The Fastest American Muscle Cars From The ’60s and ’70s

New American muscle cars are still being built but the 1960s and 1970s were the greatest decades they were ever made. Everyone wanted to get behind the wheel of one of these vehicles and speed away. It was during this time that American automakers were inspired to pack in the power and speed and perfect the performance, completing the package with sporty body designs that turn heads. These are the fastest American muscle cars from the greatest decades that muscle cars were ever built.

1968 Plymouth Road Runner

National Motor Museum/Heritage Images/Getty Images
National Motor Museum/Heritage Images/Getty Images

As the 1960s came to an unceremonious end, Plymouth bet the company that muscle cars would stay popular well into the next decade. In 1968, they introduced the Plymouth Road Runner. It became one of the first cars of its kind to target young drivers and became an instant classic.

It helped that the Road Runner cleverly tied itself in with the cartoon character of the same name. We bet its $3,000 price tag was a big selling point, too. This car was no joke, however, and could reach a top speed of more than 140 MPH, racing a quarter of a mile in less than 14 seconds.

ADVERTISEMENT

1971 Plymouth Superbird

ADVERTISEMENT
The Enthusiast Network/Getty Images
The Enthusiast Network/Getty Images
ADVERTISEMENT

Three years after releasing the Road Runner, Plymouth released the Superbird, a new muscle car based around the original Road Runner design. The redesign was a part of an effort by Plymouth to meet NASCAR requirements. Any muscle car available to the masses with those specs was seen as the king of the crop.

ADVERTISEMENT

The car's "classic" reputation has been cemented in the last 20 years. In 2001, a Superbird was expected to sell for $67,000 at auction. Today, they sell regularly for more than $100,000, making them one of the most sought-after classic muscle cars.

ADVERTISEMENT

1970 Buick GSX

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
John Ethridge/The Enthusiast Network/Getty Images
John Ethridge/The Enthusiast Network/Getty Images
ADVERTISEMENT

It took half a decade for the Buick Grand Sport to become popular. The original car hit the market in 1965 as a beefed up version of the Skylark. In 1967 the car became the GSX, but still only treaded water in the market.

ADVERTISEMENT

Finally, in 1970, Buick upped the game, giving the GSX a 7.5-liter engine that could reach 400 horsepower. It sold with a promise of 360 horsepower and came in two colors; "Apollo white" and "Saturn yellow."

ADVERTISEMENT

1968 Dodge Charger

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
National Motor Museum/Heritage Images/Getty Images
National Motor Museum/Heritage Images/Getty Images
ADVERTISEMENT

One of the most recognizable muscle cars of all time, you've undoubtedly seen the 1968 or 1969 Dodger Charger in pop culture somewhere. Classic television fans will remember it as the cars from The Dukes of Hazzard. Others know it as the car of Steve McQueen's nemesis in Bullit.

ADVERTISEMENT

Most recently, the car has become synonymous with The Fast and the Furious franchise as Dominic Toretto's street racing vehicle of choice. If you've been hiding one of these bad boys away in your garage, now might be the time to sell. They're worth a reported $170,000 at auction!

ADVERTISEMENT

1966 Chevrolet Chevelle

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
Jeff Gritchen/Digital First Media/Orange County Register via Getty Images
Jeff Gritchen/Digital First Media/Orange County Register via Getty Images
ADVERTISEMENT

The Chevrolet Chevelle model was made from 1966 until 1970 and was capable of 450 horsepower. Chevy went all-out on this car beauty, which originally started as a "Super Sport" package for their 1961 Impala.

ADVERTISEMENT

The 1970 model is the most popular, with a 7.4-liter beast that could go zero to sixty in six seconds flat. Chevrolet adorned this one with a fancy interior and an exterior decorated with racing stripes. Yeah, they went there.

ADVERTISEMENT

1964 Shelby GT King Of The Road

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
Bob D'Olivo/The Enthusiast Network/Getty Images
Bob D'Olivo/The Enthusiast Network/Getty Images
ADVERTISEMENT

The original Shleby GT King of the Road (KR), was released in 1964 and had a V-8 engine with 360 horsepower. Today, this muscle car created by AC Cars is considered a classic. One special order even sold for $5.5 million.

ADVERTISEMENT

One version of the car, the Shelby Cobra 427, released in 1966, was considered too powerful, reaching a top horsepower of 480. One famous celebrity even sold his after the car ended up in a lake when he couldn't handle how powerful it was.

ADVERTISEMENT

1970 Plymouth Barracuda

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
D├╝nzlullstein bild via Getty Images
D├╝nzlullstein bild via Getty Images
ADVERTISEMENT

Re-launched in 1970 with a 7.2-liter engine capable of 390 horsepower, the Plymouth Barracuda was every bit as intimidating as its name. A bigger version, the Hemi-Cuda, could reach 425 horsepower and go from zero to sixty in 5.6 seconds.

ADVERTISEMENT

Today, the value of a Barracuda in mint condition is incredible. Some have even sold for over $2 million! The high price can be attributed to the limited stock of the vehicle being produced. During the era that it was made, insurance premiums skyrocketed, limiting the market for this machine.

ADVERTISEMENT

1967 Chevrolet Camaro Z-28

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
Gerry Stiles/The Enthusiast Network/Getty Images
Gerry Stiles/The Enthusiast Network/Getty Images
ADVERTISEMENT

The 1967 Chevrolet Camaro Z-28 is considered the favorite version of the late '60s Camaro models. It came with a manual gearbox and was made for racing. With brakes located in the front, it was too difficult for most casual car enthusiasts to handle without practice.

ADVERTISEMENT

The base package available of this car was sold with a V-8 engine capable of 290 horsepower, positraction, and power steering. For anyone looking to blow their enemies away on the streets, no car was better than the Z-28.

ADVERTISEMENT

1978 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
Manfred Schmid/Getty Images
Manfred Schmid/Getty Images
ADVERTISEMENT

While everyone else was backing away from muscle car production in the late 1970s, Pontiac decided to double down and released the Firebird Trans Am in 1978. To excite its fanbase, Pontiac increased horsepower from 200 to 220 and developed a brand new special handling package with sport-tuned suspension.

ADVERTISEMENT

The famous T-roof on these cars was introduced in 1976 and manufactured by Hurst. When it was discovered that the lift out sections leaked, Pontiac took over production of the roof parts. The Pontiac designed version is slightly larger than the Hurst ones.

ADVERTISEMENT

1971 Oldsmobile 442

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
Steven Kelly/The Enthusiast Network/Getty Images
Steven Kelly/The Enthusiast Network/Getty Images
ADVERTISEMENT

The four barrel, four-speed, and dual exhaust Oldsmobile 442 has stood the test of time since its 1968 introduction to the world. Of course, the car was originally an options package for the Cutlass until 1968. The 1971 model is the preferred 442 of choice for car collectors today.

ADVERTISEMENT

This model featured improved springs, which improved handling while the car finished its quarter-mile sprint in just under 15 seconds. If you want to get your hands on one of these classics today, it will cost you around $85,000.

ADVERTISEMENT

1964 Pontiac GTO

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
Eric Rickman/The Enthusiast Network/Getty Images
Eric Rickman/The Enthusiast Network/Getty Images
ADVERTISEMENT

Released in 1964, the Pontiac GTO didn't capture the imagination of the public until 1965, when it showed it could go from zero to sixty in 6.1 seconds. To many, the 1965 model is the greatest muscle car of all-time, even though it was quickly out-driven by other brands.

ADVERTISEMENT

Pontiac marketed the car at a younger people, selling it as a cheap and fast alternative to other cars of the time. Today, one of these classic models is worth over $200,000, if you can find one available.

ADVERTISEMENT

1969 Ford Mustang Boss

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
National Motor Museum/Heritage Images/Getty Images
National Motor Museum/Heritage Images/Getty Images
ADVERTISEMENT

With NASCAR in its golden age, the Ford Motor Company upped its muscle car game with the Mustang Boss. Hiding a 429-cubic inch V-8 under the hood, the muscle car could handle itself on the race track but made it's home on the highways.

ADVERTISEMENT

Ford didn't compete in NASCAR at the time, but they needed a muscle car on the market that met racing requirements. Plymouth was doing the same with incredible success, so it only made sense for Ford to try. Today, a Mustang Boss will cost you around $200,000 to own.

ADVERTISEMENT

1965 Pontiac Catalina

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
Bob D'Olivo/The Enthusiast Network/Getty Images
Bob D'Olivo/The Enthusiast Network/Getty Images
ADVERTISEMENT

The Pontiac Tempest may be seen by critics as the original muscle car, but the 1965 Catalina helped define the early era. The large body Catalina was a 2+2 performance model with a 421-cubic inch V-8 engine capable of 338 horsepower. A quick upgrade to a 421 H.O. increased horsepower to 376.

ADVERTISEMENT

To help improve hype over the new vehicle, Pontiac upgraded the vehicles released to writers at Royal Pontiac in Royal Oak, Michigan. With these upgrades, the car could reach zero to sixty in 3.8 seconds and race a quarter of a mile in under 14 seconds.

ADVERTISEMENT

1969 Dodge Daytona

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
National Motor Museum/Heritage Images/Getty Images
National Motor Museum/Heritage Images/Getty Images
ADVERTISEMENT

Unlike Plymouth and Ford, Dodge was designing cars to race in NASCAR in the 1960s. In 1969, the company introduced the Charger Daytona, a longer car designed to out-run the competition on the longest tracks. As you can see, it was one of the most radically designed muscle cars ever.

ADVERTISEMENT

To make the car faster, Dodge added a sloped nose cone, flushed rear window, and an extra long rear wing. The car was so dominant in NASCAR races that it was actually banned by the organization in 1970!

ADVERTISEMENT

1968 Chevrolet Corvette

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
Bob D'Olivo/The Enthusiast Network/Getty Images
Bob D'Olivo/The Enthusiast Network/Getty Images
ADVERTISEMENT

You've seen the 1984 Chevrolet Corvette, but now it's time to talk about its parents. The 1968 Corvette was produced until 1982, one of the longest runs of a body model of any muscle car. The Baldwin-Motion Phase III GT Corvette, released in 1968, was the cream of the crop.

ADVERTISEMENT

Created by Joel Rosen in Baldwin, New York, the Phase III GT was a taste of the future. The vehicle was given the blessing of Zora Arkus-Duntov, the creator of the Corvette, when it was first showcased at the 1969 New York International Car Show.

ADVERTISEMENT

1965 Ford Mustang Shelby

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
Michael Cole/Corbis via Getty Images
Michael Cole/Corbis via Getty Images
ADVERTISEMENT

The 1965 Ford Mustang Shelby is one of the most sought-after cars by Mustang fanatics. The '65 and '66 GT 350s were styled simply, light, and perfect for the track. The King of the Road model may have come out a few years later, but don't doubt this monster of mayhem.

ADVERTISEMENT

The iconic "Le Mans" racing stripe associated with the '65 Shelby today only appeared on 28 percent of the original models. Most of the racing stripes were added by the dealership at the customer's request.

ADVERTISEMENT

1970 Ford Torino

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ISC Images & Archives via Getty Images
ISC Images & Archives via Getty Images
ADVERTISEMENT

Looking for a complimentary muscle car to the Mustang, Ford released the Torino Cobra in 1970. According to Motor Trend, "The car goes through tight turns in a confidence inspiring controlled slide. It's all very smooth and unusual." The positive review helped turn this powerhouse into a monster hit.

ADVERTISEMENT

One year later, Ford came out with the 429 Super Cobra Jet. This new version was rated with 375 horsepower as part of the "drag pack" option that could blow the rest of the competition away.

ADVERTISEMENT

1970 AMC Rebel Machine

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT

Like Ford, the American Motor Company was looking for a boost in the muscle car business when it took the Rebel and turned it into the Rebel Machine. The Machine was made available in 1970 and is famous for being one of the most patriotic muscle cars ever. Just look at that paint job!

ADVERTISEMENT

The Rebel Machine came equipped with a V-6 engine capable of 340 horsepower. Reception of the Machine was lukewarm at the time, with Hot Rod writing that it would beat a "Volkswagon, a slow freight train, or your old man's Cadillac."

ADVERTISEMENT

1971 Plymouth Road Runner

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
Plymouth-Road-Runner-1971
National Motor Museum/Heritage Images via Getty Images
National Motor Museum/Heritage Images via Getty Images
ADVERTISEMENT

Similar to the GTX, but at a lower price point is the 1971 Plymouth Road Runner- the second-generation of the Road Runner model. That year, Plymouth adopted a more rounded fuselage design that more closely resembled the majority of Plymouth's line-up for 1971. The grill was more deeply inset, as well as the headlights. The biggest upgrade from the 1968-70 models are the improved high-speed handling.

ADVERTISEMENT

This muscle car was praised for its performance, handling, and smooth ride. Buyers had the option of a detuned 383 "Road Runner" engine with 8.7:1 compression, or a 340 and 383 engine.

ADVERTISEMENT

1969 Dodge Dart 440

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
1969-Dodge-Dart-440
Pinterest/classiccarsnewz.info
Pinterest/classiccarsnewz.info
ADVERTISEMENT

First built in 1962, the Dodge Dart 440 was at its peak performance in 1969. Offered as either a 2-door or 4-door sedan, the Dart 440 was powered with 145 hp and a 440 V8 engine.

ADVERTISEMENT

The six-cylinder engine featured a carburetor anti-ice system for four-season driving, a benefit for muscle car enthusiasts living in colder climates. The Dodge Dart 440 embodies all of the essential elements of what makes an American muscle car.

ADVERTISEMENT

1969 Plymouth GTX

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
PLymouth-GTX-1969
Andy Cross/The Denver Post via Getty Images
Andy Cross/The Denver Post via Getty Images
ADVERTISEMENT

Originally debuting in 1967 as the Belvedere GTX, the 1969 model was packed with muscle and performance. Arguably, the car should have been more popular but was competing for the spotlight against Plymouth's Road Runner model as it became available in a convertible style.

ADVERTISEMENT

The 1969 GTX featured a standard 440 V8 engine with 375 hp. That year, 701 GTX models were produced but only eleven were built with a 426 Hemi. It would be the final year that the GTX would be designed as a convertible.

ADVERTISEMENT

1964 Dodge Polara 500

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
Dodge-Polara-1964
classiccars.com
classiccars.com
ADVERTISEMENT

First seen in 1960, the Dodge Polara was named after the Polaris star, as the automaker showed interest in the Space Race craze of the early 1960s. In 1963-64 the Polara was trimmed down with reduced weight which proved to be an advantage once these cars hit the track for NASCAR.

ADVERTISEMENT

The Polara 500 was designed as the ideal American sporty mid-sized vehicle that was compared to the Ford Galaxie 500/XL and the Chevrolet Impala Super Sport. The V8 engine of up to 413 cu (6.8L) featured an engine-tuned anodized aluminum trim strip. Bucket seats and vinyl upholstery completed the muscle car look.

ADVERTISEMENT

1968 Chevrolet Biscayne

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
Chevrolet-Biscayne-1968
classicars.com
classicars.com
ADVERTISEMENT

The third generation Chevrolet Biscayne was introduced by the automaker in 1965, but it was the '68 model that really shined. Equipped with e 427 ci V8, the Biscayne was could reach up to 425 hp.

ADVERTISEMENT

One of the major changes for the 1968 Biscayne was the discontinuation of the station wagon option. If buyers wanted to own one of these muscle filled beasts, they could only get on kind of body. The station wagon kit became the Brookwood.

ADVERTISEMENT

1970 Dodge Challenger R/T

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
Dodge-Challenger-RT-1970
classiccars.com
classiccars.com
ADVERTISEMENT

In 1970, the Dodge Challenger was in its first generation of production. It was designed to be pitted against the Mercury Cougar and the Pontiac Firebird, appearing on the market too late to be considered a competitor of the Ford Mustang.

ADVERTISEMENT

The Challenger R/T was the performance model, featuring a 383 cu in (6.3 L) "Magnum" V8 engine rated at 335 hp. The R/T was built with a Rallye instrument cluster with a speedometer that topped out at 150 mph.

ADVERTISEMENT

1969 Dodge Super Bee

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
Dodge-Super-Bee-1969
classiccars.com
classiccars.com
ADVERTISEMENT

Just by looking at it, you can tell that the 1969 Dodge Super Bee is all muscle and power. Dodge designed this model at a lower price point after the success of the Road Runner, but higher than the Plymouth version. The Super Bee features a 4-speed manual transmission with a Hurst Competition-Plus shifter and Hurst linkage.

ADVERTISEMENT

Dodge decided to throw in a Hemi engine, which raised the price and led to a decrease in sales, also due to the higher insurance rate slammed onto performance cars.

ADVERTISEMENT

1969 Dodge Charger 500

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
1969-dodge-charger-hemi-500
Pinterest/lcarsmotorcycles
Pinterest/lcarsmotorcycles
ADVERTISEMENT

The Dodge Charger was in high demand when the second generation of the model was released from 1968-70. The automaker had initially planned on producing 35,000 units but ended up releasing 96,100 of the highly-coveted muscle car.

ADVERTISEMENT

The look was updated with an undivided grill, hidden headlights, and rounded taillights, but the powertrains remained the same as the '67 model. The Charger 500 model proved to be a powerhouse and was the baseline for the 1969 Dodge Charger Daytona.

ADVERTISEMENT

1970 Chevrolet Chevelle SS

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
Chevrolet-Chevelle-SS-1970
classiccars.com
classiccars.com
ADVERTISEMENT

The Chevrolet Chevelle SS was one of the most popular midsized cars in America, released after GM lifted its displacement ban on midsize cars.

ADVERTISEMENT

This muscle car featured a 445 cid V8 starting at 360 bhp, stretching to 450 bhp. A sporty body style, the Chevelle SS had many add-on options, including a Cowl induction for added horsepower. The newly redesigned interior caught eyes, including the new dashboard. The '70 Chevelle SS still turns heads today.

ADVERTISEMENT

1968 Dodge Dart GTS Hemi

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
Dodge-Dart-1968
classiccars.com
classiccars.com
ADVERTISEMENT

The 1968 Dodge Dart was designed for speed. This muscle car exited the production line with high-performance capabilities as Dodge's smallest coupe with a big motor.

ADVERTISEMENT

The Dart required some adjustments in order for it to be street legal. All extraneous elements of this vehicle were stripped away to leave nothing but lightweight performance. The Dart doesn't even have carpeting, heaters, or arm rests. Metal was swapped out for fiberglass and bucket seats completed the interior for this American muscle car.

ADVERTISEMENT

1969 Pontiac GTO Judge

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
1969-Pontiac-GTO-The-Judge
Classiccars.com
Classiccars.com
ADVERTISEMENT

Every inch of the 1969 Pontiac GTO Judge exudes performance. All of the unnecessary frills were removed from this muscle car's design to reduce weight and increase performance.

ADVERTISEMENT

Buyers benefited from the included features that were typically offered as add-ons. The Judge was designed with 366 bhp Ram Air III evolution of the GTO's 400 cid V8 engine. It has a three-speed manual transmission with Hurst T-handle shifter. However, the interior was nothing to write home about.

ADVERTISEMENT

1978 Dodge Lil' Red Express

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
1978 Dodge Lil Red Express
Pinterest
Pinterest
ADVERTISEMENT

If you see a 1978 Dodge Lil' Red Express parked alongside the road, you should take a photo. This was one of the most unique trucks to ever be manufactured by Dodge. In 1978, Car and Driver declared the Lil' Red Express the fastest American made vehicle from 0 to 100 MPH.

ADVERTISEMENT

The truck was designed with a modified version of the 360 police engine- a special high Performance 360 ci 4-barrel small block engine code EH1. The truck was equipped with a special 727 transmission and 3.55:1 rear gearing. In 1978, 2,188 of these trucks were produced, proving to be a big hit in America.