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1949 Oldsmobile Rocket 88 - best muscle cars

The Oldsmobile Rocket 88 is often credited with being the original muscle car

The Oldsmobile Rocket 88 hit showrooms in 1949, and might have been a fairly unremarkable car had Oldsmobile’s engineers not decided to shoehorn a powerful V8 motor, originally destined for its bigger saloon cars, under the hood.

That’s the reason many muscle car fans deem the Rocket 88 to be the first of the muscle car breed, although in spite of its high-tech for the time high-compression V8, the performance was hardly earth-shattering by later muscle car standards.

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The 303 cubic inch (5.0-litre) Rocket V8 produced around 140bhp, but that was enough in 1949 to make the relatively compact and lightweight 88 a force to be reckoned with on the NASCAR race circuit. It won six out of nine races in its first year of competition, and is a worthy addition to any Muscle Car Hall of Fame.

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Content editor

Ryan is responsible for looking after the day-to-day running of the Auto Express website and social media channels. Prior to joining Auto Express in 2023, he worked at a global OEM automotive manufacturer, as well as a specialist automotive PR and marketing agency.

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