Is there a more important period of time in the history of American automobiles than the ‘60s and the ‘70s? There is a good reason those years are considered to be the Golden Age of the American muscle car. It had been a great time for this particular car culture thanks to the insatiable customer appetite for excess and the low cost of fuel. Back then, automakers were focused on creating the biggest and baddest thing on the market. Put on your seat belts because we are going to take you not on a walk but on a ride down memory lane!
1965 Buick Skylark
This is an awesome muscle car if you are just starting your muscle car collection. It has gotten a lot of praise for its style, affordability, and variety of features. The first Buick muscle car, it came out in 1965 at the start of the Golden Era of the American muscle car. After some time, the Gran Sport option entered the market. It was offered in the form of a coupe, convertible, and hardtop. Owners of Skylarks love its smooth handling. In 1965, around 70,000 units were sold, but a smaller number of people bought the Gran Sport option. A Massachusetts man took his love for this model to a whole new level as he exclusively collects the ones from 1965 to 1966! All 25 of these are stored at his four-acre property. Originally sold for $2,522, one of these babies is now worth $20,000.
1968 Oldsmobile 442
The Oldsmobile 442 is for you if you want a powerful car that is stylish and affordable at the same time. The number comes from its four-speed manual transmission, four-barrel carburetor, and dual exhausts. You can get 375 horsepower out of it. The models all came with a red air filter and bronze finish engine, so the guts were just as attractive as its exterior. On the track, it will go from zero to 60 in 7 seconds and then 15.13 seconds on the quarter mile. The 442 is distinctive for the gorgeous sloped back and its two-tone black and silver paint job. This is easily one of the most popular models from Oldsmobile. It used to go for $3,127, but it is now worth $24,000. When it first came out, the number of cars sold had been in the hundreds of thousands!
1970 Ford Torino Cobra
Motor Trend called the Ford Torino was the 1970 Car of the Year Award. It is still believed to be among the greatest American muscle cars in history. The Cobra package is not quite as popular with the general public as it had been among drag racers. It was a powerful car that boasted the Super Cobra Jet engine, which can put out 375 horsepower. Owners were advised not to use it for long distances since it had a short rear end that stays from 3,500 to 3,800 RPMs. If you take it out for a long drive, you can expect it to overheat. It has the same body style as the Fairline, both recognizable for the “hideaway” highlights. This model had the original price of $3,270, but it is now worth $56,000. Fun fact: it played a huge role in the 2008 Clint Eastwood movie of the same name!
1971 Chevrolet Camaro Z28
The Chevy Camaro is the first thing that people think of when they talk about muscle cars. It was a second-generation Camaro that inspired the body styles of the fifth-generation models from 2010 until 2015. This put the Camaro on the map when it comes to sales again. The Z/28 edition could pump out 340 horsepower and was the highest performance car in that year. While Chevy sold more than 100,000 units when it first came out, only 4,862 people shelled out $786.75 more for the Z/28 option. We bet that everyone else regretted not doing the same thing! With its V8 engine, the Z/28 tends to be worth 20 to 50% more than the base units. Originally worth $3,635, the Camaro can now fetch you $70,000.
1969 Pontiac GTO The Judge
“Here comes da judge!” Did you know that the Pontiac GTO The Judge got its name from a line in Laugh-In? It was a sign of disregard for authority, which was a great choice for this model. After all, it must be one of the baddest muscle cars that the United States has ever seen. This option is only $332 pricier than the base model, so it would have been a great idea to invest in “the Judge.” At the time of its release, a lot of people loved it for its wide tires, T-shaped shifter, and aggressive appearance. It is a true rebel, which is proven further by the fact that it was initially offered only in red. When it became even more popular, Pontiac started to offer it in more colors. Its original tag price was $3,940, but its value has since gone up to $80,000.
1963 Corvette Stingray
A second-generation Stingray, the 1963 Corvette Stingray is one of the earliest C2 models. That year, the Corvette underwent a distinct style change because Zora Arkus-Duntoy took over the design efforts of the automaker. In an effort to make the design as aerodynamic as it could be, the team used a wind tunnel on the Caltech campus with the use of scale models. The debut of the C2 marked the first time that Chevy dropped the top on the Corvette. Among the 21,513 units made, half of them had been convertibles. All the 1963 Corvette Stingray units came with 327 cubic-inch engines that could come with 300, 340, and 360 horsepower. The popularity of the car went up with the release of a 1967 movie called Clambake. Back then, you could buy one for $4,037. This is a far cry from its current $100,000 value.
1968 Dodge Charger Hemi R/T
Dodge Charger fans were introduced to the sleek, new body style of the model in 1968. Among the options offered by the automaker, the best one was the Hemi R/T. It came with a Hemi engine that could put out 426 horsepower. The three R/Ts were the Dart GTS, Superbee, and the Coronet. All of them came with a cartoon bumble brand that appeared in the marketing campaigns of the model. In 1968, it was used in a car chase in the film Bullitt. Its iconic big screen exposure only made it more famous and cemented its status as one of the greatest American muscle cars in existence. In 1968, Dodge only made 4,000 units of these cars and sold them for $4,110 each. It is now worth $150,000!
1970 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am Ram Air IV
This model has long been thought to be the most legendary one on the Pontiac lineup. In 1967, the Trans Am was introduced and went on to be a popular car until the automaker ceased its production in 2002. Over the four decades of its production, our favorite model has to be the 1970 Ram Air IV. Even though more modest models had a V6 engine, this one boasted a 400 cubic-inch V8 one. Pontiac only ever sold 88 models of it. The rarity of this model is the reason that it now costs anywhere from $150,000 to $200,000 when its original price was only $4,906.
1969 Boss 429 Mustang
In 1969 and 1970, the Boss 429 Mustang was offered as an upgraded Mustang model. It is now one of the most desired and most expensive models from the automaker. It was designed as a race car that would dethrone the 426 Hemi engine from Chrysler. After a lot of deliberation, Ford reached the decision that the Mustang was going to come with a new yet similar engine. They only made 1,359 units of this model! When it was introduced to the market, ads claimed that it had 375 horsepower. However, people now wonder about the veracity of that statement. Back then, insurance costs were on the rise, so Ford allegedly understated this to avoid scaring off customers with its power. In those days, it was available at the price of $4,798. If you want one, we hope you have $180,000 on you.
1970 Buick GSX
Did you know that 1970 was a landmark year for American muscle cars? Thanks to the strong economy, a lot of high-quality models were released that year. This automaker contributed to the list by souping up its Skylark and turning it into the Buick GSX. It was only available in two colors: Apollo White and Saturn Yellow. The car is best known for all the extra options offered by the company, which is why collectors love this particular model. It is also attractive thanks to its incredible performance. It can put out 500 lbs-ft of torque, which is the highest output available in American muscle cars for three decades. The Buick GSX was only dethroned with the arrival of the V10 Dodge Viper in 2003. When it first came out, this model had an original price of $4,880. At the moment, it is worth $185,000.
1970 Plymouth Superbird Hemi
When the Plymouth Superbird hit the market in 1970, it was considered to be a souped-up Plymouth Roadrunner. This model stands out with its very big front end and huge aerodynamic spoiler. It was built with racing in mind and inspired by Dodge, its sister company. It came with a top-of-the-line 426 Hemi V8 engine that could put out 425 horsepower and then 490 lbs of torque. The company only made a bit more than 2,000 Superbirds in its first production year. Only a few of these came with the Hemi engine, which is why those are now worth $150,000 to $200,000 even though it was originally worth $4,298.
1970 Plymouth Hemi ‘Cuda
The real name of the model is the Barracuda, but we prefer to simply call it by its moniker: ‘Cuda. This is what the back of the amazing Hemi/Convertible car says, after all. The 1969 Plymouth Barracuda is an iconic car that also has the Superbird option. It is possible to make it look even better by giving it grill and headlight upgrades. Recently, one of these vehicles reached a final bid of a cool $3.5 million. If you have a hard time wrapping your head around this, keep in mind that only eleven convertible units were made. That particular unit also came with the original documentation. The non-convertible is still valuable at $200,000, which is several times the original price of $4,348.
1971 Baldwin-Motion Phase III GT Corvette
In 1969, the Baldwin-Motion Phase III GT Corvette was introduced to the world during the New York City International Auto Show. It hit the market two years later and appealed to race enthusiasts. Over its two years in production, the automaker only made twelve of them. As one of the rarest muscle cars in history, you can fetch $230,000 if you happen to own one. Since it was a version customized by car builders Joel Rosen and Marty Schorr, its original price is pretty high at $10,500. At the time, Rosen had a deal with the Baldwin Chevrolet dealership to modify several supercars per year. He was a very talented car maker, which is why his cars are all so sought-after.
1969 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1
In 1969, most people would not have shelled out $7,200 for this muscle car. Now that it is worth half a million bucks, we sure that they regret it! Aside from the value increase, its performance will also blow you away. It offers faster speeds and better handling than the Corvette L88 and the Camaro Yenko. These days, the Chevy Camaro ZL1 is thought to be the best model that the automaker ever built. It is also known for its performance on the race track, which is actually its greatest appeal on top of being so rare. If you somehow find one in mint condition, you might soon become a millionaire!
1969 Dodge Charger Hemi Daytona
When Dodge made the Hemi Daytona, it was built to do amazing things at the track. It was named after the inaugural NASCAR race: the Daytona 500. When it was first used at the track, Buddy Baker became the first person to break the 200 mph barrier on a Hemi Daytona. It is also popular for its 23-inch back wing. Did you know that it was also the first Dodge-Plymouth aero-car? It shares the title with the Plymouth Superboard. This car also appeared in a movie called Joe Dirt, and David Spade even wanted to get one as a gift to himself. Dodge only made 503 Hemi Daytonas, which explains why the actor was able to buy one at an auction for $900,000. The units normally go anywhere from $800,000 to $1,000,000. Its value has gone a long way since the time it was worth $5,903.
1970 AMC AMX/3
This might not be the car that you think of when talking about American muscle cars, but it still counts. The American Motor Company created this model as a concept car. An Italian car maker called Giotto Bizzarrini designed the third generation of this car, which boasted many engine components from BMW. It received great reception during the Chicago Auto Show, so AMC wanted to produce thousands of it. However, the increase in manufacturing costs made it change its mind. This is why the company decided to abandon this project. The five prototypes are the only ones ever made. If you put up one of them on auction, we are sure that it is going to go up to seven figures in no time at all. Originally, it was worth $14,000.
1970 Chevrolet Chevelle SS 454 LS6
A classic, most people will recognize the Chevy Chevelle. However, American muscle car enthusiasts know that Chevelle collectors are drooling for one model in particular: the LS6. These units were first in production from 1963 to 1969. This model was considered to be an affordable yet powerful model with a nice engine and attractive design. In 1970, the automaker changed the game by introducing more engine options. The standard units already came with an impressive 454 big block V8 engine. Aside from that, it also got a larger carburetor, racing features, and more than 500 horsepower. Its original price had been in the $4,000 to $4,500 range, but it now goes for $1,200,000. Whoa.
1970 Dodge Challenger Hemi Convertible
Dodge first released the Challenger in 1970. For four years, it remained the most popular model from the automaker. Production ended with the loss of interest in the muscle car. Among the available package options, the RT Convertible was the priciest and most coveted one. It was a fast car that offered add-ons like an 8,000 RPM tachometer, an oil pressure gauge, and a 150 mph speedometer. Right now, the value of these cars tends to vary a lot depending on the pedigree and the condition. An original Hemi Model unit from 1970 is going to get you around $1,500,000. Not bad since it was originally worth $4,900.
Shelby Cobra 427 (AC Cobra)
The AC Shelby Cobra must be what the majority of people imagine when they talk about a car by Carroll Shelby. It has appeared several times in the Ford vs. Ferrari film as the everyday car used by Matt Damon. This model came about when Carroll Shelby installed a V8 engine in a two-door roadster. He personally asked AC Cars for a customized car that could accommodate a bigger engine. After that, the next challenge was to look for an engine that was going to fit. Chevy turned him down, but Ford was willing to team up with him. It made him a Windsor 221 cubic-inch 3.6-L V8 engine that fit it perfectly. It used to be worth $7,500, but its current valuation is anywhere from $1,500,000 to $2,000,000.
1965 Shelby GT350R
Some people are of the belief that the 1965 Shelby GT350R is the most important Mustang ever. After all, it was the first one in the lineup to claim victory at a major race. A British race car driver called Ken Miles had the honor of piloting this muscle car for the first time in history. It is now best known for its appearance in Ford Vs. Ferrari. Recently, its prototype managed to fetch a jaw-dropping $3.2 million during an auction. Originally priced $4,584, these cars now go for $500,000 to $850,000. Aside from winning races, the goal of this car was to give the whole Mustang lineup some credibility at the track because the American market had been looking for performance more than anything else.
1971 Shelby GT500
Fans of Gone in 60 Seconds and Mustang lovers will recognize the GT500s from the late ‘60s and early ‘70s. These cars appeared in both the original and the remake under the nickname Eleanor. Because of its status as a Hollywood icon, this car is now considered to be an important American muscle car. However, there had been controversy about the cars used in the remake. The truth is that the pepper-gray one in the movie is a 1967 Ford Mustang Fastback that had a body knit to look more like a GT500! Denice Halikci, the wife of original director Toby Halicki, owns the copyright for the specific body style in the classic film. This was done to avoid the existence of Eleanor lookalikes. The 1971 Shelby GT500 had an original price of $8,000. Its value has since ballooned to $1,000,000!
1971 Plymouth Hemi ‘Cuda Convertible
Even though hemispherical combustion chambers have been in use since the early 1900s, Chrysler had been the one to make the Hemi engine so popular. The automaker also gave it the affectionate nickname! From 1970 to 1971, it was the top-of-the-line offering from the lineup. It was definitely expensive for an average Joe since it cost $900 more than the base model. The convertible option had been even more elusive. It was in production for two years, but only 17 units came with the Hemi and the convertible feature. Originally priced $4,348, this car is now worth $2,000,000 to $3,500,000.
1967 Shelby GT500 Super Snake
A 1967 GT 500 Super Snake hand-built by Carroll Shelby himself went for $2.2 million in an auction held in January 2019. The value went up by $900,000 in only six years, so it is the most expensive Mustang in history. This is a shoo-in for the title of the best American muscle car on the planet! Shelby built it in a partnership with Goodyear, who wanted to try out the “Thunderbolt” tires. It was made with the goal of crafting a high-performance race car that could outdo the competition when it comes to speed and still retain its tires. To try it out, Shelby drove it at an average speed of 142 mph for 500 miles. It is shocking to hear that the car still managed to retain 97% of its tread. Whoa. This car was never sold to the general public.
1962 Shelby Cobra CSX2000
True American muscle car collectors know that history can beat performance when it comes to its valuation. The 1962 Cobra CSX200 happens to be the first car in the Shelby Cobra lineup. This explains why it is special to all the Shelby fans and car collectors. A completely different unit, the prototype preceded the AC, which eventually underwent several changes before it hit the market. In 2016, the only CSX2000 unit went on auction in California. It made history as the most expensive car in the United States! Can you believe that someone paid $13,750,000 for it? We hope that you now understand why it is considered to be the cream of the crop in the world of the American muscle car.