Myths have a funny way of taking hold and becoming a reality for people. In the automotive world, misconceptions are easy to come by, especially for those who are only casual car owners. This includes muscle cars, which makes sense as those have built up mythology in the car world. There are debates on where exactly they originated and how long it took for them to become the machines folks know. Some even debate precisely when the “classic” muscle era began and ended.
Some things are undeniable, such as how the best ones are V8 powerhouses and the U.S. produced some terrific machines. Yet, there remain numerous misconceptions about classic muscle cars that even some buffs can fall for. Some myths refuse to go away from technology to history despite the evidence, and these ten misbeliefs in muscle cars can still pop up today.
10 Engines Are Everything
Here’s a fallacy that affects many cars: The belief that the bigger the engine, the better the overall car is. A great V8 is critical to a muscle car, especially one with great output. Yet, in some cases, a larger engine ended up weighing down the car and keeping it from achieving the speeds needed.
Also, no matter how vigorous the engine may be, it won’t do any good if the steering, transmission, or body is bad. Sadly, not all the prime era’s muscle cars were created equally, as the engine isn’t the only reason they worked.
9 Only Fast In A Straight Line
Mention classic muscle cars, and one term comes to mind: “only useful in a straight line.” Modern muscle cars have taken to be able to handle a curve much better as many of the older models were terrific for a straight race but bad on turns.
Yet a few classics could be terrific on an oval track, such as the Dodge Dart, Challenger R/T, and the Pontiac Trans Am. The speeds may not have matched a straight-line racer, but it shows that classic muscle cars could better handle a curved road.
8 Limited Slip-Rear Was Popular
As muscle cars are meant for a serious straight-line racer, limited-slip differentials are a must. So it’s natural to assume that from the start, this was a prevalent need for owners. Yet several muscle cars of the classic era, such as the Road Runner and the Hemi only offered LSD for half of their models.
It was more an option, and not everyone chose to go for it. It took a bit for it to become a popular choice despite how limited-slip aids a muscle car’s performance.
7 Serious Gas Guzzlers
The reason for the muscle is the engines, which lend the image of muscle cars as having the worst fuel economy imaginable. That was an issue for the 1970s, yet the Camaro and the Ford Mustang could be outfitted with smaller engines that, while lowering the horsepower, did make for better mileage.
It’s not just today’s muscle offerings that are more eco-friendly as several classic models also won’t hurt the wallet at the pump.
Related: These Tuned Muscle Cars Are Producing Ridiculous Amounts Of Power
6 They Weren’t Called That Back Then
This is one of the odder myths, but somehow, the idea developed that “muscle cars” was a term only added after the classic era passed. This is tied into how several historical eras need time before they can be labeled.
Take a deep dive into car ads and stories from the 1960s, and numerous mentions of “muscle car” can be found discussing the 1962 Thunderbird, among others. While “supercar” was sometimes used, they’ve been called “muscle” from the start.
5 They’re All Easy To Restore
TV shows make restoration jobs look a lot easier than they really are. A benefit of the classic muscle era is that several of the cars are no-frills jobs that are relatively easy to restore. But others can be harder, especially rarer models, so it’s challenging to find the right parts for them.
Even the “easier” restoration jobs can still toss an unexpected wrinkle from the wrong materials to tricky getting the output right. A classic muscle machine is not some weekend lark but serious work to restore to greatness.
4 Lower Mileage Is Better
This is a fallacy for classic cars of any type. Too often, someone thinks that because a car is low-mileage, that means it’s in great shape thanks to not being driven often. A lack of high mileage should be a major warning sign something is wrong with a muscle car.
If an owner didn’t want to drive this car too often, there’s a reason, as a well-maintained machine can get terrific miles and still be raring to go. Low mileage is okay, but a classic muscle car with only a few thousand miles may not be worth its price.
3 They Were All-American
Muscle cars are usually defined as American machines, which makes sense given their power and performance. Yet other nations in the ’60s and ’70s were putting out their own excellent muscle machines. Australia’s Holden Monaro GTS 327 and Falcon GT could challenge anything the U.S. had at the time.
Brazil sold over half a million Mavericks, many with a unique V8 variant, and even BMW offered a few good models. While the best were made in the USA, there were terrific international classic muscle cars too.
2 They’re All Fast
It’s sad but true, but muscle cars are not all created equally. Even in the classic muscle era, some offerings were pitiful in terms of horsepower and could be outpaced by a sedan. The 1970 Ford Torino GT takes ten seconds to get to 60 mph, and the 1965 Chevrolet Impala SS Hardtop Coupe is a whopping twelve and a half.
Some can be modded to do better but don’t assume any old-styled muscle car is automatically a speed machine.
1 They’re Incredibly Expensive
“Classic” has a way of becoming “pricey” in the back market. It’s thus easy to assume that a pristine muscle car has to fetch a massive price tag. The reality is that some terrific muscle cars can be found for a song.
A ’68 Ford Mustang sells under $20,000 and a Ford Torino GT goes only up to $15,000. Yes, some are pricey, but most classic muscle cars are well within reach of any owner and cheaper than many of today’s cars.
Sources: motorjunkie.com, autowise.com, hagertys.com, popularmechancis.com
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