The term muscle cars, more often referred to as the American muscle cars, is a broad term used for a range of high performance cars introduced in the United States in the 60s and 70s. In the history of automobile industry, no vehicles have been as dominating as these monster machines which didn't just dominate the U.S. auto industry, but also made a strong impact in the other parts of the world.
Beginning of the Era of Muscle Cars
As the number of cars on the American streets began to rise, people developed a new craving for speed and power. This instigated many individuals to try experimenting with their cars to make them more powerful and fast. Soon enough, the major car manufacturers in the United States realized that Americans were craving for something more than just transportation. The concept of providing a car which would have an unusually powerful engine and the ability to clock speeds like never before, gave birth to the American muscle cars in the mid-20th century.
Oldsmobile Rocket 88
The first American muscle car, the Oldsmobile Rocket 88 was introduced in America in 1949. It sported a high-compression overhead valve V-8 engine―the first engine of its kind in the United States. The power-packed engine of this car was characterized by a displacement of 303 cubic inches and two-barrel carburetor. This helped the Rocket 88 generate 135 horsepower at 3,600 rpm with immense ease. This car became the attraction of the racing season in 1950, winning majority of the races in which it participated. Back then, the only car which could even come close to Rocket 88 was the Hudson Motor Car Company's Hudson Hornet.
The years to follow saw the introduction of some of the most powerful cars in the world. These included 1955 Chrysler C-300, 1962 Dodge Dart, Pontiac GTO, Dodge Polara 500, Plymouth Sport Fury, Ford Mustang, etc. In fact, Chrysler's 1955 Chrysler C-300, which was advertised as the America's most powerful car, was truly the most powerful car in the United States, with an engine that could churn out 300 horsepower and help the car accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in less than 10 seconds, clocking a speed of a whopping 130 miles per hour.
Almost all the major automobile manufactures went full throttle in an attempt to come up with powerful cars. By the 1970s, around a dozen models of muscle cars were seen on the American streets, as the major manufacturers continued to vie to make the most powerful car in the world. The competition between the manufacturers turned out to be an advantage for the buyer, as plenty of options were available to choose from. The factor which played a crucial role in the soaring popularity of these mean machines was their affordable price. Not many people out there would have had second thoughts about buying a 2-door car equipped with the powerful V-8 engine, available at an affordable price.
The Decline of Muscle Cars
A dark phase in their fascinating history came in 1970s, when automotive safety lobby raised concerns about the production of such powerful cars for public use. The insurance companies hiked the charges on these cars, thus making them too costly and putting them out of reach for regular buyers. The oil crisis of 1973 further hampered the development of muscle cars and brought their dream run to a standstill.
These classic cars, which were introduced as the symbols of masculine appeal in the yesteryears, continue to be the favorites of power-hungry individuals. The number of individuals ready to part with their hard-earned money to buy an American muscle car today, speaks volumes about their popularity.