Fifteen of The Fastest Muscle Cars on Earth


An appreciation for fast muscle cars has created a specialized niche for collectors. The classic “muscle car” consists of a sports coupe made in the United States with two doors and a “super-sized” engine enabling high performance driving. These vintage vehicles appeared between the 1940s and the 1970s. Many possessed V-8 engines. If you’ve developed an interest in the fastest muscle car in the world, you’ll appreciate this list of 15 truly extraordinary vehicles:

1. The 1970 Chevelle SS454

By Sicnag (1970 Chevrolet Chevelle SS454 Sports Coupe) [CC BY 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

From Sicnag via Wikimedia Commons

With a standard 360-horsepower engine, the 1970 Chevelle SS454 also came in a sporty RPO Z15 450-horsepower variety that benefited from a powerful V-8 engine. This massive muscle car included “stereo stripes” in black running down the center of the front hood. Its finely-sculpted configuration promoted greater speed and boasted an instrument panel with flat gauges modeled along the lines of racing cars. One of these specially equipped fast vehicles reportedly could accelerate from zero to 60 miles per hour in a mere 6.1 seconds.

2. The 1968 Corvette
Chevrolet redesigned the Corvette in 1968. One version of the new vehicle intended for racing possessed a 430 hp L88 engine. It featured a novel air induction system and a contoured, aerodynamic design.

3. The 1969 Plymouth Road Runner

By Sicnag (1969 Plymouth Road Runner 383) [CC BY 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

From Sicnag via Wikimedia Commons

Of the more than 2,000 1969 Plymouth Road Runners convertibles, only 10 possessed a powerful V-8 racing engine. During the middle of the year, Plymouth added an option for a 390 horsepower 440 engine for the Road Runner, which received the honor of becoming Motor Trend’s 1969 “Car of the Year”.



4. The 1966 Shelby AC Cobra 427 “Super Snake”
Manufactured in both the United States and the UK, the Shelby Cobra uses a V-8 engine produced by Ford. Only 23 cars from this particular model existed as “competition roadsters” racing on European and U.S. racetracks. These racing vehicles displayed high performance but required skilled drivers. The 427 Cobra commanded 425 horsepower and has achieved recognition as one of the fastest muscle cars.

5. The 1968 Chevrolet Biscayne L72

By Bull-Doser (Own work.) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

From Bull-Doser via Wikimedia Commons

The L72 sometimes participated in drag racing. With a 425 horsepower engine, it offered a lot of power despite its “big block” conformation and bulky contours. The vehicle boasted a 4-speed transmission.



6. The 1971 Corvette Stingray Coupe
One racing version of the 1971 Corvette offered an LS6 engine and a vehicle with 425 horsepower. The manufacturer produced few of these expensive vehicles.

7. The 1971 Dodge Charger Super Bee
Some 22 Super Bees of the 5,054 produced for this model used a powerful Hemi V-8 engine. It offered 425 hp.

8. The 1969 Camaro ZL1
The ZL1 commissioned by Fred Gibb Chevrolet reportedly achieved up to 425 hp. It depended upon a 427ci V-8 engine.

9. The 1970 Hemi Cuda
This rare vehicle remains one of the fastest muscle cars in the early 1970s. With automatic transmission and a 425 hp capability, the Hemi Cuda relied upon a powerful 426 Hemi V-8 engine.

10. The 1969 Corvette Coupe
This model became the last one to offer the L88 engine. A special ZL1 option existed in racing car models, making this vehicle one of the fastest muscle cars with a total horsepower of 430.

11. The 1966 Corvette L72 427
This early version of a racing Corvette commanded 425 horsepower. Described as a big block car, it could accelerate rapidly.

12. The 1966 Plymouth Satellite
Several different models of the 1966 Plymouth Satellite allowed the vehicle to achieve horsepower ranging from a high of 425 hp with the newly introduced “Street Hemi” V-8 engine and a 426 cubic inch powertrain to smaller V-8 engines capable of achieving 325 hp, 265 hp, 230 hp or 180 hp.

13. The 1968 Pontiac Firebird 400

By Sicnag (Pontiac Firebird 400 1968 Uploaded by OSX) [CC BY 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

From Signag via Wikimedia Commons

Produced between 1967 and 1968, the Pontiac Firebird 400 offered a V-8 engine, a Dearborn three-speed transmission and staggered shock absorbers.

14. The 1969 Dodge Charger 500
This rare vehicle included about 15 cars with both four-speed transmission and a 426 Hemi V-8 engine. Dodge commissioned the construction of these muscle cars for participation in professional racing.

15. The 1969 Plymouth Barracuda 440 Super Commando V-8
In 1969, Plymouth revamped the Barracuda . The 383 engine received significant upgrades.

Muscle Cars Built For Speed
Collecting the fastest muscle car in the world remains a very popular (yet supremely challenging) niche. Some vigorous public debates occur between automotive experts about the maximum speeds achieved by different models. Since some versions of fast muscle cars no longer exist in their original form, the topic will likely continue to inspire friendly controversy long into the future!

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  • Uh. The Hemi Dart anyone? Lightest car of all with a big block 426 Hemi? The definition of “Muscle Car”! All true knowledge gets lost through time.

    • Yeah, the Hemi Dart is fast & should be here somewhere.. at very least an honorable mention!

    • The Hemi Darrt was not produced by Dodge (I think Hurst did therm). It wasn’t sold to the public as it was not street legal. It was strictly a strip car.

      • From Wikipedia:
        Hemi Dart
        A limited option for 1968 only, code L023,[24] the Hurst-reworked Hemi Darts used the 426 Hemi engine. These special models (only 80 were made) were created strictly for drag racing, and included a non-warranty disclaimer. On February 20, 1968, corporate headquarters in Highland Park, Michigan, sent out a press release to Dodge dealerships across the country.[25] It was a promotional pitch purposed at selling drag-ready, Hemi-powered Darts. The press release stated that Dodge wanted to make a factory built and ready drag racer out of the 68 Dart GTS hardtop for competition in class B Super Stock (drag racing). Engineers stated the new Hemi Dart would reach speeds of 130 mph (209 km/h) in less than 11 seconds and 1⁄4 mi (402 m) times in the 10-11 second range, although times have been reported as low as the 9-10 second range.

        To keep weight low, a fiberglass hood and fenders were used. The hood featured a functional intake scoop and four hood pins for full lift-off removal of the hood. Lightweight acid-dipped steel doors with thin side window glass were used. As the doors lacked a window mechanism, a strap was attached to the bottom of the glass on the interior door-panel. To keep glass up, the strap latched to the inside of the door. The interior included only two bucket seats from a Dodge van. The center console, heater, sound deadeners, side-view mirrors, radio, carpeting, and even armrests were omitted to save weight.

        The engine was a race-spec Hemi 426 cu in (7.0 L). These motors had a compression ratio of 10.25:1 pistons, bore x stroke 4 1⁄4 in × 3 3⁄4 in (108.0 mm × 95.3 mm) fed through a 2X4-barrel Holley carburetors atop a lightweight crossram aluminum intake manifold rated at 425 hp (431 PS; 317 kW) @ 5,000 rpm and a maximum torque of 490 lb⋅ft (664 N⋅m) @ 4,000 rpm.[26][27] A high-performance Mopar battery was moved to the trunk to free up room and improve weight distribution.

        Darts could be ordered wither either a four-speed manual or three-speed automatic transmissions. Manual transmission equipped cars, code A-833, featured a Dana 931/44 built heavy duty axle with a 4.88 gear ratio, heavy duty clutch, steel bellhousing, and special torque shaft and pivots. Manual transmissions were modified by removing synchronizers which lowered the chances of missed shifts. A Hurst floor mounted shifter came standard.

        The automatic transmissions were the then new Chrysler built 727 TorqueFlite three speed with 831/44 inch large stem pinion center section with a 4.86 gear set, and a 2,600rpm high speed torque converter. They were also modified with a floor mounted Hurst shifter for manual shifting.

        Other features include heavy duty rear shocks, heavy duty radiator with seven blade fan to keep it cool, deep groove pulleys, a high capacity oil pump, solid-lifter cam, and a roller timing chain to reduce stretch and provide more reliable performance. A transistorized dual points breaker distributor coupled with a Prestolite ignition and solid core wires was also used.

        The cars weighed approximately 3,000 lb (1,361 kg). The cars were designed to meet street legal requirements, but due to the modifications, the cars came with disclaimers that they were not for street use, but rather “supervised acceleration trials”, or drag racing.[28

  • 1969 Hurst Oldsmobile 442

    • I must disagree with your order of fastest cars there’s a difference between quick and fast. 69 ZL1 Corvette all aluminum 427 rated at 430 hp was under rated. Actual hp was more like 585 hp and 626 lb ft of torque. 1/4 mi 11.2 sec @ 127 mph and a top speed of 193 mph. This would shatter any other muscle car of that year including many European performance cars.

      • Just read Car and Drivers 10 best cars of the 70’s in the Jan. 2020 issue. It has the Dodge Charger with a Hemi 7.0 (425 HP) automatic as fastest, and faster than the Chevelle SS 454, 7.4 (450 HP) automatic. They are both faster than the Pontiac Firebird T/A w/6.6 (345HP) with manual 4 speed. This doesnt appear to be fair as the T/A doesn’t have it’s most powerful available motor, the Ram Air IV (370 HP) or rare optional dealer installed Ram Air V, (500HP) also it was a manual car, not an automatic, which most racers would probably agree, slower in the 1/4 mile. This makes me wonder, if it could actually be known, what car was the fastest factory 1/4 mile car of the 70’s.

    • How about the 1968 GTO ?

    • The 1969 Hurst Oldsmobile 442 is def a great choice that should have made the list! It’s 1 of my all time favorite muscle cars! 1 word describes the car=Bada*s

  • Where is the Plymouth Superbird or Daytona? They would blow the snot out of most, if not all, of the cars listed.

  • The best bang for your buck back in the day was a 68 or 69 Dodge Dart GTS with a 383 and a 4 spd. The 69 Z28 with a 302 could also kick half your pick’s asses.

  • The 1966 cobra 427 super snake had dual Paxton superchargers with dual 4 barrel carbs not only did it have those it produced 800 horsepower it also had a 0-60 time of 3-3.5 seconds. So it would kick the asses of any car on this list. It also had a top speed of 200 MPH

  • Whoever came up with this list should REALLY do some homework. SEVERAL “true” muscle cars are so much more than what is on this list. Case in point: 1969 Yenko Nova SC427 – it came STANDARD with 450 horsepower from a 427 ci V8 under its hood. Sheesh ANY real muscle car enthusiast KNOWS this.

  • How about 1971 Corvette Stingray Coupe?