The 1970s is considered by just about everyone – performance enthusiasts or otherwise – to be a dark time for the automobile. That’s especially true for the classic U.S. muscle car, which lived fast through the late 1960s and then virtually disappeared among the increasing emission requirements, not to mention the 1973 oil crisis that made gas-guzzling V8 monsters about as popular as a proctology exam.
That’s not to say the decade wasn’t without some stars, however. Performance was alive and well for the first few years, giving birth to some of the greatest muscle cars of all time. We could probably fill this list with cars just from 1970, but that’s not representative of the entire decade. We therefore did some soul searching and arrived at this list – a proper cross-section of a period that was supposedly devoid of muscle.
Yes, it was harder to find in the later years, but even in horsepower’s darkest hour there were still some notable standouts. Let’s take a look.
1. 1970 Ford Mustang Boss 302
This is a safe choice to start this list. The Boss 302 wasn’t the most powerful Mustang of the era – that award goes to the fearsome Boss 429. But the Boss 302 was a proper working class hero with its 290-horsepower 5.0-liter V8, a figure that many people feel was significantly underrated. It was also a track star in SCCA racing, and today it’s one of the most iconic Mustangs of all time.