For those wanting to put together a list for 7 of the greatest muscle cars ever, one is destined to generate a bit of criticism from genre enthusiasts. It was Bankrate that would make the effort to do this very thing, too. There are a few that trace muscle car history back to the old 1949 Oldsmobile Rocket 88. But the greatest peak of this genre took place between 1965 – 1970 before it folded under the weight of heftier gas prices, stricter exhaust emissions legislations and skyrocketing insurance costs.
Just what is a muscle car exactly? There isn’t exclusively an established classification for one, but many experts can agree that it must be smaller, have two-doors and a high-displacement motor that is commonly found in a bigger, full-sized sedan. A few have contended that pony cars, like a Chevrolet Camaro and Ford Mustang are not muscle cars at all, but Bankrate has decided not to make that distinction on this list.
Muscle cars were engineered by manufacturers to be for straight-line acceleration, which were responsible for motivating more than just infrequent Saturday night drag races in between traffic lights. They were neither constructed nor sold in large quantities, but were bait to lure consumers into showrooms where the more routine car models were being sold. But the mystique of the muscle car lives on today, so here is our list in order by model-year.
1. 1967 Pontiac GTO
According to MotorTrend.com, although General Motors had put a ban towards placing bigger engines (anything bigger than 330 cubic inches) within smaller cars, Pontiac was able to slip a 389-cubic inch V-8 inside their Tempest as an alternative and named it the GTO during 1964.
The response was so enormous that GM execs were won over, making the road clear and stable for Buick, Pontiac, Oldsmobile and Chevrolet muscle cars. The GTO’s 1965 version is on this list due to its historic worth, but it was 1967 that would mark the initial full model of accessibility of ram air put through a practical hood scoop onto the GTO. It delivered 360 horsepower and was a 400 cubic inch V-8.