With the recent arrival of the new and rather impressive Chevy
Corvette, we thought it would be a good time to take a look back
at some very cool classic American Muscle cars, that were made
in relatively limited numbers and had some very cool tech. I am
Brian Cooley with my top 5 muscle cars that we can hear echoes
of today. Were going to rank these guys by their rarity of
production. Lets go.
5 - 1964 Pontiac GTO Tri-Power -- 8,245 made
John Delorean gave it the name, inspired by the Ferrari Gran
Turismo Omologato nomenclature of the same era. Blasphemy
in many ways, since it was basically a Pontiac LeMans - another
optimistic American use of European car legendry.
But add the optional Tri-Power triple two barrel carbs package an
youre getting 348 HP from the very first muscle car.
Today you can draw a pretty straight line from the GTO concept
to performance tiers like BMW M, Audi S an Mercedes AMG.
Though I notice they they never call their cars things like
4 - 1969 Mustang 428 Cobra Jet -- 2,870
Mustang was a pony car faring rather poorly in the street drag
culture of the muscle car era. So Ford wedged in their 428 big
block, and topped it with free breathing heads from the hotter
427 cammer, a ram air scoop, bigger intake valves and more to
foreshadow roll up a theme of freer breathing for faster running.
End result: 411 horsepower.
Those same physics lessons underlie todays trend toward freer
breathing air intake kits, though Im afraid nothing will make your
Mitsubishi sound like an R Code Mustang!
3 - 1968 Dodge Charger R/T Hemi -- 467
1968 was the first year for the Charger with the coke bottle
shape and wide inset grille. Still fresh today. You know this guy
as the bad guys badass car in the chase from Bullitt.
Add the 426 Hemi engine option and thats where the badass
part came from. 425 HP and 490 ft-lbs of torque.
Hemi refers to a engine with hemispherical combustion
chamber roofs. Other engines do, but nobody markets it like
2 - 1969 Camaro ZL1 -- 69
The 69 Camaro ZL1 was created by specing a rather arcane
factory option called COPO 9560. That added a $4,000 427 V8
to a $2,200 car!
It also made over 500 HP and did 0-60 on slippery old skool tires
in a still impressive 5.3 seconds.
BTW, those optional ZL1 engines were hand built in a surgically
clean room overseen by none of ther than Zora Arkus-Duntov --
the head engineer of the Vette.
Before we get to #1, the car that could have been except it isnt
really an American production car:
The 1967 Shelby Cobra 427 Super Snake -- 2!
As if a 427 Ford V8 wasnt enough Caroll Shelby bolted on a
PAIR of superchargers for a total of 800 HP in a car that weighs
about the same as your fat uncle right after a big meal.
Of the two made, Shelby kept one for himself, gave one to Bill
Cosby who scare himself so bad in it he immediately gave it
back, at which time it was sold through the Ford dealer in San
Francisco to a guy who also couldnt handle it and went right
over a cliff into the Pacific Ocean.
Thats why performance cars have ABS and traction control
1 - 1971 Hemi Cuda Convertible (11)
Yes, just 11 of these cars were made in ragtop form with a 426
Hemi - the last year it was offered.
Incredibly rare, especially since most muscle cars were
incredibly shoddily made, this was an interesting example of
something we take for granted today: Extreme performance cars
with drop tops. It took some decades of engineering to get those
to work without turning themselves in a pretzel.
For more high tech cars back then, today, and tomorrow, check out cnet on Cars at
cnetoncars.com. I am Brian Cooley, thanks for watching.