There’s no greater feeling than sitting behind the wheel of a muscle car, putting the key in the ignition, and pressing the pedal to the floor. Your heart races and mind gets lost in the blur of the scenery you spee past. You’re in complete control and the adrenaline rush is freeing. So, what car did you just imagine yourself taking control of? A 1966 cherry red, top down, Mustang convertible? A classic Camaro, perhaps? Maybe, just maybe, your favorite muscle car of all-time is on this list of the greatest ever.
Which one do you dream of most?
Plymouth Road Runner – 1968
As the 1960s came to an unceremonious end, Plymouth bet the company that muscle cars would stay popular well into the next decade. In 1968, they introduced the Plymouth Road Runner. It became one of the first cars of its kind to target young drivers and became an instant classic.
It helped that the Road Runner cleverly tied itself in with the cartoon character of the same name. We bet its $3,000 price tag was a big selling point, too. This car was no joke, however, and could reach a top speed of more than 140 MPH, racing a quarter of a mile in less than 14 seconds.
Plymouth Superbird – 1971
Three years after releasing the Road Runner, Plymouth released the Superbird, a new muscle car based around the original Road Runner design. The redesign was a part of an effort by Plymouth to meet NASCAR requirements. Any muscle car available to the masses with those specs was seen as the king of the crop.
The car’s “classic” reputation has been cemented in the last 20 years. In 2001, a Superbird was expected to sell for $67,000 at auction. Today, they sell regularly for more than $100,000, making them one of the most sought-after classic muscle cars.
Up next, a monster of a machine that took half a decade to catch on!
Buick GSX – 1970
It took half a decade for the Buick Grand Sport to become popular. The original car hit the market in 1965 as a beefed up version of the Skylark. In 1967 the car became the GSX, but still only treaded water in the market.
Finally, in 1970, Buick upped the game, giving the GSX a 7.5-liter engine that could reach 400 horsepower. It sold with a promise of 360 horsepower and came in two colors; “Apollo white” and “Saturn yellow.”
Dodge Charger – 1968
One of the most recognizable muscle cars of all time, you’ve undoubtedly seen the 1968 or 1969 Dodger Charger in pop culture somewhere. Classic television fans will remember it as the cars from The Dukes of Hazzard. Others know it as the car of Steve McQueen’s nemesis in Bullit.
Most recently, the car has become synonymous with The Fast and the Furious franchise as Dominic Toretto’s street racing vehicle of choice. If you’ve been hiding one of these bad boys away in your garage, now might be the time to sell. They’re worth a reported $170,000 at auction!
Chevrolet Chevelle – 1966
The Chevrolet Chevelle model was made from 1966 until 1970 and was capable of 450 horsepower. Chevy went all-out on this car beauty, which originally started as a “Super Sport” package for their 1961 Impala.
The 1970 model is the most popular, with a 7.4-liter beast that could go zero to sixty in six seconds flat. Chevrolet adorned this one with a fancy interior and an exterior decorated with racing stripes. Yeah, they went there.
Still ahead, find out what car was the true “King of the Road.”
Shelby GT King Of The Road – 1964
The original Shleby GT King of the Road (KR), was released in 1964 and had a V-8 engine with 360 horsepower. Today, this muscle car created by AC Cars is considered a classic. One special order even sold for $5.5 million.
One version of the car, the Shelby Cobra 427, released in 1966, was considered too powerful, reaching a top horsepower of 480. One famous celebrity even sold his after the car ended up in a lake when he couldn’t handle how powerful it was.
Plymouth Barracuda – 1970
Re-launched in 1970 with a 7.2-liter engine capable of 390 horsepower, the Plymouth Barracuda was every bit as intimidating as its name. A bigger version, the Hemi-Cuda, could reach 425 horsepower and go from zero to sixty in 5.6 seconds.
Today, the value of a Barracuda in mint condition is incredible. Some have even sold for over $2 million! The high price can be attributed to the limited stock of the vehicle being produced. During the era that it was made, insurance premiums skyrocketed, limiting the market for this machine.
Chevrolet Camaro Z-28 – 1967
The 1967 Chevrolet Camaro Z-28 is considered the favorite version of the late ’60s Camaro models. It came with a manual gearbox and was made for racing. With brakes located in the front, it was too difficult for most casual car enthusiasts to handle without practice.
The base package available of this car was sold with a V-8 engine capable of 290 horsepower, positraction, and power steering. For anyone looking to blow their enemies away on the streets, no car was better than the Z-28.
Still ahead, we take our first trip into the ’80s!
Chevrolet Corvette – 1984
In 1984, Chevrolet introduced the first redesign of the Corvette since 1968. Already considered a classic, this new model upped the game with a tuned port fuel-injection system and increased horsepower. After five years on the market, Chevrolet released a souped up, ultra-performance corvette with 375 horsepower.
Shockingly, the year before the new Corvette was released, Chevrolet ceased production of the car. With the 1968 model ending in 1982, the car company took a year to develop their new model. No one knows why, all we know is that every 1983 Corvette prototype has been destroyed.
Pontiac Firebird Trans Am – 1978
While everyone else was backing away from muscle car production in the late 1970s, Pontiac decided to double down and released the Firebird Trans Am in 1978. To excite its fanbase, Pontiac increased horsepower from 200 to 220 and developed a brand new special handling package with sport-tuned suspension.
The famous T-roof on these cars was introduced in 1976 and manufactured by Hurst. When it was discovered that the lift out sections leaked, Pontiac took over production of the roof parts. The Pontiac designed version is slightly larger than the Hurst ones.
Oldsmobile 442 – 1971
The four barrel, four-speed, and dual exhaust Oldsmobile 442 has stood the test of time since its 1968 introduction to the world. Of course, the car was originally an options package for the Cutlass until 1968. The 1971 model is the preferred 442 of choice for car collectors today.
This model featured improved springs, which improved handling while the car finished its quarter-mile sprint in just under 15 seconds. If you want to get your hands on one of these classics today, it will cost you around $85,000.
Pontiac GTO – 1964
Released in 1964, the Pontiac GTO didn’t capture the imagination of the public until 1965, when it showed it could go from zero to sixty in 6.1 seconds. To many, the 1965 model is the greatest muscle car of all-time, even though it was quickly out-driven by other brands.
Pontiac marketed the car at a younger people, selling it as a cheap and fast alternative to other cars of the time. Today, one of these classic models is worth over $200,000, if you can find one available.
Ford Mustang Boss – 1969
With NASCAR in its golden age, the Ford Motor Company upped its muscle car game with the Mustang Boss. Hiding a 429-cubic inch V-8 under the hood, the muscle car could handle itself on the race track but made it’s home on the highways.
Ford didn’t compete in NASCAR at the time, but they needed a muscle car on the market that met racing requirements. Plymouth was doing the same with incredible success, so it only made sense for Ford to try. Today, a Mustang Boss will cost you around $200,000 to own.
Next, we take a trip back into the decade of glam for this muscle monster!
Buick GNX – 1987
Buick stepped back into the muscle car scene with the 1987 release of the GNX, which came with a V-6 engine capable of 276 horsepower. Upon its release, it was one of the fastest cars on the road, able to go from zero to sixty in 4.6 seconds.
For some reason, Buick only made 547 of these classics. Knowing production numbers were small, some purchasers stored their car away to possibly sell at an increased value. Some investments are too easy not to make!
Pontiac Catalina – 1965
The Pontiac Tempest may be seen by critics as the original muscle car, but the 1965 Catalina helped define the early era. The large body Catalina was a 2+2 performance model with a 421-cubic inch V-8 engine capable of 338 horsepower. A quick upgrade to a 421 H.O. increased horsepower to 376.
To help improve hype over the new vehicle, Pontiac upgraded the vehicles released to writers at Royal Pontiac in Royal Oak, Michigan. With these upgrades, the car could reach zero to sixty in 3.8 seconds and race a quarter of a mile in under 14 seconds.
Dodge Daytona – 1969
Unlike Plymouth and Ford, Dodge was designing cars to race in NASCAR in the 1960s. In 1969, the company introduced the Charger Daytona, a longer car designed to out-run the competition on the longest tracks. As you can see, it was one of the most radically designed muscle cars ever.
To make the car faster, Dodge added a sloped nose cone, flushed rear window, and an extra long rear wing. The car was so dominant in NASCAR races that it was actually banned by the organization in 1970!
Chevrolet Corvette – 1968
You’ve seen the 1984 Chevrolet Corvette, but now it’s time to talk about its parents. The 1968 Corvette was produced until 1982, one of the longest runs of a body model of any muscle car. The Baldwin-Motion Phase III GT Corvette, released in 1968, was the cream of the crop.
Created by Joel Rosen in Baldwin, New York, the Phase III GT was a taste of the future. The vehicle was given the blessing of Zora Arkus-Duntov, the creator of the Corvette, when it was first showcased at the 1969 New York International Car Show.
Ford Mustang Shelby – 1965
The 1965 Ford Mustang Shelby is one of the most sought-after cars by Mustang fanatics. The ’65 and ’66 GT 350s were styled simply, light, and perfect for the track. The King of the Road model may have come out a few years later, but don’t doubt this monster of mayhem.
The iconic “Le Mans” racing stripe associated with the ’65 Shelby today only appeared on 28 percent of the original models. Most of the racing stripes were added by the dealership at the customer’s request.
Ford Torino – 1970
Looking for a complimentary muscle car to the Mustang, Ford released the Torino Cobra in 1970. According to Motor Trend, “The car goes through tight turns in a confidence inspiring controlled slide. It’s all very smooth and unusual.” The positive review helped turn this powerhouse into a monster hit.
One year later, Ford came out with the 429 Super Cobra Jet. This new version was rated with 375 horsepower as part of the “drag pack” option that could blow the rest of the competition away.
AMC Rebel Machine – 1970
Like Ford, the American Motor Company was looking for a boost in the muscle car business when it took the Rebel and turned it into the Rebel Machine. The Machine was made available in 1970 and is famous for being one of the most patriotic muscle cars ever. Just look at that paint job!
The Rebel Machine came equipped with a V-6 engine capable of 340 horsepower. Reception of the Machine was lukewarm at the time, with Hot Rod writing that it would beat a “Volkswagon, a slow freight train, or your old man’s Cadillac.”