The 7 Most Famous Muscle Era V8s

V8 Muscle Car Engines From The Golden Age Of Muscle

Updated November 13, 2018

Muscle cars are a huge part of American culture and one of the most popular types of vehicles to be interested in worldwide. The main feature of these cars being a huge rumbling beast of a V8 engine under the hood. Muscle cars came in all shapes and sizes, as did the motors that were crammed in them. Here is a list of the most popular and sought after American V8 car engines from the prime time of muscle cars.

1969 mustang boss 302

7. Ford 289 

Introduced in 1963 the 289 with a 2 bbl carburetor was brought into production to replace the 260 v8. Early performance specs were 190hp and 258lb.ft. of torque. In 1964 a performance package was introduced and gave it 210hp. and 300lb.ft. of torque. It came as the new motor in the 1964 1/2 Mustang and the new Fairlane. The 289 K code was introduced in late 1963 and produced 271hp and 312lb.ft of torque. These Ford V8 car engines powered the Mercury Comet and became an option for Mustangs in June 1964. They are highly sought after and very valuable.

Ford 289


6. Oldsmobile 455

 This motor was based off of the Oldsmobile 425. In 1968 the 425’s stroke was lengthened to 4.25 inches. although it retained the bore from the discontinued 425. Versions differed and were used in many vehicles. The motor produced 275-400 horsepower depending on the application. Most notably of which was the Oldsmobile 442. A rather strange application was in mid-70’s GMC motor-homes. Below is a picture of a rocket 455 in a 1968 Delmont 88

Oldsmobile 455

5. Chrysler Big Block 440

The Chrysler 440 was produced from 1965 until 1978. It was the last of the RB series engines. Notable cars it came in were the Dodge Challenger, the Plymouth Barracuda, and a lot of police cars and emergency vehicles of the era. Performance varies from year to year and between applications. From 1969 to 1971, the high performance version was rated at 375 HP and the 440 6 pack (3-2 barrel carburetors installed on a single 440) produced 390 HP. In the 70’s performance dwindled as emissions control took over along with different ways of testing HP. the 440 ended up only putting out 255 HP and was only for police duty.

Chrysler 440

4. Chevrolet 409

The Chevrolet 409 was introduced in the early years of muscle. It was announced alongside the Impala SS. From the beginning it was well known for its performance. It was so legendary that The Beach Boys wrote a whole song dedicated to racing their Car with a 409 Dual quad (2 4bbl carbs) under the hood. At that time the 409 made 360HP and by the end of its run in 1965 it produced an outstanding figure of 425HP.

Chevcrolet 409

3. Chevrolet 350 Small Block

One of the most well known engines of all time, and a very long lived one at that. The 350 Was originally only available in the SS version of the Camaro or the Chevy II/Nova. Power output was 300 HP and torque output was 380 lb.ft. In 1971 the compression was lowered. and by 1972 the motor was only available in a nova if you got the SS package. And by the mid 70’s the power output was throttled by emissions control until it was below 200 HP. Aftermarket support was and is still readily available as the engine proved to be very reliable and easy to build and tune power out of. This motor and its variants were used for years in just about every application imaginable.

Chevrolet small block 350

2. Ford 302 Windsor

The 5.0 Windsor (not to be confused with the Coyote 5.0) was a very long lived and widely used engine.  It originated in 1967 as a motor based off of the one used in the GT40 race car. Ford needed a high performance motor for their cars that would easily fit in the bay of a mustang or other smaller cars.  The engine itself wasn’t born until 1968, and although bred as a high performance engine, it found its way into trucks and passenger vehicles with sometimes almost half of the power it was originally rated for. It became another engine that was hurt by emissions control and detuning for help with fuel economy. (I should know this. My mother has a 1989 Lincoln Town Car with a 5.0 and it has around 150 HP.)

Ford 302 Windsor

1. Chrysler 426 Hemi

With its NASCAR roots, and drag racing history, this engine was famous from the start and was a mega hit. While the original 426 wasn’t street legal or available to the public. It was so well respected and known for its great performance that Chrysler decided to make a civilian version. The original version came out in 1964. It was then banned after one season in NASCAR due to it not being available in a production vehicle. So in 1965 Mopar released a handful of drag racing cars that were available to the public to get the green light to use it in NASCAR once again. Later on in 1965 it was released in quite a few street cars offered by Mopar and was available until 1971. Stock on the dynamometer it produced 433.5 HP and 472 lb.ft. of torque. this v8 engine is still used in drag racing today, and is commonly seen in funny cars.

Chrysler 426 Hemi

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