1964 Pontiac Tempest GTO
|1964 Pontiac Tempest GTO|
1964 Pontiac GTO
|1964 Pontiac GTO|
1964 Ford Thunderbolt
|1964 Ford Thunderbolt|
1969 Dodge Charger Daytona
|1969 Dodge Charger Daytona|
The End of Legends
In the early 1970s, a lot of things changed for the automobile industry. The government implemented new emission regulations and the automakers were forced to create engines that used low-lead fuel. The automakers were also forced to reduce the power of all their engine to meet the standards set by the government. This resulted in the decline in power of all muscle cars.
By 1973, America experienced its 1st oil crisis when OPEC stopped exporting oils to the country. Fuel was in short supply which caused the gas prices to skyrocket. Insurance companies gave up on high-performance cars because all of the muscle cars from the late 1960s were believed to be unsafe. Topped with inflation rates, the cost of owning a muscle car became too expensive for the general public. It was more economical to buy smaller and compact cars, either from Detroit or imported cars. And for those that can actually afford a muscle car, they lost interest as the muscle cars no longer had the power they boasted. The demands for muscle cars plummeted and by 1975, almost all of the big-block cars disappeared.
To keep the muscle cars alive, some models such as the Plymouth Road Runner were heavily restyled and no longer focused on power. The pony cars were also heavily battered – by 1974, on the Firebird and the Camaro survived. The Ford Mustang was no longer a pony car and changed into a high-end compact car.
During the mid-1970s, the Firebird was able to dominate the dwindling market due to its improved handling and absence of competition. In 1977, Chevrolet noticed Pontiac’s success with the Firebird and revived the Camaro Z-28 after is disappeared from the market for 2 years. Some pony cars also made a comeback and also focused on style. During the late 70s, the automakers have adapted to the government regulations. And in 1979, the 3rd generation Mustangs were introduced that had a restyle and a V8 engine option. The new Mustang with the low-torque V8 engine was received well and it gave hope for the muscle car market to bring back some power but this was short lived when America experienced another gas crisis. It lasted until 1982 and the market for performance cars started to grow again.
The following years were more forgiving for the muscle cars and this paved way to their evolution. Slowly, more modern technology was incorporated into these classics. They were also safer and engines were getting bigger without exceeding the regulations.
We’ve talked a lot about muscle cars, so now will give you some ideas as to why they are so popular. Here are some of the most popular muscle cars in history:
Plymouth Road Runner Hemi
|Plymouth Road Runner Hemi|
As some of you may have guessed, it is named after the popular cartoon character – the Road Runner. And before it made its debut in 1968, Plymouth got the approval of Warner Brothers to use the name and image of the Road Runner into their car. To further capitalize on the popular cartoon character, Plymouth even developed a horn that resembled Road Runner’s “Beep-beep”. (more: Top 10 Cars Used in Fast & Furious 7)
Ford Mustang Boss 429
|Ford Mustang Boss 429|
What made the Boss 429 interesting is that fact that it is basically hand-made. The large 429 engine could not fit in a regular Mustang without heavy modifications to the hood. Ford asked Kar Kraft from Michigan to handcraft the body. You can identify a Boss 429 with its hood scoop and a spoiler mounted on the trunk lid. (more: Ford Mustang Boss Pictures Collection)
Chevrolet Camaro ZL1
|Chevrolet Camaro ZL1|
Buick GSX Stage 1
|Buick GSX Stage 1|
The GSX is actually a package option that was available for the Gran Sport 455 in 1970. The GSX’s design was quite different from Buick’s previous designs. The GSX Stage 1 was available from 1970 until 1974. On its debut year, only 488 GSX Stage 1 were ordered. It was powered by a 455 cid V8 engine which could produce a strong 510 lbs.-ft. of torque and 360 horsepower. The Buick GSX Stage 1 may not be one of the fastest but it surely had its own unique beauty to cope. (more: List of classic American muscle car)
Plymouth Hemi ‘Cuda
|Plymouth Hemi Cuda|
The ‘Cuda was a trim package for the Plymouth Barracuda and was available from 1969 until 1974. Plymouth only produced a limited number of Hemi ‘Cuda which makes them a valued classic. And even though only a handful of them exist, they still left a mark in the history of automobiles.
(more: Supercharged Plymouth Hemi 'Cuda)
Chevrolet Chevelle SS 454
|Chevrolet Chevelle SS 454|