(Image/Deana Johnston)

Welcome to Year 8 of OnAllCylinders’ Muscle Car Match-Ups tournament, which is our annual automotive twist on college basketball’s March Madness.

These are strange times for all of us, as large gatherings for motorsports and all other sports are on an indefinite, but hopefully quite-short, hiatus.

Unprecedented times call for unprecedented measures.

So how about a fantasy motorsports tournament pitting some of the greatest Detroit steel in muscle car history against the very best that modern muscle has to offer?

How do you choose between a 1968 Dodge Hemi Dart and a 2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Widebody? HOW DO YOU DO IT, PEOPLE?!

Hey. As always, you get to decide. There are no rules. You get to pick whatever you want for whatever reason you want. We at OnAllCylinders believe “Umm. Because I like it better,” is a perfectly valid reason.

What wins? Old school muscle? Or new school muscle?

The choice is yours.

How the Voting Works

We’ll present our entire bracket as first-round match-ups below (Editor’s Note: Yes, we know a ridiculous amount of great cars didn’t make the cut—you try narrowing all of muscle car history down to eight classics and eight modern cars destined for greatness). You can vote for your first round winners in one of three ways:

  • Write all your first round picks in the comments section below.
  • Follow Summit Racing Equipment’s Facebook page. Our friends at Summit Racing will post individual, head-to-head match-ups from the tournament, and you can comment on your favorite to vote.
  • Follow Summit Racing on Instagram, and comment to vote for your favorites there.

2013 Shelby GT500 vs. 1969 Chevy Camaro ZL1

We lost automotive performance legend Carroll Shelby in 2012. His swan song? The 2013 Shelby GT500, SAE-certified at 662 horsepower and 631 ft.-lbs. of torque. At the time, it packed the most-powerful production V8 engine in the world. Top speed? More than 200 miles-per-hour. It’s okay. We want one, too.

Extremely rare and highly powerful, the Camaro ZL1 is considered by most Chevrolet enthusiasts to be the holy grail of the popular Camaro line. Its all-aluminum 427-cubic-inch engine was rated at 435 horsepower (although many experts say it actually made over 500 horses), yet weighed about the same as a small block 327. Although they were barely street cars, they were backed by a 5-year/50,000-mile warranty.

2014 Chevy Camaro Z/28 vs. 1969 Ford Mustang Boss 429

At launch, the 2014 Chevy Camaro Z/28 produced 440 pounds more of downforce at 150 mph than the Camaro SS, making it a an incredibly capable road course performer. Just before being made available to the public, the Z/28 logged a lap on Germany’s legendary Nürburgring road course that was four seconds faster than the Camaro ZL1, and also faster than published times for the Porsche 911 Carrera S and the Lamborghini Murcielago LP640

Rare and undeniably awesome, the 1969 Ford Boss 429 featured Ford’s 429 cubic-inch engine which was developed for NASCAR use and built to compete with Mopar’s popular HEMI engine. In the end, only 859 Boss 429s were made, and the car remains highly collect-able. At least one OnAllCylinders staffer thinks it’s the most beautiful car ever built.

2019 Chevy Camaro ZL1 vs. 1969 Dodge Charger R/T

The 2019 Camaro ZL1 is powered by the supercharged 6.2L LT4 V8 which spits out a delightful 650 hp, and offers a bunch of cool features like magnetic ride suspension, runs 11s from the factory (with the optional 10R80 10-speed transmission), and handles like a dream on a road course.

The 1969 Dodge Charger reached legendary status on its own, but earned cult status when Bo and Luke piloted a ’69 Charger on TV’s Dukes of Hazzard. We went with the 1969 Charger R/T because of its standard 440-cubic-inch engine and special handling package. (A 426 was also optional.)

2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Widebody vs. 1969 Chevy Yenko Nova 427

What can we say about the Challenger Hellcat that hasn’t already been said? Dodge basically went nuclear on the Big Three muscle car war when it unleashed this 707-horsepower Hellcat engine. The 2018 SRT Challenger Hellcat Widebody took things to new level with upgraded tires and an extra 3.5 inches in width which better helps transfer all of that Hellcat power to the pavement.

The ’69 Yenko Nova was the lightest in the famed Yenko 427 lineup and could go zero to 60 miles-per-hour in an astonishing four seconds! Only 37 of these 425-horsepower beasts were built. That’s bad news for performance junkies—and probably good news for society at large!

2020 Chevy Corvette vs. 1967 Shelby GT500

Chevy’s new C8 Corvette Stingray—a mid-engine supercar with a 6.2L LT2 V8 engine — produces 495 hp and 470 ft.-lbs. of torque at a base price under $60,00. The base 2020 Corvette Stingray weighs 3,366 lbs. and features a Tremec 8-speed dual-clutch transmission—a first for Chevy. It is the most powerful base Corvette every produced.

When Carroll Shelby mated the newly redesigned 1967 Ford Mustang with a modified Police Interceptor 428-cubic-inch engine to create the first big block-powered Shelby GT, performance enthusiasts loved it. In fact, the new big block-powered Shelby GT500 outsold its popular small block counterpart, the Shelby GT350, by a margin of 2,048 to 1,175.

And so began the rise of the 1967 Shelby GT500—the #1 Mustang on our list of all-time greats.

While the Shelby GT350 arrived as the original high performance Mustang two years earlier, the 1967 GT500 upped the ante with 355 horsepower and faster 0-60 mile-per-hour times—and did it for a reasonably affordable price. The modified 428 big block satisfied the consumers need for power and a roll bar and shoulder harnesses came with most vehicles right out of the showroom. 

2017 Ford GT vs. 1969 Pontiac GTO “The Judge”

The 3.5L twin-turbo EcoBoost-powered 2017 Ford GT has one of the best power-to-weight ratios of any production car. It tops out at 216 mph, produces 647 hp, and outperformed supercar stalwarts McLaren and Ferrari on a road track in its debut.

Perhaps no muscle car better reflected American culture than the 1969 Pontiac GTO “the Judge” model, which was named after a popular comedy routine on Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In. The Judge had a serious vibe, though, thanks to its standard 400 H.O. Ram Air III engine, Rally II wheels, spoiler, and wide tires.

2017 Dodge Charger SRT 392 vs. 1964 Ford Thunderbolt

The 2017 Dodge Charger SRT 392 is the little brother of the monstrous Hellcat, but gives up very little to any modern American automobile as a grand touring car. The rear-wheel-drive SRT Charger is powered by the 6.4L V8 Hemi engine that makes 485 hp.

The 1964 Ford Fairlane Thunderbolt is one of our favorite performance vehicles of all time, as it took Ford’s largest V8 engine and then shoehorned it into the midsize Fairlane body. Extremely lightweight and scary fast, the Thunderbolt was also very rare—only around 100 were made.

2017 Shelby GT350R vs. 1968 Dodge Hemi Dart

There’s the legendary Shelby GT350. There’s the modernized version of the GT350. And then there’s the ultimate Shelby GT350 — the 2017 Shelby GT350R.

Starting with the same 5.2L, flat-plane crankshaft-equipped engine that puts out 526 hp in the GT350, the “R” takes the performance focus to a whole new level. No back seats. No trunk liner. And no A/C or media center either. This car is all about speed and handling, so all extra weight is subtracted. But you do get lightweight carbon fiber wheels, larger brakes, and a lower stance.

Speaking of bare bones performance…

If you’re all about performance muscle and nothing else, then the 1968 HEMI Dart is your choice. Only about 80 of the limited-production models were made, and they came about as bare bones as possible. No rear seats. No radio. No luxuries of any kind. Unless you consider a fire-breathing 426-cubic-inch elephant a luxury. With minimal modifications, the HEMI Dart was easily in the 10s in the quarter-mile.

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