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Summary
  • The Chevrolet Corvette is a sports car, not a muscle car.
  • Muscle cars have powerful V8 engines, rear-wheel drive, and a boxy body with two doors.
  • Classic muscle cars must be made in America from the 1960s to 1970s, have an affordable price tag for the era, and have wide tires, flared fenders, and sizable hood scoops.
  • The Dodge Challenger is the only muscle car still in production.
  • Popular older muscle cars include the AMC AMX, Chevrolet Chevelle SS, and Oldsmobile 442.

Everyone knows about the Chevrolet Corvette. In continuous production since its introduction in 1953, “America’s Sports Car” is one of the most famous and popular car models ever made. Many Americans either own a Corvette –or more than one– or want one as their dream car.

You might have heard some people refer to the Vette as a muscle car. It makes sense: Both Corvettes and muscle cars are fast-moving American classic cars.  But are Corvettes muscle cars? And whether or not it’s true, why do people consider them so?

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parked orange chevy corvette
Although the Chevrolet Corvette is sleek, fast, and made in the USA, it isn’t a muscle car but rather a sports car.

Is a Corvette a Muscle Car?

The Chevrolet Corvette is many things: sleek, fast, and made in the US of A. However, it isn’t a muscle car.

Merriam-Webster defines the muscle car as “any of a group of American-made 2-door sports coupes with powerful engines designed for high-performance driving.” While that sounds like the Corvette, there’s more to the Chevy car than simply loads of horsepower.

As its moniker of “America’s Sports Car” declares, the Chevrolet Corvette is a sports car. Sports cars put a premium on dynamic performance–that is to say, how they handle on the road overall.

The Corvette is fast, but it’s also very agile and responsive. It achieves its great handling by keeping its weight down to a minimum. Its body also features sleeker lines that improve its aerodynamic performance.

A newer model Chevrolet Corvette with a much more powerful engine goes from sports car to supercar. Even with the souped-up engine, it still isn’t considered a muscle car.

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That’s because muscle cars aren’t maneuverable. They can go fast in a straight line, but you won’t be pulling off donuts with them easily.

What Are Muscle Cars?

So if a Chevrolet Corvette isn’t a muscle car, what counts as one? 

Muscle cars started out as two-door coupes that received the powerful V8 engine of a car with a bigger, heavier body style.

Today, the muscle car needs to have the following features:

  • The most powerful V8 engine available for that specific model
  • Rear-wheel drive
  • A two-door body that looks boxy and doesn’t weigh a lot
  • Suitable for drag racing

A classic muscle car will also meet the following criteria:

  • Built in the United States from the 1960s to early 1970s
  • Affordable price tag for a car built during the Seventies
  • Wide tires
  • Flared fenders
  • Sizable hood scoops

Opinions of what exactly defines a muscle car vary between car fans. Some would point to the 1949 Oldsmobile Rocket 88 as the first full-sized muscle car with a V8 engine. Others will insist that the mid-sized 1964 Pontiac GTO is the iconic example. Almost all of them will agree that a Corvette doesn’t count as a muscle car.

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dodge challenger burn out
Only Dodge manufactures muscle cars nowadays like the Dodge Challenger.

Popular Muscle Cars

Nowadays, only Dodge manufactures muscle cars. If you want a factory-fresh vehicle, the Dodge Challenger is your only choice.

Willing to get an older vehicle? The following are muscle car models that are no longer in production but can be found in used car shops:

About The Authors
Written By Automotive and Tech Writers

The CarParts.com Research Team is composed of experienced automotive and tech writers working with (ASE)-certified automobile technicians and automotive journalists to bring up-to-date, helpful information to car owners in the US. Guided by CarParts.com's thorough editorial process, our team strives to produce guides and resources DIYers and casual car owners can trust.

Reviewed By Automotive Features Reviewer at CarParts.com

Lisa Conant grew up in Canada around a solid contingency of gear heads and DIY motor enthusiasts. She is an eclectic writer with a varied repertoire in the automotive industry, including research pieces with a focus on daily drivers and recreational vehicles. Lisa has written for Car Bibles and The Drive.

Any information provided on this Website is for informational purposes only and is not intended to replace consultation with a professional mechanic. The accuracy and timeliness of the information may change from the time of publication.

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