In the 1980s, General Motors experimented with turbo-powered V6 engines instead of traditional small-block V8s. The Buick Grand National is probably the most well-known example of this combination, but there was another car that GM released around this time with the same setup (via Barrett Jackson).
That car was the 1989 Pontiac Turbo Trans Am, a performance car produced using the same turbo setup. Many enthusiasts don’t realize this car ever existed. The comparable model, which used a 305 V8 engine, was much less powerful than this turbo-powered example.
Nowadays, when you hear about the Oldsmobile brand, it’s a thing of the past, but there was a time when Oldsmobile was dominating sales. The Cutlass was once the best-selling car in America year after year, and it wasn’t just a fluke (via Hemmings).
The 1983 Hurst Oldsmobile Cutlass built on the success of the platform and added performance to it. Hurst is a performance name linked to Oldsmobile before this car, so it is no surprise there would be another Hurst performance model again. However, the sales numbers of this car were low, and you’ll seldom see one on the road anymore.
The GM G-Body platform was dominant in the 1980s and one of the most popular automotive platforms GM ever sold. When it came to a unique offering, the Pontiac Grand Prix 2+2 built on the success of the already dominant platform. A unique aerodynamic design separated the car from its platform mates (via Barn Finds).
It was this bubble-back design that made the Grand Prix 2+2 stand out from the crowd. There are very few cars from this era that had such a unique look. Sadly, the bubble-back Grand Prix never managed to catch on with consumers and sales numbers were very low. You’ll seldom see one on the road anymore.
The third-generation F-Body cars were released at a time of transition for General Motors. The fuel prices and emissions regulations were tougher than ever for domestic automakers. The Firebird still shared its design with the Camaro, but now this car had its unique design (via Car Folio).
Everything about this generation of the Firebird was unique, from the dashboard to the rest of the interior. The car sold a lot better than the previous generations, although many enthusiasts tend to forget that this car existed. There aren’t many of these Firebird models still on the road.
Dubbed the “secretary’s Camaro”, the Berlinetta was supposed to offer an alternative to compact luxury cars. The interior of the Camaro was completely redone with plush leather seating and a digital dashboard (via LS1 Tech).
The idea behind the Berlinetta was unique, but there were far too many shortcomings to justify the cost of this car. The F-Body wasn’t the right platform to build a luxury car on. Not to mention the fact that the performance of the Berlinetta was lethargic at best.
The Capri 5.0 was a car that shared its platform with the Fox-body Mustang of the same era. The design of the car had a unique look. Yet when you took a hard look at the car, you knew what it was. Under the hood was the tried-and-true Ford 5.0 H/O engine shared with the Mustang (via Hemmings).
The great thing about the Mercury Capri 5.0 is that many consumers don’t know exactly what the car is. This means you can get a Mustang 5.0 at the fraction of the cost. There is an aftermarket scene for this car like no other and plenty of interesting add-ons for this car.
The Buick Wildcat doesn’t get the credit it deserves in the muscle car world. The car wasn’t directly marketed as a muscle car, but it had more than enough to offer. The styling of the Wildcat was quite attractive, in the two-door form the car looked the part of a true muscle car (via Hagerty).
The 430-cubic-inch, 360-horsepower big-block V-8 was a traditional Buick power plant in every sense of the word. The off-the-line performance of the car was better than many competitors. Unfortunately, the Wildcat never quite managed to catch on with consumers and the car was forgotten in the muscle car world.
The AMC brand is often overlooked in the muscle car era, but there were quite a few great cars that came from the company. The 1970 AMC Rebel Machine was about as American as you could get when it came to a muscle car. The red, white, and blue paint job gave the car a uniquely 1970s look (via Hemmings).
Although the AMC was behind General Motors in terms of refinement and engine design, the Rebel Machine was still a great muscle car. The performance was exciting enough to make the car fun to drive, and the rarity of this car has made it a collector’s item that any enthusiast will appreciate.
Another interesting AMC model released around the muscle car era was the 1971 AMC Matador Machine. Although the car was built using the AMC parts bin, it still had some great style characteristics. The performance of the car was also impressive considering its limitations (via Street Muscle Mag).
There was a 5.9- or 6.6-liter V-8 engine that came as standard equipment. Either power plant was a great option, but the overall design of the car caused sales to languish. AMC was already in dire straights by this point in time, so this car has become a sort of collector’s item.
The Dodge Dart has gone through several incarnations throughout the product line. While the Dart isn’t the first nameplate that comes to mind when you think of muscle, the car could hold its own. The 1971 Dodge Dart Demon was a special-edition muscle car that offered a great amount of power (via Hemmings).
Although you might not consider the Dart a true muscle car, the Demon was a special edition. With the polarizing paint job and the distinct performance of the Dodge Dart Demon, it might just be one of the most forgotten muscle cars on the road. This has become a relic of the muscle car era.
Even though the AMC brand was in dire straights by the 1970s, the company was attempting to ignite a resurgence nevertheless. These cars were not the drop-dead gorgeous muscle cars that you’d see from other automakers, but they did have one-of-a-kind styling and a unique AMC power plant under the hood (via Hemmings).
The AMC Hornet SC/360 is a compact muscle car equipped with a powerful V8 engine and a unique paint scheme. Although this has become a forgotten muscle car, it provides drivers with a unique option that can still be used as a classic car option.
The GMC brand is synonymous with commercial vehicles and pickup trucks, but there was a short period when the brand sold a muscle car. The GMC Sprint SP was a unique car that took the design of the Chevy El Camino and added some unique touches to it (via Midwest Dream Car).
The fact that GMC sold a muscle car is a mystery to most and the Spirit is that forgotten model. The GMC Spirit has gained traction in the used car world over the past decade. Collectors are now beginning to realize the potential this unique car/truck hybrid has to offer.
The original Pontiac GTO gets a lot of glory in the muscle car world but there were also other GTO models. The 1974 Pontiac Ventura GTO was released at a strange time for the brand because it was a smaller version of the original GTO that the company had sold (via Hagerty).
Performance-wise, this variation of the GTO didn’t break any records but it could hold its own. As automakers worked toward downsizing their lineups, this was a more economical version of the GTO. Unfortunately, it never sold well, and this is one of the lesser-known GTO models.
The Chevrolet Laguna is sort of the unsung hero of the 1970s. It had a design similar to the Monte Carlo and these types of two-door coupes were all the rage back then. There was a reason for that. It had to do with performance and the fact that muscle cars were just starting to wane in popularity (via Motor Week).
The performance of the Chevy Laguna was quite strong considering the limitations the EPA was putting on automakers to control vehicle emissions. The Laguna wasn’t in production for a very long time. But for the short time it was, it garnered a considerable fanbase.
Where do we start with the Buick GNX? The car is the stuff of legend in the automotive world. More so in recent years, as a new generation of drivers starts collecting these vehicles. The GNX, which was the Grand National, was a turbo-powered sports car built on the GM G-Body platform (via Road & Track).
These cars were the leaders of the pack when it came to sales numbers and GM kept the platform going for over a decade. In recent years, the next generation of automotive enthusiasts has fallen in love with turbocharged V6 sports cars.
It’s sad to realize that Mercury was once a major part of the automotive industry. It was a brand that was instrumental in bringing drivers many unique vehicles. The Comet Cyclone is one of these underrated rides that came right before the full muscle car boom was in effect (via Old Ride).
The Comet came equipped with a 289-cubic-inch V8, which was more than enough to propel the car with authority. The styling was in line with the rest of the automotive market at the time, which was going toward space and future-influenced themes. Sadly, the Comet is largely forgotten in the automotive world even though it was a very impressive car.
When it comes to car/truck hybrids, the El Camino is the king of the crop. The El Camino is the most well-known version of this automotive body style. But that doesn’t mean Ford didn’t throw its hat into the race. The Ford Ranchero was another well-proportioned car from this era (via Nada Guides).
The Ranchero 500 was a performance version of this car and it packed a punch. The styling was also better than the mainstream Ranchero models. From a collectible standpoint, the Ranchero is much easier to obtain than the El Camino, and you won’t break the bank either.
Although the station wagon is a thing of the past, there was a time when station wagons were the only form of family transportation. The 1969 Chevy Kingswood 427 was a family wagon that was also performance-oriented, sharing a platform with the Chevy Chevelle (via Automobile Catalog).
The 427 V8 engine is one of the best power plants GM has ever released. The production numbers for this wagon weren’t high, there were only 527 of them built. This means they are a rarity in the automotive world, and you’ll seldom find one anymore.
The Pontiac Grand Prix is sort of the unsung hero of the muscle car era. The SJ was based on the Chevrolet Monte Carlo, and it had that same unique styling. The Grand Prix never sold as well as the Monte Carlo, so the cars from this era are rare, but they pack a lot of power under the hood (via PontiacCV8).
The styling of the Grand Prix SJ was sort of panned for the front nose of the car, but that doesn’t take away from the great performance. You get all the great aspects of the Monte Carlo without the high price tag as the Grand Prix is generally a more affordable option.
Plymouth was also a heavy hitter during the muscle car era, with many great models that we remember. The GTX is sort of a lesser-known model that still offers a great amount of value. The styling of the Plymouth GTX is very memorable, and the car has a lot of potential for classic muscle car collectors (via Hagerty).
The Plymouth GTX was one of the most unique Plymouths that hit the market during this period. Performance was top of the line and the rarity of the car makes it unique. Most automotive enthusiasts have forgotten this car existed, but it was an integral part of the muscle car era.
The Cricket itself wasn’t originally a muscle car. In fact, it was the furthest thing from a muscle car. But in recent years, it has become popular to do a Hemi swap on this dimunutive ride. The styling makes it a unique Mopar that most people have never even heard of or seen in years (via Hagerty).
The Cricket is by far one of the worst-selling Plymouth models of all time, which means you can find them for a cheap price. But the ability to swap out to a V8 motor makes the car a unique Mopar choice that you won’t find very often and you can make it fast and unique on your own.
When you think of the Dodge Magnum, most modern drivers remember a certain station wagon from the 2000s. But there was a Dodge Magnum model sold decades before. The Dodge Magnum had the same style of styling as the Monte Carlo and other two-door coupes of the same period (via Hagerty).
This car was based on the B-Platform, and although it never sold well, it has a lot of potential for today’s muscle car tuners. The ability to swap out to a Hemi engine is the most popular option, but the base motor also had solid specifications. This is a cool car that most drivers don’t remember.
The Chrysler Imperial doesn’t come off as a muscle car and it was never directly marketed as one. But leave it to gearheads to get more out of a car than it was meant to do. The Imperial is a great candidate to have a Hemi V8 engine swapped into it (via Hagerty).
When it comes to big and beautiful cars, the Imperial was at the top of its class when it was brand new. The styling is iconic and one of the most memorable models from this generation. This is also a much more affordable classic car option for restoring on a budget.
The Roadrunner is one of the most iconic muscle cars ever released, but a few years later there was also a budget-oriented version of it. The Volare Roadrunner never achieved the sales success of the original car but was still quite the thing to behold (via Hagerty).
The styling of the Volare was bland, but when you bring it into the modern era, you can make this car look great. There are plenty of aftermarket accessories that you can get for this car, and the engine is versatile. If you want an affordable Plymouth muscle car, this is a great option.
The Aspen is another forgotten Mopar from the 1970s. The car was one of the first downsized models sold by Chrysler during the fuel embargo. The performance of the car when it was new was substandard at best, but with modern enhancements, the car can become a beast (via Hagerty).
There was only 170 HP from its 360 V8 engine, which was very scaled-down at the time. There is a lot of potential that this car has with the right owner. The Dodge Aspen R/T is perhaps one of the most forgotten cars from this era at Chrysler, and it never sold well.
Here we have a unique Dodge from the 1960s that utilized a familiar nameplate long before it became a reality. The 1963 Dodge 330 Ramcharger was a two-door performance car. This was right before the muscle car era was a thing and the car was fun to drive (via Hagerty).
With 425 HP as standard equipment, this car was not something to easily laugh at. The build quality was ahead of its time, and the interior was comfortable. Nowadays, this car is seldom seen anymore, but the people who own one have something special.
This was a more common Dodge from this era because it was used as a police car. The Coronet sold well among police forces because it was a time before Ford’s dominance in the law enforcement segment. The Coronet had a great platform to build on for racing and performance (via Hagerty).
The rear-wheel-drive design of the Coronet made it a unique car. These days, the Coronet has become a relic of the past, and most gearheads don’t remember it, but the car had many great aspects. It was one of the original police cars on the market and drove well.
You can’t talk about the muscle car era without acknowledging the Plymouth Belvedere. The style of the Belvedere is highly regarded as one of the best-looking Plymouths of all time. The driving characteristics of the car are still desirable to this day and the aftermarket community is diverse (via Hagerty).
Although the Belvedere is not as popular as some of the better-known muscle cars from this era, it had a unique design that made it a great piece of automotive history. With a Hemi V8 under the hood, this is one of the first Plymouths that cemented the company’s performance reputation.
Also building on the legendary Hemi name was the Barracuda Hemi. This car tends to get overshadowed by other models in the Plymouth lineup but it was quite the powerhouse. The styling was in line with the rest of the performance lineup around this period (via Autowise).
As far as true enthusiasts are concerned, the Barracuda is the stuff of legend. The car took the nameplate from boring to being the pinnacle of performance. Of course, other well-known Plymouths could break records on the track, but this was the main one.
The Chrysler New Yorker has always been a big and comfortable car, but as the muscle car bubble continues to get higher, this is an often-overlooked muscle car. You can do a lot with the New Yorker platform, although it was not originally intended to be a muscle car (via Autowise).
Chrysler makes modern Hemi kits that are geared toward enthusiasts. These kits can transform a run-of-the-mill New Yorker into a car that you can respect on the track. The Chrysler New Yorker has a great deal of potential for a restoration project as they can find these for next to nothing.
The Chrysler 300C that we see today is not the only Chrysler that has bared that nameplate. The 300 line has been around in one form or another for decades. The C-300 was built on the initial success of the line, and the car has become a sort of hidden collectible in Chrysler circles (via Autowise).
The unique design is only amplified but the fins on the rear deck of the car. The engine that came in this beast was the 331 V8 Hemi, which was one of Chrysler’s earliest successes. If you want a car that no one will remember right off the top, this is the hot rod for you.
Few cars have been as polarizing and iconic as the Fury. This isn’t a car that resonates with gearheads right off the bat, but if you know anything about movies, you’ll remember this car. The Plymouth Fury was the haunted car that played the part in the movie Christine (via Autowise).
The Plymouth Fury isn’t an easy car to get your hands on, but if you do, it will not break the bank. Many aftermarket accessories can bring the Fury into the modern era. The car is fun to drive, and it has a lot to work with for classic muscle car restorers.
The Dart 413 Max Wedge is fairly rare in the automotive world. The car was a true performance car in every sense of the word. The lightweight design and the powerful V8 engine made for a stellar formula and the car managed to sell well initially (via Autowise).
This car had a successful run in the racing world, and part of that was due to the unique build quality. If you find one of these, you’ll have a lot of fun with it. Slap a modern Hemi under the hood, and the Dart Max Wedge will be a serious sleeper.
The Charger isn’t necessarily a forgotten muscle car, but it has been overshadowed. There are muscle cars that have come and gone in the world, but the Charger has stood the test of time. The performance of the Charger was unparalleled with the competition (via Autowise).
The Charger had a unique look that was different than the rest of the Dodge lineup. In recent years, the car has managed to increase in value dramatically. If you can get your hands on one, the Dodge Charger is one of the most unique muscle cars on the road.
Dodge was big in the racing scene in the 1970s, so it should be no surprise that the Dodge Hemi Dart LO23 Super Stock is a rare and forgotten legend. The styling of the car let you know that it meant business on the track and its performance could back it up (via Autowise).
This was the smallest production model in the Dodge lineup at the time, and it resonated well with consumers. There have been a few performance cars that came out from Chrysler during this period, and this is by far one of the most impressive.
The Dodge Super Bee line has been impressive over the decades, but the originator of this line was the Dodge Coronet Super Bee. The design of the car made it stand out from the other muscle cars on the market. The unique yellow two-tone paint job made the car unique (via Autowise).
The Super Bee was a popular model because of the bright yellow paint job and unique decals. The performance was also top of the line for this model. While the Coronet doesn’t bring that kind of excitement ordinarily, the Super Bee version of the car was on a whole new level.
The Charger Daytona is one of the most iconic Mopar muscle cars. The orange color and the giant spoiler on the back of the car made it unlike anything else. Production numbers for this car were quite low, which has made it unique and rare in this modern muscle car market (via Autowise).
Performance-wise, the 440 V8 was a top-notch engine for the period. Obviously, with a modern Hemi V8 swap, this car could be tremendously different than you’d expect. From the performance to the styling, the Charger Daytona is an unforgettable muscle car.
The Plymouth Roadrunner Superbird is one of the most revered NASCARs in history. Richard Petty won numerous races while driving this car, and in return made the Plymouth brand an icon. The Superbird is one of the most desirable muscle cars drivers can get (via Autowise).
When it came to the design of the car, it had a lot of input from Richard Petty. The design of the car was meant to excel in the NASCAR circuit, and it did exactly that.
Another Plymouth that isn’t well remembered is the Plymouth Cuda AAR. This was a performance version of the car that was geared toward specific enthusiasts. The car was a street-legal race car in every sense of the word, and it was designed to perform as such (via Autowise).
Production numbers of the Plymouth Cuda AAR were only 2,724. This means the car is very rare, and it can be hard to get your hands on one. But if you do find one of these, it is a car that has a lot of potential and can perform well.