A special class of 1970 Muscle Cars will celebrate the pinnacle of Detroit’s fast and loud Muscle Car era at the 26th annual Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance on May 23, 2021.
The first wave of Baby Boomers was graduating from college, America was winning the Space Race and high-octane gasoline was cheap when the Pontiac GTO and its competition alerted America’s automakers to the possibilities of big profits through high performance.
The Big Three discovered that enthusiast cars lurked unseen beneath the skin of their regular model lineup. It’s a simple recipe: one midsize two-door coupe or sedan and a seriously large V8 engine. Then, all that was required were a few new paint codes, a few square yards of wild graphics and some home-grown brute force: something Motown had in spades.
Modesty wasn’t required. GM led the charge. All four GM lines – Cadillac was spared – produced examples of the new breed known as muscle cars. Ford and Mercury entered the race, Chrysler assigned both Dodge and Plymouth divisions to fight the horsepower wars with the Hemi. In 1970 one of Chrysler Corp’s high wing “homologation specials”, won the Daytona 500 for the first time kicking off what has been called NASCAR’s “modern era.”
Part of the muscle car’s allure was practicality. They could accommodate as many as six passengers and required no exotic materials or engineering. Even staid American Motors gave Muscle Cars a shot. But America’s insurance companies heard the muscle car explosion too and moved in for the profits and the kill. A little help from the federal government’s smog cops and some Middle East oil states ended the reign of the muscle car.
The Amelia would like to thank Tim and Pam Wellborn and the entire team at the Wellborn Musclecar Museum in Alexander City, Alabama for helping bring this wonderful special class to life. The Wellborn Musclecar Museum is devoted to the great American automobiles of the 1960s and 1970s, showcasing classics such as the Charger, the Road Runner and the SuperBee, as well as the nation’s largest high-performance Dodge collection.
“By 1972 air pollution controls hobbled all American cars with air pumps, etc. muscle cars suffered more than most,” said Bill Warner, founder and Chairman of the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance. “That’s why 1970 is considered the apogee of the muscle car era.”
“For generations of American drivers the GTO, GSX, 442, Hemi Chargers, ‘Cudas and Superbirds — not Ferraris, Porsches or Lamborghinis — are still the ultimate fantasy cars,” said Warner. “These are the cars that GIs stuck in Vietnam dreamed about and lusted after. And the current collectable car market shows that. Muscle Cars are factory hot rods that put true high performance within the reach of many car buyers. Very democratic and very American.”