The 1960s represented a golden age in America’s automotive history. It’s during that time when the vaunted “Big Three” – General Motors, Ford and Chrysler – and independent American Motors were locked in an arms race to build some of the most popular and powerful muscle cars of the day.
With so many great examples to choose from, it’s a tough job pairing down our choices to just three top muscle car superstars. The following features three of best muscle cars of the era based on performance, looks and the impact they left on the automotive world.
Muscle Car 1 – 1967 Pontiac GTO
Affectionately known as the “Goat,” the GTO holds the distinct honor of being the first bona fide muscle car of the era. Starting life as an optional package for the Le Mans, the GTO featured a 389 cubic-inch V8 and an optional “Tri-Power” triple carburetor setup for extra horsepower. For 1967, the 389 gave way to a 400 cubic-inch mill with up to 360 horsepower. Shortly before the luxury and performance-oriented marque’s name faded into history, Pontiac resurrected the Goat in 2004. This time based on the Australian Holden Monaro coupe, the modern GTO offered impressive performance that lived up to its original namesake.
Muscle Car 2 – 1968 Dodge Charger R/T
The 1968 Charger hits all the right notes when it comes to muscle cars – shapely coke-bottle body styling, menacing full-width grille and underneath it all, the legendary 440 cubic-inch Magnum V8 or, if you could spare the change, a hot-to-the-touch 426 cubic-inch Hemi V8. The Charger remains a star-studded icon thanks to its appearances on popular shows like “The Dukes of Hazard” and the feature film “Blade” starring Wesley Snipes. Along the GTO, the Charger also spawned a modern day successor that continues to deliver amazing performance, albeit in a more practical four-door form.
Muscle Car 3- 1969 AMC SC/Rambler
The “Big Three” weren’t the only ones with the chops to build fire-breathing muscle. American Motors turned to Hurst Performance to create the SC/Rambler, a race-ready muscle car built on the compact and lightweight Rambler Rogue coupe. Stuffed with a 390 cubic-inch V8 with 315 horsepower on tap and adorned with a distinctive red, white and blue paint scheme and a functional “Ram Air” scoop, the “Scrambler” earned a rep for outstanding performance. Despite not being as well-known as the Big Three offerings, the SC/Rambler sets the template for light yet powerful performers.
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