The muscle car name does have a general picture when thought of. These are indeed muscle cars but it is not the look that defines them. Prior to the muscle car, fast cars were only for rich people, not the average person. The muscle car is generally defined as a light weight, high performance, and relatively low costing vehicle.
The first muscle car is arguably the 1949 Oldsmobile Rocket 88. This vehicle had a powerful new age engine in a light Oldsmobile body. With this car Olds conquered most all races it was put in. The wins it achieved drew plenty of attention to this car, setting the stage for the oncoming muscle car trend. Soon almost all of the U.S. car manufacturers had light cars with V-8 engines. In 1955 Chrysler had released the C-300 which by the name had 300 horse power. Compared to the Rockets 135 horse power, this was quite a jump in just a few years. The C-300 was America’s most powerful car, and was advertised as such. Many high performance parts soon became available for these cars.
Although these parts were rarely bought by the average buyer, they did help sales of the normal models. The general public was willing to spend a little extra money to get more power as the cars became a little heavier and a little bigger. The added price was a necessity as more power was needed anyway. These racing parts were really made exclusively for nothing more than racing and company pride. In 1957 though, a self imposed “ban” was instituted stating that the factory could not sponsor the racing of their cars. On the inside though there were no big changes. Engineers stayed hard at work making faster engines as they believed high performance cars would soon become acceptable by the general public in the near future.
The next era of muscle cars began in 1960. V-8 engines had gained a great deal of popularity over the years, so much so that owning one became a necessity whether you were racing or just an everyday driver. Engines began growing in size...