Everyone knows what a Dodge Charger is, right? Well, of course; it's one of the most famous cars in existence - as is it's younger sibling: the Challenger.
You will also know the Plymouth Superbird and the Cuda inside out. Everyone knows about the madness of the paint schemes, the 426 Hemi and the fact they impose this menacing presence on the road. If the muscle car culture had Greek Gods, a 1970 Coronet Hemi and a Superbird would take the thrones.
But aside the cars with glorious fame, have you ever considered what was floating around alongside them - or even before?
Coming up now is a list of Mopar cars which, not only you might've forgotten about, but perhaps deserve some more recognition;
1962-64 Dodge Polara/Plymouth Fury 'Max Wedge'
'64 Dodge Polara 'Ramcharger'
I'm technically talking about two full-size cars here, but both the Fury and the Polara shared the same body and underpinnings. Including a rather mental engine option available between '62 and '64;
The 413 wedge was Chrysler's NASCAR motor, and in super-limited production form, they took that engine and put it into street legal cars from 1962. Dodge called their version the "Ramcharger" (referencing the 'short-ram' carburettor and intake setup) whereas Plymouth simply called theirs the "Super Stock".
With a bore increase to 426ci by 1963, the result was up to 425bhp (with the 12:5:1 compression ratio option) and 1/4 mile times not far off 12 seconds for all states of tune. You've gotta remember this was over 50 years ago!
'63 Fury with the 426 Wedge.
It's important not to get this engine confused with the 426 Hemi: this had a wedge-shaped head whereas the Hemi's was... well, hemispherical.
Nonetheless, this engine plays an important part in the history of muscle cars - even if it was mated to full-size cars in the super stock class. Some may argue that these can't be defined as muscle cars, but I certainly do!
1964 Dodge & Plymouth Hemi cars
An entry-level Dodge 330 with a 426 Hemi. Basically a racecar for the street.
The legacy of the 426 Hemi had to start somewhere; and so, it did in 1964 when Chrysler developed it with the purpose of using it in NASCAR - thereby replacing the 426 Max Wedge - and stuffing it into a few of their street cars.
Dodge put the engine in the Polara, Coronet and the 330, whereas Plymouth respectively put them into the Fury, Belvedere and the Savoy.
1964 Belvedere Hemi.
The engine was rated at 425hp from factory, although in some instances, examples were recorded breaking the needle at numbers close to 600... I'm stunned that these somehow made it onto the street!
Obviously, there'll be performance differences due to transmission options and driver skill, but it's apparent that the Dodge 330 with this engine can hit 0-60 in 4.1 seconds and achieve a 1/4 mile time of 11.4 seconds at 125mph. Those are absurd numbers, and the peak of the muscle car scene was still years away!
Clearly, you can tell that early Hemi cars were derived straight from the track (be it either NASCAR or the drag strip). Meaning, it's probably worth your recognition alongside the famous Chargers and Superbirds!
1965 Plymouth Barracuda Formula S
Mustang too common? Here's a great alternative.
In 1965, Ford had the Mustang in full swing. It defined what the American people dreamed about when it came to a stylish, compact car which could also shift. The newly found lust of the pony car encouraged other manufacturers to follow suit. Chrysler responded with the Plymouth Barracuda in 1964, complete with a push-button transmission.
Things changed by '65 though, and the new 'Formula S' package was available for the top-spec 273ci V8: it increased power to 235hp and put out 280 lb.ft of torque.
Not great by today's standards, but was pokey back then! However, the K-Code Mustang was a triumph over the little 'Cuda - hence why the former sold far better.
Still though, for a customer who wanted something slightly unusual, the Barracuda was hard to ignore. And it's nice to know that Chrysler could offer you a compact pony car alongside their brash, super-powerful road-eaters.
1971 Dodge Demon 340
If you thought Demon was only used for the current Challenger, you were wrong!
In 1971, Dodge introduced a new 2-door fastback version of the Dart. It was called the Demon, and while that name may sound powerful and Satan-like, the actual car was quite sedate - even by true muscle car standards.
No Hemis or even a 383 could be found here! Instead, your best engine was a small-block 340 with 275hp and 340 lb. ft of torque. It was supposed to sit below the Challenger as a more attainable, less scary performance car, yet could still provide some thrills.
And so it did: average 1/4 mile times of Demon 340s were just over the 14 second margin - though with a well-prepped axle and a manual transmission, that could easily be reduced to 13.9. Pretty quick for what was supposed to be the cheaper car!
Unfortunately, due to emissions standards by 1972, the 340's power output was choked at just 240hp...
1960 Chrysler 300F
Surely the original definition of a sleeper?
It could be argued that the original muscle car actually arrived in 1955 with the Chrysler 300C. Because suddenly, the world had been met with a sedate-looking 2-door, yet had a 300hp Firepower Hemi engine under the hood.
It was massively quick for it's time. And for this article, I wanted to try and pick out a 300 that nobody had perhaps thought about before; enter the 1960 300F.
What we have here, is a 413ci V8 churning out 400hp and 465 lb. ft of torque. Yes, you read that correctly. Not to mention it's 14.7 second 1/4 mile time - which by 1960 standards was simply bonkers!
I find it fascinating that a normal-looking yacht can sprint to 60 in just 6.3 seconds. Surely, nobody would've noticed from the outside that this was one of the most powerful cars on the road?
The term 'muscle car' is always going to be subjective: most will define it as a mid-sized car with a huge engine. But full-sized cars like the 300 (even the '55 model) proved that the movement was happening far before the GTO was even a thought!
Thanks for reading
So, that was my list of forgotten Mopars which really deserve some more recognition in the car community! You can keep your '71 Hemi Cuda, I'd rather have that engine in a '64 Coronet!
Nonetheless, I hope you enjoyed reading, and have a lovely day :)