Muscle Cars: The Beasts on Wheels (Part II)

In our last blog, we had analyzed and traced the timeline of muscle cars, from its origins in the 20s, to the 50s, when automobile racing faced bans. In this blog, we will move past that point, and trace the later years, when muscle cars made their triumphant comeback.

After the ban on automobile racing in the late 50s, the Automobile Manufacturers Association met in 1957, and it’s the then-President proposed a self-imposed ban on racing. But, as luck would have it, the car makers belonging to the association could not compete with non-association car makers, and the ban was lifted in 1963.

Now, there was a particular racing scene that had become quite popular in the early 60s. Called Drag Racing, the race took place between automobiles that were built with just one goal in mind: Speed. The cars were supported by massive rear wheels, which would lay down rubber on the track to improve traction, and heat up when the driver would perform “burnout”.

The engines were in a steady state of development, while the cars remained the same. Car companies were focusing on manufacturing faster cars because of their growing demand. Holes were drilled in the chassis rails to make them faster.

History was created in 1964, when Pontiac launched the Tempest GTO, ushering the golden age of muscle cars. The GTO was an abbreviated form of Gran Turismo Omologato, which translated to Grand Tourer Homologation. Basically, this meant that the car was approved for racing. The car was popular among the younger crowds because of its low cost. That same year, Ford launched the Thunderbolt, with an even more powerful engine than the GTO. But it was deemed too dangerous to drive, and hence only a few were ever made.

The iconic Mustang was rolled out in 1964. Though it had a sharp look and was loaded with options, it lacked enough power to be classified as a muscle car, and gave rise to a new category of cars, known as Pony Cars. Though erroneously termed as muscle cars, pony cars do not possess that same amount of power or performance compared to muscle cars. The Corvettes of the 60s, were similarly pony cars, and not muscle cars.

In the next blog, we will get to know more about the death, and subsequent evolution of muscle cars.

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