The Shelby GT500 Mustang
In the mid to late 1960s, famed race car driver and automotive designer Carroll Shelby created high-performance versions of the legendary Ford Mustang. These cars would be known as the Shelby GT350 and the GT500. The Shelby GT500 Mustang, introduced in 1967, offered the signature muscle car styling of the Mustang with Shelby modifications for increased performance.
Cars That Moved Brands
Some car names are just too good to stay within one brand. While it is impossible to consider the Mustang ever belonging to a carmaker other than Ford or a Corvette not being a Chevy, there are a few car models that have switched to other makers. Most of the name switches did not take place overnight, but many involved the defunct AMC along with cars in the Mopar lineup. Here are some of the notable switches:
1967 Chevrolet Nova
The 1967 Chevrolet Nova has its roots in the 1962 Chevy II. The original model was called the Chevy II, but the top trim lines and sportier versions got to wear the Nova nameplate. By 1968, the name Chevy II was totally out, and Nova was in. The Nova/Chevy II cars essentially rescued Chevrolet’s entry in the compact car market. Previously, the Corvair held that place in the Chevrolet brand, but it had an odd style and consumers had safety concerns.
Many people consider the Ford Falcon to be among the most popular muscle cars in American History. Why? The Falcon not only enjoyed huge success upon its release, but it also gave owners and car enthusiasts something to be proud of and to talk about for generations to come. Though this particular model was produced between 1960-1970, the word Falcon was originally used for a 1935 model that Edsel Ford had designed. The name and design didn’t last, and it eventually morphed into the Mercury instead.
1969 Ford Mustang
Among the many celebrated muscle cars, and indeed cars in general, in American car history is the Ford Mustang. Classified as a pony car, this is a car which has enchanted generations of car lovers and even casual car enthusiasts, and has epitomized American automotive pride. Today, the Mustang remains a symbol of power and respect on the road, and still, millions of people around the world appreciate this head-turner. With the first generation Mustang (1964-1973) came the beginning of the muscle car era, and indeed, it signified the beginning of the American love affair with fast cars. Though Ford’s competitors also began to produce their own muscle cars, many did not stand the test of time like the Mustang.
The 1969 Plymouth ‘Cuda 440
Most people are under the impression that the era of the “pony cars” started with the introduction of the Ford Mustang in the middle of April, 1964, but they have got it all wrong. Though the term was indeed built around the incredibly popular Mustang, a car that truly changed the face of the American automotive industry, another car that wound up in the pony car category was introduced before the Mustang. The Plymouth Barracuda was actually released on April 1st of 1964, making it the first true pony car.
Where Do the Car Names Come From?
Bel Air. Corvette. Nova. Delray. Car manufacturers have worked hard to create memorable names and for the most part, they have succeeded. But, where do those names originate? In many cases, the names are often taken from foreign languages, places, and science.
One of the most iconic cars of all time is actually named after a speedy warship. The Chevy Corvette shares the same name with a small, lightly armed warship. Most corvettes were and are still used by foreign navies, but there were some that were used by the United States Navy during World War II. It only seems appropriate that the fastest production car is named after another speedy object.
The Plymouth Road Runner
The muscle car era was still in full swing when the Plymouth Road Runner was introduced for the 1968 model year, but many aficionados felt as though the whole ethos of the true muscle car was being lost. The original idea at the core of the muscle car was to provide a vehicle that was basic in appearance, options and appointments so that the majority of the money spent on the car went into improving its performance. The end result was a vehicle that packed a lot of punch under the hood that was at the same time affordable to most consumers. And this would especially include younger buyers who wanted the speed but may not have had a lot of money to spend to get it. As the sixties progressed, the industry started to stray from this formula by offering more complicated cars with additional bells and whistles that subsequently carried larger price tags.
1970 GSX: As one of the Top 10 Muscle Cars of All Time, the Buick 1970 GSX has certainly carved its place in American motor history. In the years preceding this particular model, General Motors had limited itself to a 400 cid engine. However, by the time 1970 rolled around, the desire for a little more power under the hood was finally too much to bear, and GM lifted the limit. In the GSX, a GS 455 V-8 replaced the 400 cid V-8.
In 1964, the Plymouth division of Chrysler rolled out a new 2-door: The Plymouth Barracuda. The car lasted a full decade before being discontinued and saw many changes in its short life. Throughout the evolution of the Barracuda, this pony car was Chrysler’s attempt to join the ranks of the Ford Mustang, at a time when American demand for sporty compact cars was becoming even more insatiable. Though it sold far fewer units than the Mustang, it was a valiant effort by Chrysler.