This car has been the pinnacle for performance for decades. The 1961 model has special meaning for the brand because it was the introduction of the performance marquee. Before that, the Impala had been more of a family-oriented vehicle but now it was a performance monster. The long swooping design of the car made it an iconic family cruiser for anyone to enjoy.
Because the Impala SS has been such an iconic piece of car culture, values have skyrocketed. These cars have become more than just a template for the lowrider community. From a collectors standpoint, the Impala SS is a true gem in Chevrolet heritage.
Before the GTO became the breakout hit it did, Pontiac marketed a slightly different performance car. The Catalina 421 has been forgotten and overshadowed by the GTO, but this was a serious performance car from the time. The Catalina had the styling cues that you’d expect from a Pontiac from this generation. The 421 was a performance powerhouse and propelled the car with authority, yet still had the comfort of a family car.
Pontiac was very much into space like much of the world in the 1960s with the Catalina. This car has become a rarity in the muscle car market. There were fewer than 180 examples that were built with the 421 engine, and a lot of the cars that are still around are rusted out and old.
If you think about the old days of the automotive industry, many drivers think of Oldsmobile. The brand was synonymous with quality at a time when GM was just beginning to test out various performance cars. The 1961 Oldsmobile Starfire is notable because of its compact styling and high-powered performance. Oldsmobile was often a brand that would be used as a testing platform for new technology.
The brand was responsible for bringing us the modern airbags that we have today. The 394 V8 delivered a massive 325HP and this propelled the car quite well. Track numbers were not a major thing around this period, but the Starfire won its fair share of racing endeavors.
The Dodge Dart is a nameplate that has been around the Dodge lineup for decades upon decades in one form or another. But when it came to performance, the Max Wedge was about as fast as you could get. It doesn’t have the pretty styling of the Challenger, but it still performed quite well. The massive V8 engine was perfectly mated to the transmission put into this vehicle.
The Dart was commonly used as police cars. This is why the performance was so great from release. With a little bit of modification, a Dodge Dart can be a stellar muscle car with a lot of potential, and it still looks great to this day.
Built on the same bones as the Dart Wedge, it’s no wonder the Plymouth Savor Super Stock 413 was also great. From a performance standpoint, this is one of Chrysler’s best offerings out of Detroit. The stellar design of the car has an ageless look to it and you don’t have to do a lot to make it great.
Values on this vehicle have also remained fair when compared to name-brand muscle cars. The 1962 Plymouth Savoy Super Stock 413 is the pinnacle of the Plymouth brand when it comes to tough performance. You just can’t go wrong with what’s offered in this overall package.
The Ford Galaxie 406 is another prime example of Ford’s ingenuity at its best. Design-wise, the Galaxie 406 stands out from the standard fare of the lineup around this time. With 405 HP, this car was well-appointed and powerful right from the factory. Nowadays, 405 hp is something you see frequently, but back in the day, it was a very high number. The car still churns out a reasonable amount of performance with no modifications needed.
Ford has had a stellar stream of performance cars from this era. When muscle car fans think of a performance car, the Galaxie 406 stands out from the crowd. Realistically speaking, the resale value of the Galaxie 406 makes a great option that has aged well.
Not the most common of the muscle car era, the 1963 Studebaker Avanti R2 had a unique look to it. It was somewhat of an exotic car as the Avanti R2 was performance-oriented. Its 289 HP hit the wheels in a way a Studebaker hadn’t done before. The Avanti R2 had a look to it that was downright ugly by some estimations, but beauty’s in the eye of the beholder.
From a rarity and performance standpoint, the 1963 Studebaker Avanti R2 is about as rare as you can get. The Studebaker is not the first car that comes to mind when you think of American performance. For its price and styling, it’s about the most unique muscle car you can find.
The Plymouth Wedge line of muscle cars was known for being a performance powerhouse. From a design standpoint, the Max Wedge 426 was notable for its styling and comfort. Plymouth tried to create a car that drivers would want to drive while at the same time take to the race track on a Saturday night.
Plymouth, at the time, was at the pinnacle of the muscle car era. Whether it was the Max Wedge or one of the other cars in the lineup, the brand was hot. Finding an original Plymouth Max Wedge 426 isn’t an easy feat. But the car has held up quite well over the years styling-wise, and parts are fairly common.
It’s hard to believe it now, but at one point Oldsmobile was the definitive automotive brand in the world. Technological advancements were nothing for Oldsmobile to churn out, including the first consumer airbag. However, as time went on, GM let Oldsmobile fall to the wayside and the brand was eventually phased out.
The 1963 Oldsmobile Jetfire changed all that with a swooping design and a powerful engine. This car was released right on the cusp of the muscle car era. What we had here was a fairly unique muscle car that could handle its own when it came to performance. The Jetfire did what GM had hoped and brought an entirely new generation of buyers to the showroom.
This was the car that started an entire generation of gearheads, the ’64 GTO. What started as a trim package on the LeMans was so popular it got its own product line. The 1964 Pontiac GTO was a knockout sports car in several ways. Performance was, of course, what the core of what the car had to offer. From the gate, it had a powerful engine that was stuffed into an undersized design.
At the time, the 396 V8 was only a $295 upgrade. This was big news and a lot of buyers went for it. Thus, creating one of the most popular cars of all time and igniting the muscle car market many drivers still favor to this day.
Unlike the GTO released at the same period as this car, the 442 had some interesting features to it. To differentiate the two, GM decided to put a special engine inside the Oldsmobile. The 4-4-2 engine was a performance powerhouse that not only added power but also refinement.
This was higher than your average muscle car but in fact, the 442 still offered a lot of luxury features. The Oldsmobile 442 is iconic for the stylistic features of the car and the 330 V8 producing 310 HP. From a power and style standpoint, 1964 Oldsmobile 442 is among the most iconic GM muscle cars to hit the market.
Although it was the larger GM cars that sparked the muscle car revolution, the 1967 Chevrolet Camaro SS 350/396 was the first pony car to blow the windows off. With two powerful engine options, the SS 350/396 was a fast and stripped-down little beast. The performance was better than the Mustang of the same era and this started the first pony car battle. Style-wise, this Camaro is still a beautiful car today, and its styling hasn’t missed a beat.
You can also expect to pay a pretty penny to find a 1967 Chevrolet Camaro SS 350/396. This is by far one of the rarest and most expensive pony cars you’ll find. It’s with good reason as the Camaro still performs with the best of the new muscle cars.
Just because the Mustang was hogging the press at the time, doesn’t mean Ford didn’t innovate with the Galaxie as well. While you might not consider the Galaxie a muscle car, it was. The 1967 Ford Galaxie 7-Litre was blazingly fast and a bruiser on the streets. True, gas mileage was awful but who cares when you’re having this much fun.
Reliability is not the best but these cars have managed to hang onto their attractive looks. The 1967 Ford Galaxie 7-Litre is not the most common muscle car on the road but it will leave you with a smile. Released at the pinnacle of the muscle car era, the Galaxie 7-Litre was a stellar car with a timeless style.
The Chevelle is a car with a storied history in the Chevy lineup. Starting as a barebones muscle car, it worked its way up through the lineup. Nowadays, the Chevelle is one of the rarest and most expensive cars that drivers can get. The 396 V8 is one of the better engines to come out of Detroit around the muscle car era.
Finishing the design was the light curb weight of the car, which allowed it to handle quite well. GM sold a boatload of these Chevelle models because of the lightweight design and fast performance. It also created quite a stir in the muscle car market because the resale value of these cars is such a highly-valued commodity.
GM had a lot of different brands on the table in the 1960s and Buick was one of them. Buicks weren’t marketed as performance cars, but the Riviera GS still latched onto consumers. The aggressive styling and quick performance made the car a welcomed addition to the muscle car space. The Buick Riviera GS is strongly considered one of the best muscle cars that money can buy.
The resale value of it is among the highest of the GM cars that were built on this platform. If you’re considering a Buick Riviera GS, you are going to not only spend a lot of money but also a lot of time searching for one.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.