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Cruisin': 10 Classic American Muscle Cars
In May 8 Issue
Russell County News
By Ron Cowell, Columnist

Over the past couple years as I drive down the road checking out the cars cruising up and down the highway, I see a big difference in the cars the kids drive today and the ones we wanted to drive way back when all this started.

I remember the Muscle Car and got to thinking of how popular they are still today at car shows and cruise ins. I went back to the time I started driving and the muscle cars of the 60’s and came up with these rare cars.

These are in no special order, just cars I happened to think of and did a little research on them.

OK, lets start out with the 1963 Chevy Impala Z11 430. Following the 409 in the early 60’s Chevy came out with the Z 11 430 in 1963. The package included the 409 engine that they had increased to the 427 with a stroked crank, special heads, valves and two piece aluminum intake manifold with dual quads.  The out put of this engine was 430 hp. There were only 50 or so Z 11s sold in 1963 and only about 7 are known to be in existence today. If you see one of these at a show you are seeing a very rare car.

Another car that came to mind was the 1964 Ford Thunderbolt.  This was Ford’s answer to keep up with the lighter and faster Chevys and Mopars of the day.  The idea for this vehicle was for Ford to cram the big block into the smallest, midsize Fairlane 2 door coupe. The factory produced car was made available to anyone from their dealerships’ listing at $3,750.00. It was designed for racing with Plexiglas windows and fiberglass body panels. The interior did not have armrests, sun visors, mirrors, sound dampening insulation or a radio or heater. It was designed just for racing. The Thunderbold was not really built for street driving. That might explain why only 100 Thunderbolts sold in 1964. But look out, these cars turned in the 11’s in a quarter mile.

Not many think of an AMC as a muscle car but in 1969 Rambler came out with the AMC SC/Rambler. It’s easy to forget that muscle cars were limited to only the big three in the U.S.

Rambler and American Motors teamed up with Hurst Performance and surprised everyone with the Rambler Scrambler. AMC put their 390 cid, 315 hp, V8  into the lightweight Rambler Rouge Hardtop Coupe. No options were available on the car except an AM radio. That kept this car priced below $3,000.00. All the cars had just plain gray vinyl interior with bench seats and head rests, carpeting and a Borg Warner 4 speed with a Hurst shifter.  What is known is that 1,512 SC Ramblers were built and is perhaps one of the least remembered muscle cars of that time.

Then let’s take a look at the 1968 Dodge Charger RT. Its sharp stock styling and mean looking blacked out front grill and the hide away headlights set this car apart from the competition. The vehicle was equipped with a powerful 375 hp, 440 Magnum V8 and ran the ¼ mile in just under 15 seconds.  It listed for $3,500.00. RT Chargers with the Hemi under the hood would cost you $600.00 more but it dropped the ¼ time down to the 13’s. If you remember the 1968 movie “Bullit”, Steve McQueen drove an awesome black 440 magnum RT Charger in one of the best chase scenes ever put on film.

Another vehicle that come to mind is the Olds 1968, 442. It came standard with the standard L78 400 cid engine with a 4 bbl carburetor and was rated at 350 hp. It ran the ¼ mile in a quick 14.8 seconds. The rarest of the rare was the W-30 version of the tri-power motor. There were only 54 of the factory released copies of the W-30, although another 97 were dealer modified installations put out. Finding a W-30 442 today is next to impossible.

I have several other rare muscle cars we could talk about but lack of room stops me here.

We’ll look at some of the others, like the “69” Dodge Coronet Charger R/T and the Super Bee, the 1963 Plymouth/ Dodge 426 Max Wedge, “66” Chevy Chevelle, and the 1967 Pontaic GTO. We’ll look at these cars at another time.

If you know someone you would like to see featured in my article or your club has an upcoming event you like to let everyone know about send the information to --- and we'll get it in here for you.

With the season coming on, and your group or club is having an event and you would like to have some of the Classic Cars there for display any of the local clubs would be glad to bring their cars out to show, (weather permitting).

All information needs to be in at least two weeks before the event. Until next time, Keep Cruisin’!

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