These Classic Muscle Cars Are Easy To Restore For First-Time Owners

While muscle cars are among the most popular American cars in the world, not every gearhead can afford them. Modern ones are costly, and the old ones with affordable price tags are unreliable or ugly. As such, many first-time buyers prefer to buy the beaten-down ones and restore them to something desirable. The problem is that many think it is only the purchase, restoration, and drive that makes up the story. But, practically, repairing a classic car requires lots of money and time, regardless of the cheap body shop.

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The good news is, several automakers are now offering new parts for their classic cars. So instead of spending years in pick-and-pull shops and swap meets, with only a solid frame and engine, rebuilding a classic muscle car becomes a walk in the park. And since not all classics fit in this easy-to-do category, here are some of the easiest-to-restore classic muscle cars for first-time owners.

10 1965 Ford Mustang

First on the list is the iconic Ford Mustang, one of the most popular muscle cars ever built. It is the car that single-handedly kicked off the pony car segment in the 1960s and accelerated the muscle car arms race in a way that no other model could. During its first five years on sale, Ford sold over 2 million units, which means the classic car market has many surviving cars and parts.

Moreover, companies like CJ Pony Parts and Dynacorn Classic Bodies sell new factory-spec parts. Thus, with that kind of support, plus a bookshelf of books and internet forums on how to rebuild them, a classic Mustang project is a fantastic way to get into the restoration space.

9 1964 Pontiac GTO

The Mustang may have been the first pony car for most gearheads, but the Pontiac GTO was the first proper muscle car. And though the company may be long-gone, its iconic performance is not. The GTO came in a bigger, bolder, and more potent form that ruled the drag strips in the 1960s.

As for restoring this muscle car to its glory, companies such as the Original Parts Group Inc. are stocked with parts. However, the GTO was more expensive and rarer than the Mustang, and it might take longer to find a restoration project of this classic.

8 1970 Chevrolet El Camino SS

The 1970 El Camino SS is probably one of the sexiest trucks in existence. In addition, its combined car-like handling and big block power offer room to haul stuff around. And because it’s based on the A-body Chevelle, there are tons of aftermarket parts to transform a beaten-down model into a wild custom.

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Although rust can be a problem with all the sheet metal, places like the El Camino Store offer correct replacement panels to bring even the sorriest-looking trucks back to life.

7 1968 Mercury Cougar

The 1968 Mercury Cougar was a slightly bigger, more luxurious coupe based on the Mustang. And though the nameplate has survived some serious ups and downs over its production years, most gearheads agree that the best ones to restore are the first-generation Cougars built from 1967 to 1970.

Thanks to a healthy supply of aftermarket components, one should easily find all the essentials needed to get this old Cat on the road again. In addition, these Mercurys are a relative bargain compared to the skyrocketing Mustang prices.

6 1970 Dodge Super Bee

The midsize muscle car from Dodge shared its Mopar B-body with the Plymouth Satellite/Road Runner and the more pedestrian Coronet. When Dodge debuted the Super Bee in 1968, it came as a no-nonsense bruiser, offering a trio of the Big V8s, a heavy-duty suspension, and nothing else.

However, the model to be on the lookout is the 1970 model, which came with the “bumblebee wings,” split grille, and tool-cool cartoon graphics. Today, restoring this project is relatively straightforward as every part is virtually remanufactured.

5 1970 Buick GSX

The Gran Sport was Buick’s entry model into the muscle car segment. And while it wasn’t as popular as its A-Body platform rivals like the Pontiac GTO, it was marketed as something different, “The Gentleman’s Hot Rod.”

Its interior was accommodating, and under the hood, it packed a V8 Stage 1 package that produced a decent 360 horsepower. In addition, the GSX — the hottest Gran Sport — had the most torque of any American production car, until the introduction of the second-gen Dodge Viper in 2003, with an incredible 510 lb-ft. Though not many were built, the 1970 GSX is one of the easiest to restore.

4 1977 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am

By the late 1970s, the nameplate was almost dead, except for the Pontiac Firebird. While rivals such as Chrysler and Ford had ditched performance and the Camaro was neutered, the Firebird was still a beast. What’s more, in recent years, values of the 1976-1977 cars have skyrocketed thanks to its starring role in the film Smokey and the Bandit.

Related: Everything You Should Know About The 1967 Chevy Camaro

For a too-cool 1970s vibe, the 1977 Firebird is a great way to get into classic cars. Moreover, the availability of great parts makes the Firebird relatively easy to keep in shape.

3 1970 Chevrolet Nova SS

When the Nova was redesigned in 1968, it became a massive success for Chevy. It isn’t hard to see why – no matter what was under the hood, it was a muscular, good-looking compact car. The top trim, the Nova SS, featured a big block V8 with an impressive output of 375 horsepower.

While it’s not as sexy as the El Camino or the Camaro, there’s an undeniable appeal to the 1970 Nova’s no-nonsense attitude. Today, with almost every part available from several virtual suppliers, it’s relatively easy to restore the 1970 Chevrolet Nova SS.

2 1968 Dodge Charger

The 1968 Dodge Charger is one of the most iconic muscle cars ever built. And although hundreds of Dodge Chargers were destroyed in filming The Dukes of Hazard, the surviving cars are highly prized. However, a good search will some wrecked General Lee somewhere, and chances of bringing it back to life are pretty high.

Everything from the smallest engine decals to the entire body is still in production, meaning there are plenty of Chargers to be seen in stunning collections and on the roads for years to come.

1 1966 Chevrolet Impala SS Convertible

By the mid-1960s, midsize muscle cars had dominated the American performance segment. However, that didn’t keep Chevy from wringing serious performance out of its big cars, either. At some point, the Impala was America’s best-selling car. And in SuperSport trim, it could be ordered with an L72 engine that cranked out a whopping 425 horsepower.

The Impala SS is ideal for gearheads who desire a 1960s muscle car but with a little more comfort than smaller cars. With just a few mechanical tweaks and good new parts, it becomes easy to restore the Impala SS to a better version than when it left the factory.

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