Muscle car defined? - Vintage Mustang Forums

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post #1 of 19 (permalink) Old 05-26-2013, 04:28 PM Thread Starter
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Muscle car defined?

1) What is a "MUSCLE CAR"?

2) Is Mustang a "MUSCLE CAR"?

MUSCLE CAR is used loosely and it seems everyone has their opinion, one way or another. The first question was asked by someone else in another thread. I thought I'd bring it to life with this thread to see what responses we get.

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post #2 of 19 (permalink) Old 05-26-2013, 04:33 PM
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How about an American car with some degree of muscle. Seriously I consider it to be cars mostly from the mid sixties to the early seventies that had some kind of performance appeal.

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post #3 of 19 (permalink) Old 05-26-2013, 04:36 PM
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There's no official definition. Back in the early-mid 60's, they were super cars, "muscle" didn't appear until later. I'd say "Muscle Car" starts at 389 cid, and larger. Smaller than that was just family cars. I suppose there were exceptions both ways. I had a neighbor who complained his new Dodge station wagon was noisy. Went for a ride. It was exhaust noise. From the 440 Police Interceptor engine. Is that a muscle car? Maybe. Dark green with "wood" sides. And very daggone fast. Never see them at shows, though.

Mustangs could be an exception to the cid size. You could make a real good case for the BOSS 302, for example.

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post #4 of 19 (permalink) Old 05-26-2013, 04:55 PM
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The traditional definition used to be "an intermediate car with a big car engine" or, for an example, along the lines of a '64 GTO, which was GM's intermediate, with the 389 from the "big" car (Bonneville/Catalina). That was really the start of the "Muscle Car".

The Mustang started the "Pony Car" craze which was followed by Camaro/Firebird, Cuda/Challenger, Javelin, Cougar, etc. Even though you could get a Mustang stuffed with a 428 to me it's still a Pony Car, a 4-passenger, long hood, short deck, 2-door hardtop, coupe or convertible. Does it have some "muscle"? Sure, but it's no more a "Muscle Car" than a Corvette.


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post #5 of 19 (permalink) Old 05-26-2013, 05:59 PM Thread Starter
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Nice answers guys. Same thoughts here about that bartl. FORD didn't really seem to be thinking "muscle" when they came out with the 65/66 Mustang. Nothing muscle about my Mustangs I've had in the past. I think the GTO was the milestone car that really ignited things back then...three deuces, hurst shifters, etc.
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post #6 of 19 (permalink) Old 05-26-2013, 06:01 PM
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Muscle cars were simply Fast and Loud cars from the late sixties and early seventies. Mustangs were clearly not muscle cars at first and originally marketed as four seater family sports cars that were transformed into muscle cars in the late 60's. Here are my two Mustangs that would be a great example of what I am talking about.
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post #7 of 19 (permalink) Old 05-26-2013, 06:08 PM
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Originally Posted by IMCOBRA View Post
Muscle cars were simply Fast and Loud cars from the late sixties and early seventies. Mustangs were clearly not muscle cars at first and originally marketed as four seater family sports cars that were transformed into muscle cars in the late 60's. Here are my two Mustangs that would be a great example of what I am talking about.
My Thoughts here.

The 64/65/66 Mustang early HiPo cars were indeed muscle cars.

The 271 HP cars were very a equal to the 64 GTO in the 1/8 or 1/4 mile when setup correctly.

We have Mopped many a 396 Chevelle on the strip.

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post #8 of 19 (permalink) Old 05-26-2013, 06:12 PM
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To me, a muscle car is a car that is meant to be fast and loud and marginally practical at best. A Chevelle's a muscle car, as is a GTO. A Mustang is a pony car, which in my mind not only refers to the Mustang's emblem but also to the type of car - a "smaller horse". Less horsepower, more practical, smaller, but still very fast. So, Camaros and Firebirds would also count as pony cars.

Of course, now some vintage Mustangs have become muscle cars in that they have huge amounts of horsepower and aren't practical for much. At that point the only thing that arguably makes them still "pony cars" is their small size.

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post #9 of 19 (permalink) Old 05-26-2013, 06:15 PM
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250/300+ HP & torque light wt. (less than 3500 lbs.)= Muscle.
Term didn't really start to be used until the end of era in 70"s.
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post #10 of 19 (permalink) Old 05-26-2013, 07:16 PM
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Mustangs are Pony cars. Intermediates, Torinos, Fairlanes, Cyclones, of the like with big blocks are the muscle cars for Ford.
Pontiac definitely started it with the GTO and ended it probably with the Super Duty Trans am of 74.

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post #11 of 19 (permalink) Old 05-26-2013, 07:34 PM
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When I was a kid a neighbor had a 57 Olds J2 2dr hardtop which I believe was one of the first "musclecars".I think it was defined more by factory eqpt than year. Some of the fuelie 57 Chevy black widows would also fall into the category
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post #12 of 19 (permalink) Old 05-26-2013, 07:37 PM
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I would say the Muscle Car has to have at least 351 c.i. and are intermediate sized. So that leaves out the '65-'66 (in stock form).
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post #13 of 19 (permalink) Old 05-26-2013, 08:27 PM
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Younger people can yawn. Here comes an old guys perspective:
Muscle cars started as big, expensive cars. Duesenburgs were legends in their time. The first Buick Century was a straight 8 in the 40's had dual carbs and a guaranteed 100 mph...thus century. In 48 Chrysler had the Hemi. Back then a real 200+ hp was a lot. For 49 the Olds Rocket was hot. In 55 there was the Chrysler 300. The legendary Hudson Hornet was a big car with a dual carb hot I6.

In the 60s the car market was hit with a bunch of smaller and compact cars that were more than low priced economy cars. Many were available with a V8 from the full size car. Olds F85, Buick Special, Chebby Cheville, Ford Fairlane, Dodge Dart etc.

The hottest mid size car I recall from then was the GTO. Pontiac had sold performance as well as wide track handling for years. The GTO was the combination with a smaller car and big power!

The Mustang was marketed from the start as a sporty low priced small car that with all the options could be built to suit. The K code hi po made it competitive with other mid/small cars.

Don't know when, where or who coined the muscle car phrase but IMO it came back when full size hot cars were King!

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post #14 of 19 (permalink) Old 05-26-2013, 08:43 PM
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Hard to put a min. C.I. number on it, early K cars and Boss 302's have to be considered in that class. But, I agree most 1rst. generation cars would be pony cars rather than muscle cars.

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post #15 of 19 (permalink) Old 05-26-2013, 08:56 PM
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There will never be a correct definition. Different regions, different age groups, different races, and even the different genders have different names for even things we use or eat every day.

My wife's parents are from the northwest, I had no Idea a "rompus room" is what we in the south call a "bonus room".

Soda, pop, coke, soda pop is another big one, as is sub, hoagie, foot long, grinder, etc.

As long as there are people of different ages, races, regions, and genders there will never be a fully agreed upon definition. There are some crazy variations in what is a "rat rod" or a "hot rod" as well. Some people think classic cars should ONLY be anything 1972 and older and others anything that's 20 or 25+ years old is a classic (sounds crazy to think of a 93 camry as a classic, huh?)

So what is a pony car? A muscle car? Damn fun to drive, that's what
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