The Best Muscle Cars of the ‘60s

Muscle car fans may disagree on the best decade of all time for the classic automobiles, but there is hardly a doubt that the 60’s birthed some of the most timelessly stylish models ever built. With the Pontiac GTO that arguably started it all, to the beloved Camaros from ‘69, the case for the 60’s candidacy as greatest decade ever is strong. Let’s take a look back at some of the best of the era.

1969 Ford Mustang Boss 429 V8


Photo by German Medeot
Some Rights Reserved

Marketed as the “working man’s Thunderbird,” the Ford Mustang is an American muscle classic. Making its 1964 debut alongside the theatrical release of James Bond Goldfinger, which featured the car heavily and solidified its status as an iconic automobile, the Mustang made a wave among the car enthusiast community for its sleek style that differentiated it from the rest of the American cars in production at the time. Time magazine and Newsweek ran stories on the car in response to the hype surrounding its release. Since then, it has appeared in hundreds of movies and has built a legacy that is now entrenched in American culture.

1969 Chevrolet Camaro RS-SS ZL1 427 Convertiblemuscle2

Photo by German Medeot
Some Rights Reserved

The Chevy Camaro has a reputation that needs no introduction to fans of muscle cars. The GM answer to the Ford Mustang was based on Chevy’s ‘67 Nova, and it turned heads for the sheer number of performance features it had available. 1969 is generally agreed upon to be the greatest model year for the Camaro, when it featured a redesigned interior that made it more attractive from a comfort perspective alongside its array of performance options offered.

1968 Silver Plymouth Road Runner 426 HEMI V8


Photo by German Medeot
Some Rights Reserved

In the later years of the 1960’s, muscle car purists began noticing a shift away from the core qualities essential to the muscle car, with a growing focus on comfort features rather than performance specs. Plymouth paid attention, and took the car concept back to it’s roots with the Road Runner. Simply put, this car exudes style. It was about as basic as you could get, with a stripped down interior that in some models did not even include carpeting. The fundamental rule of the muscle car, ‘performance is king,’ had made a comeback.

1965 Pontiac GTO Hardtop


Photo by: Jack Snell
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It would be inexcusable to omit the Pontiac GTO from this list. This is the car that is largely credited with starting the muscle car craze of the ‘60s. Borrowing from the famous Ferrari 250 GTO, whose name wasn’t patented in the U.S. and was thus free to use, the Pontiac GTO was the first car to use the ‘mid-size car with an oversized engine’ formula and market it well to an enthusiastic American audience. This sort of car was never before seen in the auto market- GM even had to make a corporate policy exception to allow for the oversized V8 engine used in the GTO.

1969 AMC Javelin SST


Public domain photo

The AMC Javelin was one of the last true icons of the ‘60s muscle car era. During these years, AMC was having trouble competing in an auto market dominated by a small number of major players. Their best shot was to find a niche market to target. After several failed attempts, notably with the Nash Metropolitan, they struck gold with the Javelin in 1967. Upon its release, Road & Track Magazine glowingly wrote about it’s “big, heavy, super-powerful engine.” The Javelin was one of the last notable models to close out the era of ‘60s muscle and transition into a new golden decade of muscle that would come to have it’s own culture and legacy.

Do you have a favorite car from the ‘60s? Tell us your story. We’re passionate about cars at Blackburn OEM Wheel Solutions. That’s why we are in the business of providing hard-to-find OEM wheels & rims to restore your automobile to top shape, whether it’s American muscle from the ‘60s or not.

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