Muscle Cars: 50 Years of American Horsepower
The Muscle Car Origins
The 1950s are not known as the beginnings of the Muscle Car era, but events of that period had an impact on development. In the post-war period, citizens were hungry for change – change in economic status, change in where and how they lived, and change in what they drove. They wanted big and powerful. After years of sacrifice and doing without luxury during the war, a shiny new car with lots of power and chrome was the ticket to happiness.
Chevy started and other manufacturers follow to develop powerful cars in the 1950s and 1960s. The cars were big and heavy and lumbering by the standards of today, but the level of power was unknown at that time.
The 1960s launched the Muscle Car into its rightful place in history. Life in the 1960s was unique. We enjoyed the "can do" mentality that anything was possible and we did just about anything. We customized our cars, we experimented with hot-rodding, and we built dry-lakes racers that flew at nearly 200 mph. It helped that gasoline was cheap, the concept of air pollution was not fully understood, insurance companies hadn't yet realized what it was they were insuring, and safety liability was not a concern.
The automotive industry was on fire. Detroit could hardly pump out cars fast enough to fill the demand. One consequence was quality and reliability. As long as our cars could manage a straight line drag race, all was good.