[Lexique de la voiture ancienne] # 10 Pony cars vs muscle cars

Today we are going to talk to you about two English terms (linguistically speaking), American to be more precise: Pony Cars and Muscle Cars. Two types of overpowered American cars, two different ideas and two concepts that are often confused.

The context

Many would call the Ford Mustangs “Muscle Cars”. Missed, this is precisely the fashion example, as the mythical Americans are Pony Cars. To distinguish between the two, we have to go back to the 60s … or even sooner.

American experts believe that the first of the Muscle Cars was the Oldsmobile Rocket 88 in 1949. In a “classic” body, it mounted a large engine, a 303ci V8 “Rocket” of 135 hp. We are looking for the power that brings performance.

This is what will define the casts of muscle cars. American cars, with a large cylinder engine in front, clearly in propulsion, and whose power is argument number one. Popular drag race cars … and that’s it. Their chassis is not specially machined and their power makes them delicate in turns.

It is finally from the Muscle Car concept that Pony Cars will emerge. Unlike the “big” muscle cars, they are based on cars that are more compact (and therefore more manageable), cheaper, but which do not save on the engine … at least in the versions that top their range. However, it must be remembered that Pony cars are not necessarily equipped with a V8, and that their 6 cylinders and their smaller V8 are often the best-selling!

Two examples to understand. First by … Plymouth. In fact, the first of the Pony Cars is a car from this brand, the 1964 Barracuda. It is based on a Valiant, which is the “compact” sedan in the series.

Then of course we talk about the Ford Mustang. Just two weeks before the Barracuda, it will be much more emblematic of the Pony Cars movement. Its sales will be unique and it must be said that many of the following pony cars will have it in their sights. Conversely, at Ford we also had a muscle car in the range: Galaxy.

To realize the differences, here is the comparison of the two cars in 1964:

Mustang Galaxy 500 XL
Basic engine 6 cylinder 2781cc (170ci) = 101 hp 6 cylinder 3653 cc (223 ci) = 140 hp
Largest engine V8 4723 cc (289 in HiPo) = 271 hp V8 6964 cc (425 ci) = 425 hp
Wheelbase 2743 mm 3023 mm
Weight 1367 kg 1825 kg
Vmax 197 km / h 226 km / h
Price (basic) $ 2368 $ 3495

Today, the boundary is more flimsy between the two appellations. In fact, die-hard muscle cars, cut for power and not very good at cornering, have almost disappeared. Only pony cars are left … although some people try to say the opposite!

Some examples of pony cars

Sports cars, cut, but with a small size (on the scale from the USA), there are finally quite a few old examples of Pony Cars.

At News d’Anciennes we tried some of them. We start with two cars that some would like to classify among the muscle cars … but whose dimensions rather invite to be classified in the pony cars.

First, an emblematic car, designed to work well on all-terrain terrain, the Camaro Z28.

Chevrolet Camaro Z28 by Mark for News dAnciennes 53- Muscle Cars

Another Pony Car, lesser known, the AMC AMX, which nevertheless has a beautiful engine and good performance.

AMC AMX 1165 - Muscle cars

Of course, we also invite you to read our latest pony test to date, that of a 1966 Ford Mustang Cabriolet:

1966 Ford Mustang Cabriolet by Mark for News dAnciennes 33- Muscle Cars

Examples of muscle cars

Side Muscle Cars, it’s the same. Some cars can be classified among pony cars. Thus, the Dodge Challenger may be one of them if we compare with the Charger. On the other hand, if we compare with the Camaro and Mustang, if we consider its 6276 cm³ V8, we realize the difference, especially the steering wheel in the hand!

Dodge Challenger RT 383 Magnum Cover - Muscle cars

Less doubt with the Pontiac GTO. It is simply one of the cars that popularized the definition of the muscle car. The one we tried is no exception: 6362 cm³ and 365 hp!

Pontiac GTO C1 - Muscle cars

Then we move on to a “full size” car, the Chevrolet Impala. Here it is the muscle that counts, especially with the tested version, the SS and its 5.7-liter V8 and 290 hp!

DSC8997- Muscle cars

Finally, we forward a car that does not save. Oldsmobile Cutlass with a 383ci and 450 hp are pure muscle!

Oldsmobile Cutlass

As you will have understood, the classification of most legendary Americans is subject to interpretation. Never standardized, the difference between pony cars and muscle cars is slim. any objections? We discuss it in the comments!

Additional images: Mecum

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