When a person sees a modern muscle car, like the 2012 Camaro for example, does he ever wonder about how that design came about? What about when and why? Has he ever thought about how those cars have changed our world today? Or what about what makes a muscle car a muscle car as opposed to a sports car or some other car? Historical events and societal changes have influenced the production of muscle cars, and in turn they have changed the car industry by researching and developing speed technology, making it more economic for everyone and making racing more interesting.
There were many muscle cars made in the classic muscle car era. The car that is most often considered the first muscle car of the Classic Muscle Car Era is the Pontiac GTO. The GTO was originally an option package for the Pontiac Tempest. The GTO option package included a bigger motor, different carburetor, dual exhaust, and offered up more horsepower and torque than the Tempest (Wikipedia Pontiac GTO). Although most people consider the 1964 Pontiac GTO the start of the muscle car era, some people consider earlier cars “muscle cars,” although they were not a part of the Classic Muscle Car Era (Leffingwell and Holmstrom).
One reason the muscle car was originally produced was due to the young Vietnam War veterans who had a need for speed. The young veterans who had been in Vietnam for at least a few years had a need for the feeling of freedom and the best way they could find it was racing down the highway in a car at high speeds. Thus, to help appeal to the younger generation, auto manufacturers packed more power in their cars. As more technological advances came about, the power steadily increased (Leffingwell and Holmstrom).
Generally the earliest car considered to be a “muscle car” is the 1950 Oldsmobile 88 coupe, although it is not always considered a muscle car. The Olds 88 is sometimes considered a muscle car because it was the first American car produced to have an overhead-valve V8 engine (Wikipedia Oldsmobile). The overhead valve V8 was a lot more powerful than the Ford flathead V8. The creation and start of the mass production of the overhead-valve V8 was a major factor in pushing us to the classic muscle car era. There were a few other cars that some consider “muscle cars” although they were not in the classic muscle car era, such as the 1955 Chrysler C-300. These cars are not considered a part of the Classic Muscle Car Era because although they were powerful in comparison to older cars, they did not quite have the power required to be considered a “true” muscle car. (Leffingwell and Holmstrom)
Although Mustangs and Camaros are generally referred to as muscle cars, they are actually called pony cars. Some such examples of pony cars that are considered muscle cars are the AMC Javelin SST, the aforementioned Chevy Camaro, the Dodge Challenger, and the Pontiac Firebird, to name a few. In order for a car to be considered a muscle car, it has to have a large-displacement...