1. Ford Mustang
Most likely the most iconic American muscle car and possibly the most iconic car of all time, Ford has manufactured the Mustang from 1964 until the present day, making it one of the longest continually running car models in the world.
The Mustang was originally based on the platform of the Falcon, a compact economy car also manufactured by Ford. The Mustang was so influential that it created its own class of car, nicknamed the "Pony Class" of American sports cars. The Pony class were sporty coupes that featured long hoods and short rear decks, but they were much more affordable than European competition or other American made sports cars. This combination of performance and affordability has made the Mustang a popular choice from its inception in 1964 until today.
2. Chevy Camaro
The Chevrolet is another car that fit the Pony car class and was actually introduced as a competitor to the Ford Mustang. Chevy released the Camaro in 1967, just three years after the Mustang. The Camaro ran from its inception until 2002, when Chevy ended production of the classic car. Due to popular demand, the Camaro returned for the 2009 model year and to this day competes with the Mustang for a spot in American garages.
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3. Pontiac GTO
The Pontiac GTO was unquestionably the epitome of American muscle in the 1960s and '70s. Originally, the GTO was an optional package on the Pontiac Tempest for the model years 1963 and 1964, but in 1965, it became its own model. It was fairly short-lived, however, as production was ended in 1971 due to budget concerns.
However, don't let the short run of production fool you into thinking that the car was somehow inferior to cars that ran much longer. The GTO was extremely acclaimed during its time, including being named Motor Trend's Car of the Year in 1968. This shorter production time as well as lower production numbers make the GTO significantly more rare than Mustangs and Camaros and means the car is quite a sought-after model for muscle car collectors.
4. Chevy Chevelle
The fourth car on our list is another product of GM and Chevrolet, cousin to the Camaro. The Chevelle was produced from 1964 to 1978. The calling card of the Chevelle model is that the lineup included diverse body styles, including coupes, convertibles, sedans, and even station wagons. While all models of Chevelle were big, powerful cars, the true muscle came from the SS, or Super Sport. The Chevelle SS was designed to enter the muscle car battle of that late 60's and compete with the Ford Mustang, among other models. The Chevelle definitely wasn't just a clone, though, and was geared towards the more upscale automobile market. The Malibu version in particular was as luxurious as it was sporty with comfort and entertainment features that set it apart from other muscle cars.