Muscle cars are not really something you would normally mention in the UK. After all, it is an American term. The Merriam Webster dictionary defines a muscle car as "any of a group of American-made 2-door sports coupes with powerful engines designed for high-performance driving" and the Oxford dictionary defines a muscle car as “A high-performance car; specifically one of a class of sports cars having V-8 engines, produced in the United States mainly in the 1960s and 1970s” although there are also more modern muscle cars.. However, not all muscle cars are American manufactured although a large percentage of them are. Other countries are known to manufacture muscle cars such as the Ford Falcon Cobra from Australia and the Chevrolet Opala from Brazil.
The muscle car ties in with the image of a ‘hot-rodder’ - the need for linear speed and loud growling engine noises. Muscle cars are not really a type of car, but rather a large capacity high performance engine housed in the body of a car, with the sole purpose of achieving fast acceleration and high straight-line speed. Therefore, Drag racing is typically associated with muscle cars as these events are what muscle cars are particularly well designed for. One of the main differences between a muscle car and a sports car is handling. From a performance perspective, the muscle car has more torque and will usually outperform a sports car off the line whilst travelling in a straight line. Hence why they are used in drag racing. When it comes to road handling however, the sports car holds the advantage as they are designed to be light and agile to handle speed around the tightest corners. A comparison similar to that of a weightlifter and a gymnast.
Perhaps one of the most memorable muscle cars is the Ford Mustang. The car was featured in multiple movies including the 1968 film Bullitt starring Steve McQueen, Need for Speed, the 1971 James Bond movie Diamonds Are Forever and John Wick. The first Ford Mustang, which was introduced in 1962 was a concept car. Over the years the Ford Mustang has evolved into its sixth generation. The design of the Ford Mustang also inspired non-muscle cars, such as the Toyota Celica and the Ford Capri.
Another famous muscle car is the Ford Torino with the “Cobra-Jet” engine, which is the model used in the 1070’s Police Detective TV series, Starsky and Hutch. First introduced in 1968, the Ford Torino is mostly a normal conventional car and not a muscle car. It is the Cobra-Jet engine that makes the Ford Torino a muscle car such as the Ford Torino King Cobra or Ford Torino Talladega. These cars were made to perform at NASCAR racing so needed the super-sized engines.