What to Read Next

The Best Bits Of Our Favorite American Muscle Cars

George Kennedy
4 July 2013

On this Independence Day, it is only prudent to consider all of the tenents that make this nation great. While the U.S. Constitution, and the Bill of Rights (ya know, the first ten amendments) are what secure a number of our personal freedoms, another American Institution has been an integral part of opening up our way of life in the 20th Century. The automobile has been the tangible tool that allows us to explore new corners of our great nation and bring friends and family together.

A plethora of different automobiles have facilitated this vehicular freedom through the decades, but none have done so with the style and power of the cars of the muscle car era. These highly potent performance machines defined a generation, and carry a luster that still runs strong today. Though it was massive V8s that drove these vehicles, they are remembered as much for special touches unique to each model.

As much as Ford fans loved the return of the 302 (or 5.0L, depending on when you first fell in love with the ‘Stang), enthusiasts applauded a feature as simple as the sequential rear turn signals. Though this feature first debuted on the ’65 T-Bird, and later appeared on the ’67 Mercury Cougar, its appearance on the ’68 Shelby Mustang stands out. So what if we were to make a the perfect American muscle car. Well it should be all-inclusive, so this Perfect Muscle Machine would have elements from all of the greats, including the following:

Headlights from 1965 Buick Riviera GS

02-Muscle Car Features
02-Muscle Car Features

Sure, it is perhaps not a technical “muscle car,” but it did exist during the muscle car era, and as much as these coupes and convertibles were about power, they were also about an inherent style. The vented pillars of the Riviera that would come to life at night commanded the feeling of power necessary to intimidate others on the road.

Grille From 1968 Ford Shelby GT500KR

06-Muscle Car Features
06-Muscle Car Features

Chrysler knew what they were doing when they re-introduced the Challenger with a front grille that nearly leans over the front bumper- it calls up memories of the true intimidating nature of muscle cars. But none were as intimidating as the 1968 Ford Shelby GT500KR. Its grille was intensely forward-facing, and appeared to suck in entire atmospheres of fresh air, feeding the tremendous 428 cubic-inch block

‘Shaker’ Hood from 1970 Plymouth Barracuda

05-Muscle Car Features
05-Muscle Car Features

Though it actually first appeared on the 1969 Ford Mustang Cobra Jet, it claimed fame shimmying its way from the inside of the ’70 ‘cuda. On a ‘Shaker’ hood, the air intake is directly fixed to the top of the engine, rather than a hood scoop that worked air to the carburetor. As a result, whenever one would turn over the engine, or crank it up, the scoop would move with the rhythm of the engine. It is power that you can see.

Badging from the 1973 Pontiac Trans Am

04-Muscle Car Features
04-Muscle Car Features

OK, so its a few years past the peak of the muscle car era, but just consider how iconic the “Screaming Chicken” is. There are plenty of other muscle car color and graphic schemes but none are readily identifiable as that of the Trans Am. (Since we’re playing ‘what if,’ we’ll take the hood-mounted tachometer from the following vehicle…)

Ram Air Controls from the Pontiac GTO Judge

03-Muscle Car Features
03-Muscle Car Features

In the 1970 Pontiac GTO Judge, the driver was given some added input via a ‘Ram Air’ toggle that brought in more fresh air to the 455 cubic inch block. Did it really make a difference? Owners argue it to this day, but it represented another way in which an enthusiast could personalize their ride.

350 Engine From Plenty of GM Icons

00-Muscle Car Features
00-Muscle Car Features

It first appeared as the powertrain option above the inline-6 in the 1967 model year, but it has gone on to so much more. To this day, millions of vehicles are on the road with a 350 under the hood, but they did their best in Camaros and Corvettes. There is no end to the tweaks and modifications one can perform on this venerable small block.

Hurst Transmission and Shifter

07-Muscle Car Features
07-Muscle Car Features

Was it even a contest? No name is more synonymous with the act of changing a gear than Hurst. Through the years they have laid their hands upon the 1969 AMC SC/Rambler, 1970 Chrysler 300, 1971 Jeepster, and several flavors of Oldsmobile. Though many know them for simply their iconic shift lever, their transmissions are a favorite among drag racers.

Oh, yeah- and they also invented the “Jaws of Life” rescue tool. How many aftermarket companies that you order from can claim that? Another win for America.

PHOTOS: Click here to see more muscle cars

Image sources: Wikipedia, Mecum Auctions, Mustang Monthly, Stingray.nu

How to Relieve Your Joints with Just 1 Pill Daily

Doctors reveal a joint health discovery that delivers power relief to your joints in just a few days.

$5,000 to $75,000+ Debt?

List Debt Amount. Compare Best Relief Option and Savings! See if You Qualify Today.

Consolidate your Student Loans by Refinancing

Refinance your student loans to a lower rate with SoFi. Find out how much you can save!

Powerful Tactical Flashlight Flying Off Shelves!

This new tactical flashlight was just released to the public and is flying off shelves in the United States. Limited supplies left, act quick!

Help Erase Credit Card Debt with a Personal Loan

Are you paying too much on your credit cards? Consider a Personal Loan to help consolidate your payments.

Success is in Your Hands

A great career as a motorcycle technician is within reach. Click here to learn more.

Banks Are Worried Homeowners Will Do This.

Homeowners are surprised and furious. If you owe less than $625,000 on your home, you better read this.

VA Mortgage Rates In 2016

VA Rates as Low as 2.75% (3.028% APR) 15 Year Fixed. Exclusive For Veteran & Military Takes 1 Min!

Read This Before You Buy Medigap Plan F

Plan F is the most popular Medicare Supplement plan, but there's another Medigap option you should consider.

Switch and save!

Switch to Progressive and you could save an average of $548.

Drivers With No Tickets In 3 Years Must Read This

If you drive less than 50 miles per day, there is a way to pay less for auto insurance that few people realize. Are you overpaying?

Hilton HHonors™ Card

Earn 40,000 Hilton HHonors™ Bonus Points. Apply for Your Card Today.

Find your dream Ryan home in Carroll County!

3 Incredible new communities in one of Maryland’s fastest-growing regions, just minutes to recreation & dining. Save thousands now! MHBR No. 56

How Older Men Tighten Their Skin

Men, reduce the look of wrinkles, sagging skin and fine lines with this affordable and effective skin tightening treatment without leaving your home.