The 1966 Pontiac GTO is one of five 1960s and 1970s era muscle cars immortalized… (U.S. Postal Service )
Five of the rowdiest, rarest and best-known muscle cars of an era when gas prices were less than 40 cents a gallon have been immortalized in a new series of U.S. Postal Service stamps.
The stamps in the "Muscle Cars Forever" collection, whose makeup has already inspired debate among muscle car aficionados, depict the 1966 Pontiac GTO, the 1967 Shelby GT-500, the 1969 Dodge Charger Daytona, the 1970 Plymouth Hemi 'Cuda, and the 1970 Chevelle SS.
"I was a little surprised at the cars they chose," said Steve Dale, a salesman at Showdown Muscle Cars dealership in Port Charlotte, Fla."They left out the [Chevrolet] Camaro, which was such an icon of the times."
PHOTOS: U.S. Postal Service releases 'Muscle Car Forever' stamps
Still, he said he was pleased that the stamps had been issued.
"It's a special tribute to an automobile era when American cars were king in sales," Dale said.
The dealership where Dale works typically has 100 muscle cars ranging in condition from fully restored to requiring some work.
Deciding which cars to include in the stamp series must have been difficult, he said, "because there were so many different muscle cars around at the time."
In a release accompanying the announcement of the stamps, the Postal Service said, "Each of these cars represents the adventurous spirit of the muscle-car era."
Only 503 of the 1969 Dodge Charger Daytonas were made. The Daytona featured a 440-cubic-inch, 375-horsepower Magnum engine at a time when engine displacement was much more important than fuel efficiency,
A few of the Daytonas were equipped with a 426-cubic-inch Hemi, a race-inspired engine. The car also included a signature two-foot tall, rear-mounted wing.
The '66 Pontiac GTO could be had as a hardtop, coupe, or convertible. Its heart was a 335-horsepower, V8 engine. The GTO "Goat," as it was nicknamed, ushered in the American muscle-car era in the mid-1960s.
The '67 Shelby GT-500 was race-car driver Carroll Shelby's version of the Ford Mustang. It was powered by a 428-cubic-inch, 355-horsepower Police Interceptor engine. The car also featured a rear spoiler and dealer-installed LeMans stripes as an option.
The '70 Chevelle SS featured a 396-cubic-inch engine and an 454-cubic-inch engine. Available as a coupe or a convertible, the Chevelle SS featured emblems on the grille and the rear bumper.
The '70 Plymouth Hemi 'Cuda came with a 426-cubic-inch Hemi engine that produced 425-horsepower. Exotic choices for those who wanted to be different included colors such as Lemon Twist, Lime Light, and Vitamin C. Fewer than 700 Hemi 'Cudas were produced.
Artist Tom Fritz was responsible for the artwork on the stamps. Fritz said he used bright-colored oil paints on hardboard to try to “capture the emotive quality of the vehicles.”
One of several options for customers include a sheet of 20 of the stamps and a set of envelopes for $17.95. They can find out more information here.
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