10 Muscle Car Concepts We Want To Hit The Streets

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The muscle car is an institution in the automotive world, usually with a large front engine and rear-wheel drive. There are some muscle cars that differ in this basic recipebut most tend to stick to tradition.

The United States is the market leader in muscle cars, producing all of the Big Three muscle cars – the Ford Mustang, Chevrolet Camaro and Dodge Challenger. The American muscle car war has been raging since the 1960s, and it is still going on today. Models have changed drastically over the years – especially with current generations – but they still follow the same philosophy. Along with these cars, the muscle car world has seen some of the weirdest and greatest muscle car concepts, all with the goal of surpassing itself. Some concepts were about reinventing existing cars, while others broke up the traditional layout to become something completely different.

Whether they were built to the classic muscle car formula or not, here are 10 muscle car concepts we wish we had hit the streets.

ten Shelby GR-1

the Shelby GR-1 was a high performance concept introduced at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance in 2004 and then officially unveiled at the 2005 North American Auto Show. The GR-1 is heavily inspired by the Shelby Daytona race car.

The GR-1 used a new all-aluminum 6.4-liter V10, with many elements borrowed from the Ford GT. The engine was rated at 604 hp and 501 lb-ft of torque, and the engine was mated to a 6-speed manual transmission powering the rear wheels. The GR-1 was capable of 190 mph and had a 0-60 mph time of 3.9 seconds.

Related: 2005 Ford Shelby GR-1 Gets Supercharged V8 And Insane Power From Superformance

9 Ford Turin King Cobra

the Ford Torino King Cobra was a planned homologation car for use in NASCAR in 1970. Unfortunately, due to changing NASCAR rules, the Torino King Cobra was never put into production, with only three prototypes made for testing purposes.

The Torino King Cobra had a sloping front end – which resembled the Nissan 240Z – and a large intake under the front bumper. Of the three Torino King Cobras that were made, only one was fitted with the Boss 429 engine – which went on sale in 2014 for a whopping $599,999.

Related: Here’s Where Starsky & Hutch’s Ford Gran Torino Is Today

8 Dodge Charger III

the The 1968 Dodge Charger III was a fascinating exercise in automotive design. It almost looked like a 1972 Chevrolet C3 Corvette – if it had been made by Chrysler. It featured a folding canopy, opening the single roof piece – with the steering wheel and instrument cluster swinging out of the way, to allow better entry.

The car had a powerful airbrake at the rear to facilitate braking at high speeds. The engine compartment was designed to fit all Dodge V8s, including the 426, allowing for powerful transmission options. It was never mass-produced, but Matchbox mass-produced the car – 64 times smaller for all car enthusiasts to enjoy.


7 Ford 427 Concept

the Ford 472 Concept was an interesting mix of American muscle car and European sports sedan. It had a retro-futuristic design reminiscent of the era, but the best part of the concept was under the hood. The 472 Concept was equipped with a naturally aspirated 7-liter V10.

The V10 produced a mighty 590 hp, enough to outperform any sports sedan of the time. Ford planned to put the car into mass production to compete with the Chrysler 300C, Dodge Charger SRT8 and Cadillac CTS. Then the recession hit and Ford put the whole project on hold. Oh, what could have been!

6 Chevrolet Corvair Super Spyder Concept

Back in the 1960s, the Chevrolet Corvair was a popular car thanks to its unique engineering and rear-engine layout – just like a Porsche 911. Unfortunately, the Corvair didn’t quite have enough performance to compete with other cars. Other sports cars and the interesting driving dynamics didn’t do the car any favors either.

Chevrolet wanted to explore the Corvair more, so they created the Corvair Super Spyder concept. The concept had a shorter wheelbase, improved engine, two seats and no roof. It looked like something speed racer! Despite much attention, Chevrolet never planned to mass-produce it.

Related: A Jeep Grand Cherokee and a modified Corvair battle for supremacy in the dunes

5 Dodge Diamond Challenger

Dodge had a lot of success with the Challenger in the 1970s – even if they were a bit late. With the good sales, they went ahead and built the Diamante Challenger – a muscular sports car to compete with the Chevrolet Corvette. The Diamante shared many parts with the Challenger, but it had a redesigned body and interior.

Dodge also changed the car to be a Targa-top – like the Corvette – and fitted the huge 426 HEMI engine and sleek turbine-style wheels. As we know, the Diamante was never produced, despite great interest. It’s a shame – maybe it could have started a Corvette vs. Diamante war in the 70s.


4 Ford Shelby Cobra Concept

the Ford Shelby Cobra Concept was a prototype vehicle built by Shelby American for the 2004 Detroit International Auto Show. It was a modernized version of the original Shelby Cobra, sharing cues and design cues. The Cobra concept was built in five months and was based on the Ford Mustang GT chassis.

Like the Shelby GR-1 Concept, the Cobra Concept was powered by a naturally aspirated 6.4-liter V10, which in this application produced 645 hp and 501 lb-ft of torque. Ford claimed the car was capable of 207 mph, however, the prototype is only limited to 100 mph for safety reasons. The Shelby Cobra concept is one of the coolest muscle car concepts ever made.

Related: The Real Story Behind The 2004 Shelby Cobra Concept Car

3 Chevrolet Camaro Caribe Concept

the Chevrolet Camaro Caribe Concept is basically a Camaro that has been transformed into an El Camino. The Caribe was introduced alongside the normal Camaro in 1967 and could be considered a roadster pickup truck – something between Camaro performance and El Camino utility.

The pickup/muscle car had a big V8 engine, a targa roof, and a bed big enough to hold surfboards and other beach-related items. The designers imagined the Caribe Concept as the perfect vehicle for cruising the Caribbean islands in summer. How cool is that?


2 AMC AMX/3

the AMC AMX/3 was an interesting take on the traditional muscle car recipe. Encouraged by the success of the Javelin and the AMX, AMC management then set its sights on the sports car market. AMC had the funds but lacked the expertise, so they hired ex-Ferrari engineer Giotto Bizzarrini.

Bizzarrini created a rear-engine, transaxle sports car – all in a sleek body – capable of 170 miles per hour. It also had world-class handling and Italian styling, with 340 hp coming from AMC. 390 V8. Unfortunately, AMC management realized that the production version would cost significantly more than the Chevy Corvette or De Tomaso Pantera equivalent, so they scrapped the project after six pre-production prototypes were built.


1 Shelby EXP 500 Green Hornet

the Shelby EXP 500 Green Hornet might look like a normal Mustang, but it’s what was under the skin that counted. Ford and Shelby created many concepts and prototypes of the Mustang in the 1960s and 1970s, but the Green Hornet is the one that stands out.

In the engine bay, the EXP 500 had fuel injection rather than carburetors, and it was the first Mustang to feature independent rear suspension—47 years before the production Mustang got it. The car also had disc brakes all around instead of drums. Unfortunately, the EXP 500 Green Hornet was too expensive to sell back then, but now a prototype can sell for over $1.8 million. Still, it must have been quite the driver’s car at the time.


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