Muscle Car Information: Secrets Most People Don't Know

January 27, 2012

Learning about muscle car information and the history of these vehicles is just as important to many auto enthusiasts as collecting the cars themselves. Muscle cars have a unique place in American culture throughout the last several decades, and they are also prevalent throughout many other parts of the world as well. Because there are a huge number of different muscle car models, and nearly every major manufacturer has tried to make a muscle car of some kind or another in the 60 years since the first vehicles of this type were developed, it can be hard to keep track of all of the most interesting muscle car facts. Read on for a little bit of muscle car history and some secrets that not many people know about.

It Started with Pontiac

The Pontiac GTO was the first muscle car that received widespread popularity and recognition, developed in 1963 and first released to the public in 1964. The GTO stands for "Gran Turismo Omologato," a direct borrowing from a Ferrari vehicle that had recently been released as well. Despite the fact that the GTO is one of the biggest names in muscle car history, however, muscle cars dated back to 1949 with the Chrylser 300 letter series of cars.

The First Muscle Cars Were Very Different

Chrysler's 300 letter series vehicles, although technically considered to be the first muscle cars developed, were quite different from later generations in many ways. They featured extremely large bodies in comparison with the compact frames of subsequent vehicles.

Muscle Cars First Featured the "Elephant" Engine

The "Elephant" was a popular nickname for the Hemi engine. This engine, so named because of its hemispherical shape that allowed for greater capacity and, thus, increased power over other V8 engines, was first used in muscle cars. It has subsequently been added to a variety of other types of vehicles as well. The engine was nicknamed the "Elephant" because of its large size, making it difficult to fit intothe compact interior of the muscle car body.

Companies Distinguished Themselves by Renaming Vehicles

In a bid to define their product against the competition, many manufacturers came up with unique names for their lines of muscle cars. Dodge, for instance, called their muscle car line the "Scat Pack," while Plymouth named their vehicles the "Rapid Transit System." Additionally, there are quite a few interesting stories about the names of individual cars as well; the 1969 Pontiac GTO Judge is named after a character on the popular television program "Laugh In."

Power Was Limited Intentionally

Although the ultra-powerful Hemi engine was capable of producing over 500 horsepower, most manufacturers limited the production capabilities of their motors in a bid to keep insurance costs down and to make their cars slightly more safe. For that reason, most vehicles with Hemi motors were rated to no more than 425 horsepower.

If you have any other questions about muscle cars, speak with a specialist or an auto enthusiast today.

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