Ask any car guy to come up with a list of classic muscle cars from the mid to late 1960s and the list will be filled with the same names.
You’ll see the names GTO, 442, SS396, Road Runner, Shelby Mustang, Charger RT and 427 Vette on every list but there were other players in the game.
Those cars got the glory but there were other unsung heroes that didn’t get the glory in 60s – here are five 60s muscle cars that made up for the lack of recognition in the press by thumping non-believers on the street.
The first example comes from an unlikely source—Studebaker. Studebaker was circling the drain in 1964 but that didn’t stop this plucky little underdog company from sending a street brawler into the combat zone.
The 1964 Studebaker Super Lark Commando R-2 could go from 0-60 in 7.3 seconds thanks to its Avanti supercharged 335-horsepower 304 cubic inch V-8. They looked like a brick on four wheels but the blown Daytona was a minefield waiting to happen for unsuspecting victims in the mid-60s.
The second example came from Pontiac and it wasn’t a GTO. It was a less glamorous Poncho.
The 1967 Grand Prix was a big car but it was offset by the massive 428 big block under the hood—it could propel this brute to 60 miles per hour in a mere 6.3 seconds.
The third example is the 1966 Comet Cyclone GT. The Comet stood in the shadows of its more storied cousin (Mustang) but that didn’t mean Mercury gave up on muscle cars.
Quite the contrary—the 390 cubic inch, 335-horse V-8 gave this intermediate Comet Cyclone GT a very respectable 0-60 time of 6.8 seconds. You won’t see many of these classics at most car shows and that’s a shame because these cars were a very solid addition to the classic era of street muscle.
The fourth example comes from American Motors. AMC was always in a catch-up position back in the 60s but they worked with what they had. In 1967, they’d just introduced a 343 cubic inch V-8 and they were looking for candidates to host this potent little small block.
The mid-sized Rebel was a natural candidate but AMC also had the lightweight American platform so a few ’67 Rogues came with a bigger heart. These cars weighed next to nothing so a factory 343, 280 horse V-8 powered, 4-speed Rogue was a monster in sheep’s clothing on the street. They built just over 50 of them and very few of them survived life on the street and strip.
The last example is the ’69 Barracuda Formula S with the 383 cubic inch, 330-horsepower option. The 440 was also available in the A-body version of the Barracuda back in ’69, as was the first version of the ‘Cuda performance package.
These lightweight ‘cudas with the 383 package could rocket to 60 miles per hour in under 6 seconds. They may not have had the spotlight advantage back in the 1960s but they sure had the stoplight advantage on the street.
The 60s street wars were the golden age of muscle cars so it’s easy to see why these five unsung heroes flew under the wire.
By: Jerry Sutherland
Jerry Sutherland is a veteran automotive writer with a primary focus on the collector car hobby. His work has been published in many outlets and publications, including the National Post, Calgary Herald, Edmonton Journal, Ottawa Citizen, Montreal Gazette, Saskatoon StarPhoenix, Regina Leader-Post, Vancouver Sun and The Truth About Cars. He is also a regular contributor to Auto Roundup Publications.
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