There are plenty of cars from the ‘60s and ‘70s that offer beautiful designs and gutsy power plants that don’t neatly fall into the muscle car category. We’ve even offered up some more affordable, mid-size alternatives to the typical muscle car. This time, let’s delve into some of my favorite full-size cars from the era that, while heavier than their drag-strip hero counterparts, brought some big V-8 power to bear.
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Wheres The 67 Buick Riviera GS. Talk about Unique and hard to find, 430 CI Stratoflight Interior, Cylindrical Speedo, X Frame. Probably Give a stock Camaro a Run in the 1/4 mile.
I have to disagree on the Wildcat--the 1969 and 1970 years are quite homely looking, and started looking too "corporate GM" for my taste. I have preferred the look of the '65 over all the others, with the '67 and '68 tied for second place. I realize the '66 is similar to the '65, but don't like the grill and rear taillight treatment, and the dash is completely different and too generic. The '66, however, did offer a GS package and a dual-carb option.
A full-size muscle car or even a vintage car that gets little or no attention is a car that my father bought new. A 1965 Mercury Marauder 2 door hardtop
bench seat and factory 4 speed. I got my first speeding ticket in that car. Joe S 1
How about going back in time a little further to look at the Oldsmobile Starfire from '61 to '65? Big engine, big performance. My buddy had one and would love cruising two lane highways looking for 5.0l Mustangs. He would always take them from a rolling start and blow their doors in.
This was to be a reply to Doscoop's answer below. I have a '64 T-bird convertible I'd love to put back on the road. I've owned it 24 years now and cry when I see what they sell for now a days.
63 skylark 215 aluminum block v8. It wasn't a full figured lady like these cars, but an unsung hero of the pre-muscle age. Wish I still had mine from those days.
And what about 66 Toronados??
385 hp and a 135 mph top speed plus a wonderful design and striking interior is not exactly chopped liver. Oh, and then there is the first front wheel drive since 1936 Cords
My dad had a 1964 Buick Wildcat 4-door hardtop. Top end was only 110 but it would leap out of the hole like a jack rabbit. I jumped a Z28 so bad his front bumper was right outside my window at the end. The second time he was ready for me. 🙂 Good times.
I learned to drive in a 70 Pontiac Catalina with a 400 that smoked a lot of dad's tires. I also had a 68 TBird 429 while my brother had a 70 Olds 442 with the 454 and a Hurst 4 speed. Those were cheap high school cars back in the mid 70's.
The Marauder's 360 HP was backed by 480 Ft/Lb @ 2800 RPM. Sufficient to motivate. If you look closely, you'll notice that shares the 500 XL (you won't find the word "Galaxie" on a real one) chassis. With the bucket seats, console and horseshoe shifter, it is a looker. Plus you won't see another at the local car show.
All great choices to add to the list! I have another, the 64-67 Pontiac 2+2.
While I can certainly understand the appeal of the A-bodied cars, Pontiac made a point of offering bigger engines and manual transmissions in all their full size models including the Bonneville and Grand Prix. But my favorite is the rare (only 1700 made)1967 2+2/428 hardtop in my driveway with the one-year-only type "87" fastback body and factory 8 lug Kelsey-Hayes wheels. It keeps company with the 67 GP/428 next to it.
I am restoring my uncle's 1969 Buick Electra 225 with a 430 in it. He bought it new in Aberdeen, Mississippi. He lived in Columbus, Mississippi. He had a friend who was a highway patrolman back then, and he raced him against his state trooper's car on an unopened stretch of new highway being built. The Buick smoked the state trooper's cruiser! The Electra is a four door hardtop muscle car for sure. Larry Bonds in Memphis, Tennessee
I can't explain why, but only now, when I read these model names in a single article, do I recognize the greatness of these titles and the danger they imply: Fury. Marauder. Wildcat. Get out of the way Impala!
Does anybody even care about the cars from 1973 - 1977. I know they were heavy, and did not have the fastest engines, but they should get some love. I have a 1974 Chevy Malibu / Chevelle with a 454 engine, Posi Traction, 4 barrel w/ duel exhausts. When I go to shows, for every 5 to 6 1968 - 1972 Chevelles, mine is the only from generation three. It gets a lot of attention, probably due to it's oddity, but no one ever talks about these cars. My friends 1975 Olds Cutlass in Fire Engine Red, is an attention getter also. Please a little love !!! Thanks.
Yes they do in fact !!! Pontiac was a great for Hi-Po at the parts counter as were all the other GM products in the line. Diego Rosenberg's book :" Selling the Muscle Car to America." No more parts and then no more power. Like all of the
motorsports logic. Make sense? It does for us, and then there is the salvage yard also. For another time : they rotate every six (6) months to the crusher so hurry up !
The 1960-1961 Dodge Darts and Polaras are often overlooked as being a muscle type vehicle, but with the standard 383 putting out 320 horsepower , and the Ram Induction 383 putting out 330 Horrsepower and 460 foot pounds of torque they certainly fall into the MUSCLE scene... below is my Unrestored/survivor 1961 Dodge Polara D500 with dual quad ram induction 383.... believed to be the only known survivor, and it has documentation back to its beginning (currently for sale)
I would go the other way with the 61-63 smaller much lighter cars with good power. The Corvairs, Lemans, F-85, falcon sprint, etc. These cars are reasonably priced for the most part and offer a lot of style and fairly good performance.
Yes, but some family cars full size are still well priced and available . Lots of room to fill purchase orders and establish new accounts around the country when a satelite gets plucked out of the sky ! Just a Cold War 1 reminder !!!
Great article, thank you.
You hear little about the 69 & 70 Wildcats. I was lucky enough to picked up a 69 Wildcat convertible off Kijiji about 5 yrs from a Buick collector who had posted the add a few minutes before that evening. Told the guy I'd drive the 4 hrs in the morning to buy the car just based on the pics and having a safety standard certified. Next day to hand the guy 10K Cdn and had my self a rare 1 of 2374 1969 Buick Wildcat convertibles with a strong running 360hp / 475 lb ft 430 big block that sounds amazing. It was a solid purchase and once appraised I learned it was worth 20K+. I realize the BF bfg tires were not available until into the 1970's but the T/As look great compared to the standard white walls. The original steering wheel is in the trunk and currently the Wildcat has one from a Skylark GS. Next is to change the wheel caps back to the original Wildcat center caps.
The 1969 Rivvy appears similar in looks and performance. 1970 is the pinnacle year and you may well want to latch onto a 1970 Rivvy just for that fact even tho they may lack in looks. Always nice to have a 455 unda tha foot ! Go Buick! The gentleman's Hi-Po machine with Stage 1 equipment !!!
A Chrysler 300 would be a great example of full size performance. As would a big block Galaxie, Marauder, Impala, etc. My pick would be a Biscayne with big block power. And THAT'S coming from a Ford guy.
These cars are picking up momentum in Europe and the Euros are exporting the best models away from us ! Be warned before it is too late , folks ! Muchos $$$ Mr. Euro !
I've always loved the late 60s T-Birds since seeing a relatively well-off student being dropped off and picked up from school in one during the Papa Doc era in Haiti. the sequential turn signals, and the suicide doors made a lasting impression on me.
I'd say any of the 'pre-muscle' too in the '62/4/6 era. Both chebby & ford had'em can't seem to remember any 3rd co models...not the larger luxo-barges (there were plenty of those 'hi powered' and that helped start the "muscle")...
I'll throw one of my rides in the ring. I believe someone else has mentioned thus one as well. The '65 Galaxue 500xl. Plenty of room for whatever you decide to throw at it powerplantwise. And handles well to be such a big car.
My second would have to be my first ride: 1977 Ford LTDII. Mine was a stripper two door with the only power options being power steering and power disc brakes. The 400 Cleveland (The 400 was never a "modified". Only the 351m which shared the block and heads) really came to life with some port work, a little milling to get compression up, a mild cam, low rise intake, 4bbl, and dual exhaust. Made for a great sleeper, and showed many a more muscular car my tail lights in that one.
Also any Cbody mopar. See the reasons for the 65 Galaxie for my reasons.