Not many car enthusiasts can stay indifferent in the presence of a powerful dragster. These violent machines with massive engines and massive rear tires are the staple of the dragstrip. They are the type of cars that butcher 0-60 times and burn through rubber like nothing else on four wheels.
But who makes these vehicles? Well, mostly gearheads hungry for adrenaline. Making dragsters is not the most profitable business for big auto manufacturers. But they do provide the platforms on which these cars are built …and it all started with classic muscle cars.
However, despite the segment being created for straight-line performance, not all muscle cars are able to deliver on the strip. In this list, we’ll give you nine of the best classic muscle cars that are basically fully-fledged dragsters straight from the factory and one that can never compete on the drag strip.
10 1966 Dodge Dart HEMI
Several classic muscle car models pop up to mind when you think of the good old ‘60s when large carbureted big-block V8 engines and cars as large as boats were the staple. One of them is the 1966 Dodge Dart HEMI.
To this day, many hail this car as the best muscle car to use as a dragster’s platform. It has a long wheelbase, a wild HEMI engine, and a large engine bay just in case you need to swap the HEMI for something wilder. Plus, the 1966 Dodge Dart dons aggressive racecar looks that sell it as an instant classic.
9 1965 Mustang 289 GT
This is one of the fastest Mustangs out there from the ‘60s. The 1965 Mustang 289 GT was as fast as the Chevy Chevelle 454. It took only 5.2 seconds to go from 0-60 mph. What even made this performance more impressive was how the 289 GT could do all this with only 271 hp at the front.
Yes, a couple of other muscle cars could go a bit faster than the 1965 Mustang 289 GT. However, if you wanted a Mustang platform for your dragster and something that would extract the most out of any big block power unit you’d hook up to it, then this was the car to go for.
8 Buick Grand National GNX
Simultaneously one of the most surprising and most badass American cars to come out of the ’80s, the GNX was a muscle car ahead of its time. It looked like something Darth Vader would drive and came with a 276-horsepower V6. Despite not having a V8, the GNX was faster than almost anything else on the market at the time, dashing to 60 mph in just 4.4 seconds. That’s faster than the fastest Lamborghini Countach trim!
But the reason why this car got a lot of accolades from gearheads and muscle car enthusiasts is that it was a piece of art made by two renowned companies. That was Buick and McLaren.
McLaren brought in its technical expertise and vast success in motorsport while Buick brought to the table its vast experience and influence over the American automotive industry. As a result, the GNX became a beast on the streets and the track. Today, this car is so rare and so much sought after that some owners are asking north of $100,000 for it.
7 1970 Chevrolet Chevelle SS LS6
The Chevelle can be likened to the rebel of the automotive industry. Before its inception, American automakers had pledged to make smaller and more effective engines. Chevy, however, had had enough of it. The Chevelle SS was their sign of rebellion.
Under the hood, this 1970 beast packed a 7.5-liter LS6 V8, the kind that would make the EPA cringe. That made the Chevrolet Chevelle SS LS6 the only Chevy marque to be almost as powerful as the almighty Corvette. As a result, many muscle car enthusiasts rushed to get their hands on this marque. And you can only imagine the kind of things it could do on a dragstrip.
6 Chevrolet Nova (’70-’73)
Despite a flurry of muscle cars being launched and most enthusiasts having a taste of what each had to offer, the community has never settled on what the greatest muscle car of all time was. That’s even while focusing on measurable aspects such as performance, popularity, and specifications. However, one thing that most are sure of, is that the 1970 – 1973 Chevrolet Nova is one of the greatest dragster muscle cars ever produced.
Matter of fact, the Nova is one of the most popular dragsters in the industry. A simple Google search for dragsters will have hundreds of modified Chevy Novas pop up. They’re known for some of the wildest wheelies and burnouts.
5 1968 Plymouth Barracuda HEMI
This is a special type of muscle car. Despite auto manufacturers not paying close attention to drag racing, the 1968 Plymouth Barracuda HEMI was a special gift from the top quarters. Plymouth created this machine specifically for professional-level drag racing. As a result, the ’68 Barracuda HEMI became a legend in the sport.
Plymouth also made race-specific Barracuda HEMIs. Whatever the public got, however, were toned-down road-legal versions that the feds would not be too worried about. However, some enthusiasts bought the race-specific and drag versions then converted them to be road legal as well.
4 1968 Chevrolet Camaro Z/28
The 1968 Chevrolet Camaro Z/28 is nowhere close to being light. At 3,500 lbs, you have a mammoth under the wheel. However, the 302ci small-block V8 at the front makes it feel like you’re driving a squirrel. And what’s even better, since it’s a small-block V8, this engine spools up and revs quicker than Chevy’s famous big-block V8.
What further made the 1968 Chevrolet Camaro Z/28 special and a dragster favorite is its straight-line speed. This marque can go from 0-60 mph in 5.3 seconds. Furthermore, it looks fantastic and racy, which is the kind of aesthetic a proper dragster deserves.
3 Mustang Fox Body GT 5.0
The world of car modification and motorsport, in general, is a pipe dream for most young people. And that’s because of the scarcity of disposable income. However, the Mustang Fox Body GT 5.0 has a different proposition. It is the best option for anyone on a budget who’s hungry for some on-track action and drag race.
The 1980 Mustang Fox Body GT 5.0 in particular is the best Fox Body Mustang you can get your hands on. The 5.0-liter Coyote under the hood is incredibly powerful and built like a tank.
2 Shelby GT 350
This is, without a doubt, one of the most legendary muscle cars of all time. The Shelby GT350 found its way into the showrooms as a race-inspired Mustang built by the legendary mechanic, Carroll Shelby.
When it was launched in 1965, the world was stunned. The 1965 Shelby GT350 was quickly ranked one of the wildest performing muscle cars of its era. If you had a little extra change to go up a trim, you could get the wildest of the lot which pumped 306 hp out of its massive V8 engine at the front, hooked to a massive supercharger. Because of how wildly expensive the Shelby GT350 was, only 12 were ever sold.
1 Terrible Dragster: 1980 Plymouth Volare Road Runner
If you’ve been searching around and some dealer has been hot on your neck persuading you to buy the 1980 Plymouth Volare Road Runner as your dragster platform of choice, then do yourself a favor and run away. This is not the kind of muscle car you want to build your dragster on.
The Plymouth Volare Road Runner was the resurrection of a long-dead muscle car that should have been left in the graveyard. At the time, Chrysler has developed a habit of going back to the ‘70s and ‘80s and reviving long-forgotten lemons. Under the hood, the Road Runner could only produce 120 hp from a 5.2-liter engine. A Mustang does way better with roughly the same capacity.
Chevrolet has some top-tier muscle cars that car fan tend to gush over. These are some of the most badass muscles cars made by Chevrolet.
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