The Golden Era of Horsepower at Fort Lauderdale

With cheap fuel and a growing interest in motorsport, the mid-1960s to 1970s sparked the battle of horsepower between American automakers.

Andrew Miterko

The mention of “muscle car” will conjure a specific mental image in any car enthusiast regardless of age: the aural sensation of a thunderous V-8 engine rumbling to life, shoehorned into a two-door bodied street car, poised to eviscerate its rear tires in a display of brute power. Muscle cars were born from the hot rodding subculture’s philosophy of taking a small, light car and installing a large displacement engine for the purpose of increased straight-line speed. The rising popularity of two segments of motorsport in the 1950s – drag racing and NASCAR oval track racing – sparked the public’s interest for power and speed, and automakers began to take note. It wasn’t until the mid-1960s when the muscle car craze would fully take hold, but once it did, competition between automakers ramped up and the horsepower race was on. Muscle cars and American sports cars would see leaps in horsepower output over this time, as competition between manufacturers grew fiercer.