Home Cars These Classic Cars Were Only Sold For One Model Year

These Classic Cars Were Only Sold For One Model Year

Vukasin Herbez December 16, 2022

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Ford Mustang Cobra R

The coolest-looking fourth-generation Mustang is undoubtedly the 2000 SVT Cobra R. Again, this limited-edition model with an “R” designation produced only 300 copies for racing drivers and teams. The Cobra R featured many improvements and enhancements compared to other regular Mustangs (via Ford Performance).

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First and foremost was the 5.4-liter V8 with 385 HP and 385 lb.-ft of torque. Second, the body kit with front and rear spoilers and side skirts. Third, the stiff suspension and a few chassis modifications. The Cobra was born for performance and buyers got precisely that when they pressed the gas pedal. The 0 to 60 mph sprint took just 4.4 seconds. Its top speed was around 150 mph, which was impressive for the day. Too bad that Ford built only 300 of these thoroughbreds, which are impossible to find today.

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Plymouth AAR Cuda

The AAR Cuda was a limited-production model to commemorate Dan Gurney’s All-American Racing team. Which used ‘Cudas in the Trans-Am championship (via 70 AAR Cuda).

It came with a 340 V8 small block, a unique plastic hood in matte black paint with a hood scoop, a rear spoiler, and exciting side graphics, which included a big AAR logo. This version was somewhat more expensive than the regular 340 ‘Cuda and that’s why Plymouth made only 2724.

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Chrysler C-300

The fastest, most powerful American production model for 1955 and the car that shook the car scene was the mighty Chrysler C-300. This was the start of a 10-year production run of Chrysler’s famous “Letter cars.” It was a series of exclusive, fast, and expensive coupes and convertibles with maximum power, comfort, and luxury (via Concept Carz).

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The first car in that glorious lineup was the ’55 C-300. The car got its name from the 331 V8 Hemi engine they equipped with 8.5:1 compression. It also got a race camshaft and twin four-barrel carburetors to produce 300 HP, which was a magical figure for the mid-1950s.

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Dodge Charger Daytona

In the late ’60s, Dodge was desperate to go racing 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.

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So Dodge decided to go all out and create a racing car with a special front end, flush rear glass, and a prominent rear spoiler. The Charger Daytona was one of the first cars to be developed in a wind tunnel and used new materials in construction. The Charger Daytona was a one-year-only model (1969) and a low 504 examples left the factory (via Supercars).

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Dodge Li’l Red Express Truck

The muscle car era affected the truck segment, which resulted in a few unique versions and more powerful engines. However, nothing changed the truck industry more than when Dodge introduced the Lil’ Red Express Truck in 1978. It was the first full-size muscle truck in the world. The secret of the Lil’ Red Express Truck and its importance lies in the strict rules of the late 1970s, which robbed most V8 engines of their power and vehicles of their performance (via Auto Evolution).

Dodge Lil' Red Express Truck
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But Dodge found an interesting loophole in the current regulations that declared pickup trucks didn’t need catalytic converters. This meant Dodge could install a more powerful engine. Allowing it to breathe easier and deliver more punch than previous models or competitors. Dodge took a standard D Series short-bed truck, added a 360 V8 engine, and put big truck-like stacked exhaust pipes right behind the doors. They also installed a more durable automatic transmission.

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Ford Mustang McLaren M81

This exciting car was built with the help of the well-known McLaren racing team with their American operation office in Michigan. The idea behind the project was to take the 2.3-liter turbo engine from the regular Mustang and transform it into a street racing beast. It featured a race-tuned suspension, a lightweight body, and many other modifications. McLaren and Ford did exactly that by installing the tuned turbo engine with 190 HP. A considerable number for the day, especially coming from 2.3 liters and changing the looks of the Fox Mustang (via Ford Authority).

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The result has good performance, driving dynamics, and a very high price tag. Its price tag was $25,000, roughly three times the price of a typical example. Needless to say, despite all the interesting things installed in the M81, it was a tough sell and only about 10 left the factory before the project was canceled.

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Oldsmobile W-31

Since the muscle car segment exploded in 1970 with big block power, some manufacturers offered smaller and nimbler alternatives to 427, 455, or 454 engines. One of those forgotten and obscure models is Oldsmobile W31 (via Hemmings).

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You all know about Olds Rally 350 model made for 1970 only, but this W31 was its twin car with less “in your face” styling and similar power from a high-revving 350 V8. The vehicle featured many “go fast” options, but it flew under the radar since most customers didn’t know it existed. In the end, Oldsmobile produced just 116 of those interesting machines for the 1970 model year.

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Ford Fairlane Thunderbolt

In 1963, Pontiac, Chevrolet, and all of GM were out of factory-supported racing. The Mopar dominated the strip with Max Wedge engines, and Ford didn’t have enough firepower to compete with Dodge or Plymouth. But that was about to change when Ford introduced a factory-built drag racer called the Fairlane Thunderbolt for the 1964 season (via Hemmings).

Ford thunderbird
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Built using a plain Fairlane two-door sedan body and removing all but the essentials, the Thunderbolt was all about lightweight and big power. Under the hood was the new 427 V8 FE with a factory output of 425 HP. However, experts think that the actual output was closer to 600 HP. Since the engine had all kinds of go-fast goodies like a special intake manifold, high-performance heads, special pistons, and so on. Ford made exactly 100 Thunderbolts in 1964 and they were all sold to professional racers for $1 each.

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Chevrolet Corvette Stingray Z06

Although you can buy the Stingray with the Z06 package today, this model started in 1963 as a special order version. And for decades after that, Chevrolet didn’t use that nameplate again. The 1963 Stingray Z06 was a one-year model with several distinct features, making it so sought-after today (via Motor Trend).

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The Stingray Z06 had racing in mind and came with unique suspension, more powerful engines, less weight, and a big 36-gallon fuel tank for endurance racing. This was the perfect basis if you wanted to race a new Corvette in 1963.

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Ford RS200

Back in the mid-1980s, motorsports were all about rally racing and the terrifyingly dangerous Group B. Group B was a part of the World Rally Championship, which featured factory prototypes loosely based on production cars with insane turbocharged engines and all-wheel drive systems. The vehicles were crazy fast and dangerous and much loved by fans all over the world. This brought us many exciting and fast road cars since manufacturers were obligated to produce several road-going vehicles for homologation purposes (via The Drive).

Ford RS200
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Precisely that was the insane Ford RS200. Introduced in 1984, this was a mid-engined, turbocharged sports car that featured lightweight body construction, a 2.1-liter engine with 250 HP, and two seats. It was a race car with no intention of hiding it, and thanks to all-wheel drive, it was capable of jumping from 0 to 60 mph in five seconds flat. The road version, of which 200 left the factory, was detuned from 450 compared to the 500 HP of the race version.

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Ford Mustang Boss 351

In 1971, Mustang received another thorough restyle, which would be the final one for the first generation. The car again grew in size and weight and featured a new sharper look with a much wider track. Unfortunately, the Boss 302 and Boss 429 versions were gone, but the Grande and Mach I stayed, albeit with lower power ratings. However, there was one exciting model introduced in 1971, and that was the Boss 351 (via Motor Trend).

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Made for one year only, the ’71 Mustang Boss 351 was one of the rarest Mustangs produced, with only 1800 made. It had a highly tuned version of the 351 V8 engine with around 330 HP. It was fast, good-looking, and more expensive than the Mach 1 version of the same model year and today it is a true collector’s item.

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Chevrolet Camaro ZL-1

The Camaro ZL-1 was the same as the regular 1969 Camaro on the outside. But it was so fast that it was barely street-legal. The official 1969 Chevrolet literature doesn’t mention the ZL-1 option for the Camaro. But if you were a successful drag racer or a dealer, you knew about this expensive option. That is why only 69 Camaros ZL-1 left the factory (via Supercars).

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The secret of the Camaro ZL-1 was its engine. It was high revving, 7.0-liter V8 with around 550 HP in mild tune. Chevrolet produced about 200 of those engines, and while most of them went to Can-Am racing teams, 69 of ZL-1 were installed in C.O.P.O Camaros and sold to drag racing teams.

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Ford Mustang HO

In 1972, Ford discontinued Boss 351 and Cobra Jet Mustangs while Shelby models were killed two years prior. However, the performance Mustang buyers were given a choice, and Ford offered the HO model. HO stood for High Output, a kind of Boss 351 for 1972.

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It featured a performance 351 V8 rated at 275 HP, which was healthy for early ’70s standards. In the end, Ford only made about 60 of those interesting machines in all three body styles (via Motor Trend).

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Pontiac Firebird Trans Am

In 1969, Pontiac wanted to present a model which could be homologated for Trans Am racing. As a part of GM, the factory was still under the racing ban. To mask its intentions, Pontiac introduced the Firebird Trans Am as a loaded version that featured big block power from the famous 400 V8 engine equipped with the Ram Air III or IV intake system (via Motor Trend).

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However, this particular version with signature white paint, blue stripes, and Rally II wheels proved challenging. Only 634 Firebird Trans Ams left the factory. Among those, only eight were convertibles. As you probably know, Trans Am later became a full-fledged member of the Firebird range. But for the first generation of this legendary muscle car, the Firebird Trans Am was a one-year-only model.

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Ford Focus RS 500

Known for its affordable performance cars, Ford invested a lot of time in the second-generation Focus RS in 2009. The car featured a 2.5-liter five-cylinder engine with 305 HP and brutal performance. However, it was an old-fashioned hot hatch. With all that power delivered to the front axle. It had a trick front suspension to keep the front end in check, but it still had a torque steer effect (via Auto Express).

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Ford was getting ready to turn to all-wheel drive for the Focus RS Mk3 but wanted to say goodbye to the front-wheel-drive model with a bang. That bang was the Focus RS 500. A limited production model with 350 HP, matte black paint, and a plaque with the serial number on the dash. It was sold out in just a few days and earned its place in history as the most powerful factory front-wheel-drive hot hatch.

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Plymouth Barracuda 440

The 1969 Barracuda featured a classic body style before the Plymouth E-Body muscle car got the thorough restyle for the 1970 model year. The biggest news was the new 440 model with the biggest engine ever installed under the hood of a car in that segment.

The Barracuda 440 was a one-year-only model with 375 HP and a massive 480 lb.-ft of torque, making it fast but also hard to launch due to loads of wheel spin. Due to the tight fit of the engine, there wasn’t space for the power steering pump. So you had to use your muscles to turn this compact but powerful car. Plymouth only made a handful of these models, which makes them sought-after today (via Motor Trend).

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Chevrolet Monza Estate Wagon

This was a strange and obscure model in Chevrolet’s history. It was a crossbreed of two cars, the Chevrolet Monza and Vega. Both of those models were economy cars from the ’70s, which were produced in big numbers and were quite common on the roads. However, for the 1978 model year, Chevrolet Introduced Monza Estate Wagon. It was, in fact, a Vega with a three-door wagon body (via Automobile Catalog).

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The base engine was a 2.5-liter Iron Duke four-cylinder unit, but the bigger V6 was available for some areas. Since the Monza Estate Wagon used the leftover Chevrolet Vega bodies, it wasn’t a particularly desirable model, and Chevrolet produced less than 3000 before discontinuing it in late 1978.

Chrysler 300 - Chrysler
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Chrysler 300 Hurst

Introduced in 1970, the special limited edition 300 Hurst was a unique model based on the new full-size Chrysler platform. It was built in very limited numbers of around 500 with the help of the famous transmission company Hurst. It featured a special white and gold paint job, a similarly-styled interior, and a rear spoiler integrated into the rear deck lid (via Supercars).

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Under the hood, a mighty 440 V8 engine with 395 HP could propel the two-ton beast to respectful acceleration times. The model was on the market for only one year, but true Mopar aficionados will never forget these gold and white behemoths.

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AMC Hornet 360

The early ’70s marked the beginning of the end for muscle cars with downsizing, tightening emissions, and safety standards. The AMC was one of the first companies to realize that a new breed of muscle cars was needed to keep power-hungry customers happy. So in 1971, they introduced the Hornet 360 (via Hemmings).

AMC Hornet SC/360
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Based on a regular economy car called Hornet, it was equipped with better suspension, sharper steering, and a 360 V8. This hot Hornet turned from an ordinary compact into a proper muscle car. The power wasn’t big at 245 HP. But those horses could make the Hornet fly in a lightweight body. The rest of the muscle cars offerings in 1971 all had problems with big size and weight as well as engines that didn’t make power anymore. But the Hornet 360 was one of the fastest cars on sale. Unfortunately, buyers needed to understand the forward-thinking of AMC and less than 800 Hornets were sold in 1971, making them very rare and obscure muscle cars.

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Ford Torino Talladega

In contrast to some models from our list, which were produced for 12 months or so, the Torino Talladega was made for only a couple of weeks in early 1969. This car was Ford’s answer to Dodge Daytona and Mopar’s efforts to win in NASCAR.

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The idea behind the Talladega, named after the infamous NASCAR track, was to take standard Torino, give it a unique front end and a few slippery details, and homologate it for superspeedways. A total of 754 Talladegas left the factory in such a short time and many were used for racing (via Silodrome).

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Chevrolet Vega Cosworth

After the debacle of the Corvair in the ’60s, Chevrolet was reluctant to enter the compact market again. But since the segment grew, Chevy didn’t have a choice. So a brand-new Vega was introduced as a 1971 model. The Vega was a compact, modernly-styled model with three basic body styles. The two-door coupe, two-door sedan, and practical three-door wagon. The front end resembled closely to the design of the 1971 Camaro with a similar grille, headlights, and bumper.

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In 1975, Chevrolet even introduced the very interesting but unsuccessful Vega Cosworth. The model featured a high-revving 2.0-liter four-cylinder twin-cam motor with 110 HP. Although it wasn’t particularly fast or powerful, the Vega Cosworth was good-looking. Along with an attractive black and gold paint job and unique wheels. GM produced the model in cooperation with British engine engineering company Cosworth known for their Formula One engines (via Auto Evolution).

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