The street to the muscle automobile was paved after World Warfare II

1949 Oldsmobile 88 and its Rocket 88 engine. | Flickr picture by Greg Gjerdingen cropped and revealed

Enlarge Picture

Though the time period “muscle automobile” wouldn’t turn out to be a extensively used nickname till a decade or extra later, Detroit automakers bought into the act shortly after World Warfare II, producing some very muscular machines.

Halfway via the 1949 mannequin 12 months, Oldsmobile unveiled its new 88 collection, a automobile that was lighter than the 98 however was powered by the identical Rocket Eight engine, heralded as Detroit’s first fashionable, high-compression, overhead-valve V8.

Early Oldsmobile promoting instructed that you just “Make a date with a Rocket Eight.” Nevertheless, with the success of the 88 mannequin, the engine quickly grew to become higher often called the Rocket 88.

“The 88 really was a rocket,” Allan Girdler wrote in his ebook on American inventory automobile racing.

Because the Customary Catalog of American Vehicles notes, “The 1949 Olds 88 sedan may go 0-to-60 mph in 12.2 seconds and run the quarter-mile in 19.9 seconds, which was quick for the time.”

The engine was a 303cid V8 with 136 horsepower and, considerably, 263 pound-feet of torque.

Not solely was the Rocket 88 featured because the tempo automobile for the 1949 Indianapolis 500, however in 1950 an unheralded 22-year-old racer from Oregon, Herschel McGriff, drove his father’s 1950 Oldsmobile 88 to victory within the Carrera Panamericana, the Mexican Highway Race.

Hudson additionally had a scorching setup. In 1948, it launched its Tremendous Six engine, good for 121 horsepower, and three years later that powerplant grew into the 308 Hornet, a 6-cylinder that packed the punch of 145 horsepower (greater than Hudson’s personal Commodore Eight) and for a number of years the “Fabulous Hudson Hornet” would dominate inventory automobile racing and would encourage the character of Doc Hudson within the film “Vehicles.”

Upping the ante fairly significantly in 1955 was Chrysler with its “letter collection” of vehicles propelled by probably the most highly effective passenger-car engine but from Detroit, the 331.1cid FirePower (aka “Hemi”) V8. Chrysler was so impressed that it labeled the primary automobile to hold this engine because the 300 in honor of the engine’s 300-horsepower output.

The important thing to reaching such efficiency was equipping the engine with cylinder heads that featured a hemispherical form and supplied room for bigger consumption and exhaust valves, and for the spark plug to be positioned in a more-efficient middle location above the combustion chamber. To additional improve combustion, pistons had domed profiles.

Growth of such an engine had begun throughout World Warfare II as a part of Chrysler’s work on the Thunderbolt P-47 fighter plane and for the Patton tank.

Although a full-size automobile with luxurious accoutrements, together with leather-based inside and the grille from the upscale Imperial mannequin, the 1955 Chrysler 300 additionally had a pair of four-barrel carburetors, a racing camshaft and heavy-duty suspension, and it was prepared for the stock-car racing circuit.

For 1956, Chrysler rolled out the 300B with a fair bigger and extra highly effective engine, the 354 Hemi, supplied within the buyer’s alternative of 340 or 355 horsepower.

A 300B set a world passenger-car velocity document of 133.9 mph in time trials on the hard-packed sand of Daytona Seashore, Florida.

The letter collection would proceed via the 1965 mannequin 12 months and the 300L.

This text was initially revealed on, an editorial associate of Motor Authority.

Show More

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This

Share this post with your friends!