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1960s Muscle Cars That Aged Quite Well (Plus Five That Are Hideous)

Cameron EittreimMay 24, 2021

Photo Credit: Hot Rod

13: 1965 Chevrolet Nova SS

While often overshadowed by the other muscle cars of this era, the 1965 Chevrolet Nova SS is a marvel of design. The no-frills style of the car fits in the muscle car era. Bold proportions in the back gave the Nova an aggressive stance. Likewise, the Nova came equipped with a powerful standard motor. The Nova has managed to cement itself as the standard-bearer of muscle car performance.

Photo Credit: Hot Rod

Valuation for these cars is still on the rise and the market just keeps getting hotter. Few cars have managed to top the Nova in terms of styling or value for the price. This is a no-frills muscle car with a good amount of power to it.

Photo Credit: Car Domain

12: 1965 Ford Mustang 289 HiPo

The 1965 Ford Mustang 289 HiPo stood out from the crowd with a high-performance design. The 289 CI V8 made the Mustang 289 handle twists and turns with authority. But it was on the straightaway that this car shined. Mustangs in general around this time were still new. The 289 HiPo did quite well for a performance vehicle.

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Styling was kept pretty modest and the interior had a no-frills design. But that’s what people loved about the Mustang from this period. It was just plain fun to drive at a time when cars weren’t too fun overall.

Photo Credit: Hot Rod

11: 1965 Pontiac Catalina 2+2

Although the GTO took over as the performance car of the Pontiac lineup, the Catalina was kept alive as well. This time it was marketed as the Catalina 2+2 and if you wanted performance and style, this was the way to get it. Pontiac pulled out all the stops to make the Catalina something that drivers wanted to drive.

Photo Credit: Hot Rod

And the brand succeeded by delivering a compelling car that offered performance and style for a fraction of the price. The 1965 Pontiac Catalina 2+2 was overshadowed by the GTO at the time so these are harder to come by. But if you want to experience authentic luxury and styling, the Catalina 2+2 is worth trying to get your hands on.

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10: 1966 Chevrolet Chevelle SS 396

The SS 396 package was brand new for the 1966 model year. Powered by a serious 396 V8 rated at 375 HP, the Chevelle SS 396 could handle business. The SS 396 was a bold new move for the Chevelle line. At this point, GM was well ahead of the curve in the muscle car market and the car was unique. Styling was bold but not so much that it would turn you off. As far as the overall presence of the car, the Chevelle is among the most memorable cars of the muscle car era.

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With the 1966 Chevrolet Chevelle SS 396, GM did everything right, at a time when consumers were vying for something else. The car didn’t cost too much to buy and it handled racing and driving as you’d expect out of a rough and tough sports car.

Photo Credit: Car Domain

9: 1966 Dodge Coronet 426 Hemi

The Dodge Coronet is not the first nameplate that comes to mind when you think of performance. But there is a good reason for that because MOPAR was saving its best for last. While the Coronet doesn’t have the look and feel of the Charger, it did have the performance for a fraction of the price. Producing an over 500 HP, the Coronet 426 Hemi was not only a bruiser on the track but also showcased the Hemi engine.

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Today, finding a Coronet 426 Hemi in good condition can definitely be a challenge. But the car was perhaps one of the best muscle cars to ever bear a Dodge badge. From a design standpoint, the car still drives great to this day, competing with the best of the best.

Photo Credit: Classic Car Showcase

8: 1966 Dodge Charger

One of the most iconic muscle cars of all time, the Dodge Charger was not only brutish but it also performed well. The thing about the car that made it stand out besides the powerful engine was the look of the car. To this day the Charger brand remains one of the most iconic in the world. Original 1966 models are becoming increasingly hard to come by, even with more collectors.

Photo Credit: Classic Car Showcase

From a performance standpoint, these cars could accelerate at a breakneck pace. Upgrades weren’t hard to do and the car offered a lot of features for the price. Likewise, doing upgrades to the original Charger is also not difficult.

Photo Credit: Flickr

7: Shelby GT350

Carroll Shelby has always had his hand in something at Ford, and the GT350 was evidence of this. From a styling standpoint, the car was and still is gorgeous to this day. The overall look and appearance of the car were in line with the muscle cars of that era.

Photo Credit: Mecum

But the performance was another story, with a 289 V8 that delivered 306 HP. This was a Mustang model that meant business on the track. Production was limited and the special edition paint job was in line with the rest of the Shelby cars. Ford has done quite a few special editions Shelby GT350 models but this was the first and original model.

Photo Credit: Car Domain

6: 1967 Chevrolet Camaro Z/28

Finally, we have the original Camaro Z/28, which was slightly different from the SS models. The Z/28 had an appearance package that included ground effects and special edition wheels. On top of that, the car had a unique appearance that made it stand out from the ordinary Camaro.

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Performance was better than you’d expect and the lightweight of the car helped things out quite a bit. In addition to that, the Z/28 had an upmarket interior that made things a lot more comfortable for the driver. To this day the Z/28 remains a hallmark of the Camaro line, incorporating speed and style in the same package.

Photo Credit: Car Domain

5: 1967 Mercury Cougar (Hideous)

We’re not sure what Ford was thinking with the design of the Cougar. A lot of the lines on the car are shared with the Mustang from the same era. While that’s all good, the overall frontal design of the car leaves a lot to be desired. We’re not sure if Ford was going for a luxury car or a performance car, because there is a mixture of both here.

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The 390 V8 engine did make up for things in the looks department, but not enough to justify the confused styling of the car. It could be the main reason why the Cougar never attained the same type of popularity the Mustang did.

Photo Credit: Car Domain

4: 1967 Pontiac Firebird 400 (Hideous)

The Firebird has gone through multiple renditions of the design over the three generations of the car. It was never as mainstream as the Camaro but it did manage to find success. Take the Firebird 400 out for a ride on the other hand and you’ll see something different. The Pontiac brand was at the pinnacle of design at this time, but the 400 just seemed to fall flat.

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Perhaps the designers were stumped or focusing on performance alone. Few cars have managed to captivate enthusiasts as the Firebird did. There was just something about the car that resonated with consumers. It wasn’t as popular as the Camaro or the Mustang managed to become in such a short period.

Photo Credit: Edmunds

3: 1968 AMC Javelin (Hideous)

AMC was, at one point, one of the major automotive manufacturers in the country. Emphasizing design and performance the brand brought us some of the most iconic vehicles on the road, which includes the Jeep Cherokee. Sadly the Javelin didn’t get the memo when it came to the looks department.

Photo Credit: Car Domain

This particular muscle car was just downright ugly from the exterior and the interior wasn’t much better. Collectors have been yearning for the Javelin in recent years as the classic car bubble heats up. With the basic bones of a muscle car, there is a lot of potential for this car if you’re willing to put the time and money into it.

Photo Credit: Hot Rod

2: 1968 Dodge Charger R/T (Hideous)

The late 1960s were an iconic time for the muscle car industry and Dodge presented some changes to the Charger line. Unfortunately, the styling of the car just didn’t stand the test of time. For starters, the body panels of the car were just too large, which still stands true with the current Charger models.

Photo Credit: Hot Rod

They are just big, and that’s both good and bad. Still from a collector’s standpoint, the 1968 Dodge Charger R/T stands out from the crowd. Performance was at the top of its game and this was right on the heels of the new EPA regulations.

Photo Credit: Mecum

1: 1968 Ford Torino 428 Cobra Jet

Ford kept the Torino line going for quite some time alongside the Mustang. There was a lot to like about the Torino but its styling wasn’t one of the reasons. From a performance standpoint, the 1968 Ford Torino 428 Cobra Jet handled business as well as you could expect. There were subtle upgrades that many owners would do to these cars but for the most part, it was a great ride.

Photo Credit: Mecum

We just wish that Ford could have done something different with the styling. It didn’t do the car any favors and shortly after this the Ford Torino was discontinued. The 1968 Ford Torino 428 Cobra Jet is by far one of the rarest and most controversial sports cars.

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