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Wilson's Auto Restoration Blog

What is the Fastest American Muscle Car Ever Produced?

One of the most debated questions in the world of muscle cars is “what is the fastest American-made muscle car to ever roll off the production line?”.  Currently that award goes to the Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat.  It has 707 horsepower, goes from 0 to 60 in 3.6 seconds and has a top speed of 199mph.

That’s super impressive and those stats will likely remain hard to beat in the next years to come, but we don’t consider that a true muscle car.  We feel that a true muscle car refers to American designed vehicles made prior to 1971.

The Clean Air Act was introduced in 1970 and while it was necessary to control CO2 emissions, it was also the end of the classic muscle car era.  Those regulations dramatically reduced the amount of horsepower that cars of the 70s could produce.

We drew the line at 1971 for another reason as well.  Today’s muscle cars have an unfair advantage when it comes to technology and modern-day engineering.  Yet, despite those advantages we feel that the original looks, style and basic raw powered mechanics of the “Golden Era” is what truly defines a muscle car.

So, what is the fastest stock American muscle car ever produced?  The award goes to… (insert drum roll) …  the 1966 427 Cobra.  With 425 horsepower under the hood, this Cobra could reach top speeds of 164mph and could run the quarter mile in 12.20 seconds at 118 mph.

In 1966 these statistics were almost unheard of, unless you count ringer track cars that were made by 60s automakers, but those were never put into production.  We are also not counting any gearheads that souped-up any7 muscle cars either.  We are talking about stock muscle cars that rolled of the line ready to race.  The original numbers from the 66 Cobra are still impressive today and only a handful of stock American made modern-day muscle cars can compete with these statistics.

All this being said, there are still arguments that say the Cobra isn’t a true muscle car.  The definition of a muscle car by many purists states that the car must be an American-made sports coupe with a large V8 engine that is fitted in a 2-door, rear wheel drive, family-style mid-size or full-size car designed for four or more passengers.  The Cobra only has 2 seats and was originally created by the British.  So how can it be considered a true Muscle Car?  Car and Driver has been an authority on cars for years and they also listed the 1965 427 Cobra as the “quickest” muscle car ever made.  If they classify the Cobra as a muscle car, then so do we.

Putting all muscle car definitions and technicalities aside, the 1966 427 Cobra is an incredible vehicle and is one of Ford’s and Carrol Shelby’s greatest creations.  Ford and Shelby produced a limited number of Cobras through the early to mid-60s.  The Cobras may have been lightning fast, but complications ultimately made production a failure and Ford and Shelby discontinued Cobra production in 1967.  Despite being phased out, there is a silver lining as Carroll Shelby still ultimately gave us the fastest “Golden Era Muscle Car” of all time.

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