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.