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30 Most Expensive Muscle Cars That Made Collectors Rich Overnight

Vukasin HerbezMay 12, 2022

The many legendary muscle cars of the 1960s were some of the first cars to gain significant value on the collector’s market thanks to their glistening curb appeal. Back in the early 1990s, wealthy car collectors started paying high sums for cars from their youth as they sought rare and limited-edition models. The trend has continued ever since, and what were once $10,000 cars now are pushing over $50,000 as a result.

What’s more, is that some models are regularly achieving over six and seven figures at auctions because they are so rare. Even seeing a classic muscle car sold for over $1 million is not rare due to the current surge in the collector car market. Therefore, we looked at the 30 most expensive muscle cars ever sold right here.

Foto Credit: Auto WP

30. 1967 Chevrolet Camaro Z/28 – $100,000+

Although the 1967 Z/28 wasn’t the most powerful Camaro Chevrolet had to offer, it was by far the best choice due to its superior handling, braking, and overall driving dynamics. The Z/28 package included front disc brakes, a close-ratio four-speed manual transmission, and revised suspension and steering. It also had exterior trim details like racing stripes, vinyl roof, and headlight covers, making it very sporty as a result. Still, the real treat was under the hood. The power came from a 5.0-liter V8 with 290 HP because of its high-revving nature (via Mecum).

Foto Credit: Auto WP

The 1967 Z/28 Camaro was a pretty rare and desirable car, and today, one in perfect condition will set you back around $90,000. This is a far cry from $3,200, which was the sticker price in 1967.

 

Dodge Charger Daytona - Dodge
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29. 1969 Dodge Charger R/T Hemi – $150.000+

The 1969 Charger is the true icon of the classic muscle car scene. It was the muscle car for the late ’60s generation simply because it was big, bold, and fast. However, if you want the ultimate Charger, you have to look for the R/T performance package and top-of-the-line engine option – the mighty Hemi (via Hemmings).

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For such a car, collectors must pay over $150,000 thanks to its notoriety. They must search classified ads for a long due to the fact that the 1969 R/T Hemi Charger is a rare beast. Moreover, compared to the original sticker price of $4,000, that’s over 35 times more.

Photo Credit: Hot Rod

28. Dodge Charger Hemi R/T – $150,000

In 1968, muscle car fans were wowed by the fantastic lines of the brand new Charger featuring popular “Coke bottle” styling because of its big grille, recessed rear glass, and four round rear lights. In those days of crazy designs and aggressive muscle car styling, the 1968 Charger was in a league of its own, and no other muscle model could compete with it as a result (via Hemmings).

Photo Credit: Hot Rod

Of course, the top-of-the-line model was R/T with 426 Hemi engine, and just 475 of those were made, which therefore explains the price reached at auctions recently.

Foto Credit: Auto WP

27. Buick GSX – $185,000

The 1970 model year was a watershed year for American muscle and performance models since never before or since there were so many great models available. Backed by steady sales and outstanding reception of their muscle models, Buick decided to introduce the ultimate muscle car in the form of the legendary Buick GSX (via Hemmings).

Rare Rides: The 1970 Buick GSX And GSX Stage 1
Photo Credit: Street Muscle Magazine

This car was in the shadow of more popular machines for a long time, but recently, prices have started to go up because of its rich history. The GSX is a pretty rare car due to only 678 being made in 1970.

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26. Yenko Camaro 427 – $230,000

In 1967, Don Yenko started converting Camaro SS into 427 Camaros and selling them as Yenko Super Cars. In addition to more power, wild graphics, and a long list of optional extras, Yenko even offered a factory warranty and heavily promoted his models (via American Muscle Car Museum).

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Yenko Camaros were the most popular choice if you wanted a custom 427 V8 conversion on your regular SS as a result. Therefore, original Yenko cars from 1967 to 1969 are rare and highly sought-after for collectors all over the muscle car market.

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25. 1969 Pontiac Trans Am – $250,000+

The Trans Am model became pretty popular and mass-produced in later generations. In 1969, it was a rare and unique limited edition car. But, at the time, the company was under a racing ban from GM. Pontiac introduced the Firebird Trans Am as a loaded version featuring big-block power because of its 400 V8 engine equipped with the Ram Air III or IV intake system to mask its intentions (via Supercars).

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The difference between those engines was significant since Ram Air IV featured a lot of improved engine components. Moreover, it was rated at 366 HP but that wasn’t true. However, this particular version had signature white paint, blue stripes, and Rally II wheels. It proved to be a tough seller. Only 634 Firebird Trans Ams were sold. Among those, only eight of them were convertibles, making them extremely rare and sought after as a result.

Photo Credit: Hagerty

24. 1965 Chevrolet Chevelle Z16 – $250,000+

What exactly is the Chevelle Z16? Basically, it’s a regular Chevelle with several added speed options. Powered by 396 V8 engine with Muncie 4-speed gearbox, and heavy-duty suspension and equipment. Some dealers weren’t aware that this option even existed and Chevrolet refused to market the Z16 for some reason, making it a kind of secret model (via Motor Trend).

Foto Credit: Mecum

The Z16 was pretty fast, but it was also expensive for a Chevrolet. The company made only 200 of them as a result. This muscle car is the 1965 model year only. Most of the dealers didn’t even have the idea that Chevrolet built it, making it a rare item for collectors of today because it is so scarce.

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23. Pontiac GTO Judge Convertible – $440,000

By 1971, the end of the crazy muscle car segment was in sight. The government started tightening its grip on the segment, and cars began losing power and curb appeal as a result (via Mecum).

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One of the last true muscle car convertibles was the 1971 Pontiac GTO Judge with a powerful 455 V8 engine and ragtop. The Pontiac made only 17 of them, and this is why it is worth so much to today’s collectors.

Photo Credit: Mecum

22. Equus Bass 770 – $500,000

Half a million dollars for a strange but fantastic muscle car? Many collectors consider it a good investment in the case of the Equus Bass due to its many redeeming features. The Bass 770 is a modern muscle car that combines the general shape of a classic Mustang Fastback with the grille of a ’69 Charger and a powertrain similar to Corvette’s (via Equus Automotive).

Photo Credit: Auto WP

It looks great and goes blisteringly fast, and it is more exclusive than the 1970 Hemi Cuda. So $500,000 could actually be a great price for a muscle car like this one.

Photo Credit: Mecum

21. Pontiac Trans Am ‘Smokey And The Bandit’ – $550,000

The legendary 1977 comedy movie “Smokey and The Bandit” promoted Burt Reynolds into the biggest movie star of the period. It helped Pontiac Trans Am achieve legendary status amongst car enthusiasts as a result (via Motor Trend).

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Over the years, Pontiac produced several unique versions with its legendary gold and black color scheme intact. Still, there is only one original promo car. In 2016, somebody paid over half of a million dollars for one because of the car’s storied movie history.

Photo Credit: Mecum

20. Shelby GT – $600,000

Back in 1966, Shelby teamed up with Hertz rental company to make 1000 black and gold GT350 fastbacks. Pretty soon, GT350 H was a legend among the people looking to rent a race car, race it through the weekend and return it on Monday. There were reports of vehicles returned with race numbers on the side and the holes drilled to install race roll cages (via Motor Trend).

Photo Credit: Mecum

Eventually, Hertz stopped offering sports cars, but the legend was born. 41 years after the original GT350 H, Shelby introduced the GT model. The first one of those new Shelby GTs was offered for sale at the Barrett-Jackson auction in 2007, and it fetched a whopping $600,000, with all of the funds going to Carroll Shelby’s Children’s Foundation.

Photo Credit: Mecum

19. Ford Mustang Boss 429 – $605,000

Getting $605,000 for any car is a rare achievement, let alone for a Boss 429. Despite its rarity and mystic allure, the Boss 429 had never achieved such a high amount until recently (via Top Speed).

Photo Credit: Mecum

This number is a record for all Boss 429 cars, and a particular example had a NASCAR engine with special Ford C9AE-A heavy-duty half-inch bolt rods, forged pistons, and steel crank, among many other factory options. Of course, it was perfectly restored.

Photo Credit: Mecum

18. Chevrolet Corvette L88 – 825,000

This L88 Corvette is the later C3 model introduced in 1969. It used the same mechanics and drive train components, including a powerful 427 V8 engine, as the first L88 released two years prior (via Mecum).

No Reserve: 1969 Chevrolet Corvette L88 4-Speed for sale on BaT Auctions - sold for $610,000 on February 5, 2021 (Lot #42,419) | Bring a Trailer
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So why is the 1969 model much less expensive than the 1967 version? Simply because Chevrolet made 116 of those for 1969, which was much more than it did two years earlier.

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17. Shelby GT 500 – $742,500

If you can’t afford the CSX2000 at almost 14 million dollars but need Carroll Shelby’s personal car, we have a much more affordable solution for you. The 1969 Shelby GT 500 (via Mustang Specs).

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The vehicle was used by Shelby for a few years and was even featured in several period shots and ads. That is why it was sold for much more than the average price for a Shelby Mustang of that vintage.

Photo Credit: Mecum

16. Dodge Charger Daytona Hemi – $900,000

Dodge wanted to race in NASCAR and the Charger was the perfect candidate. However, since NASCAR cars already approached high speeds of almost 200 MPH on newly constructed superspeedway tracks, aerodynamics played a crucial role in a car’s performance and results (via Supercars).

Photo Credit: Mecum

So Dodge decided to go all out and create a race car with a unique front end, flush rear glass, and a big rear spoiler. The Charger Daytona was a one-year-only model, and 504 were produced, most with 440 V8 engine and only a handful with the 426 Hemi engine option. If you want one of those cars, be prepared to pay almost one million dollars.

1970 Plymouth Superbird
Photo Credit: Hot Rod

15. Plymouth Superbird Hemi – $1 million

As one of the craziest muscle cars ever produced, the Superbird has one of the most recognizable graphics packages ever presented to the general public. The Superbird attempted to win the famous Aero Wars in the late ’60s to early ’70s NASCAR championship.

Photo Credit: Mecum

To homologate the car for racing, Plymouth built just under 2000 road-going Superbirds and sold them all over America. Most came with 440 V8, but those that came with the 426 Hemi are truly expensive (via Supercars).

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14. Shelby GT 500 Eleanor From “Gone in 60 Seconds” – $1 million

A cool million for this infamous Mustang? There were times when something like this would be considered impossible, but the most expensive and fantastic cars have already gone over that number.

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So, in May of 2013, the famous car from “Gone in 60 Seconds” remake was sold for one million bucks, making history for Mustang fans everywhere. This car wasn’t the only ‘Eleanor’ made for shooting, but it was the car used for filming and promotional shots (via Eleanor-Mustang).

Chevrolet Camaro - Chevrolet Chevelle
Photo Credit: Mecum

13. Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 – $1 million

The COPO Camaro ZL1 was a kind of secret Chevrolet drag racing special designed to fly under the radar and corporate ban on racing. It was sold only as special order throughout performance dealerships at a hefty price tag. But the car was unbeatable on the track and famous for its all-aluminum ZL1 427 V8 engine (via Supercars).

Photo Credit: Mecum

Chevrolet only built 69 of those cars, and if you want one to add to your collection, be prepared for a $1 million dollar price tag.

Foto Credit: Hagerty

12. Pontiac Catalina 421 “Swiss Cheese” – $1 Million

In the early 1960s, Pontiac realized that racing helps sell cars, and that famous Detroit’s mantra “Win on Sunday-Sell on Monday” really works. Pontiac was big in NASCAR in that period, but its drag racing reputation in the NHRA championship was slim. To do the latter, Pontiac’s engineers manufactured numerous aluminum parts like bumpers, fenders, hoods, and so on, saving 159 pounds from the heavy car (via Barrett-Jackson).

Foto Credit: Hagerty

Moreover, the vehicle was nicknamed “Swiss Cheese” since they also drilled holes in the car’s frame to save a few more grams. With high compression 421 V8 engine and 410 HP, these Catalinas were lightning quick. Needles to say, “Swiss Cheese” Catalinas proved to be the fastest on the strips and won numerous races earning Pontiac some much-needed publicity. Today, prices for those valuable drag racing legends are close to $1 million.

Photo Credit: GM

11. Chevrolet Chevelle SS 454 LS6 – $1.2 million

The Chevy Chevelle was always a very popular muscle car, and its combination of affordable price, excellent design, and powerful engines was a hit with the buyers. For 1970, Chevrolet offered an expanded line of engines including the famous 454 V8 big blocks.

Foto Credit: Mecum

The regular version was called LS5, and it was very powerful, but there was an even stronger LS6 variant which was installed in just 3,700 cars. The LS-6 had almost racing compression of 11.25:1 and used a bigger carburetor and much stronger engine internals. It was rated at 450 HP but more than likely produced over 500 (via Auto Express).

Shelby Cobra
Photo Credit: Hot Rod

10. Shelby Cobra 289 – $1.6 million

The story of Shelby Cobra 289 is a widely known one, but it’s still interesting enough to be told again. In 1962, Shelby used the AC Ace body and installed Ford 289 V8, creating one of the first Anglo-American hybrids and one of the period’s best sports/racing cars (via Motorious).

AC Cobra
Photo Credit: Hot Rod

Cobra has become an enormous legend amongst all car enthusiasts, and due to its limited production and high collectivity, prices at auctions go well over $1 million.

Photo Credit: Pinterest

9. Shelby EXP500 Green Hornet – $1.8 million (not sold)

When talking about the most expensive muscle cars, we have to mention the Green Hornet. The car received a highest bid of 1.8 million dollars, but that wasn’t enough to buy it. The Green Hornet is another experimental Mustang from Shelby’s heyday for those who don’t know (via Shelby Prototype Coupes).

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Although it wasn’t the only one, the Green Hornet features the most innovative features like a 390 V8 equipped with fuel injection, unique disc brakes on all four wheels, and independent rear suspension. With this layout, the Green Hornet was a capable car that handled and stopped better than any other sports car. Unfortunately, the cost of producing those features was too high, and Ford and Shelby decided to go with more conventional technology.

Photo Credit: Pinterest

8. Plymouth Hemi Cuda Convertible – $2 to 4 million

Two of the biggest Chrysler legends from the classic days of muscle car culture are the Barracuda and the 426 Hemi engine. All throughout the 1960s, those icons of the industry didn’t mix, at least not in street-legal cars. In 1970 Plymouth offered this legendary engine in Barracuda body style, immediately creating one of the fastest and most desirable muscle cars ever made (via Motor Trend).

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The mighty Hemi engine was an expensive top-of-the-line option for 1970 and 1971, available in a coupe or convertible form. It cost around $900 over the price of the standard Barracuda, and it was installed in just about 600 coupes and only 17 convertibles during a two-year production period. Well, prices for those 17 cars range from two to a staggering four million dollars.

Photo Credit: Mecum

7. Shelby GT500 Super Snake – $2.2 million

This unique Shelby GT500 was produced as a rolling laboratory to showcase the possibilities of the Mustang platform and test Goodyear’s “Thunderbolt” tire line. It had Le Mans-winning GT 40 race engine, special transmission, suspension, and tires, and was produced in one example.

Photo Credit: Mecum

There were plans for a limited production run, but the proposed price was over $8000, which was an enormous sum in the late ’60s. Recently, this sole example was sold for $2.2 million (via Road and Track).

Corvette Stingray
via: Hot Rod

6. Chevrolet Corvette L88 Convertible – $3.2 million

The C2 Corvette was produced from 1963 to 1967, and collectors highly seek after all examples. The big-block models, introduced in the 1966 model year, are the most expensive since they combine enormous power with unique styling (via Motor Trend).

Photo Credit: Mecum

Amongst those cars, L88 has mythical status and massive price tags. The 1967 Corvette L88 was produced in just 20 examples and one recently sold for an impressive $3.2 million.

Photo Credit: Pinterest

5. Ford Mustang GT390 Bullitt – $3.74 Million

One of the biggest Mustang legends is the Bullitt movie car. In 1968, the legendary actor Steve McQueen starred in the hit detective flick “Bullitt” and played a detective who drove a mean-looking ’68 GT390 Fastback. Two cars were used during the shooting with one reportedly being destroyed and the other being used for close-ups and promotional shoots. They were also driven, modified, and preserved by McQueen due to his love for the car (via MotorTrend).

Photo Credit: Pinterest

The second car was later sold and owned by several owners and finally settled on the East Coast of America in the hands of a very private owner who wants to remain anonymous and who is fully aware of the importance of this particular car. The owner at first was reluctant to sell, but in 2019, the car did cross the auction block for almost $4 million.

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4. Shelby GT 350 R – $3.85 million

Carroll Shelby built only 36 fire-breathing pure racing Mustangs for the 1965 model year. Each of those examples had numerous wins under its belt, and every R model is considered to be an extremely valuable piece of Mustang and racing history (via Motor Trend).

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They rarely come for sale, but they achieve astronomical prices when they do. That was the case in 2012 when a highly original GT350 R was sold for almost $4 million. With only 4900 miles on the clock, this car, with its original transmission and engine, and all-important parts, was well-known and famous amongst the Mustang aficionados.

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3. Shelby Cobra Super Snake – $5.5 million

Only two Super Snake Cobras were ever built. Both featured a highly tuned 427 V8 engine with a supercharger on top, providing the driver with almost insane levels of power and performance (via Road and Track).

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In fact, too much power proved to be a deal-breaker for most customers because just a few people could handle such a car. One of two produced was recently sold for over $5 million.

Photo Credit: RM Sotherby

2. Shelby Daytona Coupe – $7.25 million

Regular Cobra lacked top speed due to poor aerodynamics, and on long straights like on Le Mans, it was slower than the competition. To fight that, Shelby needed to modify the Cobra entirely. With the help of his talented team of engineers and hot rodders, he managed to construct longer chassis, relocate the suspension, and design a whole new, longer, sleeker, and much more aerodynamically efficient body (via CNN).

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The Daytona Coupe was a pure racing car barely suitable for street driving and intended to destroy the competition. They only made six of them, and to own one, you’ll spend at least $7.25 million.

Photo Credit: AutoWp

1. Shelby Cobra 289 CSX 2000 – $13.75 million

You are probably asking why the early 1962 Cobra 289 is more expensive than the first ten cars on this list put together. What is the deal with this extremely expensive car? Well, the CSX2000 is the first Cobra ever made, and it was in the personal fleet of Carroll Shelby for decades (via Autoblog).

Photo Credit: AutoWp

It was also the first magazine loaner car, publicity shot car, and demonstration model driven by many famous names. Basically, this Cobra is an enormously important part of American car history which justifies the price.

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