Curious which classic muscle cars had the best combination of engine AND the suspension and steering to handle how the ponies under the hood could run? :-)) …still reading, still learning…
The Shelby GT-350 was reputed to be a good all around car. Whether or not it’s a legitimate “muscle car” is up for debate though. The Olds 442 with the W30 package also handled better than a typical muscle car. The Plymouth Barracuda AAR was also a good all around car.
Yeah, I was gonna mention the Olds too. It had coilovers, and disc brakes, which was pretty good for the 60’s/70’s. It still handled like a boat compared to today’s cars, but more like a cabin cruiser than a cruise ship.
Wow. There are so many, and the answer is so very subjective.
My favorites include the early '70s Camaros and Trans Ams.
Late '60s Camaros with the 396 were great 0-60 and were tons of fun… but the handling wasn’t really that great. And they really needed traction bars or they’d shake your fillings out.
I never was a Ford or Mopar guy, although I respect their old muscle cars. Especially the old Chargers. It’s strictly a matter of taste.
As a follow up question, which would you put preference on in muscle cars, engine or “sprightly” handling?
Hands down for me, late 60s big block Corvette. They just squat and launch right from the factory. They also handle the twisties pretty good. No need to upgrade anything…
The big block Corvettes, all Corvettes for that matter had an independent suspension tuned to the tires available at that time, but they did not launch very good. They were designed for road racing and not drag racing, GM did not see drag racing becoming so popular like Chrysler did.
The result was that under hard acceleration, the rear end squatted down, the rear tires cambered in and lost traction. They just sat there and spun. There were camber kits made to correct this, but then they wouldn’t handle a road course at all.
Once the Corvette built up a little speed and the rear end rose up a little, then it was off like a rocket, but off the line it made a lot of smoke and noise, but little go.
All the GM muscle cars had the best handling, though the Fords got better in the later years.
Except for the Corvette, handling wasn’t a high priority on most of those cars. A high-output small block would help keep it from plowing, and you could pick the options that’d help (disc brakes were available on the '65 Mustang, rarely ordered, for example). Now many folks go the ‘resto-mod’ route, with modernized suspension and brakes improving things greatly, along with a modern, often fuel injected, V8.
FoDaddy: The original 1965 Shelby GT-350 would be my “lottery winner” dream Mustang. I wish I could have purchased the one for sale in 1970 for $1,900. Unfortunately it was about $900 over my on hand cash and it was another year before 18 year olds could vote or sign a contract. The better investment from the same dealer would have probably been the 1969 black on black 4 speed hemi charger for $3,500!
The Shelby is sure a winner, but I think a Pontiac GTO could be fun!
There are many, but my preference is & always has been mopar with ford a close 2nd
'Vettes have a legacy of passion. The C1 was just a good yet reasonably affordable sports car for its time, originally carrying only a straight six. The C2, the concept car of which was called the “Mako Shark”, was IMHO one of the most beautiful cars ever designed. While the “split window” is considered the classic, I always liked the convertible. The C3 was, IMHO, the last good looking 'Vette until the C7. The C4 through C6 were the smoothed-off “wedge” design, and I always felt the 'Vette lost its beauty when they took the curves away. With the C7 they began to put some excitement and some accents back into the design.
But, again, it’s only one man’s opinion. Others will disagree vehemently. It should be noted also that Chevy has promised a mid-engine 'Vette for years and years and years and years, but the post-Harley Earl Chevy was and remains a very risk-averse company. The days of real automotive beauty and styling genius… and risk… are really mostly in the past. The quest now is to tweak things that are already proven.
My favorite 'Vette has always been the C2 roadster. That was one sweet design.
Guys, you should read a book called “Engines of change”
apparently, there was one single man that played a great deal in keeping the Corvette alive within GM, and he also played a great deal in preventing it from being diluted
I like that suggestion. A lot. Too few people read anymore. These past months I’ve been reading books by and about the candidates, and I’m currently reading “13 Hours”, the first-hand account by the Annex Security Team that was on-site in the Benghazi embassy in September of 2012. I’ve read many automotive industry books over the years including Lee Iacocca’s autobiography (many years ago). Perhaps after the elections I’ll get back to automotive industry books. I always used to be an obsessive-compulsive reader, and now that I’m retired I’ve gotten back to reading. Never fiction, always reality. Last summer I (finally) read “A Brief History of Time”, by Stephen Hawking.
I would argue that the Corvette was a sports car more than a muscle car.
I’d have to go with the late 60s Corvettes too because they could turn and go straight at tremendous speeds. The Lat 60s Road Runners were also amazing in a straight line, an under the right circumstances, turning left.
The '59 Corvette I had (4:11 gears with Posi and traction bars) was a striking snake when the clutch was dumped from a dead stop. It was never verified by an onlooker but I’ve often felt that it may have been pulling the wheels off the pavement by an inch or so.
It was also rock solid on the curvy roads and stable as could be at 110 MPH.
It might be noted that many of the items that are standard on every car now and taken for granted were options back in the 60s. Disc brakes and sway bars were options back in the day but most people would pass on a 15 dollar disc brake or 6 dollar sway bar upgrade in the name of keeping it cheaper.
It might also be noted that in the Real Street Eliminator competition each year that the older muscle cars generally outperform or match the late models in handling, acceleration, and braking.
Two muscle cars from the 1950s that I really liked were the 1957 Studebaker Hawk and the 1957 Rambler Rebel. The 1957 Studebaker Hawk had a 289 cu in V8 engine that could be had with a supercharger. This setup was much better than the 352 cu in Packard V8 that was installed in the 1956 Studebaker Hawk which was really nose heavy. The 1957 handling was much better, but not great and was just as fast, if not faster than the 1956.
The 1957 Rambler Rebel came with the AMC 327 V8 and only 1500 were made. The suspension and brakes were beefed up over the regular Ramblers, but these Rebels were still a handfull to drive. My all time favorite muscle car, though, came from the 1960s–the 1963 Studebaker Avanti with the supercharger engine.
There are some cars which are muscle cars but because of the manufacturer they’re generally overlooked. One glaring example is the Buick Riviera; especially the 430 C.I. model with twin 4 barrel carburetors.
That old perception that Buicks belong to old folks is always present.
Gotta be the hemi cuda’s.