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"The first stirrings of AMC performance came in 1965, when the dramatic, if ungainly, Rambler Marlin fastback was introduced to battle the Ford Mustang and Plymouth Barracuda." Although the Marlin was a flop in terms of sales and initial performance, AMC gained some muscle-car credibility in 1967, when it made both the Marlin and the "more pedestrian" Rebel available with its new 280 hp (209 k W; 284 PS), 343 cu in (5.6 L) "Typhoon" V8.
In 1968, the company offered two pony car muscle car contenders: the Javelin and its truncated two-seat variant, the AMX Although the sales of true muscle cars were relatively modest by total Detroit production standards, they had value in publicity.
The Pontiac GTO was an option package that included Pontiac's 389 cu in (6.4 L) V8 engine, floor-shifted transmission with Hurst shift linkage, and special trim. The project, led by Pontiac division president John De Lorean, technically violated GM's policy, limiting its smaller cars to 330 cu in (5.4 L) displacement, but the new model proved more popular than expected, and inspired GM and its competitors to produce numerous imitators.
American Motors, though late entering the 1960s muscle car market, produced "an impressive array of performance cars in a relatively short time," said Motor Trend.
Given its lightning-like success, one could clearly make the case that the Olds 88 with its 135 horsepower (101 k W) V-8 was the first 'musclecar'..." Steve Dulcich, writing in Popular Hot Rodding, also cites Oldsmobile, concurrently with Cadillac, as having "launched the modern era of the high-performance V-8 with the introduction of the 'Rocket 88' overhead-valve V8 in 1949." Other manufacturers showcased performance hardware in limited-edition models.
Chrysler led the way with its 1955 C-300, an inspired blend of Hemi power and luxury-car trappings that became the new star of NASCAR.
The 1962 Dodge Dart 413 cu in (6.8 L) Max Wedge, for example, could run a 13-second 1/4-mile dragstrip at over 100 miles per hour (161 km/h).
In 1961 Chevrolet introduced the SS package on the Impala for .80, with included an optional 409 cu in v8 with 425 hp and upgraded brakes, tires, and suspension.
The 1964 Dodge 426 Hemi Lightweight produced over 500 bhp (373 k W).
Ford built 200 lightweight Ford Galaxies for drag racing in 1963. Modifications included fiberglass panels, aluminum bumpers, traction bars, and a competition-specification 427 cu in (7.0 L) engine factory rated at a conservative 425 hp (317 k W; 431 PS).
This full-size car could run the quarter mile in a little over 12 seconds.
A large V8 engine is fitted in a 2-door, rear wheel drive, family-style compact, mid-size or full-size car designed for four or more passengers.
Sold at an affordable price, muscle cars are intended for street use and occasional drag racing.