10 Best Classic Muscle Cars
There is no denying that classic muscle cars are an important part of American culture. They represent the best of what America has to offer and symbolize freedom.
The best classic muscle cars have their distinctive style, making them stand out from the crowd. The iconic design, powerful engine, and sleek body give them a certain appeal that will always make them attractive to car enthusiasts.
The past top performers were built with a combination of power, speed, and style. These cars are no longer used for the same reasons, but they are still some of the most desirable vehicles on the market.
Instead, they carry value and remain as key collectible items from the long, storied history of classic vehicles throughout history. Below we have included the ten best classic muscle cars to remember most.
1. 1970 Dodge Charger
The 1970 Dodge Charger is a muscle car that was built by Chrysler in the United States. This car has a powerful engine, which makes it an excellent choice for anyone who wants to drive around with style.
The Dodge Charger was released in 1970 to compete with other muscle cars like Ford Mustang and Chevrolet Camaro. It included a 225 cubic inch, 3.7 L engine with the 440 Six Pack powerplant upgrade.
The car was also made to look like it had an air scoop on top, making it look aggressive and intimidating. It was a big hit on the market during its time and brought back memories of old American muscle cars.
You’ve likely seen this famed vehicle in the Fast & Furious movies too. It changed how people thought about American muscle cars and is still remembered today.
Three trim levels were available, including the Base, Charger 500, and R/T. All options were impressive with V8 engines, and the top R/T model provided an impressive 425 horsepower.
This instant classic is not cheap, and you will struggle to find one in good condition with relatively low miles below $80,000.
Check out Hemmings for a wide selection of options. The average price range is between $75,000 to $100,000.
2. 1968 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500
The 1968 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 is one of the best classic muscle cars ever made. It has a powerful engine and a comfortable interior and has forever impacted the industry.
It was released in 1968 as a response to Chevrolet's Camaro Z/28. It had an all-aluminum body and a four-speed manual transmission, and it came with an optional 428 Cobra Jet engine that could produce up to 335 horsepower.
The design of this car was meant to compete with Chevrolet’s Camaro ZL-1 and beat it in performance and style. It could go 0 to 60 in only 6.5 seconds with a quarter mile time under 15 seconds.
The transmission system in this car was independent, with a four-speed manual gearbox and an optional three-speed automatic transmission design. A total of 1,140 fastback models and 402 convertible models were released for sale.
This makes this vehicle one of the rarest Mustang Shelbys, and we love it because of how much power and performance it can provide.
This classic muscle care is extremely rare, and the price reflects it. Average prices available at Hemmings are between $125,000 to $265,000, and it is not uncommon to pay even more depending on the condition.
3. 1969 Pontiac GTO Judge
The 1969 Pontiac GTO Judge is one of the best muscle cars ever made. It has a powerful V8 engine, a sleek body, and aggressive styling.
The Judge was sold from 1969-1970, with only 3,904 units produced in total. In 1970, the GTO was replaced by the Grand Am series, which was also produced in limited numbers, with only 2,936 units produced in total.
This car is from the golden era of muscle cars when cars were meant for cruising down the highway with a cool breeze blowing through your hair. Though this car is not a modern-day classic, it still looks great today and would be a great addition to any garage.
Some of the key specs include a 0 to 60 speed of only 6.2 seconds with an impressive 370 horsepower. The design was lean, with a wheelbase of 112 inches and a curb weight of 4,000 pounds.
The L74 370-HP D-port Ram air engine was extremely reliable and high-performance. There were only five total vehicles released with the 370-hp Ram Air IV engine, making this one of the rarest classic muscle cars too.
The price for the Pontiac PTO Judge ranges between $60,000 to $120,000, but it is difficult to gauge the market for this vehicle. The car is rare, and the price fluctuates with so few available models.
4. 1969 AMC AMX/3
The AMC AMX/3 had a powerful engine producing up to 295 horsepower. It was also lightweight and easy to handle. The car was also very aerodynamic, which made it an excellent car for racing on the track.
The AMX/3 was originally intended to be produced in limited numbers, but it became a popular vehicle with buyers who appreciated its unique styling and performance characteristics.
With its aerodynamic design, powerful engine, and excellent handling, it was one of the most popular classic muscle cars ever.
One of the most notable features is that it had a V8 engine with dual intake manifolds for better performance and fuel economy.
The amazing thing about this car is how it only lasted for one year on the market because it was designed with too short of a body. This cut the run short, and only nine vehicles were released, making this one of the rarest muscle cars ever.
In fact, the rarity was on full display as one of these models sold for $400,000. You likely won’t have much success finding this vehicle anywhere unless you have a huge budget.
5. 1970 Plymouth Road Runner Superbird
The 1970 Plymouth Road Runner Superbird is another extremely rare vehicle because of its one-year production run. It was created with Looney Tunes’ inspiration and even used the Road Runner character’s signature “beep, beep” noise as the horn.
The car was known for its performance and speed and is a classic American muscle car. It had a powerful engine and sleek design, making it one of the most sought-after muscle cars on the market today.
The 426cid V8 engine provides plenty of power, and the four-speed manual transmission was a nice upgrade too. There were only a total of 1,930 of these vehicles made with the 93 Hemi engine.
Now check out the speed and power it could provide. Reports indicate you could get up to 150 MPH in top speed with a 0 to 60 time in 4.8 to 5.3 seconds.
This design also included 425 horsepower, which ranks in the top three among all muscle cars ever to hit the open market. We may never see another vehicle made with the same power that this 426 cu in (7.0 L) Hemi engine provided.
Price estimates vary on this vehicle because of the limited production run. You can expect to pay at least $100,000, with some custom models going for well over $200,000.
Hemmings has some exciting models available for purchase too.
6. 1970 Dodge Challenger R/T
The Dodge Challenger R/T is a classic muscle car that can be used for recreation or just to show off. It has been around for over 40 years and still has many fans that love its powerful engine and iconic design.
This is one of the most popular classic muscle cars ever. It offers many features that make it worth owning, including the Hemi engine, TorqueFlite transmission, and four-speed manual transmission.
This first-generation model was built to challenge vehicles like the Ford Mustang, Chevy Camaro, and Mercury Cougar. The Hemi V8 engine was powerful, with 146 miles per hour top speed.
This 383 cubic-inch Magnum V8 was a big upgrade with 335 horsepower and 425 lb-ft of torque. You could also expect better performance with the road/track (R/T) model because of the optional engine upgrades.
This was a large muscle car, too, with a length of 191.3 inches, a width of 76.1 inches, and a wheelbase of 110 inches. The total curb weight of this car is 3,402 pounds.
It is not as easy to find this R/T model available, but you can expect to pay a high price of well over $100,000, depending on the condition and miles.
Hemmings has some different options available worth considering. Some of the best custom options sell for over $300,000.
7. 1969 Pontiac Firebird 400
The 1969 Pontiac Firebird 400 was an iconic muscle car that combined great performance with a classic look. It has been used in countless movies and TV shows over the years too.
The first thing you notice about the Firebird 400 is its size. It's a big car, and not just in comparison to other muscle cars from the era. It's also a big car by today's standards, but that doesn't really matter when it comes to performance.
The Firebird 400 is still one of the most powerful muscle cars ever built, and it has the power to back up its size. The engine had 400 cubic inches with a single four-barrel carburetor and produced 325 horsepower.
This is also considered one of the fastest muscle cars from this era. It has a top speed of 180 MPH and accelerates from 0 to 60 MPH in only 5.7 seconds.
The great thing about this Firebird is its affordability for avid classic car collectors. It is an excellent entry-level option with average prices ranging from $30,000 to $50,000.
You can see plenty of options on the market at Hemmings, all falling within this price range.
8. 1970 Chevrolet Chevelle SS 454
The 1970 Chevrolet Chevelle SS 454 is one of the most iconic classic muscle cars ever. It's a muscle car that was built for the street and has been an icon in its own right since it was first released.
The performance characteristics of this car were what made it so popular with American consumers, which is why this car remains so popular today.
The Chevelle SS 454 has a V8 engine with a displacement of 454 cubic inches. This engine can produce up to 450 horsepower, which is close to being the top-rated overall engine, but falls a bit short when compared to the Camaro.
The car was designed to be bigger and more powerful than its predecessor. It featured a stronger drivetrain, manual four-speed transmission, and a larger engine than the Chevy II could offer.
The Chevelle SS454 could reach 0-60 mph in just 6 seconds. It also boasted an impressive top speed of 162 mph.
This is an awesome vehicle to add to your collection. The average price ranges between $50,000 to $100,000 depending on the paint job, engine type, and overall vehicle condition.
Hemmings is an option to find your best fit, with dozens of options available for sale as of today.
9. 1970 Plymouth Hemi Barracuda
The 1970 Plymouth Hemi Barracuda is one of the most impressive classic muscle cars ever. It has an iconic design and powerful engine, making it a dream car for many enthusiasts.
The Hemi Barracuda was one of the first muscle cars with a Chrysler V8 engine. This includes 425 horsepower and a maximum speed of 155 MPH.
The car has a distinctive design with a pointed nose and a large air intake on its hood. It also has beautiful chrome trimming on the body panels and bumpers. It has a powerful engine and a unique design that makes it stand out from the crowd.
The three-speed automatic transmission was advanced for this era, with solid disc brakes and excellent handling.
This car is built on a frame with an independent front suspension and rear swing axle suspension, which makes it easy to handle at high speeds.
This is another widely available classic, with many options on Hemmings today. On average, you can expect to pay between $45,000 and $75,000 for this car.
It has many customization options, including some extremely rare paint jobs, and the high power output makes this one of the best-value classic muscle cars.
10. 1969 Ford Torino
The 1969 Ford Torino is one of the most renowned classic muscle cars ever. It has a powerful V8 engine with a 3-speed manual gearbox transmission. The sleek and stylish design is legendary among enthusiasts too.
It has a powerful engine with an estimated power output of 220 horsepower, which makes it one of the fastest cars on the market. Its exterior is also very elegant with its sleek design, which gives it an exclusive look.
The interior provides a set of luxurious leather seats with plenty of room for passengers to sit comfortably. It could also go 0-60 mph in just over 7 seconds.
But it is worth noting you have a handful of different engine configurations available with this Torino. This can change your total horsepower, speed, and power output considerably.
On average, the 0 to 60 speed is only 8.4 seconds, and the overall design of this vehicle is quite large. It is 201 inches long and 75 inches wide, and the wheelbase is 116 inches.
The 1969 Ford Torino is a good choice if you are just starting in this space. The average price is between $25,000 and $40,000 for most models, depending on the condition.
Classic Cars are one of the best retailers with many options worth considering today.
What Defines A Great Classic Muscle Car?
Muscle cars are defined by their power and speed. However, it’s not just about raw horsepower or top speed. It’s about the car’s design, how it looks, and ultimately how it drives.
A great classic muscle car is one that has a unique design with a distinctive style that people recognize from a distance. They also have a powerful engine with an iconic sound that makes them stand out from the rest of the crowd.
Here are the key factors that define a classic muscle car. This is a unique subset of vehicles with a firm definition.
The engine size of a classic muscle car should be considered when finding the best. You will see that most of the top options are built with powerful V8 engine designs.
Some are even more advanced with Hemi engines. Ultimately, the key is to add plenty of torque and power with excellent speeds.
You should also consider how much horsepower a classic muscle car has. The best ones all have between 220 to 420 horsepower, but on average, 300 to 350 HP is a solid range to be in.
Next, you can consider the acceleration capabilities of a classic muscle car. This can be analyzed based on how quickly a car can go from 0 to 60 MPH.
Some of the top-performing vehicles can do this in 5 seconds, but on average, you will see most of the top-rated muscle cars in this guide hitting the 6-second mark.
American muscle cars became notorious between 1964 and 1974 when the last muscle car was released. The change was due to an oil embargo and a shift in how vehicles would use fuel.
During this ten-year run, these cars were considered muscle cars because of different features that no longer exist, like rear-wheel drive.
Rear Wheel Drive
Rear-wheel drive is extremely important when identifying a muscle car because it indicates that the car uses the back wheels to generate power and drive the engine forward.
This was the primary reason these cars could generate so much speed, acceleration, and horsepower. But because the concept has since died out, modern-day vehicles drive much differently.
This is why the term muscle car typically refers to these rear-wheel drive vehicles. And we recommend considering this when shopping for potential classic muscle cars.
What Is The Most Popular Classic American Muscle Car?
The Ford Mustang is the most popular classic American muscle car ever. It is a high-performance sports car that has been around for more than 50 years.
The first model was created in 1964 to compete in the muscle car space, and it stands today as one of the longest-lasting models and most popular vehicles ever.
The longevity of the Ford Mustang is what has made it become such a popular vehicle too. You can see the evolution of how far it has come, making the classic models more valuable.
About THE AUTHOR
My name is Matt and I've been around cars all my life! I have owned and worked on many different classic vehicles, so I started this site to share my experiences. If you're new to classic cars, then this website is for you.Read More About Matt Lane