount of horsepower being closer to 410. Arguably, for many Ford Torino enthusiasts, the best version of the Ford Torino came out in 1972, with the introduction of the Gran Torino. 1971 was the last model of Torino to be worth some serious cash, however, in recent years there has been a higher demand for both the ’71 and the ’72.
The Chevelle and Nova by Chevrolet
1970 Chevrolet Chevelle 454 SS is considered the most powerful model of Chevelle, period. The 454 engine features a factory rating of 450 horsepower. While power and performance were definitely important, the look of the ’70 Chevelle SS also offered options for twin stripes down the rear deck lid and the hood. The Chevelle is considered by many to be the most collected muscle car of all time. 1970 was the first time an engine bigger than the 400 CID V8 was installed in a mid-size Chevrolet. The LS6 engine in the 1970 Chevelle features higher compression compared to the LS5 454. This means that the ’70 Chevelle offered the highest amount of factory rated horsepower for any type of muscle car at that time. In addition to the much added torque and power that the LS6 provided, the Z15 upgraded models also included an impressive heavy duty suspension system, dual exhaust with chrome tips, IFS and a live rear axle, wheel arch moldings, front disc brakes and a chrome rear bumper.
The 1969 Chevy Nova SS package included 350 CID V8, 300 BHP, power front discs and special suspension. At the time, in order to replace the 350 CID V8 with the L78 you’d need to fork over an additional $500, on top of the $280 for the SS package. It also featured a more favorable weight balance when compared to other muscle cars, with fifty-five percent of the heft focused on the front axle. The L78 was an engine to be feared with its obvious renowned power. The Nova SS was only available in a sports coupe. Because of the sportier design, Chevy saw a significant boost in sales when compared to the previous year. The popularity of this model is due to not only the sportier design but the excellent weight distribution and the overall smaller stature of this model.