How Well Do You Know Classic American Muscle Cars?

By: Jacqueline Samaroo
Image: Sicnag/sv1ambo via Wiki Commons

About This Quiz

I want muscles! You'll be begging for more once you get an eyeful of all the glorious muscle cars in this quiz!

Muscle cars have been around since the 1940s, but the term did not come about until the 1970s. While there is no real consensus as to which car holds the distinction of being the very first muscle car, there is no denying that the category contains some of the most stunning and powerful cars ever built.

From 2-door to 4-door, from coupes to convertibles, there is a classic muscle car out there to tickle each person's fancy. Can you spot them based on the maker or can you tell them apart just by knowing the year? Whichever way you do it, get zooming into the quiz and flex your knowledge of muscle cars to impress us all!

Whether you are a fan of the really old classics or the modern classics are more up to your speed, we've got a range of muscle cars here that is sure to impress every muscle car fan!

It's true, only the most devoted muscle car aficionado will get all of these correct. We are willing to bet, however, that you won't do too shabbily at all! Prove us right - start the quiz!

Production of the Buick Skylark began in 1953 and the company introduced its Gran Sport (GS) high performance option for cars in 1965. When the two came together that same year, the Buick Skylark GS was born. Throw in Buick’s high-powered Stage 1 engine and the result was the 1969 Buick Skylark GS – a limited edition, fully loaded muscle car whose unique (not always appreciated) look was hard to miss.

“Big and heavy” and oh so proud of it - that’s the 1973 Ford Ranchero 500! Its design heralded a shift from the sleeker models of previous years, as car manufacturers took a sharp turn toward the formidable presence of a true muscle car.

The 1983 Chevrolet Corvette should have come before this 1984 model. Production on the 1983 car, however, was limited to just 43 cars, most of which the company later destroyed or turned into 1984s. Only one remains and if you would like to see it, then you’ll have to take a trip to the city of Bowling Green in Kentucky and stop by the National Corvette Museum.

Even though muscle cars can be traced back to the 1940s, the arrival of the 1964 Pontiac Tempest Le Mans GTO caused quite a stir among muscle car enthusiasts. It was larger than its predecessors (1961 – 1963) and quite imposing to look at. A real bonus was that the Tempest Le Mans GTO had the engine power to match its awesome new look.

Ever seen Christine? She’s a red and ivory 1958 Plymouth Fury from Stephen King’s 1983 horror novel named after her. Legendary director John Carpenter brought Christine to the big screen that same year and everyone came to know the murderous “Fury” of Christine!

When AMC introduced the 1970 version of its AMX, it said it was giving customers a tougher car for tougher times. This 2-door, muscle-pumping classic got rated among the small or junior set of muscle cars, but with its bold appearance you can bet it could win a staring contest against any of the big boys any time!

The Studebaker company was on the verge of going out of business, so the Studebaker Avanti only had 2 production years, 1962 and 1963. The final one to roll off the production line had a handwritten note from one of the factory workers tucked into the trunk saying it was indeed the very last one. That car now resides in a Cleveland museum and makes special appearances around the country.

It’s very likely that the 1965 Chevrolet Chevelle Malibu SS396 is the picture in your head when you think of muscle cars. This iconic model was Chevy’s answer to the muscle cars other manufacturers were putting out. The SS396 might have been a little hard to handle around corners, but it made up that (and more) in terms of speed.

The Chevrolet Corvette has always been noted as a sports car. It got its “muscles” around 1965 and by 1967 was a virtual work of art to the eyes of muscle car lovers. The convertible version with its black vinyl cover was all the rage – you could roll the top back just to ensure everyone saw you as you cruised by!

With the F-85 as its base, the W-31 offered customers increased horsepower to rival the muscle cars which Oldsmobile’s competitors were churning out at the time. The W-31 had a sleek exterior and enviable heavy-duty components, giving both beauty and strength to this truly “muscular” car.

The 1969 Ford Mustang Boss 429 (affectionately known as the Boss 9) was built for speed. The manufacturers had their sights set on NASCAR when they designed this powerhouse, but unfortunately the Boss 9 never made it to NASCAR. If you’re looking to get your hands on one of these today, better be prepared to dig deep – they are rare, highly sought after and worth quite a pretty penny!

When American Motors Corporation brought out the 1971 AMC Hornet SC/360, it was advertised as “a sensible alternative to the money-squeezing, insurance-strangling muscle cars.” Sure enough, this car was cheaper to own but owners soon realized what a great bargain the SC/360 really was! It had reasonable power, was easy on the eyes and as one reviewer put it, the SC/360 “handles like a dream.”

The 1971 Dodge Charger was available in 500, R/T (Road/Track) and SE (Special Edition) versions. It was only the third generation of Chargers being produced and owners could opt to go with visual enhancements such as a split grill and the ducktail spoiler.

Only around 750 Ford Torino Talladegas were built, and all of them in early 1969. It was designed for NASCAR competition as one of the prestigious Aero Warriors, but some lucky members of the public were able to get their hands on one. That’s thanks mostly to the NASCAR’s rule that the car had to be produced in excess of 500 and be made publicly available.

Buyers of the 1969 Pontiac GTO Judge got several upgrades on the standard package including the option to go with the powerful 370-hp Ram Air IV engine. Tough luck if you were hoping to get the Judge with the Ram Air IV and in a convertible, however, as only 5 of those were made.

What did Elvis Presley and Fidel Castro have in common? According to some sources, it was a special liking for the 1959 Ford Galaxie. Take a good look at this classic and you can immediately see why! It had chrome and stainless steel everywhere, plus you could opt for the two-tone color scheme if fading into the background wasn’t really your thing.

The LS6 engine which manufacturers put in some versions of the 1970 Chevrolet Chevelle was a true monster – putting all the “muscle” in muscle car. According to some sources, the 1970 Chevrolet Chevelle LS6 had the highest horsepower rating of any of car worthy enough to be called a muscle car.

Production of the Plymouth Road Runner began with the 1968 model and it set the bar real high for the models coming after it. The Road Runner was meant as a cheaper alternative to much higher-priced muscle cars of the era and customers were happy to grab one for themselves. The company sold about 45,000 of these beauties when it had originally projected sales to be a mere 20,000.

Ford unleashed its very first Mustang in 1964, and the Mach 1 charged onto the scene in 1969. It was able to hold its own against some very stiff muscle car competition, with even its manufacturer, Ford, rolling out a couple of Mustang Boss and Mustang Shelby variations at the same time.

The signature look of the Chevrolet Corvette Stingray Convertible wasn’t the only thing this “more efficient Corvette” had going for it. One reviewer at the time wrote that it “feels highly competent with power-everything!”

Ever heard of the Aero Warriors? Well, there were four of them and the 1969 Dodge Daytona was one. The others were the Ford Torino Talladega, the Mercury Cyclone Spoiler II and the Plymouth Superbird. The aero cars were built for speed and the NASCAR circuit was meant to be their stomping ground, but the organizers soon banned them from racing.

No list of classic American muscle cars could ever be complete without the Buick GSX. Bump up its horsepower to the Stage 1 engine option and you had a force to be reckoned with in terms of style and power on any road!

Chevrolet dealers could use the Central Office Production Orders (COPO) to order cars based on certain specifications. And that’s just what dealers, like well-known Yenko, did! He created the loveable monster known as the Yenko Camaro, a high-powered version of the 1969 Chevrolet Camaro COPO.

Want to know what the 1968 Ford Mustang GT 390 can do? Just watch legendary actor and racecar driver Steve McQueen put it through its paces in the 1968 classic film "Bullitt." His Highland Green Mustang GT took on a 1968 Dodge Charger R/T and left it in flames!

Here is another of the formidable and lightning-fast Aero Warriors of NASCAR’s golden age. The 1970 Plymouth Superbird took its basic design from the Plymouth Road Runner but was sufficiently souped-up in terms of engine power and aerodynamic design to compete with the best of the best.

A four-barrel carburetor, four-speed manual and dual exhausts gave the 1970 Oldsmobile 4-4-2 its name. It was certainly the big “news’ of the day that the 1970 Olds in its W30 variation took you from 0 to 60 mph in under 6 seconds!

It’s very likely bees will not be the first thing you think about when you think about muscle cars. That’s is unless you know the Dodge Super Bee! It was only produced from 1968 to 1971 model years, with some special features thrown into the 1969 version including the signature “Ramcharger” hood.

Many muscle car enthusiasts still regard the first generation Chevrolet Camaro (1967 – 1969) as the best of the bunch. They came in standard, Super Sport (SS), Rally Sport (RS) and Z/28 editions – and they were ALL good!

Pony car, sports car or muscle car – the 1970 Dodge Challenger R/T seemed to fit the bill in every case. It was meant to be stiff competition to similar cars from other manufacturers and so Dodge pulled out all the stops and offered the Dodge Challenger R/T with enough trim and level options to make any buyer’s head spin!

If you wanted to win drag races, then being behind the wheel of a 1968 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 was your safest bet. There was also a 1968 Shelby Cobra GT500KR – a high-performance vehicle whose initials said it all: KR = King of the Road!

Ready to take a ride on the “Dark Side?” Then you’ll need to hop into one of the all-black 1987 Buick GNXs – that’s the only color all 547 of these imposing yet stealthy beasts came in.

The first generation of the Chevrolet Monte Carlo got some design inspiration from the Pontiac Grand Prix, the Cadillac Eldorado and the Chevrolet Chevelle. Make no mistake, however, it had a personality all of its own with the powerful and sporty 1970 Chevrolet Monte Carlo SS 454 embodying everything the Monte Carlo set out to prove.

Yellow! When it comes to standing out in a crowd, the 1970 Oldsmobile Rallye 350 did that with ease. It was produced in just one color: Sebring Yellow, from bumper to beautiful bumper. This small muscle car proved that good things come in small packages and if you’ve got it – might as well flaunt it!

Every seen the movie "Smokey and the Bandit" (1977)? Then you know just what the 1977 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am Special Edition can do! Move along to "Smokey and the Bandit Part 3" (1983) and you’ll also find a black and gold 1983 Pontiac Trans Am being put through its paces.

Just as its name suggests, the 1968 Plymouth Barracuda 340-S was a really fierce-looking, lean, mean driving machine! Even with all its power, the 1968 Plymouth Barracuda 340-S was still able to offer owners enviably crisp handling and a stylish “modern” exterior.

The Mercury Cyclone Spoiler II was an Aero Warrior, and during the years of NASCAR’s Aero Wars, it and three other aerodynamically superior cars battled to become top dog. Those other cars were the 1969 Ford Torino Talladega, the 1969 Dodge Charger Daytona and the 1970 Plymouth Superbird.

Plymouth manufactured the Belvedere from 1954 to 1970. The 1965 Plymouth Belvedere 426-S, however, was the most muscle-bound of the lot and always has a place reserved for it on any list of Classic American Muscle Cars.

Originally released as a trim, the 1968 Chevrolet II Nova SS396 is now one of the most recognizable of all the muscle cars. And, of course, its presence in various films has only helped that along!

This limited production muscle car was produced by Ford only for the 1964 model year. The 1964 Ford Fairlane Thunderbolt lived up to its name by proving to be one of the fastest accelerating production cars ever built!

Buick debuted the Wildcat for the 1963 model year as a large engine and light body combination. The 1965 Buick Wildcat could be bought in four main variations: four-door hardtop, four-door sedan, two-door hardtop and convertible. In all cases, size and power were the Wildcat’s best features!

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