There is no denying that the ’60s were the golden age for muscle cars in America. From the launch of the Ford Mustang pony car to the origin of the Pontiac GTO, many automotive legends took birth in this fantastic decade. Old muscle cars continue to invoke such reverence in muscle car fans, simply because they were that damn good back then. There’s a certain awe that comes from 60s muscle cars, and rightly so. Cars like the 1968 Dodge Dart and the 1967 AMC Rebel, to this day, remain some of the most underrated muscle cars.
However, it wasn’t all smooth sailing for every manufacturer. When brands were locking heads and racing to launch the next best muscle car, there were some pretty bad cars on the market, too. Some cars tried too hard, while some simply did not have enough V8 power underneath to be able to justify their muscle car status. Even worse, some of these classic muscle cars were highly unreliable. After all, not every one of these cars could be like the Ford Mach 1 Mustang Fastback or the Pontiac GTO, which were the most reliable classic muscle cars of the time. Without further ado, let’s take a look at some of the worst muscle cars of the ’60s.
10 1962 Dodge Dart – Hard To Look At
Hideous is the only word that comes to mind when looking at the 1962 Dodge Dart. Even though the Dodge Dart went on to become a staple in the industry, it started life as an ugly car with a bad design.
Dodge stuffed into this car a 6.2-liter V8, sure, but the looks of the car were more than enough to put off anyone at the time. The headlight-within-headlight and taillight-over-taillight concept of the ‘62 Dodge Dart still has us scratching our heads.
9 1964 Mercury Comet Cyclone – A Powerless Muscle Car
335 horsepower is a great figure for a car, but in the early ‘60s, Mercury barely had a foothold left in the rapidly-changing industry. Even though there was a decent engine under the hood of the Cyclone, its large size simply throttled any chance of a thrilling ride.
It was in 1966 that Ford finally slashed down the size of the Comet Cyclone when it finally became a decent muscle offering with a good burst of power. In 1964, however, against the Hemis and Tri-Power of the time, the Mercury Comet Cyclone was simply not for gearheads.
8 1967 Buick Gran Sport 340 – Couldn’t Quite Pull Its Own Weight
The idea with the 1967 Buick Gran Sport was to make a cheap muscle car, but when that came at the cost of less power, Buick soon realized that people were, in fact, willing to pay for power at the time. The Gran Sport, however, was not one of their best cars.
The 5.6-liter small-block V8 underneath the Buick GS made just 260 horses, which, in 1967, was downright blasphemous for a muscle car. This was when the Mopar wars were in full swing, after all. Plus, the weight of the car weighed it down considerably, further underlining the need for a bigger engine under its hood from the get go.
7 1961 Plymouth Fury – Power Rendered Pointless By Horrendous Looks
We’re not exaggerating when we call the 1961 Plymouth Fury one of the ugliest facelifts in American automotive history, ever. By 1960, the Plymouth Fury was a fairly regular cruiser, but in ‘61, it did receive a horrendous front fascia.
The Fury had been quite a success for the brand until 1961, after which customers weren’t exactly lining up to buy it because of its radical looks. A drop in sales naturally followed. Sure, there’s no denying that the 413 c.i. V8 in the Fury made plenty of power (375 hp), but the car’s horrible, scrunched-up looks from every angle made it a sore sight to behold.
6 1968 Pontiac Tempest – The Second Generation Became The Last
The second generation of the Pontiac Tempest should have naturally brought in more customers and new drivers with its improved body style. The first generation did decently well, but Pontiac simply ruined the car the second time around.
This is what led to bad sales and negative feedback for the 1968 Pontiac Tempest, which shortened its stint in the market, with Pontiac axing the car in 1970, letting the Le Mans take over.
5 1964 Plymouth Belvedere – Struggled To Keep Up
Overall, the 1960s had great muscle cars, which is why cars that failed to keep up were considered worse. In fact, as standalone examples, many of these cars aren’t half bad. One such example is the 1964 Plymouth Belvedere.
The Belvedere was a relatively heavy car compared to other muscle cars of the time, which impacted its performance and handling.
4 1964 Studebaker Avanti – Pointless Style
The Avanti from Studebaker was undoubtedly dashing, with a great design that turned heads wherever it went. Studebaker, however, used old and recycled parts in the car, which made the car lose favor.
240 horses from its 4.7-liter V8 was decent, but nothing remarkable against more powerful cars of the decade, and sadly, the exterior design led to a cramped interior. Many people even thought the Avanti tried to rip off the Corvette’s design, which wasn’t exactly true, but people did want something new at the time.
3 1968 Oldsmobile Toronado – Luxury At A Dangerous Cost
What started out as a premium 2-door coupe, later became a 2-door deathtrap in the case of the 1968 Oldsmobile Toronado. The biggest defaulter in the car was its flaky suspension, which was known to be fragile.
Many owners reported issues very soon after bringing it from the dealership about the worn-out suspension components like the springs and shock absorbers giving out too early.
2 1962 Mercury Meteor – Not Quite Meteoric
Another example of a good car outshone by extremely remarkable contemporaries, the 1962 Mercury Meteor, with its small V8 engine, simply failed to impress.
Muscle car enthusiasts by this time were looking for powerful cars, and expecting manufacturers to oblige, but the 101 horsepower made by the car was far too measly to become anything impressive or worth remembering.
1 1965 Chevrolet Impala SS Hardtop Coupe – Slowest Of The Decade
The slowest muscle car of the ‘60s, the 1965 Chevrolet Impala SS Hardtop Coupe wasn’t exactly the ‘Super Sport’ it promised to be. Apart from a few styling cues and trims here and there, the Impala SS wasn’t different from the base car.
When it came to performance, the Impala SS Hardtop Coupe was simply unimpressive. The 3.8-liter turbocharged inline-six engine it rode on only produced 142 horsepower, and for such a large car, that wasn’t nearly enough. The ‘65 Impala SS Hardtop Coupe took all of 12.4 seconds to go from 0 to 60 mph, and that’s enough said.
Sources: Zeroto60times, Hagerty, Edmunds