American muscle cars are cruising into stamp history, as the U.S. Postal Service has dedicated its newest Forever stamps, titled America on the Move: Muscle Cars Forever, to high-horsepower automobiles. Legendary NASCAR driver, Richard "The King" Petty, along with his son Kyle and Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe, chose Tom Fritz's artwork to be used for the stamps. The official announcement came recently at the Daytona International Speedway in advance of the annual Daytona 500, a race Petty won a record seven times.
As an avid car enthusiast and well respected motor sport artist, Tom Fritz was the clear choice to illustrate the series of stamps. He was raised in San Fernando, California, in the 1960s and '70s, at the height of the muscle car era. He spent much of his youth helping his father in the garage working on a '56 Chevy woody wagon.
"To this day, I still have an appetite for the aroma of gasoline, exhaust, grease, and WD-40," Fritz explained in an email. "It was natural that I started to explore the automobile as a source of expression in my art."
Fritz is a four-time recipient of the Automotive Fine Arts Society's prestigious Peter Helck Award and is a member of the induction committee for Mattel's Hot Wheels Hall of Fame at the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles. His work can be found in many private and corporate collections around the world, including those of General Motors, Ford Motor Company, the Automobile Association of America, Harley-Davidson Motor Company, and Pittsburgh Paint and Glass.
"My love of motor vehicles became my driving force. From the early days of the Santa Monica Road Races, to the 1930s and '40s when hot rods raced across the Mojave Desert," said Fritz describing how he developed into an artist and gearhead. "I investigate the history of automotive/motorcycle cultures so that I can present a realistic interpretation of my subject matter - an overview of the significance of the automobile/motorcycle in our lives."
There are roughly 40,000 stamp suggestions each year, with only 20 chosen. To design a Forever stamp series is an impressive achievement to say the least. Roughly 60 million of these stamps will be printed.
"The muscle cars gave everyday Americans the opportunity to experience the rush of driving a fast, powerful car," said Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe in a press release. "Just looking at the stamps evokes a feeling of speed. As Forever stamps, they'll always be good for mailing a First-Class letter anytime in the future. And when you think about it, that's fitting. Because these stamps-just like the great cars they represent-are timeless."
5 different designs are included in the America on the Move: Muscle Cars Forever series:
1966 Pontiac GTO
Initially offered simply as an option on the Tempest LeMans, the GTO became its own model in 1966. Available as a hardtop, coupe or convertible, the Pontiac GTO was equipped with a standard 335-horsepower V8 engine. The "Goat" could really move. In tests, it went from 0 to 60 mph in 6.8 seconds.
1969 Dodge Charger Daytona
The production version of the 1969 Dodge Charger Daytona was powered by a standard 440-cubic-inch, 375-horsepower Magnum engine. A limited number of Daytonas also were available with a 426-cubic-inch Hemi, a race-inspired engine Chrysler introduced earlier that decade. Chrysler first used a version of the Hemi - a high-performance engine with hemispherical combustion chambers - in automobiles in the 1950s.
In order to qualify for NASCAR racing, at least 500 Daytonas had to be made available for purchase. Only 503 were produced. The car, which underwent wind-tunnel testing before its release, took the checkered flag at its NASCAR debut in September 1969 at Alabama International Motor Speedway in Talladega.
1970 Plymouth Hemi 'Cuda
The 1970 Plymouth Hemi 'Cuda, was equipped with a 426-cubic-inch Hemi engine, producing a staggering 425-horsepower!
One of the 1970 Plymouth Hemi 'Cuda's more audacious features was a Shaker hood scoop, which vibrated as air flowed through to the engine's two four-barrel carburetors. It was available in a variety of eye-popping color choices, such as Lemon Twist, Lime Light and Vitamin C. The model also is a rare specimen, as fewer than 700 were produced.
1970 Chevelle SS
The 1970 Chevelle SS was known for its unique style and impressive engine options. SS stood for Super Sport, a fitting designation for this power car. Two versions of the 454 engine were available: the 360-horsepower LS-5 and the 450-horsepower LS-6. For its sheer power, the latter has become legendary among car buffs. . Available as a coupe or a convertible, it featured a black grille and SS emblems on both the grille and the rear bumper. With features like optional twin racing stripes, the 1970 Chevelle SS looked fierce.
1967 Shelby GT-500
The 1967 Shelby GT-500 was powered by a 428-cubic-inch, 355-horsepower Police Interceptor engine. The car was both striking and rare; only 2,048 were built. In 2007, Ford reintroduced the Shelby GT-500 into the Mustang model lineup.