Not everyone agrees on what makes a muscle car what it is or if it’s supposed to be a pony. What we do know, however, is a muscle car is an American car with immense power, modest weight, and intense acceleration. The term ‘muscle car’ was coined way back in 1964, but this was majorly for midsize Pontiacs that were upped with a potent V8 engine to make it much faster than what it was before.
The engine of a muscle car is actually what gives the car its flamboyant personality. Without horsepower, they really wouldn't have much muscle. Classic American muscle cars like the Mustang and the Camaro are beautiful, high-performance vehicles that so many admire, and if you’re reading this, chances are that you, too, admire them. Modern muscle cars don’t come close to the classics, but we’ll mention a few in this list. In fact, there’s a couple who show their truest and deepest love for these cars from their garage aka ‘The Zoo’–a chock full of rare muscle cars, all of which they drive. That’s deep!
Ford Mustang has been America’s icon since its days as a two-seat concept car, but it paved the way for its rival, the Chevrolet Camaro, which has been on Mustang’s neck for the longest time. America is known as the undisputed king of muscle cars, so get ready to go on a crazy ride as we check out the 19 hottest pics of the Mustang and the Camaro muscle cars.
19 1970 Ford Boss 302 Mustang
The Boss 302 was designed by a former GM employee, Larry Shinoda, who called it ‘the boss’s car,’ as it was a secret project–and so the name stuck. Some of the cool things that came with this muscle car include a front spoiler and rear deck wing, hockey-stick stripes from the top of the hood, and a 1970 grille that replaced the four headlights with two vents on the outer part while maintaining the dual headlights in the grille opening. It also had a redesigned dual-exhaust system and a standard Hurst shifter.
This car could go from 0-60 in just 6.9 seconds and had a top speed of 98 mph.
This model was the direct rival to Chevrolet’s Camaro Z/28, as it was comfier on both road and track. Overall, it’s a quiet car that oozes quality–the best example of a world-famous landmark model.
18 1967 Chevrolet Camaro Z/28
The Camaro is Chevrolet’s answer to the Ford Mustang and is one of the top classic muscle cars. This sporty coupe is based on the Chevy Nova platform but with a V8 engine that makes up to 375 bhp. It also had racy options like the RS and SS, which had blacked-out grilles with hidden headlamps and bumble-bee stripes. But the goodies on this model, like the front disk brakes, the 4-speed heavy-duty manual transmission, and the racing stripes down the hood and deck lid make it worth the spend. It was available as either a 2-door coupe or a convertible, but only about 600 or so of its kind were in production in this specification for that year. This particular one pictured has a rare teal-blue color, of which apparently only three exist in the same Pantone. It drives brilliantly, is technically correct, and is original through and through. Plus, it's a true collector’s Z/28.
17 2016 Ford Shelby GT350r Mustang
This is a modern Mustang muscle car that kept so many people guessing and waiting with bated breath over what Ford would churn out that time.
It's the first V8 production by Ford with the highest-output naturally aspirated engine that develops 526 horsepower, taking you from 0-60 in 3.7-3.8 seconds!
Not only is it road legal, but you can also make it your daily drive as long as you won’t need a back seat–because it doesn’t have one–but this is a great way of staying away from having to valet your Shelby after a night out with your friends. Its standard carbon-fiber wheels are a first on such a mass-production car and play a huge role in adding lightness to this car for a remarkable ride.
16 Camaro ZL1
This modern, iconic muscle car is purpose-built to challenge the most advanced sports coupes worldwide. It rockets to 60 in just 3.5 seconds, quite faster than the Shelby GT350R, with a supercharged 6.2-liter V8 engine that makes out 650 horsepower, mated to a 10-speed automatic gearbox. Its sweeping design features a massive upper and lower grille, and a carbon-fiber composite hood air extractor, spoiler, and aggressive front splitter. The interior is even more rad, what with the suede-wrapped steering wheel, the standard Recaro performance seats with suede microfiber inserts, and an electronic convertible top, which is lowered at the press of a button or remotely. It also comes with standard 20-inch forged aluminum wheels perfected for the track with large Brembo rear rotors for precise braking. Other cool features include the wireless phone charging, a Bose audio system, an 8-inch center-screen display, a heated steering wheel, keyless open and start, built-in 4G LTE WiFi, and Apple CarPlay compatibility.
15 Camaro SS
This Camaro set a new benchmark of power from its predecessors, what with its 455-horsepower engine, enhanced by sophisticated performance technologies leaving drivers with an unparalleled sensation of agility and control.
Under the hood is a 6.2-liter LT1 V8 engine mated with an 8-speed automatic that runs from 0-60 in 4 seconds flat!
It also has Active Fuel Management for efficiency and power when you need it, Active Rev Matching for impeccable smooth shifting, different drive modes like Sport/Tour/Snow and Ice, as well as the Track Mode to adjust suspension, throttle suspension, steering calibration, exhaust sound, and shift feel, plus performance disc brakes from Brembo. This car takes the Camaro brand to the limit, and everything about it is performance oriented, one lap after another.
14 Ford Mustang GT
The term "GT" isn't just used as an identifier for Ford cars, to say that there’s a V8 under the hood, but it combines high performance plus the comfort of a touring car, hence "GT" or "Gran Touring (Gran Turismo)," which is its most basic definition. "Turismo," however, is derived from the Italians, which means "an automobile that can travel at high speeds for long distances with comfort and style." This is what Ford had in mind when creating the Mustang GT. In 1982, the GT replaced the Cobra and had a 5-liter modified high-output engine. But about 11 years later, its first major redesign debuted. It benefited from new improvements with an increase in output to 260 bhp due to its new head design and other enhancements. The 2018 model got 25 more horsepower and 20 more pound-feet of torque, which runs from 0-60 in 4 seconds or thereabouts–something non-Shelby Mustangs have never been capable of.
13 1969 Chevrolet Camaro
This car has presence; the moment you look at it, it seems to say, ‘I’m here.’ The first-gen Camaro was available as a two-door, hardtop or convertible with a 6-cylinder and V8 power plants, built through the 1969 model year. This particular model, the 1969 Camaro, had a sportier look from the all-new sheet metal, except on the hood and lid of the trunk, plus the grille was revised with a heavy V-cant and deeply inset headlights. Other salient features include its new door skins and the rear valance panel that lowered the car and gave it a more aggressive look. It was available in different configurations from the Super Sport to standard Sport Coupe or track-ready Z/28. The Rally Sport had hidden headlights, special bucket seats, special stripes and wheels, and some nice carpeting.
12 1971 Mustang Boss 351
Only 1,806 of these last true muscle cars from the Blue Oval were built in 1971–their lone production year. Under its broad, tapered hood, the Boss 351 packs a high output V8 engine making 330 horsepower, but this is just the beginning of the car’s goodness. It was improved to a Hurst-shifted 4-speed manual transmission, power front disc brakes, and externally, it got twin hood ducts, a Mach 1 honeycomb grille, body side stripes, and 351 decals, among other additions. The original Boss Stangs–302 and 429–came much earlier in 1969, but got canceled in 1970 over Ford’s withdrawal from factory-supported racing. However, the 351 brought the Stang groove back, and it's known as the last call for true muscle-car believers.
11 1969 Chevrolet Yenko Camaro
This car was prepared by Yenko Chevrolet under Don Yenko’s supervision, who saw a gap in the market for a powerful Camaro that would go around the limit of having an engine larger than a 6.6-liter.
Yenko’s modified Camaro was installed with a Corvette L-72 7-liter V8 engine, which saw its power increase to 450 hp.
Plus, he added a fiberglass hood, and to make it official for racing, the company made a Central Office Production Order to Yenko. It's almost impossible to own one of these, seeing as not many of its kind were built, so naturally, those who own one wouldn’t be ready to sell them as well. However, thanks to BNMC (Brand New Muscle Car), you can get your favorite Camaro classic muscle car hand-built from scratch, with a new metal body and parts from R3 Performance products–but these are just continuation cars–not replicas, not clones but totally licensed by the owners of Yenko brand.
10 Ford Mustang Mach 1
The name "Mach 1" was first used in its 1969 display of the Levacar Mach 1, a concept vehicle. 1969 was a benchmark year for the Ford Mustang seeing as performance engines and names were in high production at the time. The Mach 1 was so successful that the GT model was discontinued after 1969 over poor sales, but it was only available in Sports Roof body style (or Fastback), not hardtop or convertible.
It was powered by a V8 and had a hood scoop, revised wheels, chrome exhaust tips, a rear deck spoiler, a matte-black hood with hood pins, and deluxe interior among other inclusions.
It’s a famous car, too, having been featured in top flicks like Gone in 60 Seconds, Diamonds are Forever, and Black Belt Jones, plus it featured in Top Gear when Richard Hammond used it in season 22’s Patagonia Special.
9 1967 Vengeance Streetfighter Camaro
When you hear such a name for a car, it gives the impression that this car has no match, like it’s the brutally mean, untouchable, with blistering speeds and power under the hood. Well, the owner of this Camaro–Amir aka Mr. Totem—had great plans, and he went out and achieved them. For starters, the exterior boasts a flat-black paint job done with spray paint cans and added gloss-black and carbon-fiber accents, which contrast with the bright-red brake calipers. The engine is a Vengeance Racing-built forged 427 LS7 with a 6-speed T56 transmission, custom-built 19-inch NewGen wheels, a bumblebee nose, a custom spoiler, and mirrors to complete the process. It also has Corvette components and a custom hydraulic system–its performance doesn’t disappoint.
8 1969 Ford Mustang Boss 429
Such cars make you wish you were born in the early 1950s so you could have the chance to own one. There’s something about the muscle cars of the '60s that make the gearhead in all of us scream with joy–the American dream at its finest.
Mustang Boss 429 aka Boss 9, is one of the rarest and most valued muscle cars of its time, developed from Ford’s desire to compete in the top NASCAR series with a Hemi engine.
Its engine featured aluminum cylinder heads with a modified Hemi-type combustion chamber, plus 4-speed manual transmission, which rated it at 375 horsepower, but the actual output was well over 500 hp. It's one of the well-respected variants of the Mustang, and compared to others from its era, it had a wider hood scoop and a pretty elegant but simple interior, and it could hit 60 mph in 7.1 seconds.
7 1970 1/2 Camaro Z28
With styling cues borrowed from supercars Jaguar and Ferrari, this second-generation Camaro Z28, debuted in 1970 but only as a coupe. It's one of the most beautiful cars from Detroit, which was lower, longer, and wider than its predecessor, which actually made its interior space bigger.
This car has a smooth ride with better handling, and the package includes a 360-horsepower V8 engine taken from the Corvette.
It's one of the cars GM heavily invested in, plus its body was styled after the Italian sports cars, which made it feel more sophisticated. The seating position is relaxed, its handling refined, but sadly, a huge strike by automotive workers delayed its production, plus new crash regulations messed up its styling. Either way, its performance is good, as it runs from 0-60 in just 5.8 seconds.
6 1965 Ford Mustang Shelby GT350
Shelby is the best of the best when it comes to Ford Mustangs; even just going by the high-performance variants produced from 1965-1970, it's legendary. The GT350 came with a 306-horsepower V8 engine but was only available in one color scheme–Wimbledon white with Guardsman Blue rocker stripes (or Le Mans top stripes for some) that ran across the car’s length, which made it easily recognizable by those who loved and knew it. Owing to the two-seater sports cars produced around the same time, people referred to it as the "Cobra," but it also had Cobra emblems very close to the Shelby brand. Initially, these Mustangs were stock cars with 4-speed manual transmission, but Shelby America added larger rear drum brakes, Tri-Y headers, front disc brakes by Kelsey-Hayes, and high-riser manifolds. It was built specifically for racing under SCAA rules and is a three-time B-production champ. The interior came with comfy rear seats, an optional auto transmission, plus color options.
5 2013 Camaro 1LE
If you know the Bumblebee, then this is like its youngest sibling. The 2010 Camaro 1LE didn’t ride or even handle as well as this one, but Chevrolet kept improving it. Thus, the 2013 package benefited from the work they put into it. You’d understand if you ever drove the fifth-generation Camaro and heard the shrieks. It was inspired by a race-ready package from the late '80s as an option for the Camaro SS. Some of its features were picked from the ZL1, like the sticky front tires and the light front wheels, a thicker front, a front strut tower brace, a high-capacity fuel pump, and rear stabilizer bars. To spruce it up, it came with a flat-black wrap on the hood, a black front splitter and rear spoiler, plus the steering wheel has V-shaped spokes. You almost feel like you’re driving it already. Pretty cool, right?
4 1965–1970 Shelby Mustang GT500
From its design and performance to its rich heritage and intriguing history, there’s truly nothing like the Shelby Mustang GT500. Shelby is still celebrated as an American icon whose influence will still shape the automotive industry for years to come. The 1967 GT500 was a major milestone for the company, what with its big-block engine and bigger platform.
The one pictured here is a rare 1967 Mustang that's been on display at the Shelby American Museum in Las Vegas and has among the lowest mileage of its kind in existence at only 9,508 miles.
Its owner, Stephen Becker, says it was one of the first to be produced at the Shelby American factory. It has a black interior with a Nightmist Blue exterior–such a desirable color combo, plus it comes with a 4-speed transmission. Everything on it, from the paint to the wheels to the drivetrain and even to the tires are original, as they were back then–one of the rarest ever built.
3 2002 35th Anniversary Camaro
When sales of the fourth-generation Camaro declined, partly because nobody wanted a small coupe when there were large SUV options in the market and because of the car’s bloated look, it spelled doom for the Camaro after the 2002 model year. So, Chevrolet decided to create this 2002 35th Anniversary package Camaro for the SS coupe, and convertible. However, it only came in red with silver stripes and a checkered-flag pattern, plus it had embroidered headrest logos, unique fender badges, and special 10-spoke wheels with black accents on the machined surfaces. Even so, it came with a V8 engine that developed 325 horsepower to deliver an unbeatable and thrilling performance, running from 0-60 in just 5.2 seconds, and the quarter mile was passed in 13.5 seconds. There are still a few used ones available, though.
2 1971 Ford Mustang 428 Super Cobra Jet
1971 was a very significant year for Ford Mustang, as it marked the last year of its big-block Mustang with the 429 Super Cobra Jet model. At the time, regulations on emissions control and insurance premiums were increasing, so Ford started using smaller engines in their models. The strength of this particular model is in its durable assembly, which included pistons, a crank, rods, and a harmonic balancer among others, designed to withstand the higher-RPM drag-racing requirements.
Its output was 375 horsepower.
But the most striking and recognizable feature of this 428 Super Cobra Jet is the NACA hood with dual scoops, which didn’t necessarily deliver anything extra to its performance.
1 2016 Chevrolet Camaro SS
This high-performance, two-door coupe car’s LT1 V8 engine dominates the driving experience with 455 horsepower and by running the 0-60 mph sprint in just 4.3 seconds and 12.5 seconds for the quarter mile. It's leaner, meaner, and delivers world-class sports car performance and dynamics, making it one of the finest in the world, without even considering the price. But what you’d want to consider if you intend to get this car is the potential fuel and/or tire costs that come with it, plus a few inconveniences of its interior. But you’ll still love it overall. Although it's a bit smaller than its predecessor, very few cars offer the kind of enjoyment this Chevy Camaro SS gives per mile. This one's clearly out for Mustang's blood.
Sources: caranddriver.com, carscoops.com, gearheads, motor1.com