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American Muscle Cars Even Dedicated Auto Fans Don’t Love

Cameron EittreimJuly 30, 2021

Muscle cars are one of the most popular segments in the automotive industry, and for many reasons. But there are also muscle cars that auto fans don’t love as well. There are several reasons why you might hate a muscle car, and it doesn’t always have to be the car itself.

It could be due to a lack of performance, poor design, or even consumer perception. In fact, there are many muscle cars that car fans just refused to support. We looked back at 20 muscle cars that have a poor reputation among auto fans right here.

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20: 1960 Pontiac Ventura

When Pontiac gets brought up in a conversation, the first thing that you usually think of is the Trans Am or GTO. But several other lesser-known muscle cars came out from the brand as well. The Ventura is one car that comes to mind because its polarizing styling and massive size have left an indent in the minds of fans.

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In a lot of ways, the Ventura was a carbon copy of the Chevrolet Impala. The 389cid V8 was shared among several other large GM sedans that included the Impala. Finding parts for the Ventura is an exercise in futility and not an easy task. The consensus among car fans is to steer clear from the 1960 Pontiac Ventura unless you’re looking for a project.

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19: 1966 Pontiac Executive

Two-door sports coupes were the original inspiration for the muscle car, and an “executive” cruiser was designed for young professionals. If you didn’t want the brash ride of a GTO or the boy racer image of a Trans Am, you could opt for the Executive. The car had a lot of cool features to it and a decent exterior style, but that was as far as it went.

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Sold in a coupe or sedan, the Pontiac Executive didn’t garner a lot of attention from car fans. This could have been due to the hotness of the GTO, which at that time was a hot-selling commodity. Either way, nowadays the Pontiac Executive is a sort of relic. Finding one on the road is almost downright impossible and the resale value is zilch compared to other classic cars.

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18: Pontiac Grand Safari

It’s not uncommon for a station wagon to be considered a muscle car when it’s from this era. The Pontiac Grand Safari was packed with performance and it was based on the Vista Cruiser. The main problem being the fact that Pontiac wasn’t a station wagon brand, and thus there was no fan market for this car.

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The Grand Safari trudged on for a short period with a powerful V8 engine and a large interior. Sadly nowadays the Pontiac Safari is a car that hasn’t been appreciated the same way that other classics from this era have. There were a lot of unique features in the Grand Safari, but nothing that made it really stand out from the crowd.

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17: 1966 Oldsmobile Starfire

Oldsmobile is another automotive brand that had a fair share of successes in the muscle car market. The 1966 Starfire, on the other hand, was a bit of a letdown from a brand that has had many successes for its many fans. For starters, the exterior appearance of the car was a major turnoff when you compared it to other vehicles during the same period.

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But Oldsmobile was pushing the boundaries of automotive design and technology at the time, so this was somewhat understandable. The performance of the Starfire was impressive, as most of the Oldsmobile vehicles were from this period. Oldsmobile will always be one of the most innovative automotive brands in history, just not with this one.

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16: 1962-1963 Oldsmobile F-85 Jetfire

As you can probably tell, Oldsmobile had some strange names during the 1960s. The F-85 Jetfire was another jet-inspired performance car. Aside from the Impala-like stance of the car most of the Jetfire was used as a guinea pig for the GM brand. There were a lot of reliability issues with this car straight from the factory.

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Likewise, the performance was up there as you’d expect, but it wasn’t enough to win over traditional muscle car enthusiasts and fans. The muscle car market was still a brand new concept and these were some of the first performance vehicles. Oldsmobile was always ahead of the curve and the F-85 Jetfire is evidence of that.

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15: 1960 Mercury Park Lane

Another big and brawny Mercury was the 1960 Park Lane. Ford focused on powerful engines for the Lincoln and Mercury brands which is why Park Lane had some beef behind it. Unfortunately, the high price tag turned a lot of buyers away and this was more of a transitional period for the Mercury brand.

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A lot of the styling aspects of Park Lane were very similar to the Mercury Monterey, which at the time was a hot-selling car. While Park Lane was attracting the same buyers as the Impala the polarizing styling and high price tag just didn’t mesh. These days you’ll seldom find an original 1960 Mercury Park Lane and there’s good reason for that.

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14: 1961 Mercury Comet

Toyota and Honda get the credit for bringing compact cars to the masses, but it was the domestic automakers who tried it during the early ’60s. The compact cars were both fun to drive and more nimble than the larger models. Coupled with the factory V8 engines you had fun driving a car that was cheap to buy and fix up.

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The 1961 Mercury Comet had a lot of potential in this regard, but the car just fell flat in too many other areas. The styling was ho-hum compared to GM offerings that were on the market. Still, the Comet managed to sell in decent numbers although fans don’t appreciate the car today.

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13: 1961 Mercury Meteor

Going to space was a big thing for America in the 1960s, hence the space-themed nameplates. The Meteor was for a lot of car fans a disappointment when it first came out. Ford hard moved from the traditional design of their sedans and coupes and the Meteor was one of the first Mercury models to exhibit this type of design.

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Likewise, the performance of the Meteor was also questionable around this time. Ford was experimenting with new types of engines and the Meteor was a victim of this. It’s interesting to see how the Mercury brand has evolved over the decades but the Meteor is a sad example of what the brand did wrong.

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12: 1963 Mercury Monterey

A lot of money was poured into the marketing of the Monterey when it was first released. The marketing showcased a car that was designed to make for family fun. The powerful engine and the rolling down rear window made the car unique. But that wasn’t enough to sell the Monterey and car fans were quickly turned off.

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The high price tag and lack of practical features made the Monterey more of a novelty item than anything. The performance of the Monterey was still among the best of the time, but this isn’t what people look for in a car. There are other features that you need to sell a car and the Monterey was lacking in those areas.

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11: 1964 Mercury Montclair Marauder

The Mercury Montclair Marauder was one of the first performance cars to exhibit the Marauder nameplate. The Montclair Marauder is probably one of the best examples of an early Mercury muscle car gone wrong. While it was not marketed as a muscle car, these were the buyers that were going for these models.

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The long, sloping body was heavy and hard to maneuver, and performance was lackluster at best. The Montclair Marauder ended up being one of the least popular cars in the Mercury lineup. Although the design was seemingly tailored toward muscle car lovers, the result was not pleasing.

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10: 1960 Ford Galaxie Sunliner Interceptor 360 Package

The Ford Galaxie is one of the more iconic cars to come out of Detroit, perhaps because it was an utter failure in terms of garnering any type of sales success. Nevertheless, the company would try to revive the brand from time to time. The Sunliner Interceptor 360 Package was meant to invoke the inner racer in all of us.

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It was geared toward police organizations as well, which gave the car a sort of dual purpose. But around this time Chrysler ruled the roost when it came to the police car market and the Sunliner was generally overshadowed. Nowadays, the 1960 Ford Galaxie Sunliner Interceptor 360 Package is just a blemish on Ford history in the eyes of fans.

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9: 1960 Chrysler 300F

You might be used to seeing the Chrysler 300C on American roads, but have you ever heard of the 300F? Probably not, and there’s a good reason for that. The car was not only universally panned by critics but it also lacked in the performance department.

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Chrysler was still making its way through the development process of their sedans. The 300F was released with too much fanfare but once people figured out how the car drove the initial response was lukewarm at best. The 300F was lacking in a lot of areas that made consumers scratch their heads.

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8: 1961 Chevrolet Impala SS

The Chevrolet Impala SS is an iconic car that has a huge following behind it, but when it comes to dedicated fans the ’61 model had some issues. The elongated body of the car had a tremendous amount of curb weight behind it, making the steering ratio troubling at best. Likewise, the performance of the original V8 engine has been outclassed by many cars over the years.

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In the lowrider scene, 1961 is one of the most popular models. But as far as performance goes it’s lackluster at best. To be able to turn one of these things into a performance titan would take a lot of work and dedicated engineering. You can spend money better in a lot of other places when it comes to a 1960s performance car.

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7: Pontiac Catalina 421 Super Duty

The Pontiac Catalina 421 Super Duty was a well-known entity early on in the Pontiac lineup. However, later on, the car failed to catch on with consumers in the same way as the other models did. The 421 V8 engine was by far one of the most powerful that GM put out at the time, leading to a sales resurgence.

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Sadly, the car just couldn’t attract enough consumers to stay on the market and the 421 Super Duty was dropped from the lineup. There were several reliability issues and questionable build quality that made the car get a bad reputation with consumers.

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6: 1961 Oldsmobile Starfire

The Oldsmobile brand had many great performance cars over the brand’s lifespan, so what was the deal with the Starfire? The car just fell off when it came to performance and build quality. The interior was shoddy and there were a lot of reliability issues that consumers would complain about early on.

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Likewise, the powerplant was not one of the best that GM has put into a vehicle. Oldsmobile was still in the development stages back then, and thus the Starfire was an unfinished product. These days you’ll seldom see a Starfire on the road as the cars are a rarity nowadays after all of the reliability issues.

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5: 1962 Dodge Dart 412 Max Wedge

Another well-known performance car from this era was the Dodge Dart. But when the company introduced the 412 Max Wedge there wasn’t as warm of a welcome. The 1962 Dodge Dart 412 Max Wedge was made as a performance car with attitude. Unfortunately, the result was a car that had a lot of reliability issues and lacked performance.

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The 1962 Dodge Dart 412 Max Wedge had a great-looking exterior, and at the time it was a lot smaller in size than other vehicles in this class. But the reliability issues and the lack of a quality design and feel made the car drop in sales. The 412 Max Wedge is one of the failed Mopar attempts from the 1960s.

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4: 1962 Plymouth Savoy Super Stock 413

Also based on the same platform as the 412 Max Wedge the 1962 Plymouth Savoy Super Stock 413 was another attempt at capturing sales success. Unfortunately, the Savoy Super Stock 413 suffered from a lot of the same reliability issues. The car was lacking in a lot of the elements that you’d expect from a so-called muscle car and it showed.

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The V8 engine was one of the worst powerplants Chrysler released at the time. There were a lot of reliability issues that hampered the overall design of the car. Likewise, the car was also lacking a unique identity in its design, which made for a confusing scenario among consumers.

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3: 1962 Ford Galaxie 406

Ford for all of its faults had tried very hard to sell consumers on the Galaxie line of cars. The Galaxie 406 was another attempt at trying their hand at a performance vehicle. From a design standpoint, the 1962 Ford Galaxie 406 was a well-put-together car for the most part. Its reliability, however, was another issue altogether and it didn’t end well for the car.

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The Galaxie 406 had a powerplant that was lacking the reliability that you’d expect from Ford. The off-the-line performance was also slower than a lot of cars in this segment, which left a bad taste in enthusiasts’ mouths. Overall, the 1962 Ford Galaxie 406 is probably one of the most disappointing aspects in the history of the Galaxie brand.

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2: 1963 Studebaker Avanti R2

The Studebaker Avanti R2 is a car that you’ll often see at car shows, but it was designed to compete with muscle cars. The design of a mixture of overrated ambition and the idea to jump on the European design bandwagon. The car had a lot of features that consumers liked but there were more that they didn’t.

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A lack of reliability was the first and most present issue with the Avanti R2. From a performance standpoint, the Avanti R2 didn’t stack up to other muscle cars that were on the market. You were paying a premium for a car that just wasn’t there when it comes right now to it.

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1: 1963 Plymouth Max Wedge 426

After the failure of the last Wedge, Chrysler was at it again in 1963, this time with the Max Wedge 426. The idea behind this car was brute force performance, but when it came down to it, the car was lacking in a lot of areas. First and foremost, the Max Wedge 426 had an engine that had a lot of reliability issues, which aren’t appealing for a brand-new car.

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Likewise, the Max Wedge 426 was also lacking in interior design, and a lot of buyers were looking for a comfortable driving experience. The 1963 Plymouth Max Wedge 426 isn’t as well-known as a lot of other muscle cars for this period, and its build quality issues were the main reason behind this.

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