Greatest Classic Muscle Cars of All Time
There's nothing quite like hammering down the pedal of an American muscle car, sending over 3,000 pounds of steel and fiberglass screaming down the asphalt as the entire world blends into a smear of passing images and deafening engine roar.
Muscle cars are a sheer joy to drive, own and gawk at. And the only thing that's better than a modern muscle car? A classic muscle car, especially the ones that were built before the oil crises of the 1970s, when fuel was cheap and V8 engines were under every other hood on the highway.
These muscle cars are some of the coolest, most wanted and influential vehicles to ever hit the road. Which one do you wish you had in your garage?
50. 1969 Mercury Cyclone CJ
Original price: $3,207
Current average value: $12,400
Did you know: The Cyclone CJ cost $438 less than the Dodge Charger R/T.
Note: Most current prices are sourced from Haggerty's value guideusing the "good" condition report.
Bottom Line: Mercury Cyclone CJ
For one year only, Mercury's Cyclones were given the option for a Cobra Jet engine. But not only did the Cyclone CJ come with a 335-horsepower V8. It also had a menacing blacked-out grille framed by polished metal that just looked like it wanted to murder anything it faced on the road.
This fantastic car was widely praised, from its speed to its handling to its looks. It could barrel through the quarter-mile at less than 14 seconds and hit a trap speed over 100 mph.
49. 1957 DeSoto Fireflite
Original price: $3,000
Current average value: $10,600
Did you know: DeSoto was named after the 16th-century Spanish explorer, Hernando de Soto, who was the first European to cross the Mississippi River (he also died on its riverbank).
Bottom Line: 1957 DeSoto Fireflite
DeSoto was a division of Chrysler launched in 1928 as a competitor to other mid-priced models on the market. It was a hugely successful division until the 1950s, where production problems caused Chrysler to actually shut down the assembly line for a week to fix things like leaky windshields and flimsy torsion bars. DeSoto shut down for good by 1960.
The Fireflite was DeSoto's flagship model, and they were gorgeous. The 1957 model was the most striking, with huge tail fins, each sporting three siren-like red lights. Under the hood, the beautiful beast housed a 295-horsepower Hemi V8 that could power this thing to a top speed of about 120 mph.
48. 1956 Mercury Monterey
Original price: $2,157
Current average value: $16,200
Did you know: The Monterey line was in production for 22 straight years.
Bottom Line: 1956 Mercury Monterey
The Monterey models were introduced in 1952 as competitors to high-end coupe models like the Lincoln Lido.
The 1956 Monterey received an engine boost, with its 188-horsepower Thunderbird engine being replaced by a 235-horsepower, 312-cubic one. The 1956 model was also the one prior to the larger redesign, which increased its wheelbase.
The 1956 model just looks a bit cooler than the others. Check out this incredible yellow-and-black example.
47. 1958 Packard Hawk
Original price: $3,995
Current average value: $26,400
Did you know: Hawks are now very collectible, but also very pricey to restore, due to the almost impossible to find trim and body parts.
Bottom Line: 1958 Packard Hawk
The Packard Hawk was Packard's death-rattle effort to revitalize the company, but it failed miserably. Only 588 Hawks were made, and Packard went defunct.
The Hawks were a divisive car. People who hated it called it a "vacuum-cleaner" or a "catfish" because of its sharp, toothy grille. Today, the Hawk is considered one of the coolest-looking cars to ever hit the market.
46. 1961 Oldsmobile Starfire
Original price: $4,647
Current average value: $31,100
Did you know: The Starfire was the most expensive Oldsmobile model when it hit the road in 1961.
Bottom Line: 1961 Oldsmobile Starfire
The 1961 Oldsmobile Starfire had the same wheelbase and body as the Super 88, but it came with more standard equipment — including power steering, power breaks, leather bucket seats and car-length brushed aluminum trim.
It also was Oldsmobile's fastest car, sporting a 394-cubic-inch V8 Skyrocket engine that pushed 330 horsepower. Only 1,500 of the 1961 model were made.
45. 1951 Hudson Hornet
Original price: $2,500-$3,100
Current average value: $17,500
Did you know: In Disney-Pixar's "Cars," Doc Hudson is revealed to be "Fabulous," the famous Hudson Hornet, which dominated stock car racing in the early 1950s.
Bottom Line: 1951 Hudson Hornet
The Hudson Hornet had something called a "step-down" design, which meant the floor pan wasn't fixed on the rails, but to the bottom of the structure. This increased headroom and floor height and provided for the largest rear seat on the market. It was a car that emphasized comfort, with its tank-like body being able to take a beating and handle well.
The Hornet was fast, too. Hornets driven by Marshall Teague, Herb Thomas, Dick Rathmann and others in NASCAR stock races amounted to 27 wins during the early 1950s. They were known as the Fabulous Hudson Hornet, and Hudson marketed it as the "national stock car champion" in its advertising throughout the 1950s.
44. 1957 AMC Rambler Rebel
Original price: $2,786
Current average value: $6,500
Did you know: The AMC Rambler Rebel was the first car produced with a large block V8 engine installed into a midsize car in the post-WWII era.
Bottom Line: 1957 AMC Rambler Rebel
The 1957 AMC Rambler Rebel was a precursor to the muscle car era, and some argue it might be the first muscle car.
A strange-looking four-door coupe, the Rebel was fast. Even though its 327-cubic, 255-horsepower V8 engine was smaller than many of its competitors, the Rebel had a lighter body, giving it a power-to-weight ratio of 13 pounds-per-horsepower. It could hit 0 to 60 in 7.5 seconds.
AMC wanted to offer a fuel-injected 288-horsepower option, but production issues forced that plan to be scrapped. Only 1,500 of these cars were made.
43. 1967 Shelby Cobra 427 Super Snake CSX3015
Original price: N/A
Current average value: $5.5 million
Did you know: The Super Snake was almost twice as powerful as a stock Cobra 427.
Bottom Line: 1967 Shelby Cobra 427 Super Snake CSX3015
There were only two Super Snakes ever made, and one was for Carroll Shelby. The other was made for his friend, comedian Bill Cosby, who returned the car because its frightening speed scared him. That car was later sold to a San Francisco car dealer, which sold it to Tony Maxey, who drove it off a cliff, totaled the car and died in the horrific accident.
"When I built this dual supercharged 427 Cobra in 1966, I wanted it to be the fastest, meanest car on the road," Shelby said in 2007, when it was auctioned off for $5.5 million. "Forty years later, it will still kick the tail of just about anything in the world. It’s the fastest street legal Cobra I’ve ever owned."
The 800-horsepower, twin-supercharged monster sold for $5.5 million in 2007, then $400,000 less in 2015, and then again for $5.5 million in 2021.
42. 1983 DMC-12 DeLorean
Original price: $34,000
Current average value: $36,700
Did you know: The DMC-12 was named after is targeted $12,000 price, but that price had doubled by the time the car finally came to the market.
Bottom Line: 1983 DMC-12 DeLorean
We're cheating a bit with this one. With a fuel-injected V6 PRV engine and only 130 horsepower, the DeLorean was never really considered a muscle car. It was quiet, too, and the tail — which housed the engine — was described as "the best-behaved part of the car" by Car and Driver, and it could only reach a top speed of 109 mph.
The DeLorean Motor Company went bankrupt just a few years after the first DeLorean rolled off the line in 1981, with its MSRP ballooning from an already-too-expensive $25,000 to $34,000 by 1983, the equivalent of over $88,000 today.
But good golly, if the DMC DeLorean isn't one of the coolest-looking cars ever made. Thanks to "Back to the Future," it remains one of the most beloved classic cars in the world. And reportedly, there are some new, limited-edition replica DMC-12s in the works.
There are believed to be about 6,500 DeLoreans still on the road.
41. 1963 Studebaker Avanti R2
Original price: $4,655
Current average value: $19,700
Did you know: Avanti means "forward" in Italian.
Bottom Line:1963 Studebaker Avanti R2
The Avantai was advertised as the fastest production car in the world and hit 168.15 miles on the flying mile on the Bonneville Salt Flats.
It was a popular car when it was introduced, wowing audiences with its speed and sleek design, but Studebaker couldn't fill the number of cars it ordered. According to Classic Motor Sports, the company wanted to build 1,000 cars per month but could only build "a fraction" of that because of its complicated 129-piece fiberglass body.
The 1963 Studebaker Avanti (the R2 upgrade could be had for an additional $210) was the last car Studebaker produced before the company went under. Exactly 4,643 Avantis were made between 1962 and 1963.
40. 1966 Oldsmobile Toronado
Original price: Around $4,500
Current average value: $17,000
Did you know: Oldsmobile couldn't secure the rights to the word "tornado" because it was used on jet fighters, so they chose another variation.
Bottom Line: 1966 Oldsmobile Toronado
The 1966 Toronado was a 4,000-pound luxury tank with some cutting-edge design elements from General Motors. It's a front-wheel-drive car with a 425-cid engine (455 cid for the Rocket V8 option) with a Turbo-Hydramatic 400 three-speed automatic transmission and a Quadrajet four-barrel carburetors.
Other features included hidden lights, a low-profile roof, rolling "coffee can" speedometer, an unusually thin steering wheel and enough space to fix six people.
It was the first GM car with a subframe, which helped make a smoother ride.
39. 1949 Oldsmobile Rocket 88
Original price: $2,244
Current average value: $11,900
Did you know: The 88 model line was sold for 50 years, from 1949 until 1999.
Bottom Line: 1949 Oldsmobile Rocket 88
The Rocket 88 was Oldsmobile's first post-World War II vehicle. It introduced the Rocket V8 engine, which, combined with its rather light frame, was an early prototype for the American muscle car.
It also made Oldsmobile a contender in the racing circuit and is sometimes said to be the first real king of NASCAR, winning 10 out of 19 races in 1950.
This thing was a beauty and a beast, but nobody seems to want one. At least that's good news for collectors who want to add an original 88 to their garage.
38. 1966 Ford Galaxie
Original price: $3,426 (convertible)
Current average value: $7,900
Did you know: The Galaxie name is derived from the era's Space Race.
Bottom Line: 1966 Ford Galaxie
Introduced as "the newest since 1949" because it was "the most completely changed Ford in 15 years," in 1955 the Ford Galaxie 500 was a luxury muscle car that is long, wide and glorious.
The 1966 model came with an engine upgrade, the Galaxie 500 7 Litre, which had a 345-horsepower, 428-cid V8 Thunderbird engine. These were luxury vehicles with a huge engine. They weren't the fastest on the block because they weren't meant to be.
But they definitely had some muscle under the hood.
37. 1970 Oldsmobile Rallye 350
Original price: $3,252
Current average value: $16,785
Did you know: All yellow, all the time baby. The 350 Rallye was only available in Sebring Yellow.
Bottom Line: 1970 Oldsmobile Rallye 350
The Rallye 350s were budget muscle cars that looked fantastic and delivered a lot of bang for the buck.
Utilizing a small lock 350-cid engine with 318 horses, the Rallye 350 could blast from 0-60 in seven seconds flat and hit 94 mph on the quarter-mile, crossing the line at 15.27 seconds.
Unfortunately, only 3,500 Rallye 350s were built. While the all-yellow aesthetic would turn heads on the street, customers wanted more options, and dealers struggled to sell them.
36. 1953 Chevy Corvette
Original price: $3,490
Current average value: $166,000
Did not know: The 1953 Corvette had no exterior door handles. You had to reach inside to open the door.
Bottom Line: 1953 Chevy Corvette
The 1953 Corvette was the dreamchild of Ed Cole, Maurice Olley and GM designer Harley Earl. They wanted to make an American car that could stand up to the speedy and sexy European cars that dominated the racing world overseas. This was a sports car first, practical car second.
The 1953 Corvettes were hand-built with a production run of just 300, because the production costs for an untested market were high. These cars had a six-cylinder, 150-horsepower engine, and every one of them was painted in Polo White with a red interior.
They weren't popular, but history proves they didn't need to be.
35. 1955 Ford Thunderbird
Original price: $2,944
Current average value: $27,700
Did you know: The 1957 T-Bird included a radio that increased in volume as the engine roared.
Bottom Line: 1955 Ford Thunderbird
Ford's 1955 Thunderbird wasn't a "sports car." It was a "personal car." Why? Because being a "personal car" would sell more units, because sports cars weren't yet popular in the United States.
The '55 Thunderbird was at the forefront of the American muscle car movement. The 1955 T-Birds have appeared in countless television shows and movies. It's a car that most people would recognize even if they didn't know the name.
These Thunderbirds were more about style than substance, but man, did they deliver. Built directly in response to Chevy's brand-new Corvette line, the Thunderbirds vastly outsold the competition.
34. 1970 Monte Carlo SS 454
Original price: $3,500
Current average value: $14,000 (median)
Did you know: According to a Popular Mechanics poll at the time, 82 percent of readers who bought this car did so for the looks.
Bottom Line: 1970 Monte Carlo SS 454
You bought a 1970 Monte Carlo for the looks then, and you buy a 1970 Monte Carlo for the looks now.
This hulking beauty was outperformed by most other cars of its era, but it didn't matter. Only 2.3 percent of 1970 Monte Carlo buyers ordered the SS 454 option, which makes this car one of the more sought-after Monte Carlos by collectors.
But not too sought-after, since you can find these things without paying too much.
33. 1971 Dodge Dart Demon 340
Original price: $2,721
Current average value: $7,100
Did you know: Religious groups had a problem with the Demon's hellish namesake and asked Dodge to change it. It didn't.
Bottom Line: 1971 Dodge Dart Demon 340**
Most people are familiar with the modern Dodge Demons, but the Demon name harkens back to 1971 as a low-cost, devilish-looking muscle car.
The Dodge Dart Demon 340 came with a 275-horsepower, V8 engine that sucked in air from the hood's menacing dual scoops. While the design is awesome, it isn't wholly original.
As Hemmings writes: "Creating it took little more than sticking the Dart's front end on the Duster, and then giving it a unique tail panel with vertical-slat lamps, which, according to insider lore, was actually designed for the '71 Duster 340."
32. 1957 Chevy Corvette
Original price: $3,176
Current average value: $84,000 (median)
Did you know: The 1957 Corvette's V8 Ramjet engine was one of the first cars to advertise its engine as producing one horsepower per cubic inch.
Bottom Line: 1957 Chevy Corvette***
While the 1957 Corvette retained the same style as the 1956, the 1957 model brought forth the brand-spankin'-new Ramjet Fuel Injection engine, which produced 283 horsepower.
The 1957 was the year that the Corvette really came into its own and began its ascent into one of the world's most well-respected muscle cars.
31. 1971 AMC Javelin
Original price: $3,432
Current average value: $12,000
Did you know: The 1971 AMC Javelin was the first pony car to ever be used by law enforcement (it was first used by the Alabama State Police).
Bottom Line: 1971 AMC Javelin
The 1971 AMC Javelin is absolutely gorgeous. Its base model had only a 360-cid, two-barrel, 245-horsepower engine, but an extra $49 would get you a four-barrel with 285 horsepower.
They might not have been the most popular cars of their day, but they've gained appreciation among car collectors over the years.
The highest in-demand versions of the Javelin have the Go Pack, which added better performance and the "Big Bad" colors.
30. 1969 Pontiac GTO Judge
Original price: $3,300
Current average value: $32,900
Did you know: The Judge name came from the "Here Comes the Judge" routine on the "Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In" TV show.
For $332, buyers could have a low-cost GTO called the Judge. This Pontiac was made to compete with the wild meep-meeps of the Plymouth Road Runner and was marketed with the "Here Comes the Judge" gimmick.
While the Judge played the Coyote to Plymouth's Road Runner in sales, this muscle car is a classic. A total of 6,833 1969 Judges were sold; they're not too hard or expensive to find.
Bottom Line: 1969 Pontiac GTO Judge
Want to talk muscle under the hood? With the 1969 GTO Judge, Pontiac kept the old economy engine and standard 350-horsepower 400-cubic inch (6.6 L) V8 engine, but the 360-horsepower, 400 high output (HO) was upgraded to the Ram Air III, which was rated at 366 horsepower at 5,100 revolutions per minute.
The Judge was built to be a low-cost GTO, stripped of features, that could compete with the Plymouth Road Runner. It only came in Carousel Red at first, but then other colors became available.
And, boy, was this car fun for advertisers. Slogans included "All rise for the Judge" and "The Judge can be bought."
29. 1987 Buick GNX
Original price: $29,000+
Current average value: Around $100,000
Did you know: Only 547 GNX models were made.
Bottom Line: 1987 Buick GNX
The Buick GNX was an expensive beast of a vehicle, with a base price of about $29,000 in 1987 — about $66,400 today.
Due to their low production run, these cars are coveted by collectors and very expensive. They're fast, too.
The GNXs were tuned up by McLaren and had 276 horsepower, 360 lb-ft of torque and could burn rubber from 0-60 in 4.6 seconds.
28. 1968-1972 Baldwin-Motion Phase III GT Corvette
Original price: Custom builds — most expensive was $13,000 in 1969
Current average value: $140,000-plus
Did you know: Motion Performance's guarantee was, "We think so much of our Phase III Supercars that we guarantee they will turn at least 120 mph in 11.50 seconds or better with a [Motion Performance-approved] driver on an AHRA or NHRA-sanctioned drag strip." No one ever took them up on that.
Bottom Line: 1968-1972 Baldwin-Motion Phase III GT Corvette***
It doesn't really matter which year you pick for the Baldwin Motion Phase III GT Corvette. Any model of this very rare car is an absolute beauty. They're super hard to find, as only 10 Phase III Corvettes were made between 1969 and 1971.
Baldwin-Motion performance cars were a collaboration between Baldwin Auto Company, a franchised Chevrolet dealership, and Motion Performance, a custom car shop with a reputation for making mean Chevys.
27. 1967 Rambler Marlin
Original price: $2,601
Current average value: $13,000
Did you know: Only 2,545 1967 Ramblers were sold, causing AMC to cease production.
Bottom Line: 1967 Rambler Marlin
The 1967 Rambler Marlin wasn't a popular car, but it's still one of the coolest.
The Ramblers only lasted from 1965 to 1967. The original Ramblers weren't quite as good looking, but AMC updated the body to include a longer hood and coke bottle rear fenders and a fastback roof with two fins.
They're not too expensive, either. Check out this rebuilt beauty featured on Hot Rod (it's a 1965, but still).
26. 1969 Chevy Nova SS Coupe
Original price: $2,435
Current average value: $30,000-$50,000
Did you know: The 1969 Nova SS models were the first Nova SS models to include front disc brakes.
Bottom Line:1969 Chevy Nova SS Coupe
Light and fast, the Chevy Nova could be upgraded from its stock model to a 350-cid V8 engine with 300 horsepower for $312 (about $2,200 today).
But the most beastly option was the big-block 396 engine, which had 350 horsepower and sold for $358.
25. 1965 Buick Skylark Gran Sport
Original price: $2,552 (base, non-V8)
Current average value: Around $20,000
Did you know: This was the first Buick muscle car.
Bottom Line: 1965 Buick Skylark Gran Sport
This one is a beloved muscle car, probably because the '65 Skylark is affordable for first-time collectors.
The upgraded 325 horsepower, 401-cubic-inch engine (marketed as a 400-cid engine, due to GM's company policy of 400-cid maximum) made this thing surprisingly quick, while the engine itself was surprisingly durable. The bucket seats and smooth ride made this a favorite among buyers and almost 70,000 of them rolled off the production line.
It's not the best muscle car on this list, but it's one of the most attainable. Just ask the guy who only collects 1966 Buick Skylarks.
24. 1982 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am
Original price: $9,658
Current average value: $4,000
Did you know: Pontiac produced Firebirds from 1967 until 2002.
Bottom Line: 1982 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am
It's the youngest car on this list, but Pontiac deserves some recognition during this era.
Despite skyrocketing gas prices and stricter emissions standards, Pontiac continued making Firebirds. The car manufacturer switched things up in 1982, creating a third-gen Firebird, a sleeker, sexier car that was 400 pounds lighter and 11 inches shorter.
Yet the engines were not good. The base engine was a 2.5-liter four-cylinder which produced a measly 90 horsepower. Even the five-liter "crossfire fuel injection" V8 only pumped out 165 horsepower. But it handled damn well, and MotorWeek loved it.
The 1982 Firebird made its mark in history thanks to the "Knight Rider" TV series, which used a modified 1982 Firebird Trans Am as KITT. Firebirds had previously gained attention and fame because of "Smokey and the Bandit," prompting Pontiac to make a black and gold Bandit edition of the car. Two hundred were made, and each was signed by Burt Reynolds himself.
23. 1967 Ford Mercury Cougar
Original price: $2,851
Current average value: $11,600
Did you know: Mercury was a mid-level luxury car division of Ford that was established by Edsel Ford in 1938. The first car it produced was the 1939 Mercury, which was priced at $916. Mercury went defunct in 2011. Its last car was the Grand Marquis, which sold for $29,935.
Bottom Line: 1967 Ford Mercury Cougar
The Mercury Cougar was Motor Trend's 1967 car of the year and sold extremely well against the competition, which was mainly Buick, Oldsmobile and Pontiac muscle cars. For an extra $326, the GT performance package would buy you an upgraded 390-cid V8 engine that revved up 320 horsepower.
The Cougar proved that people wanted a blend of luxury and muscle. Most people purchased the automatic version with power steering — requirements now but luxuries then. The upgraded XR-7 model included leather bucket seats and wood-trimmed dashboard, adding refinement to the fury it could bring on the road.
But even better, a 1967 Cougar can be purchased today for relatively cheap, probably because 153,893 of them were made, so they're not too hard to find.
22. 1968 Dodge Super Bee
Original price: $3,027
Current average value: Around $40,000
Did you know: Dodge is known for putting way too much muscle under the hood. The 2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Demon has 840 horsepower and is currently the most powerful American production car ever made.
Bottom Line: 1968 Dodge Super Bee
The Super Bee was Dodge's answer to the budget-friendly Plymouth Road Runner. Like the Road Runner, a Hemi option was available but added an additional $700 to the cost — not exactly an alluring option for budget-conscious buyers — and only 125 were ordered.
Instead, most people opted for the 383-cid V8 engine, which produced 335 horsepower and could zip the Super Bee from 0 to 60 in 7.1 seconds.
The Super Bee was a stripped-down version of the Dodge Coronet, and while it was more exciting, it didn't match up to its Road Runner competition, and only sold around 8,000 cars in 1968 and 29,000 in 1969. The Super Bee was retired in 1971.
Like the 1965 Buick Skylark, the Super Bee is an affordable car for fixer-uppers, with low-grade models going for less than $20,000 while higher-quality models near the $100,000 range.
21. 1970 Chevrolet El Camino 454 SS
Original price: $2,769
Current average value: $18,400
Did you know: Chevy stopped producing the 454 engine in 1976. They cost $5,000 to $6,000.
Bottom Line: 1970 Chevrolet El Camino 454 SS
The 1970 El Camino 454 SS with the big-block LS5 engine and the M22 Munchie "rock crusher" transmission is the most sought-after El Camino ever made, with top-notch examples trading for $30,000 and above.
El Caminos are curious Frankenstein cars, but if you wanted to haul stuff around while still being competitive at the track, this was the most practical muscle car you could get.
20. 1958 Plymouth Fury
Original price: $3,032
Current average value: $35,900
Did you know: Sixteen Plymouths were used in the filming of the 1982 movie "Christine." Most of them were Belvederes and Savoys outfitted to look like real Furys. Director John Carpenter didn't destroy any actual Furys.
Bottom Line: 1958 Plymouth Fury
The Plymouth Fury, before it was its stand-alone model, was a top-of-the-line upgrade for the Plymouth Belvedere. The 1958 Fury featured Chrysler's new 350-cid Golden Commando engine, which produced 315 horsepower. Stephen King took a liking to this car and cast it as the titular "character" in "Christine."
The Fury was only available as a beige two-door hardtop, and this thing was beautiful, from the hooded headlights lights to the angled fins.
Only 5,303 Plymouth Furys were produced, so buying one in pristine condition can set a collector back quite a bit.
19. 1970 Ford Torino Cobra
Original price: $3,270 (base)
Current average value: $55,900
Did you know: Ford is the fifth-largest family-owned company in the world. The second is Volkswagen AG.
Bottom Line: 1970 Ford Torino Cobra
With its 429 Super Cobra Jet-engine and "drag pack" aluminum pistons and 4.3 gears, the 1970 Ford Torino Cobra was rated at an output of 375 horsepower, but in reality, this thing could hit over 400 horses.
A fully upgraded version with the drag pack is something that you don't want to take over long distances, though. As Torino Cobra owner Ed Noawkowski told Hemmings, "With that short rear-end gear, the tach will hover around 3,500-3,800 rpm at highway speeds, so we try to stay off the freeway."
As you can see, it was Motor Trend's 1970 Car of the Year.
18. 1968 Plymouth Road Runner Hemi
Original price: $4,000
Current average value: $29,400
Did you know: Plymouth shelled out $50,000 to Warner Bros. so it could use the Road Runner character, which it used to market the car. The horn also mimicked the "meep meep" noise from the cartoon.
Bottom Line: 1968 Plymouth Road Runner Hemi
Is this the only car in history to have branded itself after a cartoon? Despite its cutesy overtones, the Plymouth Road Runner is a beloved muscle car among collectors — especially if it's one with a 426-cid Hemi engine that produced 425 horsepower and 490 pounds-per-foot of torque at 4,000 RPM.
The Road Runner was a budget-priced muscle car with a base price of $2,945 for the coupe. But the Hemi option wasn't, and cost $813 more for just the engine.
Plymouth sold over 650,000 Road Runners by 1969 and continued producing the car until 1980. Check out this cartoon commercial from 1971.
17. 1970 Plymouth Hemi Superbird
Original price: $4,500
Current average value: $183,000-$389,000
Did you know: Plymouth was the first car company to mass-produce folding-top convertibles with their two-door coupe models in 1939.
Bottom Line: 1970 Plymouth Hemi Superbird
Plymouth produced 1,920 Superbirds but the majority of them were unsold, and some were even converted back into the super popular 1970 Road Runner, which the car was based off of.
Drivers didn't take to the sharp, unusual, slightly futuristic design of the Superbird, whose chassis was modeled to be aerodynamic for NASCAR racing.
But they're super expensive now, especially those models that are equipped with the 426-cid Hemi engine, the most powerful and most expensive of the three engine models sold.
16. 1970 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am Ram Air IV
Original price: $2,875 (base with a V6)
Current average value: $30,000-$250,000
Did you know: The Firebird logo, affectionately known as the "screaming chicken," was first introduced in 1973 as a $55 upgrade decal.
Bottom Line: 1970 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am Ram Air IV
The Pontiac Firebird Trans Am is an iconic muscle car, and perhaps the most sought-after model is the 1970 Firebird equipped with a Ram Air IV.
There were a number of options available for Firebird Trans Am buyers in 1970, with a stock V6 engine all the way up to the 400-cid V8 Ram Air IV, of which only 88 were sold.
A pristine example of one recently listed for $250,000, although that's currently the most expensive one available.
15. 1965 Pontiac Catalina 2+2
Original price: $2,910
Current average value: $5,400
Did you know: The 2+2 means two seats in the front and two in the back.
Bottom Line: Pontiac Catalina 2+2
Marketed as the GTO's "big brother," the 1965 Pontiac 2+2 was a full-sized coupe with a 421-cid V8 engine.
Unfortunately, it sold poorly, with its American lines canceled in 1967. Another Canadian series of 2+2s were produced until 1970.
However, it's certainly a beloved car. There's an entire website, pontiac2plus2registry, which is "devoted to preserving the history and lore of the Pontiac 2+2.
14. 1964 Pontiac GTO
Original price: $2,810
Current average value: $10,300
Trivia: The GTO was an option package for the Pontiac LeMans and cost an extra $295 (about $2,440 today) and came with a slew of game-changing performance and cosmetic upgrades.
Bottom Line: 1964 Pontiac GTO
The Pontiac GTO is credited as being the muscle car that influenced the entire muscle car era — some even credit the GTO as being the first real muscle car. Developed by John DeLorean, the GTO had a 389-cid V8 engine that produced 348 horsepower and 428 pounds of torque that could send this beautiful machine from 0 to 100 mph in just under 12 seconds.
The GTO ushered in the era of muscle cars with its affordable price tag, overpowered engine and aggressive look. It was almost never to be, though. General Motors had an internal policy that mandated 10 pounds of vehicle weight per cid.
But there was nothing in that policy about optional packages, so DeLorean skirted company mandates by offering a package with a massive engine, even though that package felt like an entirely new car.
13. 1968 Oldsmobile 442
Original price: $3,127
Current average value: $24,000
Did you know: The 442 name comes from its four-barrel carburetor, four-speed transmission and dual exhausts.
Bottom Line: 1968 Oldsmobile 442
The 1968 Oldsmobile 442 is one of the prettiest muscle cars ever made during the 1960s. It was pretty quick, too, although not as fast as a Mustang. The 442 could hit 0-60 in 6.5 seconds and reach top speeds of 109 mph.
It was a popular model and sold over 562,000 units, ranking in sixth place in sales in 1968.
CARS magazine picked this beauty for its Performance Car of the year.
12. 1968 AMC AMX
Original price: $3,395
Current average value: $15,700
Did you know: AMC awarded the 1968 Playmate of the Year, Angela Dorian, a pink-colored 1968 AMX. She changed the color to remain anonymous on the road.
Bottom Line: 1968 AMC AMX
AMC debuted their AMX line in 1968, a car that drew an unexpected amount of interest and renewed hope for the car company, which had been struggling to keep up with the Big Three.
The AMX competed with the Corvette, and while it wasn't quite as fast, it still could keep up and was less expensive. It also looked dang good and sold 8,239 cars in 1960. But by 1970, sales slumped to half of that, and later, Chrysler bought AMC.
According to Haggerty, a pristine 1968 AMX with a 390-cid V8 in green, orange or blue "Big Bad" color options will set you back $60,000.
11. 1968 Dodge Charger R/T
Original price: $3,480
Current average value: $22,700
Did you know: An estimated 80 cars were destroyed in "Bullitt."
Bottom Line: 1968 Dodge Charger R/T
Opposite of the Highland Green '68 Mustang GT in the film "Bullitt" was the Dodge Charger, which was bigger and more intimidating than the Mustang.
We're not saying it's better. Driving UK said it handles "like a motor home" with "oil tanker steering" although it was significantly faster, with 50 more horses.
Even so, the car is even more desirable among collectors when comparing prices of the '68 Charger R/T and the '68 Mustang GT, with the Charger commanding $4,900 more on average.
10. 1968 Ford Mustang GT
Original price: $2,602
Current average value: $17,600
Did you know: The Mustang was originally going to be called the Cougar. Instead, that name went to the Mercury manufacturing branch of Ford for its mid-level luxury sports cars.
Bottom Line: 1968 Ford Mustang GT
Everyone wanted a 1968 Mustang GT in Highland Green thanks to "Bullitt," which hit theaters that same year.
In the action flick, Steve McQueen hammered that car through the streets of San Francisco in one of the most epic movie car chases ever filmed. And man, did that car look awesome as it caught air over the hilly streets and flew down suburban roads.
That particular car from the film which survived (two were used), sold for $3.74 million at auction in 2020. By 1974, Robert Kiernan of New Jersey owned the vehicle. He kept it for 46 years, even denying McQueen's attempts to buy the classic pony car.
9. 1970 545 LS6 Chevy Chevelle
Original price: $3,312
Current average value: $49,000
Did you know: The first car Chevy ever produced was the Chevrolet Series 490, which was created in June 1915. It was called the 490 because it retailed for $490.
Bottom Line: 1970 545 LS6 Chevy Chevelle
The LS6 Chevelle is often cited as the best Chevy muscle car, and for good reason. The carmaker improved upon the already popular 1966 by adding a bigger engine under the hood: a 454-cid 7.4-liter big-block V8 engine with a Holley four-barrel carburetor that pushed 450 horsepower and 5,000 pounds per foot of torque.
While only 3,733 cars of the LS6 option were made, prices for these cars can vary. Haggerty puts the average price at only $49,000 while Hemmings places their worth at $100,000 or more for those in good condition.
Some sell for double that.
8. 1968 Dodge Dart GTS
Original price: $3,189
Current average value: $10,100
Did you know: Dodge produced the first all-steel car in the world, in 1914.
Bottom Line: 1968 Dodge Dart GTS
The Dodge Dart was a compact muscle car that benefited from the Dodge Charger's surging popularity, although it was much less popular.
Still, the Dodge Dart was incredibly fun to drive, and fast. The limited-edition 1968 GTS two-door hardtops included 426-cid V8 Hemi engines that produced 425 horsepower. Also awesome was the GTS racing stripes, hood scoops and side vents.
A regular Dart might set you back $10,000, but a GTS with a Hemi power plant can fetch around $200,000.
7. 1969 Boss 429 Mustang
Original price: $4,798
Current average value: $180,000
Did you know: The Boss 429s were equipped with such a large engine that the Mustang chassis needed to be specially altered by Kar Kraft, which developed the GT40 MKII — the car that won the 1966 Le Mans featured in the 2019 movie "Ford v Ferrari."
Bottom Line: 1969 Boss 429 Mustang
The 1969 Boss 429 Mustang is one of the rarest Mustangs and most sought-after muscle cars ever made. Despite being loaded with features, including a custom-designed 429-cid engine made to compete with Chrysler's 426 Hemi.
The hood scoop was wider than other Mustangs of that era and looked like flaring nostrils. This Mustang looked mean, and sounded like a beast, too, with 375 horsepower and 5,200 rpm. The interiors provided a bit of luxury with bucket seats and dashboard wood trim.
But sales were quite poor, and only 1,358 1969 Boss 429s rolled off the line.
6. 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air
Original price: $2,290 (base)
Current average value: $28,400
Did you know: 1957 Chevys had a host of options available, including a tissue dispenser and an "Autotronic Eye," which dimmed the headlights when it sensed oncoming cars.
Bottom Line: 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air
The 1957 Chevy is one of the most popular cars in the world. There were four different trim models, with the Bel Air being top-of-the-line.
There's something so remarkable about the 1957 Chevy. It became a collector's car within 20 years of its initial debut. The fins, the angles, the ridiculously large trunk, the decorative bodywork — it was perfectly styled and fitted with a small block V8 engine. Those who shelled out an extra $500 could upgrade to a fuel-injected Ramjet V8, which pumped out 250 horsepower.
Somehow, the 1957 Chevy embodies the 1950s, with the Bel Air being king of the cars you'd find in a diner parking lot.
5. 1965 Ford Shelby Mustang GT350
Original price: $4,311 (base) $6,000 (with racing upgrades)
Current average value: Around $287,000
Did you know: The first GT350s only came in a Wimbledon White color with Guardsman Blue rocker panel stripes. A quarter of them had Le Mans stripes, which ran from the hood to the trunk.
Bottom Line: 1965 Ford Shelby Mustang GT350
The 1965 Shelby GT350 stock came with a 289-cid V8 and 271 horsepower, but the GT350R, which came equipped with Kobra Kustom upgrades, raised its horses to 306.
But no matter which one you bought in 1965 (or today), the GT350 was a head-turner. The fiberglass scooped hood, the blaring glasspack mufflers and especially the racing stripes made a Car and Driver reviewer worry that this car would be a prime target for police.
4. 1968 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500KR
Original price: $4,500
Current value: $120,000
Did you know: The KR stands for King of the Road. It received the name before the car was even built. Only around 1,200 were made.
Bottom Line: 1968 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500KR
Ford swapped out the 289-cid engine of the GT350 for a big block 428-cid V8 Police Interceptor engine for the 1967 GT500.
It was enormously popular and an awesome car, but Ford stepped it up again with its special edition KR edition, which used a 428-cid Cobra Jet engine that produced 335 horsepower. The hardtops had nice-looking roof scoops, side scoops, and a double hood scoop. This thing looked like a monster, and it drove like one, too.
These are highly sought-after Shelbys. Even a "fair" graded model set you back $94,000, according to Haggerty.
3. 1963 Chevrolet Corvette Sting Ray
Original price: $4,252
Current average value: $100,000+
Did you know: The split window design may have come from the German 1938 Adler Trumpf. One man told Super Chevy that his Adler was photographed at GM Tech Center in 1959, and the design was used while developing the Sting Ray.
Bottom Line: 1963 Chevrolet Corvette Sting Ray
The 1963 Sting Ray is one of the most famous cars in the world, mainly due to the split rear window in its hardtop models. The design, while completely impractical, transformed this Corvette into something wholly unusually and exotic. Sure, the machine was fast, handled like a dream, and reviewers raved about it. But it was the rear window that turned so many heads. It really did look like a manta ray.
It's also why the 1963 Sting Ray is so rare. Of the C2 production years, the split window was only available in 1963, as Chevrolet caved to practicality and replaced the iconic window with a single pane of glass.
Top-notch examples are known to sell beyond $200,000.
2. 1971 Plymouth Hemi 'Cuda
Original price: $4,348
Current average value: $200,000+
Did you know: Only 11 convertible Hemi 'Cudas were ever made.
Bottom Line: 1971 Plymouth Hemi 'Cuda
What a name. Hemi 'Cuda. It sounds like a juiced-up sea monster ready to run through a boat like a lawnmower through grass. While the official name is simply the Plymouth Barracuda, the 1970 model offered a 440-cid Hemi engine as its highest upgrade.
The 1970 Barracuda is a classic, but the 1971 version added a new, toothier grill and included four circular headlights. The '71 Hemi 'Cuda is one of the rarest muscle cars in the world and is extremely pricey to get a hold of. In 2014, a convertible sold for $3.78 million.
Haggerty puts the price of a Hemi 'Cuda at $205,000 for a vehicle in Condition Four, or fair, condition.
1. 1969 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1
Original price: $7,200
Current average value: $500,000
Did you know: Chevy popularized the cowl-induction hood by outfitting some 10,000 1969 Camaros with it.
Bottom Line: 1969 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1
The ZL1 is a legendary Camaro — perhaps the best Camaro ever built. And few of them were. GM only produced 69 of these cars, and only 13 were sold. Which isn't surprising. The $7,200 sticker price for a muscle car back then ($50,300 today) was practically unheard of.
The ZL1 came with an aluminum-cased 427-cid big block that weighed as much as a small block 327-cid and was rated at 435 horsepower. However, the engine was actually more powerful than GM claimed and, in reality, could push over 500 horsepower.
The thing was an absolute demon on the strip and is much sought-after today. Those in top-notch condition can sell for over $1 million.
Related: Most Expensive Classic Cars l Most Valuable Hot Wheels Cars