C onventional wisdom has it that the Pontiac GTO was the first true muscle car. And it was, in the sense that it used a relatively large V8 engine crammed into an intermediate body shell, with performance the prime aim. But there had been plenty of high-performance V8s well before the GTO came along. They did not come into the same big engine/small car category, but performance was certainly part of their appeal. As to when such vehicles emerged from the primeval slime of automotive development, it is a case of how far back one is prepared to go. Take the Ford flathead V8 of 1932. It may have been small, slow, and feeble by the standards of the 1960s, but for its time it also offered good performance at a low price. It formed the backbone of the U.S.A.’s early drag-racing

An ancestor of the muscle car, the Ford V8 Coupe.

The Forerunners 9

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