Imagine this, a rear-wheel-drive sports car with a V8 engine and high performance. Add to the mix a car with all of the aforementioned qualities that were produced in the 20th century. Believe it or not, there is a term for this very specific type of all-American car: the classic muscle car. The muscle car has gained a reputation over the years for being a top-notch, high-performance car which typically features a hugely powerful, eight-cylinder engine and comes as a coupe or sedan. With that being said, here are, of course, the ten best American muscle cars, ranked.
10. SHELBY COBRA 427
The Shelby Cobra 427 was first produced in 1962 and was actually first marketed in its home, the United Kingdom as the AC Cobra. For the American marketing campaign, the AC car company, alongside manufacturer Shelby American, decided to market the car under the name Shelby Cobra 427.
The Shelby Cobra 427 was a special model of the Cobra that was produced in Detroit, Michigan, with direct collaboration with the famed GM owned company Ford — as a Ford V8 engine powers the 427. The Cobra 427 is similar to the other models except with a slightly larger and newer chassis.
9. CHEVROLET CAMARO
The Chevrolet Camaro is consistently ranked as not only one of the most popular muscle cars of all time, but in the United States has consistently come in third in all-time sales and popularity.
First developed in 1966, the Camaro was widely publicized to be a challenger to the Ford Mustang, the most popular car in terms of sales in the United States. The Camaro is currently available in seven different generations, each one more powerful than the last. Also, the Camaro is available with an insane amount of engine options and can be bought in different body styles too.
8. PLYMOUTH AAR-CUDA
The Plymouth AAR-Cuda bears a similar name to the famed Plymouth Barracuda and if you are wondering why, it is because they are the exact same car. The Barracuda was the widely famed and manufactured model, but the Plymouth AAR Cuda was a slightly more powerful and specialized vehicle designed by the company for All American Racers (AAR).
The 1964 version came with a 273 ci, 4.5 L, LA V8 engine, putting out 180 hp. The Barracuda was a two-door coupe manufactured from 1964 to 1974. Despite its short life, the Barracuda left an impression on car fanatics and is considered one of the most powerful muscle cars to ever exist. Plymouth was discontinued in 2001.
7. PONTIAC GTO
Next up is yet another vehicle that not only had a short shelf life but also had its manufacturer go defunct. The Pontiac GTO was produced by Pontiac and Holden, an Australian car manufacturer, which like the Pontiac car company was owned and operated by General Motors (GM).
The GTO had its first and final production run from 1964 to 1974 and made a come back in Australia from 2004 to 2006. The GTO is the definition of a typical American muscle car from its two-door coupe style to its rear-wheel-drive function, the GTO is a classic American muscle car.
6. PLYMOUTH ROAD RUNNER
Here we have another Plymouth car, the Road Runner. The Road Runner was produced for a slightly longer time than the GTO or the Barracuda from 1968 to 1980, a stunning 12 years in production. Produced in Michigan and Missouri, the Road Runner was invented as an alternative to the typically expensive muscle cars and thus contained fewer features and basic trim.
The Road Runner, as its name suggests features the beloved Warner Bros. cartoons on the body of the vehicle itself such as Wile E. Coyote and the Road Runner, a privilege which cost the Chrysler company around $60,000.
5. CHEVROLET CHEVELLE SS 454
The Chevrolet Chevelle SS 454 was another short-lived but extremely powerful and popular muscle car produced by the Chevrolet Motor Company from 1963 to 1977. During the 14 years of production, the Chevelle SS 454 was developed in three generations and was made as a coupe, a sedan, convertibles, and even station wagons.
Fun fact: the Chevelle also follows the Chevrolet company’s long-lived tradition of naming their cars with names which begin with the letter C — such as the Camaro and the Corvette. The Chevelle was also produced in supersport versions and was available in both manual and automatic transmissions.
4. FORD MUSTANG MACH 1
The Ford Mustang is the most popular muscle car to ever be produced and sold in the United States. The Ford Mustang Mach 1 is a high-performance version of the classic Mustang. Introduced in 1968, the Mach 1 underwent two production runs from 1969-1978 and once again in 2003-2004.
The Mach 1 was discontinued as the fifth generation of the Mustang was unveiled but remains to be one of the best muscle cars in the world due to its incredible performance on the tracks. The Mach 1 comes as a two-door coupe and is equipped with a V8 engine.
3. SHELBY MUSTANG
The Shelby Mustang is closely related to the Ford Mustang and is actually a variation of the classic Mustang. As established with the Shelby Cobra 427, which came equipped with a Ford engine, it was produced in collaboration with the Ford Motor Company, so the Shelby Corporation had a very close tie to Ford.
For this reason, the two manufacturers worked closely on yet another project, the Shelby Mustang. The Shelby Mustang is a high-performance variation of the classic Mustang and like the Mach 1, designed to perform on the tracks. The Shelby Mustang was produced from 1965-1968, and from 1969 to 1970 by Ford itself.
2. BOSS 429
You won’t believe your eyes when you read this, but yet again we have a third Mustang in the top five muscle cars ever built. Coming in at second, beating out the Shelby Mustang and the Mach 1 is the Boss 429 Mustang, another high-performance variation on the classic Mustang that was produced from 1969 to 1970.
The Boss 429 is often referred to as the Boss 9 and is one of the rarest, if not the rarest muscle car to date, not to mention it is also one of the most highly valued. Only 1358 of these cars were produced.
1. DODGE CHARGER R/T
Finally, coming in at first is the Dodge Charger R/T. The Charger is the best muscle car to ever be produced and is certainly one of the most popular with cameos in movies such as the Fast and the Furious franchise. The Charger was first introduced in 1964 as a show car, but quickly gained a reputation as one of the fastest and most efficient vehicles to ever run on the streets. The Charger is so powerful in fact, that many law enforcement divisions uses them as patrol cars and the fastest police car in America is a Charger in Michigan.