The 13 Best Big-Block Muscle Cars Featured On AutoTopiaLA

1970 Chevrolet Chevelle SS 502ci by Vintage Motorworks

Starting off with one of the baddest muscle cars ever made, this 1970 Chevelle SS was built by Vintage Motorworks and still retains much of the original car, including the frame. The beauty of this car is that, despite the numerous suspension and performance upgrades, it still retains the classic aesthetics and presence.

The 13 Best Big-Block Muscle Cars Featured On AutoTopiaLA
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In fact, the only visible difference is the big, center-lock Forgeline wheels that hide big Willwood brakes. The 502 big block is good for 650 horsepower, which is sent to the rear wheels through a Tremec, six-speed manual, and 4.10 rear gears.

1969 Chevrolet Camaro RS/SS 502ci

Going back to a 1969 Chevy Camaro RS/SS and this one is proper old-school. Like the Chevelle, the only things that give out it is a modernized classic muscle are a custom, one-off wheels, and the more aggressive stance, courtesy of QA1 sports suspension. Everything else is true to 1969, including the interior, which is the reconditioned original one. There’s even a cassette player.

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The engine is a 502ci big-block V-8 with an Edelbrock carburetor and pushes 640 horsepower. Those are sent to the rear wheels through an automatic transmission. The custom exhaust system makes the car sound as vicious as it is fast.

1967 Dodge Dart Convertible 440ci by Vintage Motorworks

Another classic muscle, built by Vintage Motorworks. The build is quite memorable for more than one reason. For one, it was the first father-son project at Vintage Motorworks and it’s finished in the iconic Grabber Blue. The project started with a rusty, slant-six-powered example, but eventually got fully restored, with whatever parts were available at the shop.

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Interestingly enough, the front and rear suspension came from a 1986 Maserati Quattroporte with dual-coil-overs at the rear. There’s also a Tremec six-speed manual in the middle and a 440ci big-block V-8 at the front, which puts out 600 horsepower. There’s also a roll-cage added for extra structural rigidity. Being an early build, the Dart is a bit rough around the edges, but really, it’s perfectly imperfect.

1965 Dodge Coronet 472ci

This is as close to an old-school drag car as it gets. The mighty MOPAR started life as a 440-powered car, which is already a stout platform for drag racing. However, it now has a MOPAR Performance 472ci big-block V-8 with 700 horsepower. Power goes to the rear through a 727 automatic with a reverse manual valve body and a custom, Dana 60 rear end.

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Inside, you are greeted by white bench seats and absolutely no door handles, since they are extra weight. You have the obligatory additional gauges like a big tachometer, oil pressure, and oil temperature. Between the “cheater carbs” and “cheater slicks”, this is a proper old-school American hot rod.

1970 Chevrolet Chevelle 565ci “Sexy Sally”

Built by Butch’s shop and serving as Butch’s personal car, this 1970 Chevy Chevelle gives the SS abbreviature a whole new meaning.
The whole car was built around the massive rear tires, which are Mickey Thompson 33x22x15-inch radials. Needless to say, a lot of cutting had to be done to make sure they fit.

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You quickly find out why “Sexy Sally” needs those massive tires when you peek under the hood. There lies a 565ci, carbureted, big-block V-8, built by Beck Racing Engines. The fully-forged American V-8 packs over 900 horsepower, on its own, and over 1,200 horsepower with nitrous. The gearbox is an FTI automatic with a reverse manual valve body and individual shifters for each gear.

1968 Plymouth Roadrunner 440ci

Going back to something milder, but still badass, this 1968 Roadrunner is a numbers-matching car, with off-the-shelf, MOPAR performance goodies. It still has the single four-barrel, 440ci big-block V-8, but has upgraded rods, pistons, camshaft, and more. Still naturally-aspirated, the V-8 makes 560 horsepower at the wheels ad is mated to a four-speed manual transmission.

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The Roadrunner features upgraded Willwood brakes, although they are still manual, and a three-and-a-quarter-inch straight pipe exhaust dumping out the sides. Other than that, it’s as clean as it gets and even has the original Magnum 500 rally wheels. This tastefully-done 1968 Plymouth Roadrunner proves that, sometimes, simple, is best.

1963 Ford Galaxie 500 520ci

Another clean build comes from Dean’s Southern California Classic Car Storage and it’s a 1963 and a half Ford Galaxie 500. Dean – the owner – decided to swap the FE-series engine in favor of a Ford 460, which was later stretched to 520 cubic inches, with everything “nut and bolt, from top to bottom” being touched, as Dean explains. The result is 750 all-motor horsepower, which hit the ground through a reinforced, Ford C6 automatic.

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But it’s not just the engine and gearbox that have been beefed up. The 1963 Galaxie 500 features upgraded chassis and suspension, featuring tubular control arms from Fat Man Fabrication, RideTech coil-overs, upgraded sway bars, and more. The result is an epic drag racer/cruiser.

1967 Plymouth Belvedere GTX 426ci

Hemi-powered cars are quite a rarity, which makes modified examples quite a rare treat. This particular one has been stretched to 488 cubic inches with predicted horsepower being in the 500 to 600 range (at the time of filming, the car hasn’t been dyno-tested yet). The engine also features upgraded internals, two, four-barrel Edelbrock carburetors, and MSD ignition.

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The soundtrack is further enhanced by long-tube headers and three-inch exhaust, done by Vintage Motorworks, and there’s also an upgraded suspension. Chip Foose wheels hide upgraded Willwood disc brakes, in place of the old drums. Power hits the ground through a Tremec six-speed manual and the stock Dana 60 rear end.

Superformance GS 427ci / 1963 C2 Corvette Grand Sport Replica

Superformance is a well-known name that has been replicating some of the greatest American sports cars and muscle cars ever made, to the highest standard. Among them is a C2 Corvette Grand Sport, of which only five were ever built. This one, of course, is not one of them, but it may be just as bonkers. While the original C2 Grand Sports came with a 558-horsepower, 377 cubic-inch V-8, based on the 327 engine, this one has a 427 V-8, only it’s not the one you are thinking of.

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Instead, this Superformance GS comes with a 7.0-liter DOHC Mercury SB4 V-8 marine engine, converted for street use. The boat engine is good for 750 horsepower at 8,000 RPM and it’s all extracted through dual-side exhausts. Since all Superformance GS replicas are GM-licensed, a lot of stuff is done according to factory specifications. An exception is the steering geometry as the original C2 Grand Sport has “the turning radius of a battleship”. An epic recreation of an already epic American race car from the 1960s.

1969 Dodge Charger 513ci

One of the more recent features on AutoTopiaLA was reviewed a day before the 2021 SEMA show. Dustin and his crew from Nostalgia Hot Rods took a Charger 440 and stretched the engine to 513 cubic inches. The engine makes 600 horsepower at the wheels and is mated to a built, 727 Torqueflite automatic – a tried and tested combination.

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A set of 335-width tires and a nine-inch rear axle with 4.11 gears help send the power to the ground. Suspension and chassis upgrades include a tubular K-member bolted to the original chassis, four-link rear suspension with RideTech coil-overs, Speedway sway-bars, and more. Unlike most builds on the list, this one is more modernized and even features a centrally-mounted touchscreen on the dashboard, which controls most of the car’s functions.

1969 Chevrolet Nova SS 502ci

Despite being one of the slightly less popular classic muscle cars, this Chevy Nova hauls ass. It started life as a 350 Chevy Nova, but at some point in time, got a big-block V-8 swap. Now displacing 502 cubic inches, the big V-8 makes 730 horsepower and 700 pound-feet (949 Nm). Power is routed to the rear axle through a TH400 automatic. It also includes the usual upgrades like MSD ignition, upgraded boosted, Willwood disc brakes all-around, upgraded coil-over suspension, and more.

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Other than the 20-inch Mach 1 wheels, everything on the car looks period-correct. It’s all topped off with a butternut exterior finish and dual white stripes. Donnie – the owner – also redid the interior and put in leather bucket seats while keeping the original rear bench. The classic dashboard gets the hot-rod treatment, with the necessary auxiliary gauges. This small Chevy with a big V-8 engine is the epitome of American muscle.

1968 Plymouth Roadrunner 572ci

If you thought the 1970 Chevy Chevelle “Sexy Sally” from earlier was the most powerful car on the list, here’s one that easily matches it. It quickly becomes obvious that this 1968 Roadrunner was built for drag racing. There’s a rear lid extension, wheelie bar, and a gigantic hood scoop on top of the hood, which was converted to a clamshell.

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Under the hood sits an all-aluminum, 572 cubic-inch Hemi V-8 from Keith Racing Engines. It’s also proper old-school in that it’s carbureted and naturally aspirated. With a 250-shot of nitrous, it makes over 1,200 horsepower. Power is sent to the rear through a custom-built Torqueflite automatic and a reinforced Dana 60 rear end.

1966 Chevrolet Chevelle 565ci by Nostalgia Hot Rods

Last, but not least is a 1966 Chevelle pro-touring, built by Nostalgia Hot Rods. We actually covered the build before and it is a perfect example of what happens when there is a money-no-object customer and a hot rod builder with great imagination and skills. The car was chopped, lowered, and sits on Air-ride suspension.

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Powering this beast is a 565 cubic-inch (9.25-liter), all-aluminum V-8, built by Dart. It makes 900 all-motor horsepower and revs up to 8,000 RPM while sounding like a NASCAR. A six-speed automatic sends power to the rear wheels. According to Dustin from Nostalgia Hot Rods, the build took over 10,000 hours of work. We think it was definitely worth it. We know it’s difficult to choose, but which one is your pick of the bunch?

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