American carmakers designed some of the meanest modern-day muscle cars. Mopar was annihilating the competition until recently. When Ford announced the release of the Mustang Dark Horse, everybody’s jaws dropped. The car’s physique and claimed performance are astonishing. It is the first time in a long time that Ford had gone above and beyond.
The 2024 Ford Mustang Dark Horse just stole the C8 Corvette’s thunder. This insane-looking pony car looks like it will take on the best sports cars on the market. While the Dark Horse looks stunning, nothing beats the old-school feel of a classic muscle car. The truly mechanical power combined with their gorgeous curves makes them timeless engineering masterpieces.
10 1963 Mercury Marauder S55
When Ford incorporated Mercury in its portfolio of brands, the carmaker placed Mercury between low-range Ford and top-line Lincoln cars. Mercury garnered a solid fan base thanks to cars such as the Cougar XR-7, the Cyclone, and the Marauder. The last Marauder, despite resembling the Ford Crown Victoria, was quite satisfactory. The first-generation Marauder was even better.
The ’63 Mercury Marauder S-55 is one of the badass muscle cars from the ’60s John Wick would approve of. As if its stern look was not enough, Mercury moved forward with a meaty 427 cu in big-block FE V8 that pumps out 425 hp at 6,000 rpm and 480 lb-ft of torque at 3,700 rpm. A 390 cu in is also available, but nothing beats that monstrous 427 unit.
9 1969 Dodge Charger R/T
Dodge rapidly grasped the idea of the all-American muscle car. Dodge already had several muscle cars under its belt by the time Ford released the Mustang. Cars such as the Polara, the Coronet, or the Dart were equipped with some of the most advanced performance parts available at the time. Dodge would release the ultimate muscle car in the late ’60s.
The 1969 Dodge Charger R/T is admired by both hardcore muscle heads and Sunday car fans. It is hard to resist such beautiful lines. The car’s body is very attractive, but what powers the beast is even better. The 440 V8 is respectable. However, the 426 cu in Hemi V8 is far more impressive. Capable of pumping out 425 hp at 5,000 rpm and 490 lb-ft of torque at 4,000 rpm, the 426 helps the Charger combine both looks and power.
8 1969 Ford Mustang Boss 429
The Mustang was dubbed the “secretary car” when it was first released. A couple of years later, Ford would revisit its most popular car. Still considered the first generation, the updated Mustang was larger, longer, and heavier. While some car enthusiasts do not like this weight gain, others understood that Ford was turning its pony car into a mean sports car.
The ’69 Ford Mustang Boss 429 is the ultimate classic Mustang. With only 859 units made that year, it is fair to say that the Boss 429 is a rarity. As the name indicates, the Boss 429 comes with a 429 cu in V8 that makes 375 hp at 5,200 rpm and 450 lb-ft of torque at 3,400 rpm. The Boss 429 may have not been the most powerful car in 1969, but it sure packs a lot of power.
7 1970 AMC Javelin SST Trans Am
The American Motors Corporation is unknown to most people. True classic American car fans know that AMC is the tiny carmaker that tried to take on the Big Three. Although AMC’s overall success as a company is highly debatable, its cars became increasingly popular as time went on. Today, AMC cars such as the Javelin SST Trans Am are worth hundreds of thousands of dollars.
The ’70 Javelin SST Trans AM is one of the most badass AMC cars of all time. The SST Trans Am is a shamelessly American race car that was manufactured for homologation purposes. The 100 SST Trans Ams were equipped with a 390 cu in AMC V8 that developed 325 hp at 5,000 rpm and 435 lb-ft of torque at 3,200 rpm.
6 1970 Buick GSX
Buick is a very interesting domestic car brand. Unlike Ford, Chevrolet, or Dodge, Buick did not design a single car that every car fan can remember. Only true muscle heads and classic American car aficionados know that Buick had some serious beasts in its lineup during the late ’60s and early ’70s. One of the most sought-after classic Buicks, namely the GSX, shows that America was once the birthplace of instant classics.
The GSX looks very similar to the Gran Sport 455. That is because the GSX performance package is an add-on to the Gran Sport 455. When it comes to power output, both cars come with a 455 cu in big-block V8 that pumps out 360 hp at 4,600 rpm and 510 lb-ft of torque at 2,800 rpm. The rare GSX was available only in Apollo white and Saturn yellow.
5 1970 Oldsmobile 442 W30
Defunct carmaker Oldsmobile is mostly remembered for its lukewarm minivans and sedans. Before the company was put out of misery in 2004, every Oldsmobile vehicle was downright disappointing. Things were drastically different during the golden age of the American automobile industry. The Oldsmobile 442 W30 is a prime example.
Produced between 1964 and 1987, the 442 would go from being a terrific muscle to become an odd two-door compact coupe. In its early years, several performance packages were offered for the 442 including the W30 package. The W30 package came with a plethora of distinctive aesthetic components like the badges and the spoiler. The 455 cu in Oldsmobile V8 found on the W30 makes 370 hp at 5,200 rpm and 500 lb-ft of torque at 5,200 rpm.
4 1971 Chevrolet Corvette ZR2
A plethora of muscle cars made it to production between the early ’50s and the mid-70s. With carmakers engaged in a horsepower war, it was normal that a legend like the queen of muscle cars followed suit. In the early 1970s, Chevrolet experimented with the Corvette. The very first ZR1 was made. It is also when the ZR2 came to fruition.
The ’71 Corvette ZR2 is one of the best Chevy Corvette models for collectors. There are only two known Corvette ZR2s in great shape, after all. What truly makes the ZR2 special is that only 12 were ever made. The ZR2 is powered by a high-performance 454 cu in LS6 V8 that produces 425 hp and 475 lb-ft of torque. A 1971 Chevrolet Corvette ZR2 Convertible sold for $875,000 at Mecum Auctions.
3 1971 Plymouth Hemi Barracuda
Plymouth is no stranger to commercial failures. Before the brand went out of business in 2001, it tried to bring back memories of yesteryear with the Prowler. Despite looking mean and fast, the Prowler was a huge letdown. 30 years before its death, Plymouth had other carmakers shaking. Cars such as the Hemi Cuda were just scary.
Since Plymouth was once under the Chrysler Group, it is quite normal that their cars were bonkers. The 1971 Plymouth Hemi Cuda is not just a rowdy Mopar, it is also a true collectible. Only 108 Hemi Cudas made that year, and it shows when looking at its value on Hagerty Valuation Tool. The best part about the Hemi Cuda remains its 426 cu in Hemi V8 that develops 425 hp at 5,000 rpm and 490 lb-ft of torque at 4,000 rpm.
2 1971 Pontiac Trans Am
Pontiac is one of those defunct brands that should be brought back to life. Cars such as the regular Firebird or the GTO deserve a modern re-design and put into production. Back in the ’70s, Pontiac was not trailing too far behind Ford and Chevrolet. Its cars were just as impressive. One Pontiac that never fails to put a smile on a muscle head’s face is the Trans Am.
Based on GM’s F platform, the 1971 Pontiac Trans Am was a great alternative to the Camaro of the same year. Pontiac offered the 455 HO V8 as the sole option for the Trans Am. The 455 HO develops 335 hp at 4,800 rpm and 480 lb-ft of torque at 3,600 rpm. Needless to say, ’71 Trans Ams are in high demand among collectors.
1 1987 Buick GNX
The American car industry was in shambles for the most of the 1980s. Whether it was the four-cylinder Camaro or the turbocharged Trans Am, most legendary nameplates had lost their appeal. As if things were not complicated enough domestically, European and Japanese cars started heavily entering the United States. During that era, Buick designed the best retro muscle car ever.
The Buick GNX is based on the Grand National. However, it was a step above the already attractive Grand National. Since GNX stands for Grand National Experimental, it is fair to assume that Buick went buck-wild. Underneath the hood sits a Garrett turbocharged 3.8-liter V6 rated at 276 hp at 4,400 rpm and 360 lb-ft of torque at 3,000 rpm. Only 547 GNXs were made, thus making it a valuable collectible.