Muscle Cars Named After Places and Cities

10th Feb 2011

One this is for certain: the muscle car has had many influences. Of course, muscle cars have influenced products we buy, songs we listen to and the Mopar T shirts we wear. One that has always been a part of the mystique is the names and the places that those names bring to mind.

Michigan Michigan gave birth to an entire line of muscle cars named for one of its most famous residents and cities, Chief Pontiac and Pontiac, respectively.  The Pontiac GTO is considered by many the grand daddy of the muscle car movement. The GTO was based on the more sedate version of the mid-sized Pontiac, the Le Mans, which is a notably famous Italian city in its own right for being the home of some of the greatest racing anywhere in the world.

The GTO was not the only muscle car in the Pontiac stable.  In 1967 to answer Ford's introduction of the Mustang, Pontiac created the Firebird.  Available with everything from a six cylinder to a beefy big block the Pontiac Firebird became a favorite for backyard mechanics because of its smaller size and aggressive styling.

California General Motors was particularly attuned to the California market and began integrating various city names into their product lines.  Pontiac's Bonneville was a direct result of the land speed records that came out of the Bonneville Salt Flats in Southern California.

Though a big car, the Bonneville was not immune to the muscle car mania and had its share of aftermarket tweaks making it a favorite among enthusiasts. But as far as cars being tied to cities by their names, none can compare to the Chevrolet Bel Air.  A small enclave, with a very high median income, Bel Air is an unlikely place to be associated with muscle cars.

Since its introduction in 1950, the Bel Air has been many things to many people.  Due to its size, and two door body style option, it lent itself perfectly to being transformed into a muscle car.  The muscle car conversions really began with the 1955 model year.  Sleeker styling and lighter weight, along with a huge availability of both cars and parts kept the Bel Air desirable and affordable to even the most modest muscle car budget.

The iconic muscle car that came out of the era had to be the 1957 Chevy Bel Air.  Ironically it was also one of the last years that the Bel Air would be the muscle car project of choice with the introduction of the Impala and other Chevrolet models taking its place.

Montreal The Alfa Romeo Montreal is a coupé designed and manufactured by Alfa Romeo, an Italian manufacturer.  The car has the 1600 cc engine of the Alfa Romeo Giulia Ti. The car was made from 1970 to 1977 and originally it was a nameless as it was a concept car at Expo ’67 in Montreal.  People present began calling it “The Montreal.”  Of course, the name caught on, as it is rather catchy.  Later, the car was officially named the Alfa Romeo Montreal.