Pontiac Catalina 2+2
In the mid-60s, the Pontiac GTO was at the forefront of the exciting new muscle car movement. With its performance, powerful engine and great Pontiac styling, the GTO was the perfect car for the moment. But, it wasn’t the only stellar performance machine coming from Pontiac. In 1965, there was another pure muscle car icon in the form of the Catalina 2+2.
Behind this strange name, they hid a full-size Catalina model available as a coupe or a convertible, but with a performance twist. The regular Catalina was a great-looking and decent-selling model, but in 2+2 form, it transformed into a true Gran Turismo with a luxury interior and fire-breathing engine. Since the Catalina was a full-size model, it was eligible for engines over 400 CID according to GM rules of the time. This meant the Catalina 2+2 came with the famous 421 V8.
You could also get the Tri-Power intake system, which was the same as in the GTO. It boosted your car’s power to 376 HP. In addition to that, buyers could order limited-slip differentials, heavy duty steering and brakes, and a lot more. And all that made the Catalina 2+2 well-appointed, but unfortunately, quite expensive, too.
The top of the line 2+2 cost over $4,000, which was a hefty sum. In fact, it was much more than the similarly equipped GTO. Pontiac produced around 11,000 of these fine machines in 1965, but only around 200 convertibles.
Mercury Cyclone CJ
Even though the Cyclone is not the first muscle car that pops into your head when you think of late 60s muscle cars, this Mercury was popular back in the day. However, people have forgotten it, along with the brand itself, which Ford discontinued a few years ago. And along with the compact Mustang-based Cougar, Mercury offered the Cyclone. Interestingly, it was an intermediate muscle car they built on the Ford Fairlane/Torino platform.
Since Mercury was an upscale brand, they appointed the Cyclone better than comparable products from Ford. However, the engine choices and performance were the same. Mercury presented the Cyclone in 1964 and it stayed on the market until 1971. But the best version most interesting to collectors is the Cyclone CJ.
Those two letters marked the presence of the famed 428 Cobra Jet engine. It was the first truly street-muscle engine Ford ever built. With 7.0-liters of displacement and an advertised 335 HP, the Cobra Jet made over 400 HP in real life. The Cyclone CJ was a serious street racing contender that significantly upped the performance.
Along with Ford, Mercury was active in NASCAR racing during the late 60s. The Cyclone CJ played its part in their racing efforts. Sadly, they produced less than 3,500 Cyclones CJ in 1969 because the regular Cyclones without the Cobra Jet option were more popular.
Oldsmobile 442 W30
Even though the Pontiac GTO takes full credit as being the first modern muscle car, not many people know the Oldsmobile 442 started the same year. However, Oldsmobile was more discrete about advertising this new model as a basic option in the Cutlass line. From the beginning, they marketed the 442 as “the gentleman’s hot rod.” And it was all that since it was an elegant, well-equipped muscle car.
They gave it luxury appointments, reserved styling and a brutal performance. However, the name, “442,” caused a lot of controversies back in the day, yet the meaning was simple. It had a 400 CID engine, a four-barrel carburetor, and a dual exhaust. Although you could order it with an automatic, if you wanted the most out your 442, you would go for the manual.
In 1966, Oldsmobile prepared an interesting special version for the 442 called the W-30. If you opted for W-30, you got special ram air induction with tubes going from the front bumper to the carburetors, a hotter cam, and more go-fast options. Being conservative, Oldsmobile didn’t put any wild graphics or emblems on the car. So, even though the W-30 was significantly faster than the regular model, it looked the same.
Although the price of the W-30 package was affordable, most people overlooked this model, so Oldsmobile only made 54 of them. And that is a tiny percentage compared to the over 20,000 442s they built for the 1966 model year.
Buick GS 455
The Buick GS 455 is a special, interesting car in muscle car mythology. As you might know, Buick was a luxury car brand and wasn’t interested in the muscle car hype of the mid-60s. However, despite its restrained image and older clientele, Buick produced a couple of memorable machines with high horsepower ratings and unmistakable style.
Cars like the Riviera GS, the Wildcat and the Skylark GS were true muscle cars that offered uncompromised performance, but also a high level of luxury and quality. However, in 1970 when GM lifted its ban on engine displacement, Buick decided to introduce a strong model they named the Grand Sport 455. This car featured the famous 455 V8 rated at 360 HP.
And it could launch this large, heavy car to 60 mph in just around 6.5 seconds. This was lightning fast in 1970 and its speed is still respectable today. Since it was a Buick, the GS 455 came with updated standard equipment and a long list of optional extras. Every GS 455 had a heavy-duty suspension, beefed up steering, brakes and much more.
But the price was close to $4,000, which was a hefty sum for the day. However, the GS 455 coupe proved popular with consumers, so Buick built over 8,000 of them.
Ford Thunderbird Supercharged
They presented the Thunderbird in 1955 and it outsold the Corvette immediately. But in 1957, Ford introduced two engine options that set the standards for performance. And they now have a special place in the history of American performance and muscle cars today.
Mounting a Paxton or McCullough supercharger on top of a 312 V8 engine was optional, but it gave the Thunderbird a 300 HP rating. And if that wasn’t enough, Ford offered an even hotter 340 HP version of the same supercharged engine they intended for racers.
Back in the day, Oldsmobile represented the cutting-edge division of GM, presenting models far ahead of their time. In fact, the Oldsmobile brand displayed power and style on the global market. And one such car is the 1966 Oldsmobile Toronado. The designers drew a fantastic looking shape with a low roof and hidden headlights. Also, the power came from a big block 455 V8 with 385 HP.
The Toronado was a success because it introduced superb driving characteristics, leaving its competitors in the dust. With 385 HP on tap and superb handling, the Oldsmobile Toronado is a full-size muscle car. The first two generations were the best. Unfortunately, the later Toronado models were just a Cadillac Eldorado with a different grille.
Plymouth Fury GT
Despite being an economy brand in Chrysler Corporation, Plymouth had a surprisingly large number of muscle cars during the â60s and â70s, as well as numerous special versions. Their luxury muscle car was the GTX. However, in 1970, the Fury GT debuted as the biggest model on offer. The Fury GT was a two-door coupe version of the Fury sedan.
But, in GT guise, it was a full-size muscle car with the perfect combination of looks and power. Under the hood was the infamous 440 V8 with a three-carburetor setup and 375 HP on tap. Buyers could choose between 727 Torqueflite automatic or a four-speed manual, too. However, if you wanted real performance, you would choose the manual.
Dodge Monaco 440
The Dodge Monaco lineup of cars was always a good proposition for any buyer. It combined an affordable price with upscale features and powerful engines. But for 1967, Dodge presented the mildly refreshed Monaco coupe with the optional 440 V8 engine.
The elegant semi-fastback roofline, more aggressive design and trim, along with 375 HP from the proven 440 V8 made the Monaco coupe a highly desirable ride. Although the car wasn’t as fast as the Charger, it was still rapid since the big block engine provided power and torque.
Chrysler 300 Hurst
Chrysler revealed their special limited-edition Chrysler 300 Hurst in 1970. Interestingly, they built it in severely limited numbers at around 500. And they enlisted the help of Hurst, the famous transmission company. It featured a special white and gold paint job and a similarly-styled interior. Also, it had a rear spoiler integrated into the rear deck lid.
Better yet, under the hood, there was a mighty 440 V8 engine with 395 HP. And it could propel this two-ton beast to respectful acceleration times. However, they only offered the model for one year. Soon, people forgot about it. But, true Mopar aficionados remember those gold and white behemoths with Hurst emblems. Also, dedicated Chrysler historians consider this special version a continuation of the “Letter Cars” lineup.
Buick Roadmaster LT1
The legendary Roadmaster name returned to the Buick lineup in 1991. This was after a 33-year long hiatus, gracing the luxurious sedan and station wagon model. The car was basically the same as other offerings from General Motors in the same class. However, the Roadmaster had some more luxury options. And it also had one interesting engine, turning this comfy cruiser into a muscle car.
The engineers at Buick found a way to install a Corvette LT1 5.7-liter V8 engine into the Roadmaster engine bay. The LT1 delivered 300 HP in the Corvette. But in the Buick, it produced 260 HP. And that was more enough to turn this heavy car into a proper hot rod.
This list of classic luxury cars contains the most eclectic models car fans still desire today. If one of these vehicles strikes your fancy, be sure to grab it before it disappears. The prices of these cars are sure to skyrocket in the future, too, so get one while you can.