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n this article, the long-running discussion over the best Muscle Cars from the 1960s and 1970s comes to a close. Continue reading if you’re seeking for data-backed results on the top Muscle Cars from the 1960s and 1970s (rather than just my opinion like every other article on the internet),

Discover the full list of vintage American Muscle Cars that ruled the 1/4 mile charts year after year from 1964 to 1974. Let’s start with a definition of a muscle automobile if you’re unfamiliar.

The golden age of muscle cars lasted from 1964 to 1974, and that’s what we’ll be talking about in today’s article.

They say you only go around once, but with a muscle car you can go around two or three times

– Tim Allen –

What is a Muscle Car?

Muscle Cars were V-8-powered 2-door intermediate-sized automobiles created for straight-line performance in the quarter-mile by American automakers such as Chrysler, Ford, General Motors, and American Motos.

The 1964 Pontiac GTO was the first muscle car, capable of sub 14-second quarter-mile times right out of the box. A 389 CID V-8, three 2-bbl carburetors (“Tri-Power”), and a 4-speed manual transmission were the perfect combo.

Younger buyers were targeted for Muscle Cars, which had sticker costs in the $3,000 range and were devoid of creature comforts. Other features include front and rear seats, dual exhaust, rear-wheel drive (ideally with both wheels spinning), and a 4-barrel carburetor at a minimum.

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What Are the Best Muscle Cars?

For the sake of this article, the best Muscle Cars are those that appeared in the top ten fastest muscle car rankings on many occasions between 1964 and 1974.

It doesn’t matter if a model featured numerous times in a single year or only once in a single year; what matters is the total number of times one specific model occurred over the course of this time period.

Given that these are the best of the best muscle car models, we’ll look at the top five outcomes based on that data to determine the winners.

Now that that’s out of the way, how about we take a look at the finest Muscle Cars from the 1960s and 1970s?

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5th Place: The Plymouth Road Runner

From 1968 to 1974, the Plymouth Road Runner was ranked fifth on the top 10 quickest Muscle Cars lists 45 percent of the time.

In 1968, the Plymouth Road Runner was introduced as a low-cost, high-performance supercar aimed at youthful buyers with limited funds.

A stripped-down big block Road Runner that could run low 14-second quarter-mile passes out of the box could be had for less than $3,000.

Depending on the year, the Plymouth Roadrunner had a 340, 383, 440, 440 Six Pack, or 426 Hemi. The 440 Hemi with three 2v carburetors (dubbed the “Six Pack”) and the 426 Hemi with dual 4v carburetors were the two best performances.

The 440 Six Pack in a 1969 1/12 Plymouth Roadrunner, on the other hand, was the faster of the two engines.

 

Historical Performance Statistics

Year

Model

Engine

ET

Ranking

1969

Roadrunner

440 Six Pack

12.91

2nd

1969

Roadrunner

426 Hemi

13.32

6th

1970

Roadrunner

426 Hemi

13.34

3rd

1971

Roadrunner

440 Six Pack

13.71

6th

1971

Roadrunner

426 Hemi

13.50

3rd

the best 1960s and 1970s muscle cars The Best Of 1960s and 1970s The Plymouth Road Runner

4th Place: The Buick Gran Sport

The Buick Gran Sport is ranked fourth, appearing on top 10 quickest Muscle Cars lists 55% of the time.

The Buick GS was a $200.53 option on the base Skylark chassis when it was introduced in 1965, and it cemented Buick’s place as a top-performing American vehicle during the 1960s and 1970s.

The Gran Sport gallantly entered as the fifth quickest muscle car of 1965 in its first year, with variable levels of quarter-mile success over the next nine years, with its 401 CID Wildcat 455 engine rated at 325 horsepower.

Over the years, the Buick GS was available with a 350, 400, 401, and 455 CID V-8 engine. The 455 Stage 1, which was available from 1970 to 1972, was the most powerful high-performance option.

The Buick GSX was Buick’s reaction to the Pontiac GTO Judge, and it featured multi-colored side stripes, ram air induction, a hood tachometer, a rear decklid spoiler, and GSX badges, among other features.

From 1970 to 1972, the GSX was available with a 350, 455, or 455 Stage 1 engine, depending on the year.

Historical Performance Statistics

Year

Model

Engine

ET

Ranking

1965

Buick GS

401

15.3

5th

1966

Buick GS

401

14.92

10th

1967

Buick GS

400

14.7

6th

1970

Buick GS

455 Stage 1

13.66

4th

1972

Buick GS

455 Stage 1

14.10

1st

1973

Buick GS

455 Stage 1

15.3

7th

the best 1960s and 1970s muscle cars The Best Of 1960s and 1970s The Buick Gran Sport 1024x683

3rd Place: The Ford Mustang

The Ford Mustang is ranked third, appearing on top 10 quickest Muscle Cars lists 64% of the time.

By launching the V-8-powered lightweight and small Mustang model halfway through the 1964 model year, Ford created a new sub-category of automobiles known as Pony Cars.

These sporty coupes sparked a revolution, selling 300,000 units in their first year alone and passing one million units after only two years.

The Ford Mustang was available in a variety of performance variants, including the 2+2, Mach 1, Cobra Jet, and Boss, all of which featured different high-performance engine options depending on the model year.

A 289 Hi-Po, Boss 302, 351-Cleveland, 351 HO, Boss 351, 428 Cobra Jet, 429 Super Cobra Jet, and Boss 429 were among the performance options available.

Historical Performance Statistics

Year

Model

Engine

ET

Ranking

1964

Coupe

289 Hi-Po

14.68

2nd

1965

2+2

289 Hi-Po

15.9

7th

1968

Cobra Jet

428 CJ

13.56

3rd

1969

Mach 1

428 CJ

13.69

10th

1971

Mach 1

429 SCJ

13.40

2nd

1971

Boss 351

351

13.50

4th

1972

Fastback

351 HO

15.1

6th

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2nd Place: The Chevrolet Chevelle (3-Way Tie)

The Chevrolet Chevelle SS is placed second in a three-way tie with the Chevrolet Camaro and the Pontiac GTO, appearing on top 10 fastest Muscle Cars lists 73 percent of the time.

In 1964, the Chevrolet Chevelle SS was born with a 327 CID V-8 engine. It came standard with bucket seats, a four-gauge cluster, a center console, and SS wheel coverings and was available as a hardtop or convertible. A 4-speed Muncie transmission, heavy-duty suspension, and a positraction rear differential were also popular choices.

Over the years, the Chevelle SS had a variety of engine options, including the 327, 396, 402, and 454. The legendary LS6 454 CID V-8, rated at 450 horsepower and 500 ft-lb of torque, was the most powerful engine.

The LS6 not only produced the greatest horsepower and torque of any Chevelle, but it also had the quickest quarter-mile time. The LS6 454 made its debut in 1970, and it was offered as a Chevelle SS or El Camino SS.

Historical Performance Statistics

Year

Model

Engine

ET

Ranking

1964

Malibu SS

327

16.2

8th

1965

Malibu SS

396

14.6

2nd

1966

Malibu SS

396

14.42

8th

1967

Malibu SS

396

14.9

8th

1968

Chevelle SS

396

13.60

4th

1969

Yenko Chevelle SYC

427

13.31

5th

1970

Chevelle SS

454

13.12

2nd

1972

Chevelle SS

454

14.76

5th

 

the best 1960s and 1970s muscle cars The Best Of 1960s and 1970s The Chevrolet Camaro 3 Way Tie 1024x640

2nd Place: The Chevrolet Camaro (3-Way Tie)

The Chevrolet Camaro is tied for second place with the Chevrolet Chevelle SS and the Pontiac GTO, and it appears on the top 10 fastest Muscle Cars lists 73 percent of the time.

After introducing the Malibu/Chevelle SS, Chevrolet continued to contribute to the muscle car craze. In response to Ford’s Mustang, Chevy introduced the lightweight, tiny Camaro in 1967 as its initial effort into the pony car market.

The factory offered various Camaro models, including the Z/28, Super Sport (SS), Rally Sport (RS), and COPO. The Z/28 was available with either a 302 or 350 CID V-8 engine, depending on the year. Over the years, the Super Sport was available with a variety of engines, including a 327, 350, or 396 CID V-8.

A 427 CID V-8 was offered from the factory through the Central Order Production Order (COPO) program. Chevy’s high-performance model Dealers like Don Yenko exploited the loophole, allowing his Yenko Camaro to obtain a 427 CID V-8 with 425 horsepower.The ZL-1 427 CID V-8 was a step up from the 427 CID V8 with aluminum block and heads, which produced 430 horsepower. In 1969, only 69 ZL-1 Camaros were produced, increasing $4,160 to the sticker price and bringing it closer to $7,300.

Historical Performance Statistics

Year

Model

Engine

ET

Ranking

1967

Z/28

302

14.9

7th

1968

Z/28

302

13.77

6th

1969

Yenko Camaro SYC

427

12.59

1st

1969

Copo

427

13.16

4th

1969

Super Sport

396

13.0

3rd

1972

Z/28

350

14.5

3rd

1973

Z/28

350

14.69

2nd

1974

Z/28

350

15.4

2nd

 

the best 1960s and 1970s muscle cars The Best Of 1960s and 1970s The Chevrolet Chevelle 3 Way Tie

2nd Place: The Pontiac GTO (3-Way Tie)

The Pontiac GTO is considered the first muscle vehicle, and it inspired the rest of the list. The GTO, however, ranks in second position in a three-way tie with the Chevelle SS and Camaro, appearing on top 10 fastest Muscle Cars lists 73 percent of the time.

Pontiac would not have started the muscle car movement if it hadn’t released the large block Tri-Power GTO in 1964, and I would most likely be writing about historic Porsches, Ferraris, or Aston Martins.

The 389 with three two-barrel carburetors, marketed as “Tri-Power,” was the powerful engine option from 1964 to 1966. Pontiac then shifted to the 400 CID V-8 in 1967, introducing the 455 in 1970. In 1974, a GTO could only be equipped with a small block 350 CID V-8.

From 1969 through 1971, Pontiac sold the GTO with the “The Judge” package, which included multi-colored side stripes, “The Judge” decals, a rear decklid spoiler, and base engines ranging from the Ram Air III 400 to the 455 H/O, depending on the year.

Historical Performance Statistics

Year

Model

Engine

ET

Ranking

1964

GTO

389

14.1

1st

1965

GTO

389

14.5

1st

1966

GTO

389

14.05

5th

1967

GTO

400

14.09

4th

1970

GTO

400 RAIV

13.60

5th

1972

GTO

455 HO

14.6

4th

1973

GTO

455

14.7

3rd

1974

GTO

350

15.4

3rd

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First Place: The Oldsmobile 4-4-2

The Oldsmobile 4-4-2 was introduced in 1964 and had a four-speed manual transmission, four-barrel carburetor, and dual exhaust, hence the moniker “4-4-2.”

The Oldsmobile 4-4-2 was statistically the greatest way to ensure you had one of the quickest Muscle Cars around, appearing on top 10 fastest Muscle Cars lists 82 percent of the time.

While other Muscle Car models were technically faster in the quarter-mile, the 4-4-2 accomplished it more frequently and reliably.

From 1966 through 1972, the W-30 package added ram air induction, a calibrated 4v carburetor, a hotter cam, and a better-flowing dual-exhaust. The W-30 was offered with a 400 CID V-8 from 1966 to 1969, then a 455 CID V-8 from 1970 to 1972.

Historical Performance Statistics

Year

Model

Engine

ET

Ranking

1964

4-4-2

330

15.8

6th

1965

4-4-2

400

15.0

4th

1966

4-4-2

400 W-30

13.8

1st

1967

4-4-2

400 W-30

13.92

2nd

1968

4-4-2

400 W-30

14.0

10th

1970

4-4-2

455 W-30

13.89

10th

1971

4-4-2

455 W-30

13.90

10th

1972

4-4-2

455 W-30

14.37

2nd

1973

4-4-2

455

14.90

4th

the best 1960s and 1970s muscle cars The Best Of 1960s and 1970s oldsmobile 1575296 1920 1024x683

Conclusion

So, based on how many times they appeared on the eleven top 10 fastest muscle car lists from 1964 to 1974, these are the statistically greatest muscle vehicles from the 1960s and 1970s.

Given that these cars were designed specifically for quarter-mile time trials, it seemed only natural to use publicly available ET data to determine which models routinely won during the Muscle Car period.

As a result, I was unable to introduce my personal prejudices and beliefs into the discussion and instead solely offered the results based on sourced facts.

Are you in agreement or disagreement with the statistical findings? Were you surprised to learn that the 4-4-2 came in first? What criteria would you use to decide which muscle cars are the best?

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