Some desire the comfort and class of the high-end luxury cars. Others want the style and flash of the most exotic brands. Then there is a group of people who want something a little more dangerous. These are the fans of the classic American Muscle Cars. These are the people who do not care for all the fancy frills offered in the cars of today. Instead, what they want most is the pure, raw power that was only available from these American-made cars in the 1960s and 1970s.
A muscle car is by definition an American-made car typically with two-doors and a hard top fitted with a V-8 engine. Though some muscle cars do have four doors and some may even be convertibles, two things are a must. They must be American-made and they must have a V-8 engine. The engine is the most important component of a muscle car. Anything less than eight cylinders cannot produce enough horsepower to provide the power that a muscle car needs.
Some of the American auto companies have re-released version of their original muscle cars. Pontiac did it with the GTO and Dodge has been very successful at selling new Challengers and Chargers. However, these are not the real deal. By definition a classic car is at least 30 years old and no more than 49 years old. Anything new is nothing and anything older is an antique.
This list is for people who are looking for the genuine classic muscle cars. If the car was made from 1965 to 1984 is it not a classic and is not included. This list does not take into account model years. Some cars had very few models produced in a particular year. If the production years were included there would be a lot of the same model cars repeated. Instead, it only considers the model of the car. Things like convertible versus hardtop or engine model is taken into consideration. These are very important factors in the production of muscle cars. They are what truly drives the price of the cars up and down. It also allows for more variety so you can enjoy looking at and learning about these great examples of American ingenuity.
10. 1970 Plymouth Hemi Superbird — 135 Produced
The Superbird was a highly modified version of Plymouth’s already highly successful Roadrunner line. The car was designed for racing purposes. It was a follow up to Plymouth’s parent company Dodge’s Charger Daytona. The Superbird was fitted with a 426 cubic inch Hemi engine and many MOPAR high performance parts. The cars have become famous for their high mounted, wing-like spoiler and its horn which copied the sound from the Looney Tunes’ Roadrunner character. The Superbirds were only made in 1970 and Plymouth only produced 135 of them.
9. 1969 Chevrolet Camaro ZL-1 — 69 Produced
Chevrolet released 69 Camaro ZL-1’s as an upgrade package available only on the 1969 Camaro. The ZL-1 engine was the L88 engine made entirely of aluminum as opposed to sheet metal. The factory stated it was capable of producing about 430 horsepower, but it really could produce up to 560. The ZL-1 engine is considered a much better design than the L88 it was modeled after. Because it was made of aluminum, it only weighed 500 pounds. It actually weighs just as much as a 327 cubic inch Chevy small block engine. The first 20 produced were immediately put on professional drag racing strips. The rest were sent to the public with a price tag of $7,200. The high price tag drove away consumers. Twelve of them actually got sent back to Chevy and refitted with a smaller engine so they would be able to sell.
8. 1967 Ford Fairlane 500 R-Code — 57 Produced
The Ford Fairlane was introduced in 1955 and was Ford’s full-size car model until 1962. In 1962, Ford redesigned the Fairlane in order to compete with the growing muscle car market. It became Ford’s original muscle car design and became the basis for Ford’s Torino and Cobra lines. The 500 was the upgraded racing package available for the Fairlanes. In 1967 Ford offered the 500 R-Code. The name is derived from the “R” which was put into the VIN number. The letter signified that the car had been fitted with dual quad carburetors. The upgraded carburetors allowed the Fairlane 500 to achieve up to 425 horsepower. Only 57 Fairlane 500’s R-Codes were made.
7. 1967 Plymouth R023 GTX — 55 Produced
Plymouth’s GTX was always overshadowed by the much more popular Roadrunner and more powerful Barracuda lines. Because they were not as popular, GTXs are rarer than most other Plymouth lines. However, the most sought after of the GTXs are the 55 R023 models. The GTX R023 was designed for racing. Plymouth did away with the GTX’s hubcaps, radio, heater, body insulations and carpet in order to save as much weight as possible. The R023 was over 500 pounds lighter than a regular GTX even after it was fitted with a 426 cubic inch Hemi engine. The car also was designed with larger hood scoops in order to increase airflow to the massive engine block. It was capable of doing 0 to 60 in 4.8 seconds. That is quite a feat for 1967.
6. 1970-71 Plymouth Hemi Cuda Convertible — 21 Produced
For the true muscle car fan, there has never been and never will be anything like the Hemi Cuda. Plymouth resigned its Barracuda line in 1970 and it became simply known as the Cuda. The car had five different engine options available ranging from a 340 to 440 cubic inches the most highly sought after of which being the ones with the 426 cubic inch Hemi. Cudas were only fitted with this engine in 1970 and 1971. Though Hemi Cudas are extremely rare themselves, the rarest are the convertible models. There were only 21 convertible Hemi Cudas produced. This was because the Hemi engine upgrade cost $871. Most people went with a 440+6 cubic inch model because it was only $250 more than the base model.
T4. 1967 Chevrolet Corvette L88 — 20 Produced
Chevrolet produced the Corvette L88s in 1967 and 1968. They were exclusively manufactured at their factory in St. Louis, Missouri. The L88 was a racing package available for the Corvettes which included a 427 cubic inch Chevy big block engine. Chevrolet originally designed the car specifically for the purpose of racing at the professional level. They actually discouraged selling it to dealerships and consumers because they thought the added power was dangerous for street driving. Chevy stated the L88 engine produced 435 horsepower, only slightly higher than a regular Corvette. This was in order to make consumers think the L88 package was not much better than the everyday Vette. However, later tests from individuals have shown the engine has between 540 and 560 horsepower. Increased emissions demand forced the company to stop producing the L88s. Only 196 were made. The most valuable are the 1967 models, of which only 20 were produced.
T4. 1970 Chevrolet Chevelle SS 454 LS6 — 20 Produced
The 454 LS6s are the rarest Chevelles out there. They were only made in 1970 and Chevy only produced 20 of them. Chevelle SS came in one of two options at this time. A person could get a RPO225 which came with a 402 cubic inch engine or a RPO215 which came with a 440 cubic inch engine. The LS6 was an upgrade that was only available on RPO215s. The LS6 upgrade added 100 horsepower to the RPO215, allowing it to produce a total of 560 HP.
3. 1971 Pontiac GTO Judge Convertible — 17 Produced
The GTO was started as an upgraded package available for the company’s Tempest line. It was designed by John DeLorean and inspired by the Ferrari 250 GTO. In 1966, the GTO became a separate model from the Tempest. The Judge was released in 1969 as an upgraded racing package available for the GTO. Pontiac stripped the GTO down to its bare bones in order to save weight on the car. Then they dropped in a 455 cubic inch engine. GTO Judges are highly sought after, but the rarest are the convertibles. They only produced 207 convertible models of the cars. In 1971 the United States made the emission standards on cars much stricter. Pontiac stopped making the car that year. Only 17 of the 207 convertibles were made in 1971.
2. 1969 Chevrolet Corvette ZL-1 (3)
The all-aluminum ZL-1 engine block was only put into three Corvettes. The idea was first ordered by one of the factory workers at Chevrolet’s St. Louis, Missouri plant. Two more orders were placed after the car was finally unveiled. The all-aluminum L88 Special Turbo Jet 427 cubic inch engine produced 500 horsepower. The car cost $10,771 in 1969. It was over $3000 more than a normal Corvette. Remember, these were all ordered by Chevrolet employees. Imagine how much they would have cost a member of the general public.
1. 1967/1970 Dodge Coronet R/T 426 Hemi Convertible — 2 Produced
Dodge fitted 487 Coronet R/Ts with Hemi engines. Of those, only four convertibles were ever made. Two were made in 1967 and two in 1970. “R/T” stands for “Road and Track”. 1967 was the first year Dodge offered R/T models of the Coronet. The Coronet received a compete make over in 1970 and was capable of producing up to 425 horsepower.
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