Ah yes, Detroit muscle. American automobile ingenuity at its finest. I’m talking 1960s era Chevys, Fords, and Mopars, and I’m talking ones that go fast. Ok, I expect the typical Listverse flak about this list being “too American”, but cry me a river. If someone wants to do a European Sports Car list, more power to ya, but these machines are my idea of heaven on four wheels.
This is of course not a definitive list but before you comment, please note: you’ll find no pony-cars here, my friends. Maybe I’ll do a follow-up list of Camaros, Mustangs, etc. if this one is well received, but for this one I wanted to profile the more humble looking street machines. And sorry, I love ’em, but in my world ‘vettes are “sports cars”, not muscle cars, so that marque is likewise omitted. And so without further ado, here are ten of my favorite muscle machines, right down to specific model-years that are of special appeal to collectors and enthusiasts. And yes, they are in no particular order (well maybe slight consideration) so don’t obsess about the ranking.
1. 1963 Impala Z11 427
Chevrolet’s famed 409 engine was immortalized in the 1962 Beach Boys song of the same name, and was the desire of many muscle car enthusiasts in the early 60’s. In ’62 the hot set-up was to order the 409 in the lightweight “bubble-top” Bel Air 2-door hardtop. Well, kicking it up a notch in 1963, Chevrolet introduced the Z11 option package for its Impala line. The package included a modified 409 increased to 427 cid by way of a stroked crank, and had special heads, valves and a two-piece aluminum intake manifold sporting dual quads. Output was rated at 430 hp. The additional Z11 features were not limited to the engine compartment however, as the hood, fenders bumpers and other items were made of aluminum to lighten its overall curb weight. This was a RPO (regular production option) package supposedly available to the general public, but appears to have only been selectively sold to racers with the intent of furthering Chevrolet’s cause at the drag strip. No matter, the ’63 Impala SS with a standard 425 hp 409 was plenty fast for the average joe, regularly turning sub-15’s in the quarter mile. Only 50 or so (qtys vary by source) Impala Z11s were sold in 1963, and there are 7 known to be still in existence today.