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A Little Muscle Car History

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You have by no doubt seen “old cars” on the road or in your neighborhood from time to time. By “old cars” I am referring to cars made before the 1970s. While some of these vehicles were made for great looks and luxury, there were a certain few models that were made for raw speed and power. I am, of course referring to Muscle Cars. Their inception changed the motor industry and lead to some of the best automobile technology and growth in the history of the industry.

Muscle Cars have a storied history first coming to fruition in the late 1950s, and quickly gaining popularity with the public. The basic idea of one of these cars is placing an oversized, extremely powerful engine into an undersized, light, usually 2 door car body. This combination maximized performance and lead to speeds that were unheard of at that time.

These early cars were birthed from the idea of Hotrods. Again, with the light body and powerful engine, Muscle Cars were one of the most popular vehicles to hit production lines. They were inspired by two main influences: Stock-Car Racing and Drag Racing.

Stock-Car Racking was birthed by Southern “moonshine runners” that would enhance their cars so they would have better performance than the pursuing law enforcement vehicles. When not evading the law, these Muscle Cars were put to use in underground races. These races were held on dirt or sand and became very popular very quickly.  From this came what is now known as NASCAR.

The other influence, Drag Racing, was a way to show of a car’s pure speed and performance in a short run sprint. The quarter mile straight acceleration race between two hot rods gained increasing popularity in Southern California. This type of racing was illegal, but at the same time extremely exciting to watch for the general public.

The market for these cars was waiting to be tapped and that is exactly what the first Muscle Cars were made for. Hot Rodders and NASCAR enthusiasts alike, could appreciate the lightweight design and powerful engines associated with the first assembly line Muscle Cars. Though many models of these cars were made, a few fall into the category of legendary. Such models as the Oldsmobile Rocket 88, the Chrysler Hemi, and the Dodge D-500. These cars made their mark and a lot of their engineering principles are still being employed even today on modern cars.


This Post was brought to you by Chris Riley automobile enthusiast and owner of

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