10 Best Classic Muscle Cars For Performance And Comfort
One of the best classic muscle cars of all time is the one that started it all, the 1964 Pontiac GTO. The GTO began life as a performance trim package for the mid-size LeMans. Technically, the GTO is just as rebellious as it looks. Jim Warner, John DeLorean, Bill Collins, and Russ Gee of Pontiac manufactured the vehicle in response to General Motors’ ban on motorsport. Pontiac rebels started stuffing their Pontiac LeMans with a 6.4-liter V8 capable of 325 hp at 4,800 rpm. We can be sure GM remained seated when Pontiac’s efforts sold an astonishing 32,450 units in 1964, despite a sales forecast of just 5,000.
The GTO kicked all of North America’s manufacturers into gear. Today, the ’64 GTO is one of the most sought-after ’60s muscle cars, alongside the 1963 Chevrolet Impala Z11 and the awe-inspiring 1967 Ford Mustang GT500 Super Snake. The GTO started life as an ordinary, comfortable car before becoming a menacing hunk of American muscle; let’s take a look at others that followed in its footsteps.
10 1966 Pontiac GTO
Pontiac released the GTO as a standalone model in 1966, moving the vehicle away from a mere trim package for the Tempest LeMans. The GTO became a luxury classic muscle car sat upon General Motors A-Body. The 1966 Pontiac GTO featured Strato bucket seats with contoured cushions, and owners sat within a veneered walnut trim and could option a convertible roof for their luxury muscle car.
Pontiac manufactured 96,946 GTOs for the 1966 model year, the best being the 6.4-liter V8 model operating a four-barrel carburetor setup, taking power figures up to a whopping 364 hp! Prices for this luxurious classic car started at $2,783 back in ’66, roughly $28,616 today.
9 1966 Oldsmobile Tornado
David North designed the luxurious, albeit dangerous, Oldsmobile Tornado in 1966. The Tornado is the first GM vehicle to operate with a torsion bar suspension setup featuring wishbones at unequal length, all in aid of the forward-thinking front-wheel drive system – yes, a front-wheel drive classic muscle car on General Motors’ full-size E-Body Platform.
The Oldsmobile Tornado is the first FWD production car from an American manufacturer since the 1937 Cord 810/812. The 1966 Tornado may have been luxurious, but it was also a powerful muscle car as Oldsmobile successfully crammed the infamous 7.0-liter Super Rocket V8 under the hood, which developed an astonishing 385 hp and 475 lb-ft of torque. Thanks to the bulbous V8, the 1966 Oldsmobile Tornado achieved 0-60 mph in 7.5 seconds, despite weighing a portly 4,500 lbs. Unfortunately, only 40,963 Tornados sold for the 1966 model year, and today, it’s a relatively cheap classic muscle car averaging around $21,457.
8 1970 Plymouth Barracuda
During 1970, Plymouth sold 55,499 Barracuda models, the rarest of which being the 596 Gran Coupe convertibles sold. The Barracuda drew its luxurious tastes from the full-size E-Body platform crafted by General Motors. Chrysler launched the 1970 model alongside the debutant Dodge Challenger, armed equally with a 6.3-liter V8 capable of 330 hp.
However, that’s not all about this classic muscle car. Plymouth created the iconic “Cuda” variant for the Barracuda, which saw the high-end E-Body produce 425 hp from its 7.0-liter V8. The Plymouth Barracuda arrived at the twilight of the classic American muscle car era.
7 1970 Chevrolet Monte Carlo SS
Chevrolet launched the Monte Carlo as their first personal luxury vehicle; the debutant Monte Carlo sat upon the “A-Special” Platform from GM alongside the Pontiac Grand Prix in 1970. Today, a 1970-’71 Chevrolet Monte Carlo costs an average of $28,077, making it a relatively cheap classic muscle car with a luxurious touch.
However, the SS trim for the snobby Chevrolet Monte Carlo is a very different beast; prices today can be up to $50,000 as only 3,823 Monte Carlo SS models rolled off of Chevrolet forecourts during 1970, more commonly known as the SS 454. Furthermore, what makes the SS trim special is the behemoth 7.4-liter Turbo-Jet V8 pumping a tarmac-burning 360 hp to the Chevy’s rear wheels.
6 1970 Ford Torino GT Cobra
Ford created the Torino as their luxury offering, an upscale version of the full-size Ford Fairlane with a fancy name. Ford named the Torino after the Italian city of Turin to enhance their luxury barge’s reputation, just as Chevrolet did with the Monte Carlo. However, a specific variant of the Torino made gearheads question the Mustang dynasty of the muscle car era.
The Torino’s finest offering is the Ford Torino Cobra. Ford sold 7,674 Torino Cobra models during 1970, the rarest being the 3,488 models armed with the optional Ram-Air system. The Ford Torino Cobra is the perfect blend of full-size luxury mated to classic American muscle, as the fabled Cobra-Jet engine housed within produces a shocking 360 hp and 490 lb-ft of torque. Thanks to the porky V8 from Ford, this car can achieve the quarter mile in just 14 seconds.
5 1970 Buick GSX
Back in the day, Buick featured as one of GM’s luxury brands, sitting firmly between Chevrolet and Cadillac in the pecking order, alongside Pontiac. However, 1970 saw them take their premium Skylark model and convert it into the Buick GSX, which defined the American muscle car. Buick’s efforts with the GSX saw the 1970 model produce a mind-boggling 350 hp and 510 lb-ft of torque from its 7.4-liter V8. The hefty power plant allowed the GSX to reach 0-60 mph in 5.5 seconds. Furthermore, the Buick GSX held the record for the highest torque figure of an American production car until Dodge launched the Viper in 2003.
Buick built a measly 678 of the 1970 GSX model, making prices today average around $96,685 for the rare piece of classic muscle.
4 1969 Oldsmobile 442
1968 saw the iconic Oldsmobile 442 debut as an individual model, cut away from being a mere option package for the Oldsmobile Cutlass. Oldsmobile served as GM’s entry-level luxury brand, and the 442 was a comfortable alternative to the fire-breathing GTO of the era.
Oldsmobile manufactured 33,000 of the 442 model during 1968; models featured real walnut dash inserts and an iconic four-speed Hurst shifter. Interestingly, the 1968 442 saw the Hurst/Olds partnership established, which saw specific models equipped with the 7.5-liter Rocket V8 capable of 390 hp and a gut-wrenching 490 lb-ft of torque. Hurst/Olds manufactured just 515 of the uprated 442 muscle cars, of which only 51 were Sport Coupes.
For those in the market, prices for a 1968 Oldsmobile 442 average $52,594 today. However, the Hurst/Olds market averages $71,500.
3 1971 Plymouth GTX
The Gentlemen’s muscle car. Plymouth’s GTX arrived out of the box with a simulated wood grain interior and pleated bucket seats; picture the legendary Plymouth Road Runner heading for an interview. Furthermore, Plymouth equipped the GTX with power steering and electric windows; some owners were kind enough to leave a present under the seat. Despite the muscle car’s creature comforts, something special was lurking within.
Plymouth manufactured 2,942 GTX muscle cars for the 1971 model year, and of that figure, only 30 arrived with the infamous 7.0-liter Hemi; the iconic Mopar engine received its final outing on the Plymouth GTX and pushed the classic muscle car north with 425 hp and 490 lb-ft of torque. Today, Hemi-equipped Plymouth GTX cars can fetch $190,000! 1971 was the year emissions controls forced the 426 Hemi into retirement.
2 1966 Ford Galaxie 500 7-Liter
The Ford Galaxie 500 is a full-size muscle car measuring 17.5 ft in length, and thanks to being littered with rubber mountings between body and frame, Ford wasn’t lying when they marketed the brute as ‘The Quietest Quick Car.’ Despite the Galaxie 500, or ‘7-liter’ as it’s known, being packed with luxuries such as a wood-grained steering wheel and multiple lockable cubbyholes, Ford had a trick up their sleeve to power their 3,500 lb luxury performance machine.
That being a 7.0-liter Thunderbird V8 nestled beneath the hood, Ford’s rocket-powered sofa could reach 0-60 mph in 5.8 seconds. That wasn’t all, as Ford equipped the Galaxie 7-liter with their three-link suspension system, increasing the maneuverability of the 345 hp beast.
Ford sold 11,063 Galaxie 7-liter models in 1967, of which 2,368 were convertibles. Recent sales of $55,000 aren’t unheard of for the Galaxie 500.
1 1967 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme
Although the Cutlass Supreme began in ’66, the 1967 model year saw the introduction of a full lineup, including coupes, convertibles, and sedan variants of Oldsmobile’s luxury Cutlass offering. Oldsmobile equipped the Supreme with bench seats and armrests, while the body featured full-wheel covers and multiple CS emblems. The Cutlass Supreme is a muscle car stripped of scoops, vents, and stripes, but don’t be fooled, equipping the 442 packages saw the luxury muscle car produce 350 hp through a 6.6-liter V8.
Oldsmobile manufactured 548,390 Cutlass models in 1967, 117,928 of which were Cutlass Supreme models.