10 Classic Muscle Cars That Were More Powerful Than Supercars

Shirley Beal

The ’60s was an interesting decade for the American auto industry. While European automakers focused all their efforts on building sports cars, American automakers decided to stuff large V8 engines in affordable cars, creating the now-popular muscle car segment. This idea worked like a charm, as it gave the masses access to affordable performance cars and created iconic classic cars like the Ford Mustang and Pontiac GTO.

RELATED: These Are The 10 Most Expensive Classic Muscle Cars Ever Sold At AuctionWhile muscle cars cost significantly less than supercars, they offered similar performance, with some special versions even offering better performance than supercars. This article explores 10 classic muscle cars that had more power than some supercars of their time.



10 1969 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 – 430 HP

Black 1969 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 on the road
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The 1969 Camaro was a huge hit. It had one of the best muscle car designs at the time and was quite fast even in normal trims. However, some gearheads wanted a Camaro that could defeat everything else on the drag strip, which is why Chevy offered the ZL1 package.

The ZL1 package gave the 1969 Camaro a race-inspired all-aluminum V8 engine belting out 430 ponies, making it the ultimate drag weapon. However, since the ZL1 package was expensive, Chevy built only 69 units, making it one of the rarest American vehicles.

9 1969 Dodge Charger Daytona – 425 HP

1969 Dodge Charger Hemi Daytona Cropped
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After a disappointing 1968 season in NASCAR, Chrysler knew it had to strike back in 1969. As such, it decided to turn the Dodge Charger R/T into one of the greatest NASCAR vehicles, resulting in the Dodge Charger Daytona.

The Dodge Charger Daytona looked like a whole different car compared to the Charger R/T, as it had special body modifications like a sheet-metal nose cone and a 23-inch-tall rear wing. It also had a powerful 425-hp V8, allowing it to become the first American car to break the 200 mph barrier. Due to its rarity and historical significance, the Dodge Charger Daytona can fetch over $1 million at auctions today, according to Hagerty.

8 1970 Dodge Challenger R/T – 425 HP

1970 Dodge Challenger R/T
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The Charger was extremely popular when it debuted in the late ’60s, but it was too big to compete in the popular pony car market. So, in 1969, Dodge built a slightly smaller version of the Charger, resulting in the Challenger.

RELATED: Here’s An In-Depth Look At The 1970 Dodge Challenger R/T ConvertibleDodge wanted the Challenger to be the fastest pony car of its day, so it made all the Chrysler engines available for the car. Buyers could equip the high-performance R/T trim with Chrysler’s 426 cubic-inch Hemi engine, whose 425 hp made it super fast.

7 1969 Mercury Cougar GT-E – 390 HP

1968 Mercury Cougar GT-E Cropped
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Mercury made several cool cars before going out of business, but none were as popular as the Cougar. As Mercury’s version of the popular Mustang, the Cougar was such a hit that it became Mercury’s best-selling model of all time.

Just like the Mustang, the Cougar had several trim levels. The most powerful was the GT-E, which had a 427 cubic-inch V8 with 390 hp on tap. If you’re looking for a good classic muscle car for sale, the Cougar GT-E is a good choice, as it’s still massively underrated.

6 1970 Buick GSX Stage 1 – 360 HP

Buick GSX Stage 1
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Buick doesn’t typically compete in the performance car market, but in 1970 it did when it created one of the most underrated muscle cars – the GSX Stage 1. The GSX Stage 1 was Buick’s answer to the likes of the Oldsmobile 442 W30 and Pontiac GTO Judge, and it was superb.

The GSX Stage 1 had a huge 455 cubic-inch V8 under the hood, officially rated at 360 hp, but many experts believe it made much more. However, the GSX Stage 1 did shine in torque figures – a crazy 510 lb-ft of torque.

5 1966 Ford Fairlane 500 R-Code – 419 HP

Ford Fairlane 500 R-Code
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The Fairlane debuted in the ’50s, but there was nothing particularly interesting about it. Thankfully, Ford changed that in 1966 when it decided to spice up the Fairlane to boost its popularity. For one, Ford gave the 1966 Fairlane a complete redesign that made it look more like a muscle car.

RELATED: We Can’t Stop Staring At These Modified Ford FairlanesFord then gave it a much-needed power boost in the form of a special limited edition version known as the 500 R-Code. The R-Code used a 419-hp V8 engine and four-speed manual transmission combination that Ford developed specifically for Super Stock racing, which is why it was so fast.

4 1970 Plymouth Hemi ‘Cuda – 425 HP

1971 Plymouth Hemi Cuda Cropped-1
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The third-generation Barracuda arrived with a bang when it debuted in 1970. No longer having a lot in common with the boring Valiant, the third-gen Barracuda was now a gorgeous coupe, sharing its platform with the newly introduced Dodge Challenger.

Just like the Challenger, buyers could equip the Barracuda with virtually every engine in Chrysler’s inventory, including the 425-hp Hemi V8. That’s how the Hemi ‘Cuda was born, and it now sits on top of the list of Plymouth’s most iconic cars.

3 1967 Shelby GT500 Super Snake – 650 HP

Extremely Rare 1967 Shelby Mustang GT500 Super Snake
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In 1967, Goodyear Tires hired the renowned Carroll Shelby to build a special car to test its new line of high-performance tires. Starting with a 1967 Fastback, Shelby upgraded it to GT500 status and then equipped it with a 650-hp mill sourced from the iconic Ford GT40 race car.

The result was the Shelby GT500 Super Snake, an insane muscle car that could reportedly hit 170 mph. Shelby would have loved to build more units, but he ended up building only one due to the huge cost.

2 1966 Plymouth Satellite 426 Hemi – 425 HP

Blue 1966 Plymouth Satellite 426 Hemi
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The aforementioned Hemi ‘Cuda is Plymouth’s most popular muscle car, but the company had other lesser-known muscle car models that were just as cool. The Satellite is one of them.

The Satellite debuted in 1965 and was the top-of-the-range model in Plymouth’s Belvedere line. The Satellite was quite popular when it debuted in 1965, but many felt it wasn’t powerful enough. As such, Plymouth equipped the 1966 Satellite with a 425-hp “Street Hemi” engine, giving buyers more power than they ever needed. Hagerty values the 1966 Plymouth Satellite 426ci Hemi at just $81,600, which is a bargain considering the crazy price tags other Hemi-powered ’60s muscle cars command.

1 1970 Chevrolet Chevelle SS 454 LS6 – 444 HP

1970 Chevrolet Chevelle SS-454
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The Chevelle had a long run, but it mostly lived under the shadow of its sibling – the Camaro. However, in 1970, the Chevelle turned into a beast that not only destroyed any Camaro of the year but also dominated the entire industry – the Chevelle SS 454.

The Chevelle SS 454 had the largest engine Chevy could find in 1970, as GM had lifted its ban on using the largest engines in smaller cars. The engine in question was a monstrous 7.4-liter V8, dishing out 444 hp when equipped with the LS6 package.

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