The muscle car era was defined by big beefy cars that could burn rubber on a dime. The Toronado was one of the most iconic. GM decided that the Oldsmobile brand was going to be the guinea pig for new technology. The Toronado was home to a good deal of new GM enhancements, from its front-wheel-drive design to the pop up headlights. Oldsmobile had to incorporate more luxury features than you’d see in the average muscle car.
Nevertheless, the Oldsmobile Toronado is perhaps one of the most iconic muscle cars to come out of Detroit. The car had everything that most buyers were looking for, and a little bit of style fused into the final product. When you think about rare sports cars from this era, the Toronado is a stellar vehicle.
Few cars are as iconic as the Cadillac Eldorado, the personal luxury coupe that changed everything. The Eldorado was based on the same iconic GM platform that spawned many popular makes and models. The Eldorado was a big, powerful car that didn’t need an introduction when it pulled up to the nightspot. In addition to the appearance, the car was also very luxurious inside and cemented the Cadillac seal of quality for decades.
Although the Eldorado isn’t a muscle car per say, the thing has a massive amount of horsepower. Because the Eldorado is so powerful there is a massive underground community of enthusiasts who enjoy tuning these things up. With a few kinks, you can transform an Eldorado from this era into a real street machine.
There are a lot of domestic automakers that have not survived the wrath of the Big 3. Studebaker was among one of these automakers, and the Avanti was the final hurrah. The Avanti had a lot going for it at a time when automakers were trying to create the next hit. The performance of the Avanti was a strong point for the car, but the polarizing styling turned a lot of consumers off. The supercharged 289-cubic-inch (4,740 cm3) engine could handle business on the street or the track.
The design was created by Raymond Loewy and Associates and the car was only sold for two years. This is truly one of the last unique American cars that didn’t have the usual badges from Ford or GM on it. Few cars are as rare as the Studebaker Avanti in today’s car market.
Believe it or not, there have been more unique Mustang models than any other performance vehicle on the market. One such unique model was the Ford Mustang Grande, which was geared toward those who wanted a Mustang without sacrificing the creature comforts. The Ford Mustang Grande was similar to the experiment that was the Camaro Berlinetta years later.
The Grande is specifically rare and the car didn’t sell very well. Buyers of these types of vehicles aren’t typically looking for luxury features. The Grande just didn’t appeal to buyers who were looking for this type of vehicle. Still, the car was one of the most iconic muscle cars from this era because it showed that the Mustang could be sophisticated.
While it’s not quite the iconic styling of the Impala, the Monterey was quite a unique sedan. The powerful engine propelled the sedan with the best of the muscle cars from this era. Ford was working to market Mercury as something different from the average carmaker. The 390 V8 was a powerful engine that could move the sedan with authority. Aside from the motor enhancements the Monterey Breezeway also had a roll-down rear window.
The Mercury Monterey Breezeway was designed to offer a different type of sedan to the consumers. Although the design was innovative at the time the Monterey is not always the first V8 powered sedan that comes to mind from this era. Still, if you want an instant classic the Mercury Monterey Breezeway is an exceptional choice.
The Mustang is actually termed a “pony” car, but the vehicle embraced muscle car dynamics. Cramming a V8 engine into a lightweight rear-wheel-drive package was the perfect combination. The car changed the way people drove. The convertible was especially popular with a new generation of drivers making their way onto roads.
The car was inexpensive and sold so well that GM was caught by surprise. If not for the Mustang, we might have never seen a Camaro or a Firebird on the road. The Mustang was a true piece of American innovation and one of the most influential cars to come out of the 1960s.
Of course, you can’t talk about the 1960s without bringing up the Camaro. The Camaro was a big hit for GM at a time when the Mustang was in the spotlight. The Camaro had a lot going for it with a powerful V8 engine and a couple of special editions. There was also a convertible version of the Camaro which also sold very well. This was the car that birthed the pony car wars that still rage on to this day.
Whether you are a Ford or Chevy fan, there’s no denying the influence that the Camaro had on the market. The car offered a lot of bang for the buck, and comparable power to the Mustang at the time. Even though Ford got the headstart on Chevy, the Camaro still managed to sell in strong numbers.
The original Pontiac GTO was the birth of a legend, and few cars have come close to its prevalence. When you think about a muscle car the GTO was everything that you wanted. It combined brute force power with a stellar rear-wheel-drive setup. The end result was a muscle car that could handle its own on the track or in daily driving.
The 1960s GTO was a prime car for drag racing and modifying. Every once in a while you can find a clean example that’s been stored away in a barn for decades. These cars are rising in value, especially since Pontiac is no more. The way that the GTO changed the automotive industry will forever go down in automotive history.
When the 1960s rolled around, the GTO was at the top of the muscle car game. But there were other makes and models coming into the fray. The AMC brand in particular was working on a few different muscle cars. Pontiac had to think of something.
The next rendition of the GTO was a more modern car with a lot of what drivers were looking for. The special-edition models continued to rule the race track, and a few of these such as the Judge are still in high demand today. Whatever generation of the GTO you pick, you’ll be happy with the result.
Like the GTO, the Chevelle was a car that deserved recognition in its own right. The Chevelle was designed from the ground up to be exciting. GM oulled out all the stops to create a winner. The Chevelle was in competition with the corporate cousin the GTO, so naturally it had to bring something different to the table.
GM equipped the Chevelle with the powerful 396 V8 engine, one of the most powerful additions of the time period. The 1960s muscle car period was a great time to own a performance vehicle. The Chevelle was among one of the first cars to change the way that we looked at muscle cars. The value on 1960s Chevelles is still very high.
The Dodge Challenger gets most of the attention among muscle cars. But there was a time when Dodge offered quite a few performance vehicles. The Coronet R/T was among one of the first muscle cars to come out of MOPAR. The chain reaction of performance and comfort was a hit with the public. The car offered a lot of in terms of performance and build quality, with little to stand in the way of upgrading.
Dodge created quite a few stellar muscle cars during this time period. The Coronet R/T stood out from the crowd at a time when a lot of automakers were creating look-a-like cars. The sheer performance of the Coronet made it a winner.
The corporate cousin of the Chevry Camaro, the Firebird always had its own personality. Pontiac was into building memorable performance cars, and the first Firebird was an impressive feat. The engine choices at the time were a little different than your run of the mill Camaro. Pontiac wanted to make sure that the Firebird made an impression on anyone who drove it.
Although the pony car war was between the Mustang and the Camaro, the Firebird has always been the third wheel. When you think about a fun car that still holds its value well, the Firebird stands out for a number of reasons. The sheer design and build quality of the car is enough to create an endearing piece of history.
There were lots of great performance cars that came out during the 1960s, and the Mustang was at the forefront. Ford created a few different performance-oriented editions of the car that made for a great choice. The K-Code models were especially fast and featured many upgrades over your run-of-the-mill Mustang.
What made the Fastback GT special besides the appearance package were the engine upgrades. The performance of the K-Code models was enough to create an endearing legacy. You can still find these models from time to time although they are very rare.
The Dodge Challenger R/T was a whole new creation for Chrysler. The car was designed to hit the performance car market head-on, and that it did. The legendary Hemi V8 engine is one of the most highly sought-after powerplants in the world.
To this day, the Hemi will hold its own on any racetrack and the Dodge Challenger is still a blast to drive. The car had many advantages, so don’t let the heavy body fool you. There are very few cars that can tango with the Challenger, and the original model still holds its value quite well in the classic car world.
Aside from the standard Camaro, GM introduced a couple of rare models, the first of which was the 1969 Chevrolet Camaro Z/28. Not to be confused with the SS, the Z/28 has always been its own beast. The Z/28 had features the run-of-the-mill Camaro models did not, such as Rallye wheels and a rear decklid that gave the car an aggressive look.
GM has been particular with designing track cars, so it’s not surprising that the Z/28 became legendary. To this day, the 1960s Z/28 is above average in terms of the resale value. Although many collectors go for a SS, the Z/28 is a welcome alternative for any authentic Camaro enthusiast.
The basic Corvette philosophy is to create a stellar road car, something that you can take out on the weekend and enjoy. But the 427 was designed to take it to an even higher level of performance. The car had a lot of stuff crammed into it to make it a better performer than the stock Corvette. The 427 V8 was the first step in creating something different, and you had body modifications as well.
The Corvette 427 could do a 0-60 time in 5.3 seconds, which is impressive to this day. Although most collectors tend to gravitate toward the Corvette Stingray or the Split Window Corvette, the 427 is a great choice. The sheer design elements of the sports car and the performance improvements make this an exceptional Corvette.
Although it was nothing more than a marquee at the end of its lifespan, Plymouth was once very prominent. The Satellite is one of those cars that really set the bar for performance at a time when performance was a new thing. The introduction of the Hemi V8 changed things in the muscle car industry, and the Satellite was among the first.
The Satellite didn’t look like much from the outside, but when you got it out on the road things changed. The car could perform with the best. There have been many Mopar muscle cars since the Satellite, but this was one of the first to really showcase what the Hemi had to offer. The Plymouth brand is synonymous with early innovations in the automotive industry.
Yes, we are mentioning a Porsche in this list. Before you get upset, the 904 is an iconic muscle car in its own right. Packing a powerful V8 engine and a track-designed body, the 904 is to this day one of the most exciting Porsches to drive. This car was designed at a time when Porsche was still a street-legal race car. The 904 is loud, fast, and very basic in terms of interior comforts, which is why many enthusiasts love it.
The car has a lot going for it and the values on these have gone through the roof. There were many interesting track cars to come out of Germany around this time period. The Porsche 904 is among one of the most highly sought-after additions, and for good reason.
There were many variations of the Mustang when it first hit the market. The pony car was designed to be a leisurely cruiser, but there were consumers that wanted a performance car. The GT 289 was designed to feed that appetite for performance. This is a track car that can rival even the best of what the Camaro has to offer.
Ford implemented a lot of special weight reduction features into this model. There have been several other special editions of the Mustang to compliment the GT 289. This edition of the Mustang was not sold in a convertible configuration, which was a letdown for a lot of consumers.
Plymouth is an automotive brand that should not be taken lightly. Although today’s generation of drivers is not familiar with the brand, Plymouth was instrumental in creating of muscle cars. The 1960s were a good time for the automotive industry in general, and Plymouth was cranking out some fast cars. The Road Runner is a name that was made famous by Richard Petty.
If you know anything about this car you know that the 426 Hemi is a powerful engine that can do a lot of damage on the track. The values for these cars have become astronomical. In terms of performance, few cars that have matched the Road Runner. Although the Plymouth brand didn’t survive much into the new millennium, the Road Runner is a piece of car history.
The current Ford GT is an engineering marvel, but the company has been building the car for decades in one form or another. The original Ford GT was a track car designed to take on the Ferrari. The company managed to create a car that could tangle with the Germans and still drive like an American-made car. The powerful V8 engine is only a small piece of the puzzle that is the GT40 Mark III.
There is also the aerodynamic design and the lightweight body that gives the car its edge on the track. Coupled with the aerodynamic characteristics is a suspension that was designed to take turns with the best of them. Ford went all out to make this car a winner on the track, and the legend continues to this day.
Drivers had the Plymouth Road Runner and then its corporate cousin the Charger. Long before Dodge was in the business of Hellcats and Demons, the company was building brute-force muscle cars. The Charger 426 handles business on the track and backroads with a fierce rear-wheel-drive design. The powerful Hemi V8 was one of the best creations to come out of Mopar to this day, even inspiring Dodge to bring the powerplant back later on a few decades down the line.
The values of these Dodge Charger models have gone through the roof and for good reason. If you wanted a car that was a little more then your average pony car, this was it. The Charger was one of the first real muscle cars to come out of the 1960s, taking on vehicles like the GTO and the Cutlass.
Like the ’69 model, the ’67 Corvette 427 was also an innovative and fun model. The difference was the split window design, which made for a great driving experience. The V8 engine was among one of the best to come out of GM, powering the Corvette with authority. Combine that with a racing transmission and you had a mixture of driving pleasure that still rings true to this day. The Corvette in general was designed for drivers pleasure and leisure.
This was a car you could take out on the weekend and enjoy yourself. Through the years the Corvette has stuck to the same philosophy as the ’67 model did, adapting a clean and fun design. It’s no wonder that the car has remained one of the longest-running nameplates in history.
Contrary to popular belief, the first GTO was actually born as a trim package for the Tempest. The car came out of the factory with tire-blazing speed, but the next generation of the car was even better. This is the GTO that you want if you are a serious collector. The powerful V8 was exclusive to Pontiac at a time when the brand was being touted as the performance division of GM.
Pontiac has a way of designing compelling muscle cars, and the GTO just managed to connect with owners on a deeper level. The car has become iconic with the muscle car world and is one of the first nameplates that comes to mind.
When it came time to switch things up and give the GTO its own nameplate, the brand introduced the Judge. Known as one of the fastest muscle cars on the market the Judge was quite the catch. Equipped with a powerful V8 engine and a host of performance modifications, this was a street-legal drag car.
Of course, comfort was still important and this car could seat six with no problem. Coupled with the limited-edition exterior paint and you had one heck of a performance car. The Judge is among one of the highest-rated GTO packages, and it’s also one of the most expensive. Auction prices have been going up on these, especially since the Pontiac brand was disbanded.
With the GTO gaining considerable notoriety and the Mustang hot on the heels of GM, the company had to give Chevy a fighting chance as well. The Chevelle got its own version of the SS package. If the car looks familiar, that is because it shares its body with the GTO and the Cutlass. But the three cars were marketed toward different consumer segments.
The GTO was built for performance, while the Cutlass built on a luxury reputation, and the Chevelle was all-American. The car had a lot going for it and the SS is distinct for its split headlights and oval taillights. To this day, the Chevelle SS is one of the most popular versions of the GM muscle car trio. A common modification these days has been to cram a modern LS V8 engine into it. The value on the Chevelle SS is going up substantially.
The El Camino also had a special-edition model. The El Camino SS was designed to take the retail customers who wanted a truck and a muscle car. The SS was pretty much a pickup truck version of the Chevelle SS, and that was alright with customers. Its performance was exceptional at the time and propelled the El Camino into sales success.
The SS only lasted as long as the Chevelle version of the car, but that enhanced the value. Finding an El Camino SS is hard, especially since there were so few of these made. But if you can get your hands on one, you’re in for a treat. The El Camino SS is known as one of the most desirable muscle cars on the road today.
When you think about blazing fast sports cars, the Cobra is one of the first that comes to mind. This is a purpose-built race car drivers can take out just about anywhere. The design was masterminded by Carroll Shelby and still looks great to this day. In fact, various versions of the Cobra are still built in modern renditions. The 1963 Shelby Cobra 260 was instrumental in giving the car a footing in the performance world.
Why drive a Corvette convertible when you could take this roadster out for a spin? The Cobra is known as the pinnacle of performance cars. Carroll Shelby put a lot of effort into the Cobra. This was one of his prize-winning designs that managed to combine exceptional driving characteristics and road manners. If you wanted performance in the 1960s, the 1963 Shelby Cobra 260 was the way to go.
The corporate twin of the GTO and the Chevelle, the Cutlass was built with its own purpose. This car was designed for drivers who wanted performance but didn’t want to give up creature comforts such as power windows. This car was a monster on the track right out of the factory, combining elegant exterior styling and all of the features that you’d come to expect in an Oldsmobile vehicle.
The 442 is especially sought-after because of the Oldsmobile built powerplant. Performance is a given with this car and the enthusiasts are still seeking these out. Generally, the Oldsmobile models were well taken care of and you can still find these in reasonable shape.
Finally, we get to the 1969 Buick Skylark, a sheer marvel in the history of Buick. What made this car special was not that it shared its bones with the Chevelle and the GTO, but that it was a Buick. With that said, the car was designed to handle just about anything you’d throw at it. The powerful V8 engine was enough to excite even the most discerning muscle car owner, and its luxury features made it comfortable.
Buick has still managed to continuously captivate the minds of muscle car owners to this day. Whether you’re a fan of the Skylark or the later Grand National, the company was known for creating luxury performance. The 1969 Buick Skylark is perhaps a rarer option then the Chevelle and GTO models, and that makes it more desirable in many ways.