The Buick Riviera came onto the market in 1963. It is not really a muscle car, but it did play a major role in the American automotive industry. In relation to that time period, Buick’s latest model release was seen as cutting edge and extremely stylish. It was a car that incorporated performance, as well as European styling. The Gran Sport or GS models were performance options that were available on the vehicles, and included models such as the Wildcat and the Riviera. A few vehicles were produced that carried the option as a model name.
The Gran Sport option was introduced in 1965, and once again surpassed all expectations in regard to luxury and the cars’ performance. Buick Riviera Gran Sports, were fitted with a 360bhp engine, a 425 cid and included a Posi-Traction rear end. The posi-traction could be found until 1973, on both the Wildcat and Riviera Gran Sport options. The car itself only had a few minor adjustments made to the exterior, such as the position of the headlights and restyled taillights. The top speed of the Buick Riviera Gran Sport was approximately 125 miles per hour. Later Riviera models were still GranSport options, but were replaced with GS on the badges. The high-performance option of the Riviera, the Riviera GS, was manufactured between the years 1965 to 1975. Other Gran Sport models that were produced by Buick, included the Skylark GS, Gran Sport 340/350, the Gran Sport 455, GSX, Century Gran Sport, Regal GS and as mentioned before, the Wildcat GS.
Even though the Buick Riviera is not a muscle car, it is still a desirable collectors item. It has a unique two-door body, dual exhausts, improved suspension and a Super Turbine 400 transmission that makes this GS model irresistible. Apart from the few exterior changes, seats, interior trim and chrome wheels, were additional options that vehicle buyers could chose from. Therefore it is not a standard vehicle, as owners could change and style their new car as they wanted. Most Buick Riviera Gran Sport owners view their cars as muscle cars. The look of the vehicle is aggressive, fast and unique, and has become an icon in its own right.
In 1964, the Chevrolet Chevelle made its debut on the market, as a mid-sized vehicle. Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, Chevrolet produced the Chevelle, which became one of the General Motors group’s most successful vehicles. It appealed to the public, as this model ranged from an ordinary family vehicle to a powerful, and more expensive convertible or coupe. After 1977, the Malibu name replaced Chevelle, and it was the pride and joy of GM.
The Chevelle was designed as the competitor of the Ford Fairlane, with similar size and similar concept, according to the 1955 to 1957 model vehicles. During the years 1967 to 1972, hardtops with four-doors were available and during 1964 to 1965, consumers could purchase two-door station wagons.
Chevrolet entered into the muscle car ranks with the Chevrolet Chevelle Malibu SS, and during the years 1964 to 1965, the Malibu badge appeared on the vehicles. The Z16 option is an extremely sought after model, and has the emblem on the front of its fender. The badge reflecting Malibu SS only appeared on models sold in Canada after 1966. The Chevrolet Chevelle Malibu SS was a high performance vehicle, and therefore, it had its very own line of performance equipment and its own line of engines. Engines that were available were the 325hp, 350hp and 375hp V8 engines. After the COPO dropped their displacement rule in regard to engine power, bigger, more powerful engines were fitted into these muscle cars. The engine ratings began to decline in 1972. The most popular Chevelle of all time was the 454. It could rocket over a quarter mile, reaching speeds of 105 to 108 miles per hour within 13 seconds.
The models that were produced between the year 1973 to 1977 were very popular with the public, although collectors are not interested in them. All models between 1974 and 1977 carried the Malibu name. The SS option was available to all the Malibu coupes, and quite unbelievably, the station wagons. Purchasing a Chevrolet Chevelle Malibu SS, would include black out trims and bucket seats. In 1978, GM decided to downsize on the intermediate models, which led to the Chevelle name being dropped, and all following models, being named Chevrolet Malibu.
Like the AMC Javelin, the Chevrolet Camaro is a popular “pony car” produced by the Chevrolet Motor Division of General Motors. It was introduced in the 1967 model year as competition for the Ford Mustang and was classified as an “intermediate touring car, a muscle car or a sports car”. The Chevrolet Camaro has many similar components to the Pontiac Firebird that was also introduced the same year.
Production of the Camaro stopped in 2002 but not before four distinctive generations of the car were completed. This is not the end of the Camaro as a new one will be set for production in 2009. The name of the Chevrolet was not given with any specific meaning but a GM researcher found the word in a French dictionary and is a slang term for “friend” or “companion”.
The debut Camaro came with over 80 factory and 40 dealer options, including three main packages. One of the packages was the Z/28 that came out for the 1967 model year. This option wasn’t found in any sales literature and was relatively unknown to buyers. It came with many extras that were designed specifically to allow the car to race in the Trans Am series. It was only the 602 Z/28 that was sold in 1967 and 1968, which did not come with a raised cowl induction hood like the 1969 Z/28s.
In 1969 the Camaro came out with a sportier look. The grill had been changed to a heavy “V” cant and had deeply inset headlights. The changes made to the car also gave it a more wider, lower and more aggressive look. That year other changes were also available to the Camaro to increase the competitiveness in the Trans Am racing series.
The second-generation Chevrolet Camaro was introduced in 1970 and stayed in production for 12 years with the final model produced in 1981. The styling of this generation of Camaro was inspired by Ferrari and due to its size was no longer given a convertible option. The third generation of this car was introduced in 1982, continuing to use the General Motors’ F-body platform. The forth generation Camaro was in production for ten years and from there General Motors has put a stop to the car but a fifth generation car is on the books.
From 1962 to 1981 the Pontiac division of General Motors produced solid, intermediate-sized automobiles called the Pontiac LeMans. Then in 1982 the smaller Pontiac Bonneville model replaced the LeMans.
The LeMans was introduced as the top-line version of the smaller and more solid Pontiac Tempest and had more luxurious trimmings and a sportier look than the Tempest. In 1964 when the Tempest was restyled and enlarged in the form of the LeMans, it continued to have the same 326 cubic inch V8s and 215 cubic inch six-cylinder found in the regular Tempest.
Not long after the 1964 model was produced, the LeMans came out with an alternative performance package assigned as the GTO or the Gran Turismo Omologate. This version came with a lot of technical developments and upgrades, costing just under US$300. It was estimated that 5,000 GTOs would be sold that year but the sales ended up being 32,000, thereby accounting for a substantial portion of the Tempest and LeMans sales.
In 1996 the GTO was made separate from the other models, having the basic shape of the LeMans and Tempest models. The GTO kept the big-engined muscle car style where as the Tempest and the LeMans models received a new SOHC 230 cubic inch six-cylinder engine.
During the late 1960’s the Sprint-optioned LeMans and Tempest models were not as popular as the larger-engined GTO that was fueling the muscle car wars. Those that bought the normal regular LeMans and Tempest models mostly ordered V8 power, as the 326 and the later 350 cubic inch V8 version were the most ordered engines. In 1969 the SOHC six-cylinder engine and the Sprint option were stopped and replaced by an ordinary Chevrolet-built 250 cubic inch OHV six-cylinder engine, which became the base engine in most of the Pontiac intermediates.
When the LeMans was first produced it included a convertible and a pillared coupe with no hardtop option offered in the Tempest. Then in 1964 the hardtop coupe was added followed by the four-door pillared sedan a year later. In 1966 and 1968 the four-door hardtop and then a four-door Safari wagon replaced the previous versions. Over the decades the Pontiac continued to change its style, adding many amazing features and continued to be popular cars.
The very first Ford Mustang came off the assembly line in Michigan, in 1964. The public that attended the New York World Fair, caught their first glimpse of the Mustang, and it was viewed on television networks on 19 April 1964. The automotive industry would never see another product launch like this. Within the first 18 months, over a million Mustangs had been sold, and after revisions over the years, the Mustang is still in production today.
The years 1969 and 1970, saw the birth of the Ford Mustang Boss 302. Ford had attempted to combine the brute power of muscle cars, with the comfortable handling capabilities of a sports car. The press loved the Boss 302 Mustang, and even said that this car was everything that the GT-350 should have been. The Ford Mustang Boss 302 featured a 5.0 L V8 engine and cylinder heads that were used on 5.8 L engines. The combination of these parts, together with its manual four-speed gearbox,elevated the Boss 302 Mustang 290 hp into a class of its own. The Boss 302 Mustang was originally going to be named Trans Am, but that already applied to the Firebird by Pontiac.
Ford’s most competitive rival against their Mustang, was the Chevrolet Camaro. Ford had the lead in the “pony car” division, which was largely created by Ford, when they first introduced their Mustang in 1964. Unfortunately, the Mustang could not compete with the Camaro with regard to performance, which led to the development of the 428 Cobra Jet in 1968, and the design and production of the Boss 302 Ford.
The Boss 302 Mustang is also well known at drag racing venues. Ford made a Drag Pack option available, which was free of charge. All that was needed was to order the 4.3:1 rear axle ratio car. The conversion can be seen under the hood, with an oil cooler mounted in front of the vehicle’s radiator.
The Ford Mustang Boss 302 is still very popular with the reproduction of muscle cars, and can be seen in the diecast model toys available in the Matchbox, ERTL American Muscle and Hot Wheels ranges. The “hockey” side stripe on the car, the chin spoiler and the rear louvers distinguish this muscle car which is still popular and much loved.