In the 1960s, American automakers began stuffing the biggest engines they could find into the smallest, lightest chassis that would hold them. It was a time when performance was as important a marketing angle as smartphone connectivity is today, and it birthed American muscle cars.
Traditionally, a muscle car’s performance is defined by the size of its engine. As the saying goes, there’s no replacement for displacement. Modern American performance cars are more well-rounded, but big engines and lots of horsepower are still their calling card.
Many great muscle cars have been unleashed over the years, but this list represents our personal favorites. We’ve got something from every major manufacturer, including plenty of classics and a handful of newer models. We listed engine displacement in both cubic inches and liters for the older cars, since that’s how they were identified when new.
PLYMOUTH BARRACUDA (1964)
While the Mustang is credited with creating a category of “pony cars,” the Plymouth Barracuda actually beat the Ford to showrooms. But Plymouth didn’t market its car with the same zeal as Ford, and “Fish Cars” just doesn’t sound as good. The Barracudaevolved into a Plymouth-badged version of the Dodge Challenger, complete with an available 426-cubic-inch Hemi V8. While Plymouth is gone, rumors occasionally surface that Chrysler is planning to recycle the Barracuda name for use by another brand.