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Muscle Car Art : Muscle Cars As Artwork

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By David Ashton

Through the years of writing about muscle cars there is always constant feedback that classic muscle cars look more visually appealing like muscle car art than the current crop of vehicles. Some of this could be just nostalgia, but the feedback comes from all age groups which also poses the question of if muscle cars are artwork in themselves.

A piece of artwork generally has no functionality, but purely a thing to be mused upon and to give inspiration. However, what could be a better piece of artwork than something which does provide inspiration and still provides functionality as is the case with muscle cars. Not only that, but since their inception there has been such a wide scope of muscle car creations from stock restorations to the most outlandish of resto mods, hot rods and potential muscle car rat rods.

European cars usually get the first look in when people think about automotive art, such as Italian vehicles, but American muscle cars don’t just have their unique design, but are also more commonly adapted and given their own custom look more than any other type of vehicle. This should also include the fantastic range of creations in the Hot Rod world and Rat Rods.

Stock pony and muscle cars as artwork
Take a 1967 Ford Mustang for example. The car features a design which wasn’t solely dictated by the results of a windtunnel, but by automotive artists who wanted to produce the best and sexiest looking vehicle on the road. The design worked so well that even in 2017 this particular design has arguably still not been bettered. Could it be a result of the design been produced with pen and paper, and a handbuilt model prototype?
1967-Ford-Mustang Muscle Car Art

Cars such as the Jaguar E type are usually thought of as incredible designs of the time, but a 67 Mustang has more intricate lines and is a more worthwhile piece of artwork.

If you look at the design of the Plymouth Superbird or the Dodge Daytona, they both are unique designs within the automotive world and unique pieces of artwork unto themselves. It was only in a few short years that a design like the Plymouth Superbird could have been hatched and possibly will never be seen again. It’s almost amazing that it hit production.

You could possibly argue that the Plymouth Superbird is just a Roadrunner with an extended nose and rear end, but these additions in hindsight made the vehicle more like a creation from Salvador Dali than just a simple roadgoing vehicle.

Take another example, this impressive looking gold 1970 Chevrolet Chevelle SS 454. The front follows the more squared off design of the time, with the Chevelle design only lasting the 1970 year, but the smooth fastback wouldn’t look out of place as a centrepiece in any art gallery, especially with it being one of the best muscle cars produced in its era.

Custom builds
The hot rod and rat Rod community arguably hold the button for the mosts unique car builds, as its generally the case for muscle cars to stay in original condition or modifications being more subtle than all-out custom hot Rod. Chopping, lowering and doing advance modifications to a rare and expensive muscle car is usually counter-productive, but those willing to customise a cheaper project vehicle can turn out some incredible art creations.
musclecarpaintjob Muscle Car Art

Coupled with an amazing paint job, custom muscle cars are only limited by the imagination. There are many more besides the fashion of flames and the paint jobs alone are a worthy mention. Even if you take Dean Dalton NASCAR Dodge, the vehicle can be seen as a functional piece of living art.


Collections of muscle cars either official or privately owned are usually seen as museums or just collections in themselves. However, there should also be seen as art galleries or muscle car art, as people do the same thing as musing upon a painting. They look on the vehicles and get an emotional, warm sense of inspiration, just like you get from any top piece of artwork.

So next time your eyes gaze upon a vintage muscle car, look at it as not just an incredible piece of automotive history, but also some of the finest artwork created in the automotive world.

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