Pontiac is generally credited with starting the "classic" muscle car era in 1964 with the introduction of the GTO - an intermediate-bodied car stuffed with a big displacement high performance V8 engine, and packaged with sport options aimed at a large youth market.
Some of the wilder looking cars of the late 60s and early 70s was the GTO "Judge", a budget performance package with wild colors, stripes, spoilers and lots of "go". In 1970 the optional 400 ci Ram Air IVmotor put out 370 hp.The 455 ci engine was rated 10 hp less, but offered 500 ft lbs of torque, making them the preferred street motor.
By 1972 the GTO became just an option package on the Le Mans, and sadly by 1974 it was just a trim option on the compact Ventura.
The John DeLorean produced Firebird was introduced in 1967 as another high performance car to "compete" with the GTO. It's optional 400ci or high output 326ci was a pretty good runner, but in 1969 the Trans Am was brought to market, bringing a whole new level of performance and looks to the Camaro's sister.
A major restyle of the Firebird in 1970 brought us the car more like today's Firebird. Lower and leaner, the car when equipped with the Ram Air 400 option cranked out 345hp, and stock could run mid-14 quarter miles at 100 mph.
The Firebird carried the lonely muscle car torch throughout the dismal late 70s and 80s, offering what little performance that was available. In 1974 the 455 "Super Duty" engine which was one of the best engines produced in the muscle car decade.
Sadly the Firebird was be discontinued after the 2002 model year. Car enthusiasts are surely mourning the death of this great muscle car.
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