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30 American Compacts That Were Debatable Muscle Cars

Vukasin HerbezJune 26, 2020

5. Plymouth TC3

The Plymouth TC3 and its twin brother, the Dodge Omni 024 are forgotten Mopars. And they came from the time when American performance was a pale shadow of its former self in the late ’70s and early ’80s.

The idea behind this car was to offer a compact, modern-looking sports model with a small engine and cool features. Unfortunately, the engine displaced only 1.7-liters. And it had the diminutive power of just 63 HP. This meant the TC3 was a slow, forgettable model.

4. Ford Mustang Cobra

The 1979 model year brought several major improvements to the Mustang range. First, they presented a new model featuring a modern design, updated chassis and wider track. Second, they introduced an interesting performance version they called the Cobra.

Although not as powerful or crazy as those Cobra Jets of before, the 1979 Cobra featured a 2.3-liter four-cylinder engine with 140 HP. And although this was pathetic even by the standards of the day, it was a step in the right direction. In fact, it helped the American performance market finally start to recover.

3. Plymouth Volare Roadrunner

Back in 1976, Plymouth introduced the Volare. It was a successful mid-size model they produced in many variants and exported worldwide. Also, it was the twin to the Dodge Aspen featuring a rear-wheel-drive platform. And it came with a wide arrangement of engines and sleek designs. Both Dodge and Plymouth had successful muscle models in the past.

So, the heritage was still strong when they introduced the Volare. This was the perfect platform for a muscle car if it weren’t for the grueling emissions and safety regulations killing the performance. But, Plymouth tried and presented the Volare Road Runner that featured a 316 V8 engine delivering a measly 160 HP.

However, what it lacked in the performance department the Volare Road Runner compensated in looks. And it had a full body kit with rear window louvers and a spoiler. It even came with a cool graphics package and sports wheels.

2. Dodge Aspen R/T

Like the Plymouth Volare Road Runner, the Aspen R/T was Dodge’s effort to present a muscle car when they were almost impossible to construct and sell. However, the Dodge Aspen R/T looked like the real deal. In fact, it even possessed some power to distance itself from similar attempts from other brands with disgraceful power outputs.

So, under the ram air hood of the Aspen R/T was a 360 V8 engine with 170 HP. But the selling point of this car was the looks. It came fully equipped with all the bells and whistles of the late muscle car era. In fact, it came with a body kit and stripes.

Also, it had white letter tires with wide wheels, spoilers and even a T-top option. It is just too bad the Aspen R/T lacked the power of its ancestors. It could have easily earned a top spot in muscle car history.

1. Oldsmobile Starfire GT

The mid-70s weren’t an especially good period for Olds performance. So when they introduced the new compact Starfire model, their engineers decided to present a performance version. They called it the Starfire GT, and it was basically an appearance package on a regular Starfire hatchback.

With special body stripes, color, details, wheels and a stabilizer bar, the Starfire GT was more dynamic than the regular model. Also, it was the closest thing Oldsmobile had to a sports or muscle car in 1976.

These are the 30 American performance cars that come in a compact package. Which one of these junior muscle cars did you like the best? Although some are rare and obscure nowadays, others are still available at a decent price like the Shelby Charger. But you should make a move fast. These cars will not go down in price and will become even rarer with time.

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