American Muscle Cars, a term first used in the sixties, are the very words that speak of automotive power. A muscle car is a high-performance automobile that has enthralled our nation.
Uniquely American, they are frequently loud and their owners are proud. The term principally refers to American made and generally describes a rear wheel drive mid-size car with a large, powerful V8 engine.
The growing public interest in speed and power gave birth to what many regard as the first muscle machine, the 1949 Oldsmobile Rocket 88. It was not long before more makes of muscle cars started to thundered across the landscape. American car manufacturers were attempting to out-do the competition with larger, more advanced, quicker versions, and new designs.
America had produced fast, powerful cars since well before World War II. Most were expensive and only the rich with a need for speed could afford them. The muscle car was a mass-market idea when youth was king and Detroit ruled the automotive world. The 1966 Charger saw the debut of the most famous engine in musclecar history, the 426 Hemi.
The muscle cars' performance soon became a liability. The automotive safety lobby decried the irresponsibility of offering such powerful cars for public sale, particularly targeted to young buyers. It did not take long for the automobile insurance industry to began levying punitive surcharges on all high-powered models which made it too expensive to operate them, let alone buy them.
Detroit created the greatest performance machines of all time by following an age old receipe: placing big engines in (relatively) small cars at a price the average person could afford. The market for high performance automobiles will never go away as long as men have testosterone.