The Oldsmobile Rocket 88, which was first produced in 1949, is widely thought to be the first American muscle car. Other prominent models include the Chrysler C-300, the Pontiac GTO, the Chevrolet Chevelle and the Plymouth GTX.
Some of the major muscle cars of the 1950s include the Hudson Hornet, the Chrysler C-300, the Studebaker Golden Hawk and the Rambler Rebel. Along with the Rocket 88, these cars cemented the identity of the muscle car with powerful high-performance V8 engines in a sedan or sports coupe body.
Muscle cars took off in popularity in the 1960s, with many new models introduced during this decade. Some big names among these were the Dodge Dart, the Chevrolet Impala, the Ford Mustang, the Pontiac GTO and the Plymouth Barracuda.
The early 1970s saw something of a trend toward smaller, more modestly priced muscle cars that were more appropriate for everyday driving. Some examples of this trend were the Plymouth Duster and Road Runner and the American Motors Rebel Machine.
Some muscle car models that have survived into modern production include the Chevrolet Camaro, the Dodge Charger, the Ford Mustang and the Dodge Challenger. Stricter modern fuel efficiency standards have hampered the market, however.