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We Love Our Muscle Cars
Americans love their Muscle Cars. Ever since the 1949 Oldsmobile Rocket 88 introduced the first high compression overhead valve V8 engine, car enthusiasts have clamored for more. Defined as a two door sports coupe with a large displacement engine, Muscle Cars are as varied as their owners.
Chrysler Enters the Muscle Car Wars
In 1964 the Pontiac GTO comes onto the scene and every car manufacturer rushes to produce their own version. Chrysler quickly adapts existing models like the Plymouth Valiant (Barracuda) and the Dodge Coronet (the early Charger) to enter the Muscle Car wars. Known as Mopar Muscle Cars, they are now some of the most collectible vehicles of that era.
Muscle Cars Are Unique
Today, the name Mopar is synonymous with the Chrysler company, although at first, “Mopar” refers only to the parts division. Muscle Cars come in a variety of different performance levels and engine sizes. Because buyers customize and repair their cars using Mopar parts, every car reflects the owner’s tastes.
Long Live the Hemi
A variety of different powertrains are used in Muscle Cars but the 426 cubic inch 7.0L Hemi engine (nicknamed “the Elephant”) is the most desired. Introduced in 1964, it takes the racing world by storm when the top four finishers at the 1964 Daytona 500 are Hemi engine Mopar cars. Today, many top NHRA and AHRA drag cars still use aluminum versions of this engine.
Ready Made Race Cars
In 1967 Dodge modifies 80 Darts with 426 Hemi engines (at a price of $4,500), to compete and “win races”. These lightweight cars come ready made for the track, lacking back seats, radios or any other creature comfort. They win races for Chrysler, but are hardly street legal.
Hemi Engine Takes to the Streets
A “street” version of the 426 Hemi engine is made available 1966 as an option for many Chrysler production cars. Modifications have to be made to accommodate the big engine, adding to the overall cost. Despite its popularity, only 11,000 Hemi engines are sold from 1966-1971.
Crazy About Those Mopar Colors
Muscle Cars come in colorful paint choices like “Plum Crazy Purple” and “Lime Light”. Many models offer graphic racing stripes and hood scoops. One of the most recognizable Mopar Muscle Cars is the orange 1969 Dodge Charger (complete with “01” on the doors) from the Dukes of Hazzard television show.
Beep, Beep! Move Over for the Road Runner
In 1968, Chrysler creates the Plymouth Road Runner, a less expensive version of the GTX. They pay Warner Brothers $50,000 for the rights to use the Road Runner name and cartoon on the cars and in their marketing. Bright colors, racing stripes and that signature sound (Beep, Beep!) make this a favorite.
Restrictions Bring Muscle Car Era to Close
The Clean Air Act of 1970 spells the beginning of the end for the Muscle Car. By the early 1980’s Mopar Muscle Cars evolve into “sports appearance” packages for Chrysler passenger cars. High performance engines carry hefty fees, causing prices to soar and sales to fall.
Love for the Muscle Car Never Fades
Love for the American Muscle Car is alive and well. In 2014 a 1971 Hemi Cuda 4-speed convertible sells for $3.5 million at a Mecum Auction in Seattle. This beautiful car is one of two 4-speed convertibles produced in 1971, proving our fascination with these cars will never fade.
Collector and Classic Car Insurance for Less
Planning to purchase your own Mopar Muscle Car? Make sure you protect it with the right insurance coverage. Let the friendly staff at Classic Auto Insurance answer your questions and help you find the best policy for your needs. Visit our website at www.classicins.com and see how we can help safeguard your dream car.