We know that its spring, which means its almost summer, which means school is almost out! But trust us, this is a history lesson you wont want to miss! And since Jim Shorkey is home to two of the most famous muscle car manufacturer’s (Dodge and Ford), we decided to pay tribute to these American classics.
The year was 1964, Beatlemania had taken over the US, NASA was training for the unthinkable, and the automotive industry launched something that would change history – The muscle car.
Due to the hot rod movement, brash, fast cars was nothing out of the ordinary. But after three decades of the same, America was left wanting more. A manufacturer’s attempt to amp up the automotive industry took the world by storm, capturing the imagination of car enthusiasts with speed, style, and the desire of the open road
With a simple “A ha!” moment from General Motors, the muscle car was born. Pontiac Lead Engineer John Z. Delorean, had this “A ha” moment in a brainstorming meeting with his team on a spring weekend in 1963, when he realized that the midsize Tempest’s 326 cubic-inch V8 could be switched out with a torquey 389 from one of the marque’s large cars. This amped up vehicle got the name “GTO” or Gran Turismo Omologato.
The GTO had inspired many other manufacturer’s to pony up their vehicles, including auto guru, Ford. In 1964, Ford introduced the big engine/lightweight vehicle – the Mustang. The Mustang boosted an impressive appearance but also had the capability of seating four. The Mustang had paved the way for competitors like the Chevy Camaro, the Pontiac Firebird, and the AMX Javelin. Dodge had stepped up their game the most with the introduction of the Challenger and Plymouth Barracuda, which offered a more luxurious, larger footprints, sleeker styling, and massive Hemi powerplants.
The cars capabilities alone appealed to enthusiasts, but another factor also played apart – the visual. Automotive Journalist Matt Stone stated: “A big part of the muscle car fun was the image. The image, graphics, and colors went along with it. Mopar had the high impact colors [like Hemi Orange and Top Banana Yellow].”
With the muscle car movement in full swing, independent tuning shops wanted in on the action. Among the most famous of this lot was Carroll Shelby, the former chicken farmer who raced for Aston Martin before convincing Lee lacocca to supply might Ford V8s, which he jammed into the bodies of AC Aces roadsters, yielding the legendary Shelby Cobra. Shelby also went on to modify Mustangs.
Today, muscle cars are producing outrageous amounts of horsepower. With Ford currently offering track-ready versions of its Shelby-branded Mustangs, Chevrolet building powerful Camaros and Corvettes, and Dodge producing the roaring 707 horsepower Hellcat Challengers and Chargers under the SRT banner, there is one thing we know for sure, America will always crave the need for speed.