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Muscle cars have been around since the first horseless carriages began racing on dirt roads. But it wasn't until the 1960s, when Detroit automakers Ford, Chrysler and General Motors produced high-performance mid-sized cars, that the term took hold in the American consciousness.

Also, as the national highway system grew and gasoline became plentiful, Americans wanted more power, more speed. And in 1964 Detroit bowed to consumer pressure by putting big block V-8's on mid-sized chassis.

 The general trend towards factory performance was a reflection of the importance of the youth market. A key appeal of the 1960s muscle cars was that they offered the burgeoning American car culture a selection of vehicles which were priced just within reach of young people with strong street performance that could also be used for racing. The affordability aspect of these 1960s muscle cars was quickly compromised by increases in size, optional equipment, and plushness, forcing the addition of more and more powerful engines just to keep pace with performance. A backlash against this cost and weight growth led in 1967 and 1968 to a secondary trend of "budget muscle" in the form of the Plymouth Road Runner, Dodge Super Bee, and other stripped, lower-cost variants of these 1960s muscle cars.

 Even though the sales of true muscle cars were, compared to total Detroit production standards, modest they had considerable value in publicity and bragging rights. They also served to attract young customers into showrooms who would then buy the standard editions of these mid-size 1960s muscle cars. Models such as the AMC Rebel Machine, the COPO (Central Office Production Order) Chevrolet Chevelle, and Super Cobra Jet Ford Torino were factory upgraded to be turn-key drag racers. The fierce competition led to an escalation in horsepower that peaked in 1970, with some models of 1960s muscle cars offering as much as 450 gross horsepower.

1960s Muscle Cars




Gradually, demand for such cars increased and the following years saw some of the most powerful cars in the world. Chrysler was among the first few manufacturers to popularize muscle cars. The company came up with C-300 in 1955, which not only became the newest attraction in America, but one of the best selling cars of its century. Boasting a horsepower of 300 hp, the car was able to accelerate from 0 to 60 mph, within 9.8 seconds. C-300 had indeed become the most powerful car in America. Two years down the line, America saw another fast car in the market, Rambler Rebel, which went on to become the fastest American sedan.




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