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The Top Ten American Muscle Cars and What They Are Worth

In the 1960s,a new breed of automobiles called Muscle Cars emerged from Detroit. This was during an era defined by unrestrained consumption and dirt cheap gasoline. The term Muscle Cars generally refers to “American-built two-door cars with large engines built for high-performance”.  In general, muscle cars did not have sophisticated chassis modifications, such as those designed for sportscars or rally-racing cars.  They were built according to the “Drag Racing” ethic of large-displacement engines and drivetrains optimized for maximum acceleration.  Once relatively affordable, genuine muscle cars now command considerable prices in the collector car marketplace. Here are ten models that command some major prices.

1970 Chevrolet Chevelle SS 454 LS6

1970 Chevrolet Chevelle SS 454 LS6

The 1970 Chevrolet Chevelle SS 454 LS6 was a big block beast with broad, muscular looks.   At 450 horsepower, the SS 454 with the LS6 option offered the highest power rating from the muscle car era.  Today a genuine Chevelle SS 454 LS6 will set you back some $80,000.

 

1970 Buick GSX Stage 1

1970 Buick GSX Stage 1

The top dog Buick muscle car was the 1970 GSX with the 455 Stage-1 V-8 engine.  Rated at 370 hp and 510 lb-ft of torque this car did the quarter mile in just 13.38 seconds unmodified.  The limited production GSX Stage 1 cars came in just two colors –Apollo White or Saturn Yellow.  The current market value of a GSX Stage 1 is around $75,000.

1970 Plymouth Hemi ‘Cuda

1970 Plymouth Hemi 'Cuda

The baddest of the Plymouth Barracudas was the 1970 model with the 425 hp, 426 hemi engine.  Affectionately monikered a “Hemi ‘Cuda”, this car was a beauty to look at. Only 119 of these cars were made and today the current market value of an original Hemi ‘Cuda is some $450,000.

1969 Ford Boss 429 Mustang

1969 Ford Boss 429 Mustang

The 1969 Boss 429 Ford Mustang boasted a “semi-hemi” 429 engine that produced 375 HP. It sprinted from 0 to 60 sprint in 6.8 seconds and the quarter mile in 13.9 seconds. The Boss 429 was born out of Ford’s ambition to qualify its new racing engine for NASCAR. Only 858 units were built and original ones go for $220,000.

 

1969 ZL1 Camaro

1969 ZL1 Camaro

The Holy Grail of muscle cars.  There were only 69 1969 ZL1 cars ever built.  It boasted the first production aluminum V8 engine, a big block 427, and was rated at 500 mind-blowing HP.  It could launch to 60 MPH in 5.3 seconds. Just recently at ZL1 sold at the 2012 Barrett-Jackson Auction in Scottsdale, AZ for $451,000.
1970 Oldsmobile 442 W-30

1970 Oldsmobile 442 W-30

At the peak of the muscle car era, Oldsmobile offered the high-performance W-30 option in their 442 models with the 455 cubic inch V-8 engine.  With only 96 being built, these 370 HP beasts have become highly sought after by collectors and typically bring $160,000 or more.

 

1970 Plymouth Road Runner Superbird

1970 Plymouth Road Runner Superbird

No list of famous muscle cars would be complete without a mention of the Plymouth Superbird.  Decorated with a protruding aerodynamic nose and enormous rear wing.  Engines were either a 426 Hemi or 440 Commando six-barrel. Restored examples of these cars typically run $200,000 or more.


1974 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am SD 455

1974 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am SD 455

The muscle car era essentially ended in 1971 but no one at Pontiac got the memo.  They created a version of their Firebird Trans Am in 1974 with a Ram Air IV 455 cubic inch engine, honey-comb wheels and flamboyant graphics.  Current market value of good examples can fetch $80,000 or more.

 

1969 Corvette ZL-1

1969 Corvette ZL-1

If you have rare taste, here’s the vehicle for you.  In 1969 General Motors built only 2 Corvettes with their famous aluminum block, ZL-1 427 engine installed.  Although rated at 430hp it could easily be dialed up to 585 hp with tuned headers.  Only one example is known to currently exist and the price…well, priceless, until it gets sold again.

 

1970 Pontiac GTO Judge Ram Air IV

1970 Pontiac GTO Judge Ram Air IV

Here come de Judge.  The Pontiac GTO started the official muscle car era in the mid-1960s and by 1970 their GTO with Ram Air IV engine, a 400 cubic inch V-8 with special high-flow heads and unique exhaust manifolds, was one of the most desirable muscle cars on the market.  The current value for a restored 1970 GTO Judge is $80,000.

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Chris Riley

About Chris Riley

I have been wrecking cars for as long as I've been driving them but I keep coming back for more. Two wheels or four, I'm all in. GearHeads.org gives me a chance to give something back to the automobile community that helped raise me.