1969, the year mankind stepped on the moon, the Beatles performed together for the last time, and American manufacturers released some of the greatest muscle and sports cars. These incredible events even overlapped, with the Apollo 13 astronauts receiving their own corvettes after returning to Earth.

Back when the main concern of most manufacturers was to make cars slower in order to receive clearance from the government, innovation in the automation industry was at an all-time high. Many muscle cars of the time were built mainly to compete in NASCAR races, so the sheer force of these vehicles was incredible. The engines were as powerful as they had ever been.

1969 was also the end of an era before health and safety regulations knocked engines down a peg starting in the early 1970s. With the introduction of safety components such as smog pumps, cars became severely underpowered in the years that followed. Though one is thankful for these safety policies now, one cannot help but dream of the super-powered cars of the late '60s.

10 Plymouth 440 Barracuda

1969 plymouth 440 cuda
Via St. Louis Car Museum  

This car put everything in competition to shame. With its classic fastback design, loud engine, and slick body, the 'Cuda made sure its driver was at the center of everyone's attention.

1969-plymouth-440-cuda
Via St. Louis Car Museum

​​​​​​Available in a wide variety of engine options including the 428 HEMI, the best Barracudas reached a whopping 440 hp.

9 Pontiac Trans-am Ram Air

Trans Am Ram AIr
Via Mecum Auctions

Named after the Trans-Am racing series, this 1969 Pontiac was the first in the legendary trans-am dynasty. The Ram Air V8 engine enabled the Trans Am to keep up with the well-established titans of its time.

Ram AIr IV Engine
Via Mecum Auctions

Because of the Ram Air IV engine, these cars came out of the factory completely ready for the track. Though the Trans Am would go through a variety of design concepts through the years, the original 1969 model represents the Trans Am in its purest and cleanest form.Related: Why The Turbo 1989 Pontiac Trans Am Is Criminally Underrated

8 Chevy Corvette ZL1 Stingray

1969-Chevrolet-Corvette-ZL1-4
source: flipboard

With only three models ever produced, the Corvette Stingray ZL1 is one of the rarest and most impressive cars ever designed. The car had with a whopping 430 hp, though many enthusiasts claim that the true horsepower of the vehicle actually ranged around the mid 500s.

Engine of a 1969 ZL1
Via Supercars.net

By replacing the heavier L88 with an aluminum ZL1, the creators shed one hundred pounds of motor weight while maintaining the power and torque of the predecessor. The ZL1 option cost about the same as the corvette itself, putting it in a league of its own in both performance and bank break-ability.

7 Mustang Mach 1

Mustang Mach 1
Via Wiki: Matt Morgan

With its aggressive design, pronounced bottom lip, and fastback tail, the '69 Mustang Mach 1 is the quintessential muscle car. The now-iconic sportsroof design was one of the key elements that made the Mach 1 an unforgettable ride.

Mach 1
Via Motorius

Equipped with a 428 Cobra Jet V8 engine, this mustang is known for its impressive torque and handling. This model is as iconic as muscle cars can get, and it has inspired generations of car fans and enthusiasts.

Related:Here's What Makes The 1969 Mach 1 A Legendary Ford Mustang

6 Camaro Z28

Red Camaro Z28
Via Heacock Classics 

This dominant racing and drifting vehicle had a whopping 450 hp; many argue that it was the crown jewel of the automotive industry in 1969.

1969-Z28-Camaro-302-V8-Cross-Ram-Package
Via Heacock Classics

Not many models were produced of Z28, making it a rare sight for folks looking to restore this 1969 beaut. The Z28 was impressive both on and off the track and is still highly sought-after by classic car enthusiasts.

5 AMC AMX

1969-amc-amx
Via Midwest Car Exchange

The perfect combination of classy and badass the AMC AMX could make anyone's muscle car dreams come true. Due to its impressive V8 engine, this two-door coupe was much faster and more powerful than people often give it expected.

1969 amx engine/interior
Via Car Restoration

Marketed mostly towards the younger population, the AMC AMX made sure everyone had a cool '60s car story to tell their descendants.Related: 1969 AMC AMX Is An All-Original Barn Find With Only 25,000 Miles

4 Buick Wildcat

Red Buick Wildcat
Via Youtube

Offering a much classier experience, this Buick was a must-have for customers interested in luxury and comfort. It came packed with large leather bench seats reminiscent of the cars in previous generations.

Buick Convertible Custom Interior
Via Barret Jackson

Available in convertible and coupe, the Buick Wildcat allowed its drivers to roll down any street with confidence and panache.

3 Chevy Impala SS 427

chevrolet impala ss 427 Fastest Laps
Via Fastest Laps 

As the circle of life is inevitable, many great things came to us on this year and many were taken away. One such departure was the Chevy Impala SS 427 which would go on to halt production beginning in 1970. This made 1969 the last year that people could get their hands on this lean mean driving machine.

Impala ss Engine
Via Barett-Jackson 

The V8 427 SS engine provided this car with a whopping 425 hp. This, in addition to its innovative tail and headlight detection systems, made the SS 427 one of the hottest cars you could find on the streets of 1969.

2 Mustang Boss 429

1969 Boss 429
Via Mustang Specs

A literal and figurative dark horse, the Boss 429 has slowly gained notoriety as a must-have classic in recent years. Built originally to compete in NASCAR, the 3,500 lb beast had to be de-tuned just to undergo homologation. The interior of the hood had to be extended to fit the appropriately named humongous "shotgun" motor.

Mustang Boss (Semi-Hemi) Engine
Via Mecum Auctions

Sporting one of the most powerful ford engines until its time, the stock Ford Boss 429 came equipped with power steering and power breaks, not a particularly common sight in muscle cars of the time. Because of the powerful engine and complicated hood modifications, Boss 429's were only produced for a few years before being retired, making them rare collection items.

1 Dodge Charger Daytona

1969 dodge charger daytona front view
Via American Muscle Car Museum

Though at first sight, many people dismissed the Charger Daytona for its pointed design and huge wing, they soon realized the sheer power hiding under its beak-shaped hood. Equipped with a Hemi V8 engine, this 425 horsepower masterpiece dominated both on and off the track.

Related:2,500-HP Dodge Daytona Is 'Scary To Drive' Admits Owner

1969 daytona
Via American Muscle Car Museum

Its shape was the result of intricate planning and wind tunnel testing by Dodge engineers to make an optimized aerodynamic car for racing. The car was named after the world-famous NASCAR "Daytona 500" race and is as iconic as the '60s themselves.

Here's Why 1969 Was The Best Year For New Cars In History
Read Next
About The Author