The Best Muscle Cars of the ‘70s

Last month, we gave you our list of the top American Muscle cars from the ‘60s. We would be remiss if we failed to follow up with proper tribute to the ‘other’ golden era of muscle: the 1970s. The muscle car was born in the 60s, but it truly found its form in the next decade with a host of inimitable classics that took the muscle formula and perfected it, mixing oversized engines with a copious amount of style. Let’s take a look at some timeless favorites.

1970 Chevrolet Chevelle SS 454 LS6

Photo by Brandon Bailey
Some Rights Reserved

Chevy had a strong first entry into the muscle car class with the Chevelle SS, and some of it’s most sought after models were introduced in the ‘70s. The 1970 LS6 was the most powerful Chevelle made up to that point, featuring a tremendous 450 hp V8 engine and the now classic two-pinstripe style that the model is known and loved for.

1970 Ford Mustang Boss 302 Fastback

Photo By German Medeot
Some Rights Reserved

When the Camaro was introduced in the late ‘60s by Chevy, one of the all-time great muscle car rivalries began. The Camaro was posed to dethrone the Mustang, which had been the unchallenged top dog in the muscle car arena essentially since its release in 1964. The 1970 Ford Mustang Boss 302 Fastback, capable of accelerating from 0-60 in 6.9 seconds, was Ford’s counter-challenge. Designed by Larry Shinoda, a former GM employee, the Mustang Boss 302 was among the first production muscle cars to feature a front spoiler. The style was updated in 1970 to feature the now-famous ‘hockey stick’ stripe that wrapped along the front of the automobile.

1973 De Tomaso Pantera

Photo by Charles01

The ‘Panther’ was the most popular automobile manufactured by the Italian car company De Tomaso, and was in production from 1970 all the way until 1992. This highly sought-after muscle car made it’s U.S. debut at the famous 1970 New York Motor Show. The 1973 model De Tomaso Pantera saw major improvements in engine specs as well as body design, such as a front bumper upgrade that included a built in airfoil to reduce lift at high speeds. Such improvements made the 1973 model Road Test Magazine’s Import car of the year, beating out such prestigious brands as Ferrari and Porsche.

1974 AMC Hornet X Hatchback

Photo by Christopher Ziemnowicz

The AMC Hornet X was created to be a low cost alternative option to the muscle car offerings of the day. With a 245 horsepower, two-barrel 360 V-8 engine, this was nevertheless a muscle car that could hang with the best that Chevrolet or Ford had to offer. It is a rare and highly sought after muscle car model, able to go from 0 to 60 in 8.4 seconds. With top notch performance and style, the Hornet Hatchback was praised by Car and Driver magazine as “so good that AMC is sure to finally lose its underdog status.” The hatchback version of the Hornet X, known for its attractive style, was even featured in the 1974 James Bond flick ‘The Man With The Golden Gun.’

1971 Plymouth Barracuda Convertible

Public Domain Photo

The 1971 Plymouth Hemi ‘Cuda is one of the rarest muscle cars in history. With an incredible 425 horsepower V8 engine, this car was a new benchmark in performance, challenging the Camaro and Mustang. In 2002, it became the first muscle car to sell for over one million dollars, an incredible feat that speaks to its rarity as well as its status among muscle cars enthusiasts.

Additional Reading – Storing Your Muscle Car

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