How Muscle Cars Have Changed and Improved Over Four Decades

February 24th, 2020 by


Muscle cars and sports cars have changed over the years. Back in the ‘70s, muscle cars were groundbreaking and setting a new benchmark for power. Today, automakers like Dodge and Chevrolet are in competition with each other the most, but there are other vehicles out there that claim they can pony up and bring the horsepower. That may be true, but a lot more has changed for muscle cars than just how many horses it can rev. How do you think the Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Redeye engine can generate up to 797 horsepower? A lot of it comes down to engineering.

Tinkering Over the Years

Everything, from the engine to the suspension is a part of the engineering of a vehicle. How well it responds, how well it drives, the comfort and stability of the vehicle. A component that sounds new but has been around for a lot longer than some may think is the turbocharger. It’s only in the last few decades have turbochargers become more reliable and able to be equipped under the hood of most vehicles on the road today. Superchargers, another form of concentrated forced air induction, have also been around for a while, they just don’t show up that often in vehicles. Still, both have their uses, especially the Supercharger, like the Air Grabber hood on the limited 2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Demon.

The Dodge Demon was one-of-a-kind, and it was thanks to its revolutionary TransBrake technology, it was the first vehicle that could pop a wheelie right out of the factory, with no modifications needed. Although the Demon didn’t last long, it showed us the possibilities of what a muscle car can do, and later led us to the Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Redeye. Engines wouldn’t be able to perform this well if it wasn’t for the steady evolution of design and new, better ways to put together an engine. New forms of fuel injection, engines getting smaller with due to the aforementioned turbo/superchargers, and engine displacement have all affected the performance of engines today.

Behind the Wheel

It’s not all about the engine, though. How it feels to get behind the wheel of all that power matters, and many automotive brands that sport a muscle car will be sure to highlight the improvements in suspension made, any handling packages that may be available, and whether or not the vehicle offers all-wheel-drive, a crowd pleaser in muscle cars that need to have control in all four wheels. Speaking of which, tires have also had their share of upgrades. Today, they’re much more superior to the tires of the ‘70s by a longshot.

How does it really feel though? Once inside the cabin and strapped in, has there been much change? Technology would say, “Yes”. Starting with something as simple yet complex as the ECU that controls just about everything in all cars, to amenities vehicles can offer consumers today for a ride that is as comfortable as it is powerful. Driver’s aids have also been growing in number and commonplace in the automotive industry, with everything from frontal collision prevention to 360-degree view cameras. Little bits of technology like this have helped to keep muscle cars safe while still making them worthy of the racetrack.

When it comes to control, many muscle car drivers prefer the feel of changing gears, and many muscle cars only came with a manual transmission as an option in their early years. Back then, automatic transmissions were still being developed, and those that were available were more troublesome than manually shifting gears. No one wants to feel their car turn to slush when an engine is pumping away. As the market grows, so does technology, and automatic transmissions have become the norm in most if not all vehicles. They work better, and they allow the driver to focus on the ride and less about the gear.

How will muscle cars continue to change with the growing market of alternative fuel? Dodge is already planning a new powertrain lineup that consists of hybrid or plug-in hybrid options. Will an electric Dodge muscle car be feasible? Join the discussion and let us know what you think on Aventura Chrysler Jeep Dodge Ram social media.

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