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The Oldsmobile Rocket 88 is widely considered to be the first muscle car ever built. This was in 1949 and the Rocket 88 fulfilled a consumer demand for style and speed, say the classic car experts at Flemings Ultimate Garage. Soon, other vehicle manufacturers like Chrysler and Cadillac followed suit.
In the 1950s, muscle cars captured the hearts and minds of American drivers as NASCAR and other auto racing circuits quickly gained popularity. Vehicles like the Hudson Hornet and the Rambler Rebel set the precedent for performance vehicles of today.
By the mid-1950s, according to Flemings Ultimate Garage, muscle cars underwent a complete design overhaul. Wheel bases began to increase and intricate grillwork and body chrome were incorporated into the designs. The 1960s was an important era for muscle cars as they began to take on a more powerful appearance, losing some of their bubbly styling. Stronger, more masculine colors and louder engines became popular, notes the team at Flemings Ultimate Garage.
Detroit became the hub of American horsepower in the 1970s as auto manufacturers competed to produce the loudest, fastest, and most powerful engine. These “power wars” would culminate with base model cars reaching as much as 450 advertised HP. Muscle cars became a status symbol among young men.
At the close of the 70s and into the 1980s, says Flemings Ultimate Garage, the American muscle car became known as a symbol of a free spirit. Wild new designs added luxury and novelty to vehicles like the Monte Carlo and the Thunderbird.
Classic muscle cars continue to be popular among collectors and everyday drivers alike, and many customers at Flemings Ultimate Garage have made a connection to the past by owning and caring for a piece of American history. As many of these vehicles make their way back onto the roadways it’s likely that modern-day automotive trends may soon harken back to the early days of performance and pedigree.