If you love speed and power on the road, the 1960s would have been a perfect time for you. It was during this time that muscle cars became really popular in the United States. These were high-performance cars that - while being still considered legal for everyday driving - were actually designed for drag racing. The cars were fitted with powerful and large V8 engines for top performance.
Over the years, engineers experimented with designs and accessories to give variety to these cars. Some turned out to be real beauties. Some, however, turned out to be lacking in the aesthetics department. Here are 5 of the best-looking muscle cars over the years, and 5 that could use a good redesign.
Car dealer Don Yenko was famous in the 1960s because of his ability to build and sell Chevrolets. The Yenko Camaro is the perfect combination of beauty and brawn. These custom cars have a timeless and rather conservative design that is still considered beautiful decades after its introduction to the public.
Yenko redesigned the standard Camaros delivered to him and fitted them with bigger wheels, a larger front roll bar, and accessories like mags, headers and gaugers. The 7.0 liter V8 engine of the car produces an amazing 450 horsepower that can make the car run at 114 mph in just 11.94 seconds.
The first AMC Gremlins were produced in 1970. It was the first subcompact muscle car to be introduced in the market so it sparked a lot of curiosity. Throughout the decade, models were churned out, one after the other, but the 1978 AMC Gremlin was the last one in the family. The odd design of this three-door hatchback makes for some weird-looking rear seating. The stripes running along the sides make it look like a racing car but takes away the sleekness of the vehicle. It was a little hard to navigate the Gremlin if taken out drag racing because of the heaviness of the front. It’s equipped with 6 cylinder engines that only goes to 90 hp, significantly lower than other muscle cars.
The next muscle car considered one of the beauties of its time is the Ford Mustang Boss 429. Ford modified this car from the Cobra Jet Mustang in an effort to remain competitive with Chrysler. Aesthetically, the exterior of the car gives it a sleek finish. From the chrome ring to the radiator grill, the headlights to the thin bumper, and the smooth front spoiler, these details give it a powerful and sexy aura. The shock towers were extended to fit the 429 engine. Output recorded for the 1969 model was at 375 horsepower. This allowed the car to accelerate to 100 mph in just 13.6 seconds. If you want to intimidate on the road, the Boss 429 is the best car to have.
Another subcompact car that needs a redesign is the Chevrolet Chevette. The hatchback rear drive vehicle came at a time when many consumers wanted front drive cars. It was basically an answer to those who want a cheap car, because that was perhaps the only advantage it had over other cars. How it was considered to be a muscle car is difficult to understand as it was equipped with a 1.4-liter engine with power that was never recorded to go beyond 74 hp. The exterior of the car is nothing to write home about either. It isn’t sleek, doesn’t scream power, and definitely doesn’t spell muscle.
Capitalizing on the popularity of its earlier Firebird designs, Pontiac introduced the 1978 model with a higher horsepower of 220 from the previous of 200. The Firebird Trans Am was said to have better and quicker handling because of the WS6; the special handling pack designed for the model. It is fitted with 6.6 liter V8 engine, allowing it to accelerate from 0 to 100 kph in 10.1 seconds. The other models of the 1978 line even had the option of T-tops, or roof sections that can be lifted out to give the car a convertible feel. The better steering, wide wheels and sport-tuned suspension all give a powerful vibe, making this a favorite among muscle car enthusiasts.
Ford had been making the Maverick model for a few years before the introduction of the Grabber in 1971. In terms of performance, its V8 engine that powers up to 210 hp is something that muscle car lovers liked. However, its design needs some improvement. The Grabber was touted as the “sporty” Maverick model but nothing on its exterior, except perhaps the side stripes, screamed sporty. It looked like any other two-door car that had a heavier and longer front. It did come however with 14-inch wheels, black tail panel and grille, and an improved steering wheel. The Maverick was a line of simplicity, and the Grabber is one of the simplest-looking muscle cars ever produced.
Ford attempted to answer the needs for more fuel-efficient muscle cars and came up with the 2017 Mustang Ecoboost. In what is considered a surprising move, this comes with only 2.3-liter 4 cylinder engine as opposed to the usual V8 that muscle cars are known for. However, the turbo-charged engine gives it 310 hp. The exteriors are nothing to scoff at, with its aluminum wheels, large brake rotors, radiator, and front springs that are good for heavy duty driving. The Ecoboost is also offered as a convertible for more options. This is considered one of the best combinations of past and present, merging the Mustang tradition with the requirements of modern times.
The EXP was the car introduced by Ford to cater to what they believed was an up-and-coming market that wanted an intimate muscle car for two. However, this car became a bane for the company as many didn’t think it was worth getting a car that had no rear seating. The exteriors had odd proportions in the lines of the car and the headlight treatment. Critics of the EXP likened the headlamps to the eyes of a frog. It didn’t look like a muscle car and certainly didn’t perform like one. The 1.6-liter 4-cylinder engine could only produce 70 hp. It didn’t fare well in the market and production of the EXP was stopped in 1986.
Last but not least on our great muscle car picks is the 2018 Dodge Hellcat Widebody. The 6.2-Liter V8 engine allows for 707 hp. It can accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in 3.4 seconds. The Hellcat is equipped with performance tires that have better grip, making it a good choice for drag racing.
True to its name, it has a wider body than most muscle cars. It is also equipped with electrical assistance power steering, giving the driver the option to choose among three levels of steering weight. This makes it the perfect car to drive whether on the road or on the drag strip.
Ford first introduced the Mercury line in 1967 as a luxurious and handsome muscle car. A few years later, the 1974 Cougar was introduced but no visible improvements were made. In fact, it looked like the car just followed the trend set by other manufacturers. It wasn’t ugly per se, but it looked like every other vehicle on the streets. It lost the sleekness of the 1967 model as it piled on the pounds, looking bulky instead. It got so bad that later Cougar models were sedans and station wagons. The 1974 model lost the muscle car factor as it also didn’t fare well on power. The 6.6-liter V8 engine released 158 hp, a low number compared to other cars with the same fitting.