The Pontiac brand in general is a relic of a better time in the automotive industry. There was a lot to offer from the high-performance cars of this period, and the Trans Am was at the forefront. The Smokey and the Bandit Trans Am is of course the most well-known in the lineup, but the base Firebird models from this era are quickly forgotten. A lack of horsepower and EPA interference made these cars a nightmare to own.
GM was not as innovative with this generation of the F-Body and as such most classic car collectors try to steer clear of this gen. Nevertheless, if you can find one of the special-edition Trans Am models you’ll be in for a car that offers some serious fun.
Few Ferrari models from this era managed to leave an impression on the minds of automotive enthusiasts. The 512 BB was one such car, offering a dizzying array of features and an odd-ball engine setup. Because of the fuel crisis around this time, the Ferrari 512 BB was not the most practical vehicle on most buyers’ shopping lists.
The car was horrible on gas and it had a polarizing design that was tough for a lot of buyers to accept. Ferrari made several odd-ball cars during this period and the Ferrari 512 BB was one of them. Even with the semi-innovative design and the 512 BB just never caught on like many of the other Ferrari models before and after it.
The M1 was meant to be the German muscle car with spirit, but a lackluster advertising campaign and questionable reliability made the car a lackluster choice. There are few cars from this era that had the mid-engined design of the M1. But the performance of the straight-six wasn’t what the company had hoped for and the buying public didn’t warm up to it. The M1 was not the most unique BMW of the decade, but the designers certainly tried to make it stand out from the crowd.
The muscle car era was a time chalked full of unique cars that attempted to capture the free spirit of America. The designers behind the BMW M1 were ambitious at the time, but the novelty of the car has since faded.
There was a time when American automakers ruled the roost. The gas-guzzling AMC Rebel Machine was the last of an era. Parts were hard to come by and reliability was scarce, yet performance was decent. The Rebel Machine was a special trim package on the base Rebel. Unfortunately, enthusiasts aren’t too interested in old AMC models these days.
The Rebel Machine was an interesting concept from a company on the verge of collapse. AMC tried everything they could to incite interest in the new product lines. Sadly, the Rebel Machine was a failed attempt to captivate an already satisfied muscle car market.
At one point in time the automotive market was almost completely dominated by domestic companies. AMC was one of the originals, but got lost in a decline of technology and resources. V8 coupes were one of the company’s focal points while the muscle car era was ripe. The Hornet SC/360 was another two-door positioned to be a serious contender in the muscle car world.
Some features of the Hornet were well designed. The interior was spacious for its small outward appearance. AMC could have done a lot with the Hornet, but the company was in a bad spot. However, the Hornet is a relatively inexpensive and rare muscle car.
Buick is often overlooked when discussing the muscle car era. The brand had a few cars on the market during this time that shared a lot of components with Pontiac and Chevy models. The Wildcat is one such example and a car that you don’t hear about. The rarity was based on the Chevrolet Impala of the time, and featured a powerful Nailhead 425 c.i. V8 engine.
There’s a good chance that you haven’t heard about the Wildcat. The car didn’t sell as well as other muscle cars on the market around this time. Yet the Wildcat offers a stellar choice for a rare muscle car with an attractive exterior style. Buick muscle cars were often underrated during this period.
After a mediocre production time during the 1990s and early 2000s, the Monte Car is often overlooked as a muscle car. But there was a time when the Monte Carlo offered a good deal of horsepower. Luxury features were appointed throughout the interior and the Monte Carlo was pushed as a luxury coupe. The overall exterior style of the car was similar in shape to the Chevelle SS.
The Monte Carlo is worth considering if you’re in the market for a muscle car. There is a lot of potential with the car for upgrades. A common choice for the Monte Carlo is to upgrade the engine to a modern LS motor. Whether you keep the car factory or upgrade it, the Monte Carlo is a winning combination.
Chrysler is a brand that is constantly overlooked in the muscle car race. But the company had quite a few stellar muscle cars you might not know about. The 300 Hurst had long, flowing lines and an aggressive stance. The roots of the Hurst can be seen in the other muscle cars of the era. A nice set of factory Rallye rims gave the car a mean look on the race track. Sadly Chrysler didn’t build up as much of a reputation as other brands on the market.
While the modern 300C is a popular car, the classic model is often unknown. A new generation of drivers is unaware this car existed because it never gets publicity. There were a lot of attributes of the 300 Hurst that could have used improvement, such as its heavy curb weight. Overall, the 300 Hurst had a lot of potential as a muscle car that you can get for next to nothing.
The Coronet was everything from a police car to a performance car. Dodge didn’t exactly go all out with it, but it got the job done. The Coronet was in its prime as a California Highway Patrol vehicle in 1976. The lightweight design was a surprise considering just how big the car was. Performance was a strong suit for the Coronet and the car was incredibly nimble. There was a lot the Coronet brought to the table, but the car just didn’t have the notoriety.
Still, the Coronet is worth taking a look at if you want a powerful muscle car on a budget. The overall design of the car has a lot of potential and there are a lot of aftermarket mods. With a modern Hemi swap and a few additions, the Coronet can be a powerful track car or weekend hot rod.
The classic Dodge Dart was a far cry from the modern Dart compact we saw a few years ago. The Dart never gained much notoriety as a muscle car because of its small size. From the onset, the Dart looked to be an underpowered car with a lot of quality issues. However, when you compare the Dart to the current price of other classics there is a lot of potential. It’s not hard to cram a modern Hemi into one.
Interior-wise, the Dart wasn’t anything special. The usual Chrysler flair from this period is evident throughout the car. If you can find one in the clean condition you’ll see a lot of vinyl and upholstery that was usual for this period. Overall, the Dart is a forgotten classic worth looking into.
You rarely hear about Ford during the muscle car era aside from the Mustang. But there were quite a few Ford models that offered performance. The Fairlane was one of the most underrated muscle cars of the era. Engine choices for the Fairlane were the 289 and the 390. Both of them were a great choice at the time and gave the car a great rivalry with the GTO.
There was a lot of potential with the Fairlane. But at the time, Ford was focused on selling the Mustang. Had the Fairlane received a bigger push from the company, the car might be more recognizable today. Still, if you can get your hands on one of these, you’ll have a great muscle car.
This is a car you truly don’t see very often. The Ford 7-Litre was based on the Galaxy 2-door. This special-edition car had an elongated body style that looked much bigger than any other muscle car on the road. But the power delivery at the time was top notch and you still got the interior volume of a family car. The car was a lot more nimble then you’d expect a vehicle with a curb weight like this to have.
Overall, if you can get your hands on one, the Ford 7-Litre just might be one of the most understated muscle cars on the road due to its design and performance you get from the stock motor. Sure, it’s as big as a land yacht, but it’s still fun to drive.
Throughout its life cycle, Mercury was often a dropping point for cloned Ford models. The brand worked to have an indentity of its own, but many of their cars were just questionable Fords. The Comet started life out as a Ford Falcon clone, but later on in the production cycle, it got an upgrade. The performance was a key point in differentiating the Comet from its corporate cousin. The car came with a more than capable 390 V8 that packed a whopping 335HP.
Upgrading the factory engine is a great way to increase performance. The Comet is a capable street machine fairly unknown to the general public. If you can get your hands on one, there is a lot of potential. Ford did a great job of designing a big car that could either go fast or cruise down the boulevard right from the factory.
The Vista Cruiser was a Chevelle built for the family. You’ve probably seen this car on ‘That ’70s Show,’ but did you know the Vista Cruiser was a muscle car? This wagon had power right out of the factory combined with family comfort and three-row seating. Oldsmobile put special detail into the design of the Vista Cruiser to separate it from the Chevelle wagon. The 442 engine was the top-of-the-line powerplant at the time.
There was a special edition of the Vista Cruiser that came with the 442 engine. With its performance and suspension, the Vista Cruiser was solid. You don’t find these very often anymore, but if you can get your hands on one, the car is a stellar choice.
If you were at all familiar with the muscle car era, the Toronado was a beast on the track. The imposing size of the car and aggressive stance made it stand out. Oldsmobile was quick to equip the car with several interesting features. The later models of the Toronado were the first vehicles on the road to have a supplemental restraint system (airbag). It was innovations like these that gave the Toronado a head start.
When it comes to muscle cars, the Toronado is one of the most underrated. Performance was second to none at the time. To this day, the Toronado is still a great car that delivers high performance at a reasonable price. Plus, the Oldsmobile brand is a defunct piece of American automotive history.
GM had the El Camino SS, so Ford had something up the company sleeve to compete. The Ranchero GT is a very rare and unique offering you don’t see often. With the GT package, you got a car that could handle business on the street or the track. The truck bed was longer than the El Camino by quite a few inches.
Horsepower was comparable to the El Camino although the liters were less than the big block 454. If you want a unique hot rod, the Ranchero GT is it. The rarity makes the Ranchero GT a cool ride. Plus, you could always swap the motor out with a Coyote V8 and have a modern-day muscle car.
The Pontiac GTO gets all the glory as ae historic muscle car, but the Catalina was along for the ride as well. The Pontiac Catalina 2+2 was a lesser-known model than the iconic GTO, but the car had a similar style. Although the Catalina was quite large in terms of curb weight, the car had a lot of performance behind it. The Catalina had a lot of potential for upgrades.
Without the notoriety of the GTO badge, the car is much more affordable. Pontiac were some of the most influential vehicles of the muscle car era. The Catalina can still be a great ride for colectors with a little bit of effort. The car is known as a performance powerhouse and drivers can find a lot of accessories for it.
Not to be confused with the Monte Carlo it resembles, the Chevrolet Laguna 454 was the ultimate sleeper. Not much is known about this car because you rarely ever seen one anymore. However, the Laguna was a performance powerhouse disguised as a modest two-door coupe. Its 454 V8 engine coupled with a manual transmission made the Laguna a strong entry in the muscle car race.
Rarity was one of the factors with the Laguna as it wasn’t as popular as other models. If you can find a Laguna 454, you’re in for a performance treat. The rear-wheel-drive design and powerful engine make for an exciting experience. Very few cars can match the excitement the Laguna can bring to the table.
The Studebaker Avanti R2 is a car that packs a punch. Studebaker was near the end of the road during this period, but that doesn’t mean that Avanti was a bad choice. The car was lightweight and had rear-wheel drive, which gave it a ton of power to work with. The R2 was the last-ditch effort to generate hype. The 300 HP engine was blazingly fast, but the car’s awkward styling didn’t catch on with consumers.
Although Studebaker went the way of the wind, you can still find these from time to time. With a little bit of work and love, you can make one of these a pretty piece of automotive history. The Avanti R2 still manages to garner attention when you take it out on the road.
Plymouth fell on hard times at the start of the new millennium and today’s group of new drivers doesn’t even know it existed. The Fury GT was a muscle car that deserves more love than it gets. There were a lot of good things about the Fury that made it stand out. The powerful Hemi V8 engine was coupled with the rear-wheel-drive design. There was nothing about the Fury that made it worth ignoring, but you just don’t see these anymore.
Resale prices on the Fury have continued to rise in recent years as this is a piece of Mopar history. The Fury doesn’t have the notoriety of a Dodge Charger, but the car is still a blast to drive. With a little bit of work, the Fury can tango with some of the best classic muscle cars on the road.
Dodge was tuning up fast farm trucks long ago, and the Dodge Lil’ Red Express Truck is an example. The bright red truck with tall stacks is a prime example of innovation at its best. The powerful engine gave the truck a lot of torque to work with and off-the-line performance was excellent. This isn’t your average rock crusher or lifted 4X4, but an early example of what a street truck could be.
The Dodge Lil’ Red Express Truck is a very rare vehicle and to see one is a surprise. If you can get your hands on an original, you’ll be driving a piece of Mopar history. There are very few pickup trucks still on the road today that are as iconic as the Dodge Lil’ Red Express Truck.
The Chevrolet Kingswood 427 was a wagon with attitude. The Kingswood was often overshadowed by the Impala and the Caprice, but this was one heck of a station wagon. The 427 V8 was a powerful way to go grocery shopping, and the roomy interior meant long trips were a breeze. Its 398 HP from the factory rivaled some of the most powerful cars of today.
Performance is something that the muscle car world was big on. The roomy trunk was the focal point of the wagon and the three rows of seats were comfortable. The Chevrolet Kingswood 427 is perhaps one of the most underrated station wagons on the road.
Mercury is a brand that was often overrated. But there were quite a few iconic cars that came out of the brand. The Marauder was a muscle car with a lot of attitudes. Mercury marketed the car as a police package and a standard consumer package. The 429 CID V8 engine gave the car a good deal of performance to work with.
You don’t see very many of these around, but its power rivaled anything that you could get on the market. The Mercury Marauder X-100 is among one of the most underrated performance vehicles on the market. The resale value of the car is reasonable enough that you can build it up easily.
As the muscle car era was coming to an end and the fuel crisis was happening, Ford had to act fast. The pony car was fun to drive, but Ford had to increase fuel efficiency. The Mustang II was based on one of the worst cars ever, the Pinto. Still, the underrated Mustang II had some pretty special features such as a King Cobra option. The lightweight design with a V8 helped things out.
Whichever way that you look at it, the Ford Mustang II was an underrated pony car. There was a lot of potential, but the Pinto design deterred a lot of buyers. The Mustang II is one of the rarest examples of the Mustang and a clean example is still a classic ride.
There are many different variations of the Torino lineup, and one that stands out particularly is the Torino Cobra. This was a large muscle car that was dominant on the track. Unfortunately, around this time period, there were a lot of other cars taking up the spotlight. Ford’s own Mustang commanded a lot of attention compared to the Torino.
Naturally, Ford had to up the ante with the Torino Cobra, which boasted a 429 Cobra Jet engine. If you feel like you’ve seen the Torino Cobra before, it’s because this is the car that went toe-to-toe with the Plymouth Superbird in the early Nascar days. The Torino Cobra is a well-built example of an underrated muscle car, one that has a great deal of potential even to this day thanks to its stellar design.
There are many unique Chevrolet models that have made their way onto the market. The Biscayne 427 has a special place in the hearts of enthusiasts. The big Biscayne was comfortable and performance was also satisfactory. GM managed to pack one of the most iconic engines into the Biscayne. These days there are a number of aftermarket parts that can give the Biscayne a significant boost. GM also sells crate engines of the current LS series that can turn the Biscayne into a modern-day hot rod.
The Chevrolet sedans from this time period were performance machines. The base of the Biscayne 427 has a lot of potential. You can build one of these cars into something great and spend a lot less than you would on a comparable Bel Air. These forgotten Chevrolet sedans are worth checking out.
Although the Mustang is probably the best-known Ford sports car on the market, the Torino Talladega is a forgotten piece of history. The first thing that makes the Talladega a historic muscle car is the fact that it was part of the Ford NASCAR platform. The Talladega was quite heavy in terms of curb weight but its powerful engine made up for it. The interior was well-appointed for the time and offered a great blend of comfort.
Finding a Ford Torino Talladega is not as easy as the more common Mustang. But the potential of this car was astounding. Performance was more than satisfactory for the price you can find one of these for. The Ford Torino is one of the most iconic muscle cars drivers have forgotten about.
There is no denying the Pontiac brand was a prominent part of early automotive industry. When you thought about a performance car, the Pontiac Grand Prix was one of the most iconic. The Grand Prix SJ was based on the same platform as the Monte Carlo. Aside from the awful-looking front clip, the Grand Prix SJ was a solid car. You can find these from time to time for a reasonable price.
Upgrading one of these can be done for close to nothing and the car can perform with the best. There are other muscle cars from this era that look a lot better. But the Grand Prix SJ is a well-appointed muscle car designed to offer an alternative to the Monte Carlo. Pontiac is now defunct and this car is a historic piece of the automotive industry.