Muscle Cars: The Beasts on Wheels (Part I)

Muscle cars have always enjoyed a loyal, and sometimes cult following. Some people hate them, some love them, but it can be safely said, that nobody can ignore them. The gas guzzling, throaty engine, the feeling of the entire car vibrating, it’s not something that can be easily passed up or ignored. From their inception in 1949, from the Rocket 88 to the 2015 Dodge Charger Hellcat, the long history of Muscle cars have been rife with controversies.

People’s interest in fast cars started in the 20s. Illegal alcohol makers and crooks wanted cars that could outrun cop cars. To that end, they started modifying cars to hold more cargo, deliver more speed, and handle better. Alcohol makers in particular benefited from this during the prohibition era.

It’s in the 40s, that these cars were tuned to be more refined and efficient. The prohibition had ended, and illegal alcohol making had lost its value. But the cars had not. People quickly grasped the value of these modified cars, and started using them for racing. Racing circuits started opening everywhere, and racing became the favorite pastime for many well-known celebrities. After some years, Rocket 88, the grand-daddy of commercially available muscle cars, became available for the public at large.

In the 50s, the muscle car industry really took off. The Chrysler Hemi and the Chevrolet V8 gave tough competition to the Rocket 88. The Chrysler C-300, one of the later incarnations of the Hemi, became popularly known as “America’s Most Powerful Car”.

The auto racing industry faced some hiccup in the late 50s, when in 1957, the Automobile Manufacturers Association decided to put a ban on factory sponsored racing. This ban was in response to an accident which occurred during the 24 Hours of Le Mans race of 1955, which resulted in 84 deaths. It was termed as the most catastrophic accident in auto racing history.

On the next part of the blog, we will see how muscle cars overcame this tragedy, and became one of the most beloved cars in the history of automobiles.

 

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