Fast, loud, some might even say brutish, but there’s something about the classic muscle car that strikes a chord in the hearts of so many revheads. And while the days of a big V8 engine might be numbered, these classic muscle cars have stood the test of time, proving themselves some of the most iconic.
1. 1967 Ford XR Falcon GT
The XR Falcon GT was the first model GT Falcon and also the first Falcon to win at Bathurst. It effectively replaced the Ford Cortina GT500s in the 1960s when they were no longer eligible to race.
Developed by Ford but with input from the police force which required a new pursuit vehicle, the XR GT was powered by a 289 cubic inch small-block V8 topped with a four-barrel carby that produced 168kW and was mated to a close-ratio four-speed transmission. It was a little cracker of a motor.
Available only in bronze-gold paint, the XR GT also gained some extra gear such as improved suspension, lower ride height, Stewart-Warner gauges and some other interior bits. Only 596 were built, and it’s one of Australia's most iconic classic muscle cars.
2. 1969 Holden HT Monaro GTS 350
The Holden HK Monaro was a big success and so Holden kept on going in the same guise with the HT Monaro. But the 327ci V8 of the HK was replaced with a larger and more powerful 223kW 350ci V8 mated to a 4-speed manual transmission. It enjoyed racing success but was the last Monaro to race at Bathurst before the Holden Torana took to the grid.
The 350 GTS differentiated itself with racing stripes, different alloys and bonnet scoops. HT Monaro fans that wanted a self-shifter could rely on GM’s venerable 2-speed Powerglide.
3. 1972 Chrysler VH Charger E49
To the uninitiated, the Chrysler Valiant Charger might not strike fear in to the heart. Unlike its Ford and Holden rivals with their burbling V8 engines, the Chrysler relied on a stove-hot six pack – so hot, in fact, that it was the quickest of the lot and a fierce competitor on the track.
The VH Charger came with a ‘Six Pack’ triple Weber carburettor manifold fitted to its 265 cubic inch straight six motor. It was matched to a 4-speed manual rather than 3-speed which hindered the earlier 1971 E38 Charger. Producing a powerful 225kW of power and 434Nm of torque, it was capable of accelerating 0-100km/h in 6.1sec and running the quarter mile in almost 14sec flat.
It was the fastest Australian muscle car for many years.
4. 2002 Tickford T3 TE50
In the late 1990s Ford Tickford’s counterpart, Holden Special Vehicles was winning the big engine race. At the time, compared to Ford's 5.0-litre V8, HSV had a larger and more powerful 5.7-litre LS1 to play with. So, keeping up with the Joneses, Tickford lengthened the stroke of the Windsor donk and increased capacity from 5.0 to 5.6-litres.
The bigger engine produced 250kW at 5,250rpm and 500Nm at 4,250rpm and was mated to a Tremec five-speed manual transmission. It was good for 0-100km/h in 5.9sec, but most of all it is one of the best sounding V8s ever fitted to an Aussie muscle car.
Other inclusions for the TE50 included a body kit and extra features inside, but it was the engine that stole the show for this Blue Oval.
5. 2017 HSV GTSR W1
Priced at $169,990 new, the W1 is not only the most expensive muscle car on this list but also the most powerful and sophisticated bits of automotive engineering ever to be produced Down Under.
Shoehorned into the front via myriad modifications is a Corvette-sourced LS9 producing 474kW and 815Nm of power. It’s the most powerful Aussie muscle car ever and it rockets 0-100km/h in 4.2sec and completes the quarter mile in just 12.1sec - a fair improvement on the 14.4sec record set by the E49 Charger in 1972.
The GTSR W1 is also fitted and developed with many other bespoke bits and pieces but only 300 will be built.
What do you think, are there more deserving muscle cars that should have been on the list? Let us know in the comments below, or jump in on the thread on Facebook.