When you hear the term “muscle car,” your mind might immediately jump to an image of a hulking, intimidating monster truck. Despite what their name suggests, muscle cars aren’t very big at all. At best, they’re average size. But what they lack in size, they make up for in power. They’re high-performance vehicles that have taken American by storm for their power capabilities and unmatched aesthetic. Let’s take a look at what makes these small but mighty vehicles special. Here are some things you didn’t know about muscle cars.
The term “muscle car” wasn’t popularized until the mid-1960s, but vehicles that fit the definition of a muscle car have been in production since the 1940s. There’s just one problem—no one can come to an agreement on which car was the first muscle car. Many enthusiasts claim that General Motors created the original muscle car in 1949, when they modified the small and lightweight Oldsmobile 88 by swapping out the stock engine for a powerful V8. However, others argue that the 1964 Pontiac GTO was the first genuine muscle car, since it was one of the first muscle cars produced after the concept was invented.
Turbo vs. Super
The next thing you didn’t know about muscle cars is that most of these super-powered vehicles feature either turbo or supercharged engines. Turbochargers and superchargers work by packing more oxygen into the engine’s cylinders, which allows them to burn more fuel and supply the engine with more power. Due to size restrictions, most muscle cars are outfitted with space-saving superchargers. However, turbochargers are a popular option in vehicles that can accommodate them. They’re more efficient than superchargers and come in a wider variety of types, including variable geometry, electric, and twin-scroll turbos.
Not Just USA
Muscle cars are extremely popular in the United States, but that doesn’t mean the US is the only place you’ll find these unique and powerful vehicles. They gained popularity in Australia around the same time that they became mainstream in the US. In fact, they were so popular that the government had to crack down on their use. The Supercar Scare of 1972 was the result of newly produced prototypes that could reach speeds of up to 170mph. People feared that these models would be too unsafe to drive on regular roads and that they would make motorsport races unfair. Today, manufacturers such as Chrysler, Ford, and Holden supply Australian enthusiasts with a wide variety of muscle cars to suit their needs.