What Qualifications Make a Car a Muscle Car?
If there’s one concept that’s central to the legacy of American automobiles, it’s the muscle car. While automakers from around the globe have imitated our trucks and sedans, the legacy of the American muscle car stands apart. The term “muscle car” is commonly applied to classic cars, but not all instances are accurate. What qualifications define a muscle car?
Want to Drive a Car That Makes an Impression? Check out this list of recommendations
A brief look at the origin of muscle cars
Defining what qualifies as a muscle car isn’t as easy to pinpoint as you’d expect. What, for instance, differentiates it from a pony car?
To determine what a muscle car is, U.S. News & World Report points back to the hot-rodding culture of the late 1950s and early 1960s, when American grease monkeys would take light sports cars and drop in huge engines. Drivers wanted their toys to have more power.
These modifications were mostly performed aftermarket (post-manufacturing), as the only production model that attempted this was Oldsmobile’s Rocket 88, and the Pontiac GTO being considered the first true muscle car. Eventually, with the introduction of Chrysler’s HEMI and Chevy’s V8, automakers began creating the cars that buyers wanted with bigger engines.
Still Producing Muscle Cars: Why you should consider buying a used Dodge car
Explained: What qualifies as a muscle car
Due to its history, “muscle car” originated as a broad term referring to powerful American-made performance cars, with the most common characteristics being
- Rear-wheel drive
- Front engine placement
- V8 engine
- Fast acceleration
- Big tires
- Medium vehicle weight and size
So why has there been a decline in the past 30 years of muscle cars on the market? How Stuff Works points to the rise in gas prices and stricter regulations (industry and insurance) as being two major factors in the decline of these wildly powerful, unruly machines. Also, buyers wanted track-ready cars that weren’t just about big engines but had well-tuned suspension and aerodynamics too.
Because of this change, the most common place you’ll find muscle cars these days isn’t on the track or on the road, but in parking lots at local car cruise-ins.
Aaron is unashamed to be a native Clevelander and the proud driver of a Hyundai Veloster Turbo (which recently replaced his 1995 Saturn SC-2). He gleefully utilizes his background in theater, literature, and communication to dramatically recite his own articles to nearby youth. Mr. Widmar happily resides in Dayton, Ohio with his magnificent wife, Vicki, but is often on the road with her exploring new destinations. Aaron has high aspirations for his writing career but often gets distracted pondering the profound nature of the human condition and forgets what he was writing… See more articles by Aaron.