Rock ‘n’ Roll has Elvis Presley, Chuck Berry and the Rolling Stones—the most-loved icons of the genre. In the realm of the muscle car, running parallel to those stars are the Pontiac GTO, Plymouth Hemi Cuda, Dodge Charger, Chevy Chevelle and Buick GSX, the most celebrated and culturally significant of their kind. With long coupe bodies, big-block V-8s and enough vinyl to side a suburban McManse, the classic quintet of muscle cars have enough mid-century swagger to rival even The King.
But what about the proverbial Big Mama Thorntons, Bo Diddleys and The Seeds? The cars pushing just as much power and style that have been forgotten over the years, living in the shadow of the fifty-foot letters, G-T-O? During Big Muscle’s prime years, 1964 through the gas crisis of the early Seventies, Detroit churned out super-powerful cars at a reckless rate; today, only a few are held aloft. To rectify such amnesia, we’ve lined up the 10 muscle cars forgotten by the masses—not out of hipster-y, in-the-know superiority, but because we love the muscle car too much to let its middle-children die from neglect.
That’s not just metaphor—for every cherry red Chevelle shined to a blinding finish is a 427-equipped Chevy Kingswood rotting in a barn. Please, go find ‘em.
1965 Pontiac 2+2
The 1965 Pontiac 2+2 makes up one end of the largest affection gulf in the muscle car world, with the other bracket being the iconic ’65 GTO. Following the success of the Goat, Pontiac brought performance to its larger B platform. Based on the Catalina, the 2+2 married luxurious seating for four and a high-compression 421-ci V-8 with available Tri-Power carburetors. Some sites claim Car and Driver got one to sixty in 3.9 seconds—which is impossible—but the 2+2 was certainly fast enough to deserve the “muscle car” moniker.