The Thunderbird was always a popular car in the Ford lineup, almost as iconic as the Corvette was to GM in many aspects. While the Thunderbird will never perform like a Corvette, the car did have some characteristics it excelled ar. The interior was jet-inspired, one of the design cues of this period. The performance was derived from the V8 engine and the platform was designed to perform well. Reliability was also strong for this generation of the Thunderbird and performance parts are easier to come by than you’d think.
As with any Ford from this generation, there are going to be electrical issues but the overall design of the car is great. The Thunderbird is more often then not an underrated classic, and if you’ve been interested in a classic this is it. There are very few cars that have as unique of a look as the 1971 Thunderbird does.
The Rivera was another car in the GM portfolio that went on a diet at the turn of the new decade. As rising fuel prices and EPA regulations set in, GM had to design more fuel-efficient vehicles. Of course, this was still during a time when V8 engines were in play so the Buick still had a powerful V8. The classic design is iconic among GM vehicles and there are several different things you can do to this car. First and foremost is compatibility with most of the GM G-Body platform. There was also the T-Type, which was a turbo-powered option that was similar to the Regal.
The Riviera is one of the most affordable classics you can get. But with classic car values rising, the Riviera is also going to rise in value. The solid design coupled with the ability to host a V8 engine gives the car a lot of potentials. Classic car enthusiasts would be hard-pressed to find a better platform then the Riviera due to its durability.
If the Cordoba looks familiar it’s because Chrysler designed the car to compete with the Chevy Monte Carlo of the time. The Cordoba had a lot of interesting features that made it stand out from the crowd. The high-end Corinthian leather interior was one aspect, coupled with a smooth operating V8 engine. Reliability was not a strong suit for these cars and as such, a modern engine swap is a must. Putting a Hemi V8 in the place of the original isn’t hard to accomplish and you can generally find these for a bargain.
Either way, the Cordoba is an underrated piece of automotive history. With the right plan and parts, the Cordoba can be made into quite a unique classic. The easy access to modern Mopar performance upgrades gives the Cordoba a world of upgradability. These classic cars are going to rise in value.
There was a time in the automotive industry when the Pontiac Grand Prix was one of the best-selling coupes. This generation in particular was one of the most popular renditions of the car. Based on the same platform as the Monte Carlo, the ’73-’77 Grand Prix had an elongated body with a stellar V8 engine. Its performance was a strong suit and the interior refinements also went far in propelling the car toward success. The optional 455-cu. in. The V8 engine was one of the best of the period.
The Grand Prix also had an updated suspension which gave the car much better handling. When you think about the classic car era, the GTO is the Pontiac that comes to mind first. But the Grand Prix is also an instrumental part of this period. The car had a lot going for it and the design was almost iconic for the period.
The Monte Carlo of the later ’70s was just as iconic as the earlier model was. Based on a shared platform with the Pontiac Grand Prix, the Monte Carlo had a lot going for it. The performance came from a stellar powerplant although the newer EPA regulations and the fuel crisis put a cap on it. The interior was also one of the nicest to come out of Chevy at the time. The market for personal luxury coupes was at its peak during this period. GM marketed the Monte Carlo as a personal luxury coupe instead of a muscle car.
But the overall styling was there and the Monte Carlo looked the part if you wanted it to. These days drivers can do several upgrades to the Monte Carlo. These range from swapping a modern LS-based engine over, to restoring the car to its factory paint color. The platform for the Monte Carlo is one of the best vehicle platforms that GM has ever built. These cars are less expensive than the previous generation which makes for an affordable classic.
Often overlooked when it comes to classic cars, the 1970 model of the Ford Torino was iconic in its own right. While not as popular as the Mustang or a Chevelle, the Torino was still a stellar car that could hold its own. The Torino had a lot of unique features built into the car. The interior was one of the most high quality at the time and the exterior of the car had an iconic look to it. Ford managed to place a big emphasis on performance and the Torino was solid enough on the track.
You’ve probably seen these cars a time or two in Ford circles and there’s a good reason for that. The performance was just as good as the Mustang or a GM model but with the Ford badging that enthusiasts yearned for. Nowadays there are modern modifications you can do to the Torino such as swapping for a modern engine. The 1970 variation of the Torino has stood the test of time quite well.
The ’70s were some of the best times for domestic automakers and also some of the worst. The fuel crisis caused a lot of automakers to have to downsize and improve technology quickly. This caused issues with development and quality, and thus we have the Ford Mustang II. The car had a lot of interesting features such as the King Cobra edition, but for the most part, the Pinto based Mustang was panned by critics. Still, the classic car bubble is growing and the Mustang II has been appreciating.
There are a lot of qualities that make this a great alternative to the more expensive body styles of the Mustang. The fact that it is a lightweight design with a V8 makes for a satisfying car project. There is a lot that the Mustang has to offer in terms of design and implementation and that has made it popular for automotive hobbyist projects. These Mustangs will continue to rise in value as the years go on.
Like the Pinto-based Mustang from this era, the values of the Ford Pinto are also rising. The car was at the center of controversies when it was new, but those past sins have been forgiven. The Pinto is a classic piece of American automotive history, and as such the car deserves some recognition. The design is iconic with Ford and the automotive industry in general. If you’ve ever been able to see a Pinto in person, then you’ll know that the car was distinctly 1970s in its design.
Ford had a lot of competition during this period so the Pinto was rushed to the market. Aside from the rear fuel tank problems that plagued the car, the Pinto can be a great classic. This car has an easy to work on platform and there are a lot of great mods that can be done to it. Whether this is a first car or an extra project , the Pinto isa great classic car that is rising in value.
Another Ford that doesn’t get the love that it deserves is the Ford Maverick. While the car is generally panned and made fun of, it was a decent model. The design of the car could hold its own on the track and its performance wasn’t bad either. The era that automakers were in caused the car to have some serious design flaws at the time, which have been reminded since then. Modern aftermarket parts have improved the reliability dramatically and you can even swap for a modern engine. The Maverick was an iconic car for the period as Ford was trying to move away from the past.
Enthusiasts are snapping these cars up and with good reason. The Maverick offers something special in terms of design and performance. You won’t find many cars like the Ford Maverick anymore which is why it makes a great project. Whether this is a weekend car or even a car for hot August nights, you won’t be ashamed to be seen in a Maverick when you fix everything up on it.
Released for the 1978 model year, the Zephyr is often overlooked and underrated. But the car was one of the better Mercury models of the period. The Zephyr was unique in its design that is shared with the Ford model. The performance was spirited at a time when EPA regulations were restricting engines left and right. Aside from its performance, the car was also comfortable which was what Ford was aiming for with the Mercury brand. The styling of the car was handsome and providing a unique look for a stressed automotive industry.
Because the Zephyr is quite rare, the valuations on these cars have been spiking. The car had a lot of unique features that made it a unique buy. You could have a couple of different options and a lot of these cars were elderly owned with low mileage on them. You’ll see these cars continuing to rise in value as time goes on. The Mercury Zephyr is a unique piece of the automotive history books.
Cited as being the original muscle car, the 1949 Oldsmobile Rocket 88 has been rising in value. The Rocket 88 has the appearance you’d expect in a car from this vintage. Oldsmobile was always an innovator and Rocket 88 has some notable features. The 303 cubic-inch V8 capable of a maximum 135 hp and 283 lb-ft of torque was an excellent powerplant at the time. The low-slung design of the Rocket 88 made it an attractive car to build on, coupled with the ease of parts repair.
Oldsmobile is a well-known brand with an established history. At this time the company was building on the brand that was the Rocket 88. The car has appreciated quite well according to the Hagerty Valuation Guide. While the Rocket 88 isn’t the first car that might come to mind for a muscle car, it can hold its own on the track.
Originally marketed as the “big brother” of the GTO, the Catalina rarely gets the recognition it deserves. Instead, most enthusiasts focus on the GTO as the historical point of interest. But there was a lot that the 1965 Pontiac Catalina 2+2 had going for it. From a design standpoint, you got a handsome muscle car that looked a lot like the GTO. The interior space was large enough for a family to enjoy. Coupled with the 338 horsepower, the Catalina 2+2 was able to handle business with ease.
A lot of what the Catalina had going for it came from the signature design of the vehicle. Nevertheless, values on them have ranged from $15,000 up to $77,000 at auction. There’s no doubt the Catalina will be rising in value as the muscle car boom continues to grow.
While the Ford Mustang is credited with bringing the pony car to the mainstream, the Chevrolet Camaro was the car that rivaled it. The 1967 Chevrolet Camaro Z28 was originally designed for Trans-Am racing. The 302 ci/290 hp is one of the most iconic small blocks of GM heritage. The Z28 had many distinct features that separated it from the other muscle cars at the time. The lightweight rear-wheel-drive design was among the fastest and best-performing at the time.
Valuation for the 1967 Chevrolet Camaro Z28 has risen tremendously in the last couple years. And with good reason, as the car has an iconic style and a base that’s easy to build on. There’s a lot that the Camaro has going for it, especially first-generation cars. There were only 602 models of the Z/28 made this model year.
The Mustang has evolved a lot over almost 60 continuous years of production. There’ve been various special edition models that come along from time to time. Perhaps one of the most iconic is the Shelby GT500. The line of cars, which was designed by Carroll Shelby, is among the most coveted of the original Mustang lineup. The GT500 has a modern rendition as well, but its the classic model that has been appreciating quite well.
The GT500 the most iconic because it was designed by Carroll Shelby. The distinct look of the car was in line with the Shelby design theme at the time. According to automotive resource Hagerty, the GT500 has been selling for staggering amounts of money. The auction block is where you’ll most likely find these.
There was a period not too distant where Plymouth was a major part of the American automotive landscape. Whether it was the muscle car era of the original minivan, Plymouth was an iconic name of the automotive world. Sadly, the brand didn’t make it very far into the new millennium and now Plymouths are relics of another time.
The 1968 Plymouth Road Runner is highly regarded as one of the best muscle cars. With a 7-liter, 426-cubic-inch Hemi V8 engine the Road Runner is more than unique. The car was marketed in conjunction with the famous Looney Tunes character the “road runner”. Since then, there hasn’t been a muscle car that used the Road Runner or a cartoon character as a mascot. The Road Runner was and still is one of the crowning jewels of the Chrysler car company.
The Dodge Dart that we were graced with a few short years ago was an utter sham when compared to the history of the car. The 1968 Dodge Dart 426 Hemi was a very limited production vehicle, with only 80 examples ever produced. This car was designed to be a hog on the drag strip. The interesting thing about the Dart is the fact that it featured a short wheelbase but it was still based on the outgoing models.
Enthusiasts of drag racing and a drag setup were greeted by the excellent design of the car. To this day, the Dart 426 Hemi is a rather unique offering. You don’t see these cars very often, and with such a small amount of them produced, values are going to keep rising. But if you can get your hands on one, this is a serious piece of MOPAR history.
Designed on the same platform as the Superbird, the 1969 Dodge Charger Daytona has some striking resemblances to the latter. Aside from the obvious sloping nose, the Superbird is a standout vehicle. There is a bit of history behind the Charger Daytona. First and foremost, this is the first car to reach 200 mph on the NASCAR track, which was quite the feat back then. The current values of this vehicle have been on the rise thanks to the recent muscle car boom.
Values will continue to rise as the 1969 Dodge Charger Daytona is quite a rare vehicle. Originally it wasn’t intended for production, but the rules for entering NASCAR was that any vehicle in the race needed to be based on a production vehicle with at least 500 units produced. While the 1969 Dodge Charger Daytona is quite rare, they are out there.
Although you can’t tell by looking at today’s automotive landscape, there was a time when Pontiac was a major player in the automotive industry. Pontiac cars were exciting and fun to drive. In fact, the brand was known as GM’s excitement division. The interesting thing about Pontiac vehicles is that they were based on other GM cars, but they had a sense of style and individuality. The 1969 Pontiac GTO Judge is perhaps one of the most iconic cars of the muscle car era. If you are lucky enough to own one, you are blessed.
The 1969 Pontiac GTO Judge has seen its values rise in recent years, especially after Pontiac was phased out by GM. Traditionally these cars are floating around the auction block, but you can get lucky and hit a barn find every once in a while. If you want a pure muscle car, the 1969 Pontiac GTO Judge stands out.
In terms of the Mustang, Ford has always managed to refresh the brand. When the Camaro was phased out of production in 2002, it was because the car had become stale. Ford is constantly adding special editions to the Mustang such as the Mach-1, the Boss 429, and even the Cobra. The Mustang lineup is constantly kept in rotation so that consumers don’t get bored. The 1969 Ford Mustang Boss 429 is among the rarest Mustangs to ever go into production.
You’ll rarely see one of these sell at auction for values less than $200,000. The sheer design of the car looks like a beefed-up muscle car. Ford put a high-stakes design on the table for the 1969 Ford Mustang Boss 429 and it paid off. Everything about the Boss 429 is unique, from the enormous engine bay to the high-performance design. Values will continue to rise.
While GM hasn’t been the best about keeping the Camaro updated, the brand has thrown in a few special editions from time to time. The 1969 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 had a high-performance design. While the car was and is street legal, it was designed for pro drag racers. To this day, the ZL1 is one of the best pure performance Camarosyou can get. Everything about the car screams GM performance, from the blacked-out grille to the Rallye wheels.
Values have continued to rise for the ZL1 because it is one of the most desirable collectors vehicles on the road. This is not your daddy’s Camaro and everything about it is different than what you’d find from this era. GM pulled out all the stops to make the Camaro ZL1 a unique and different muscle car.
Although the new Corvette has been garnering a lot of praise for its mid-engined supercar design, GM was not the first domestic automaker to do this. AMC designed a muscle car that could rival German sports cars long before that. The 1969 AMC AMX/3 was designed to be a grand-tourer-style sports car. It only had two-seats and it could achieve 0-60 times in a record five seconds. The top speed was 170 mph, which was a record for the AMC brand at the time.
The AMX/3 is one of the rarest AMC vehicles that you can get. Its interesting design makes it stand out from a long lineup of AMC muscle cars. The design of the AMX/3 is still unique to this day, giving the car a lot of credence in the muscle car world. The unique design also bolds well for the resale values, which have continued to go up.
There were quite a few powerful Fords to come out during the muscle car era, but one of the most notable was the Torino Cobra. Designed on the platform of the already-popular Torino models, the Torino Cobra incorporated a lot of design features that made it unique. The V8 engine was most notably a powerhouse, achieving 0-60 times in just under six seconds.
If that wasn’t enough to convince you, the bright orange color scheme was also worth considering. A three or four-speed manual transmission was available, giving buyers a bit of choice when it came to the Torino Cobra. This variation of the Torino was much rarer than the other models, hence the Cobra badging. If you can find one of these for anything close to reasonable values, you’ll be in store for an excellent muscle car.
Oldsmobile is another disbanded GM brand that was at its pinnacle during the muscle car era. Much like Pontiac, there were quite a few Oldsmobile models that have seen values rise quickly on the auction block. Most notably is the Oldsmobile 442, which is based on the Chevrolet Chevelle. Aside from the muscle car aesthetic, there was a lot that made the 442 stand out from the crowd. The first of which is the special-edition 445 CID V8 engine with 400 horsepower and 500 foot-pounds of torque.
Even to this day the Oldsmobile 442 in its original form is a monster on the road. The performance is among the best from a GM vehicle around this period. Valuations on the Oldsmobile 442 have been on the rise, and understandably so because the car has a unique look and feel that’s hard to come by anymore.
Also based on the same platform as the Oldsmobile 442 and the Chevelle, the Buick GSX is a car that’s worth considering. The car has a lot of unique features that were incorporated to separate it from other cars on the platform. Buick is more of a luxurious ride and the GSX was designed to follow this scheme. Not to be confused with the Skylark that it shares its sheet metal with, the GSX was a more focused sports car.
There were only 687 examples of the GSX that were put into production, which makes the car quite rare. The Buick GSX was synonymous with incorporating luxury and performance into a single package. While this is the norm these days, back then it was rare for a car to be both luxurious and perform well at the track. Values for the GSX have been exploding as cleaner examples are becoming harder to find.
The Chevelle SS 454 is perhaps the most iconic entry on this list, and with good reason. The car stands the test of time with a stylistic appearance that’s pure Chevy. From the dual taillights to the sheer power that the 454 has under the hood. When you think about timeless muscle cars, the Chevelle SS 454 is about as iconic as you can get. Don’t forget the fact that this was a limited-production vehicle, making it extremely rare.
When you think of well-known muscle cars, the Chevelle is the first that comes to mind. But the Chevelle SS 454 is a whole different beast, and much rarer than your run-of-the-mill Chevelle. There’s no doubt that driving one of these will encompass a lot of stares from onlookers. You’ll also get the thrill of driving one of the most iconic Chevy muscle cars there ever has been. Values will continue to rise rapidly.
Plymouth was once a big player in the muscle car game, and the Barracuda is one of the most iconic muscle cars ever. The dual-carburetor 426-cubic-inch Hemi engine was rated at 425 horsepower. This is a powerful number even by today’s standards, and it’s easy to see why the car sold so well. Plymouth was at a high point during this period, and the Barracuda is at the forefront of this lineup. Its signature paint colors and the long sloping style of the Barracuda are amazingly iconic.
Auction values of the 1970 Plymouth Barracuda have been about as high as you can get. As the muscle car boom roars on the 1970 Plymouth Barracuda is undoubtedly one of the most desirable models. Shortly after this car was produced, Chrysler was in rough shape, which was a sad thing to see considering the iconic image of the company.
In addition to the Plymouth Barracuda, there was also its corporate cousin, the Challenger. The original Challenger was a lot like the Barracuda regarding performance, but Dodge added quite a few luxury features. The plan was to give the driver a more luxurious personal luxury coupe experience, similar to the Monte Carlo. Muscle cars were a big part of the automotive industry at this point and the Challenger was at the forefront.
With its Hemi V8 engine, the Challenger became an iconic part of the automotive industry. Dodge did a good job of differentiating the car from the rest of the lineup. And although the Plymouth Barracuda was the go-to muscle car in the Chrysler brand portfolio, the Dodge Challenger was a close second.
The GM F-Body cars took on the Mustang pony cars very well, especially the first generation. But the second generation was able to shine and garner a considerable amount of publicity and notoriety. The first reason was because of the hit movie “Smokey and the Bandit.” This gave the public a real glimpse of the Trans-AM in true driving function. The distinct styling of the car complete with the rocker hood is iconic to this day, although Pontiac was defunct by the turn of the century.
The 1977 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am is particularly a collector’s item, and the black and gold variations are especially sought after. The Trans Am was a package on the Firebird, but the package became a car of its own in many aspects. Pontiac is one of the most iconic brands from the muscle car era, and this car is one of the most iconic models. Values are high and will get even higher.
Although it was released much later than the original muscle car era, the Buick GNX is very much worth considering. The car is one of the only turbocharged V6 GM cars based on this platform, and the performance today is still as exceptional as before. The unique things about the GNX were its blacked-out appearance and the stripped-down style of the car. You’d never know that this was a Buick Regal, as the styling was all its own.
The 1987 Buick GNX was only available in a single color combination, and the car looks menacing even to this day. Values on these cars have been going up as consumer taste for 80s muscle cars continues to go up. There is no doubt that the 1987 Buick GNX is one of the rarest cars on the road.
The original Plymouth Barracuda is perhaps one of the most unique-looking “pony” cars ever released. A fact that’s commonly missed by the automotive industry is the fact that the original Barracuda was released a year before the first Mustang generation. The Mustang is often credited as the original pony car, but the Barracuda was one of the first.
The sloping style of the Barracuda was a special feature of the car, giving it a very modern appearance. Plymouth was introducing several unique cars to the lineup, and the Barracuda was a step in the right direction. With the wrap-around back glass and the lightweight performance, the Plymouth Barracuda is a stellar muscle car from the original era. The values on these vehicles are going to continue to rise.
Although the GTO Judge is the most highly-coveted model, the original GTO is nearly just as desirable. The styling of the car gives it that signature ’60s look, and performance is impressive even to this day. While Pontiac had developed quite a few performance cars. At this point, the GTO was among the most prized. The 389 cu in (6.4 L) V8 rated at 325 hp (242 kW) at 4,800 rpm was and still is an impressive powerplant. The dual exhaust was a standard feature of the GTO which allowed it to have that signature growl.
The original GTO is synonymous with igniting the muscle car era that still goes on today. Pontiac did a great job of designing the original GTO, and first-generation cars are among the most desirable on the road. Some original GTO models have power steering and some that lack it, so keep an eye out for those models.
AMC, like it or not, is a historic piece of the automotive industry. Even though AMC cars were downright awful during the end of the company’s lifespan, there are some gems from the muscle car era. The AMC AMX (1968) not to be confused with the earlier model in this list, was a stellar muscle car. The lightweight and short wheelbase made the AMX drive like a dream and perform just as well. When you compare the AMX to other vehicles like the Camaro Z/28, you don’t get the notoriety, but the performance was still satisfying.
While the AMC AMX isn’t the most well-recognized model on the road, values have been rising. Finding AMC muscle cars at auction can be a fun experience because these are a lesser-known part of the automotive industry. The AMX has a lot going for it, which makes for a stellar muscle car or weekend project.
The Dodge brand has had a lot of success with various muscle cars and the Dodge Charger is notable. The wide-bodied appearance of the Charger made for a memorable muscle car, and it still looks good to this day. The performance was derived from a V8, the same that you’d find in the other large cars from Chrysler. The Charger had a grill that became iconic, and the rest of the car didn’t look bad either. The 440 was rated at 375 bhp (280 kW) with a single 4-barrel carburetor.
Values on the original Charger have been going through the roof, especially because the car is a bit rarer than other models. Sales of the Charger toward the latter part of the lifespan were lessened as buyers moved to compact pony cars. But the Charger still has addictive performance and is a great platform to build on.
When it comes to unique aspects of automotive history, the AMC Marlin is a respectable car. Initially released in very low production numbers to increase showroom traffic the Marlin had a stylistic choice like no other. Swooping lines made the AMC Marlin a unique muscle car with a lot of potentials. When you compared it to other models, on the market the AMC Marlin was among the most unique. Power was derived from a 287 cu in (4.7 L) 189 hp (141 kW; 192 PS) V8 2-bbl, which was just one of many available motors.
There were a lot of “pure ’60s” features on the car such as the “Flash-O-Matic” transmission. There’s no doubt that AMC was trying to bring back American ingenuity, and the AMC Marlin did this quite well. When you think about muscle cars from this era, the AMC Marlin is a standout vehicle to say the least.
Finally, we have one of the rarest entries on our list, the Oldsmobile Toronado. The Toronado was famous for many automotive advancements such as being one of the first vehicle makes with a modern airbag. Of course, this wasn’t the 1966-1968 model, but still, the brand lived on for some time. The Oldsmobile Toronado was fast and that performance came from a 425 cu in (7.0 L) 385 hp (287 kW) Rocket V8. This was a powerplant that was notorious with the Oldsmobile brand, and it gave the car a serious amount of performance.
Vehicle enhancements to the interior made the Toronado a nice riding piece of machinery. The outlandish exterior styling was only accompanied by the performance under the hood. Because the Oldsmobile brand is extinct, the Toronado is only going to continue to gain traction as its values go up on the auction block. You can expect to pay a pretty penny for a clean Oldsmobile Toronado.