IDG: The Idiots Classic 13 Retrospective : Coolest American Sports Cars…Ever.


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American culture is many things. Many amazing unique, and trendsetting things, as well as some not so great things, but this isn’t the time or place for that. It’s time to celebrate! What can’t be denied is America’s rich and colorful history of having created some of the coolest muscle cars on the planet earth! The kind of gas guzzling muscle cars that are likely to cause seizures in many an environmentalist.

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Idiot’s Guide has decided to take a look at the greatest 13 sports cars in American history. They are all fast, some faster than others. They are all boss, because they roar with the bass of a lion. But most importantly, the main criteria for an appearance on this list, is that they are quite simply the ‘coolest’ looking cars of the genre. A classic marriage of power, muscle, and speed cradled within stylistic shells, charmed with beautiful lines. You can’t take your eyes off of these cars.

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Warning: You will feel deep compression, ground rumbling vibrations, and the back of your lungs will likely begin to ‘breakdance’. It is our sincere hope that from your ear drums, through your chest, and down through the soles of your feet, that you Enjoy this ride down memory lane. 

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#13.  The Mercury Eight    //   Production Years: 1938 – 1951 

1949-1951 Mercury Eight

Power Plant:  255 Cubic Inch  /  4.2 L  Flathead V8112 HP / Torque: 279  Interesting Fact or Nerd Wisdom:   The ‘Eight’ was the lone model initially offered by Mercury Motors up until the year of our Lord 1952.  

#12.  Special Edition Pontiac Trans Am   //   Production Years: 1970 – 1981 

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Power Plant:  T/A  6.6 L  W72 400 Cubic Inch  /  200 HP  Interesting Fact or Nerd Wisdom:  During the halcyon Spring days of 1969 (March), Pontiac Motors began offering the $725.00 ‘TRANS AM performance and appearance package’, that would go on to enjoy phenomenal popular culture fame.  Little did America know that Pontiac would produce just 689 hardtops, and 8 true convertibles. Question: Has anyone ever seen a convertible 1977 Trans Am? 

#11.   Chevrolet Tri-Five    //     Production Years:  1955 – 1957 

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Power Plant:  Universally known among muscle car enthusiasts as ‘The Hot One’ / 265 Cubic Inch V8  /  170 HP  / ‘Powerglide’ Transmission //  Interesting Fact or Nerd Wisdom: Let’s face it, the Tri-Five Series sits at the top of the American Muscle Car mountain for it’s role in the transcendent evolutionary cult-like following, and the car club culture that rose from it. All ‘Tri Five’ cars came equipped with the factory stock features of  Front-engine mounted, rear-wheel drivetrain, and powerglide transmission. It’s universally respected as the ‘Hot Rodders, Hot Rod’. 

#10.  Chevrolet Chevelle SS 454   //    Production Years:  1963 – 1978  

1970 Chevrolet Chevelle SS 454 LS6 Hardtop Coupe

Power Plant: 454 Cubic Inch LS6  /  450 HP  /  Cowl Induction  //  Interesting Fact or Nerd Wisdom:  General Motors has produced, ad re-produced  this muscle car model over four generations and incarnations since the initial 1964 – 1978 production model years.  The Chevelle is perhaps the most famous of the GM  ‘A-Body’ series of cars. 

#9.   Pontiac Firebird   //   Production Years:  1967 – 2002 

1967 Pontiac Firebird

Power Plant:  400 Cubic Inch  /  325HP  /  0 to 60 = 5.8 Seconds  /   14.4 sec @ 100 mph. Interesting Fact or Nerd Wisdom: The ‘Firebird’ satisfies most all of the qualifiers for the class of iconic American Sports Car.  Including longevity.  Since it’s 1967 inception the ‘Pony Car’ model as it was coined back, has been discussion worthy for all of the reasons surrounding American Muscle Automobiles. It’s existence was motivated for the purposes of head to head competition with Ford Motors release the ‘Mustang’. The Firebird’s birthday is February 23rd 1967. Born the same year: The Chevy Camaro, and the Mercury Cougar.

#8.    Cadillac Eldorado Convertible  //    Production Years:  1953 – 2002 

1955 Cadillac Eldorado Convertible

Power Plant:  331 Cubic Inch  /  270 HP  / Torque: 345 kb-ft /  0 to 60 = 12.3 Seconds. Interesting Fact or Nerd Wisdom: Did you know that the ‘Eldorado’ went through 10 generations over 6 decades? Yes. Yes, It did. For historical purposes you can mark down that the 1950s ‘Eldorado’ convertible, as well as the ‘Eldorado Brougham’ models were not only flagship, but also far and away the most expensive options that Cadillac offered in the 1950s and 1960s. 

#7.   Pontiac GTO    //    Production Years:  1964 – 1974, 2004 – 2006

1964 Pontiac GTO

Power Plant:  389 CI Water-Cooled Cast-Iron V-8  / 348 HP /  0 to 60 = 4.6 seconds. Interesting Fact or Nerd Wisdom:  The GTO is a 1960s -1970s American Muscle Car Icon hands down, and ‘straight and no chaser’ (Specifically the GTO option package) Pontiac has produced several generations of the GTO since it’s 1964 inception, and through to it’s first end run in 1974. It’s re-release in the model years  2004 – 2006  was considered to be successful, although not equal to the success of the original model year releases. Including the fact that The GTO was named Motor Trend Car of the Year for the year of our Lord 1968.

#6.   Ford Thunderbird   //  Production Years: 1955–1997, 2002–2005

1955 Ford Thuderbird

Power Plant:  292 Cubic Inch /  193 HP /  Torque: 280 kb-ft  /  0 to 60 = 9.4 Seconds. Interesting Fact or Nerd Wisdom:  The Ford Thunderbird is endowed of Americana like no other American auto brand. This rear wheel drive vehicle was perhaps the flagship vehicle of the burgeoning  ‘Luxury Sports Car’ genre. Manufactured in the U.S., the Thunderbird has lived through 11 model generations in 6 decades of production. Yes. Yes, it has.  

#5.   Ford Mustang Mach 1    //   Production Years: 1969-1978, 2003-2004


Power Plant:  428 Cobra Jet  /  335 HP  /  0 to 100 = 14.3 Seconds. Interesting Fact or Nerd Wisdom:  Starting in 1969,  the Mustang was endowed with an option for  ‘Super Mach Power’, aka ‘Mach 1’.  This performance fueled package of options that was originally named after a 1959 concept car called the “Levacar Mach I”, shown at the Ford Rotunda in 1959. Then released by Ford in August of 1968 for the 1969 model year releases. The ‘Mach 1’ moniker has become pop culture historic and it was officially retired by Ford in 1978.

#4.   Plymouth Hemi Cuda   //  Production Years:  1964 – 1974 

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Power Plant:  HEMI 426 V-8 /  7.2-liter /  425 HP  / 0 to 60 =  5.8 Seconds. Interesting Fact or Nerd Wisdom:  The Plymouth Barracuda is Muscle Car Americana Style, full stop for high octane gasoline.  It saw three generations of power production with masculine style previously unseen, and would ultimately be imitated, numerous times, satisfying it’s flattery quotient.  1st generation: ‘A’ Body Fastback Coupe. Sold 1964 to 1966. 2nd Generation: Saw a skillful redesign to it’s  ‘A-body’ frame, with the added style options    of ‘Fastback’,  ‘Hardtop’, or  ‘Convertible’.  Sold 1967 to 1969.  The 3rd Generation Cuda’ was an ‘F-Body’ frame and virtually completely different in tenor and tone from it’s predecessors. Sold  1970 to 1974.

#3.   1969 Chevrolet Camaro Z28   //    Production Years:  1966 – 1969 

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Power Plant:  427 Cubic Inch V8  /  425 HP  /  Quarter Mile: 14.7 Seconds. Interesting Fact or Nerd Wisdom:  The Chevrolet Camaro originally appeared on the Muscle Car scene in the Fall of 1966 (September). The 1967 version came sporting the brand groundbreaking addition of rear-wheel drive as part of the GM ‘F-Type’ body platform. They came with the option of 6 cylinder, or the muscle savvy 8 cylinder powerplants.  When it comes ot the Camaro it’s hard to argue that the 1st generation from 1969 isn’t the sublime original from which all others copy.  Side Note: Many, if not most of the Camaros built between 1967 and 1969, were built in either Norwood, Ohio, or California’s own valley centric Van Nuys.  

#2.   Dodge Charger  //  Production Years:  1966 – 1978, 2012 – 

1970 Dodge Charger

Power Plant:  ‘Six-Pack’ 440 Cubic Inch V8  /  390 HP  /  0 to 60 =  5.5 Seconds. Interesting Fact or Nerd Wisdom:  The Ubiquitous Dodge Charger was built atop a ‘B-body’ frame between 1966 to 1978.  These vehicles were designed with competition in mind, specifically to challenge the Ford Mustang, and the Chevy Thunderbird for personal luxury sports car market supremacy.  

#1.   1968 Shelby Mustang GT  “Eleanor”   //   Production Years:

1968 Shelby Mustang GT   Eleanor

Power Plant:  428 Cubic Inch Water Cooled Iron Block Cobra Jet V8   /  428 HP. Interesting Fact or Nerd Wisdom:  Shelby’ is really a highly specialized high performance variation designed for the Mustang auto brand.  It’s the namesake of legendary car driver and designer, Carroll Shelby.  1st released (limited) in 1968, and then from 1969 to 1970 by the Ford Motor Company.  It’s genesis coincided with the 5th generation of the Mustang. This car is highly prized, and valued. This car is also a movie star. cast alongside Nicholas Cage in  “Gone in 60 Seconds” (2000).  Would you be interested in buying this car? Not surprisingly, you wouldn’t be alone in that regard, and you would likely also need more money than you currently have available to do so. #ItsNOTCheap.  


Honorable Mention(s): 

1957 Chevrolet Corvette 

57 Corvette

Power Plant:   283 Cubic Inch /  270 HP  /   0 to 60 =  5.7 Seconds 


1970 Oldsmobile Cutlass 442

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Power Plant:  Output listed at 365 HP / (272 kW),  500 lb·ft /  (680 N·m), and a standout 370 BHP / (276 kW) (the W30 option).