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7 best American muscle cars of all time

How did muscle-car madness start?
How did muscle-car madness start? © Ford Motor Company

Because it is a genre that enthusiasts are passionate about, you are bound to generate some criticism when compiling a list of the seven greatest muscle cars of all time. However, Bankrate stuck its neck out to do just that.

Some enthusiasts trace the history of muscle cars to the 1949 Oldsmobile Rocket 88. But the heyday of this genre ran from 1965 to 1970 before collapsing under the weight of higher gas prices, more stringent exhaust emissions regulations and soaring insurance costs.

What is a muscle car? There isn't a settled definition, but most experts agree it's a smaller, two-door car powered by a high-displacement engine typically found in a larger, full-size sedan.

Some argue that pony cars, such as the Ford Mustang and Chevrolet Camaro, aren't muscle cars at all, but for this list, Bankrate chose not to make that distinction.

Manufacturers engineered muscle cars for straight-line speed, inspiring more than an occasional Saturday night drag race between traffic lights. Neither built nor sold in huge numbers, muscle cars were bait, luring buyers into showrooms where they would purchase more mundane models. Yet, the muscle-car mystique lives on. Here's our list in model-year order.

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