The golden age of muscle cars may be in the rearview mirror as fuel efficiency and downsized engine displacement has become a priority. But that doesn’t mean you have to give up your passion for these icons of American ingenuity and power.
If you’re on the hunt for an affordable muscle car, you may quickly realize that this is quite a challenge. As time goes on, those classics become rarer. But you shouldn’t lose hope. You can still find a classic muscle car in mint condition that makes your heart race. You just have to keep your eyes peeled.
Stay on the lookout for these 10 affordable classic muscle cars.
Chevrolet Monte Carlo
This car is a bit newer than the other classic muscle cars on this list. Its youth is something you can use to your advantage. Because these cars don’t have as much vintage aging under their belts, their price range is more affordable than some older cars.
Look for an SS model. These cars come with a 305 V8 engine. There are plenty of cars on the market that are in good condition for under $10,000. There are six generations of the Monte Carlo that were in production from 1969 to 2007.
Stick with the first four generations as they are rear-wheel-drive and powered by a V8 engine. They also have the coupe design and body-on-frame construction.
The Dodge Dart has gone through several changes both under the hood and with the body styling during its lifespan. In its time, the Dart was immensely popular, so Dodge kept making changes and restyling the car. This is an advantage because you’re sure to find a body style that speaks to you.
The earlier generations of the Dart were more box-like. But over the years, it evolved into a more curved roofline. Be sure to check out the 1974 to 1976 generation of the Dart. In 1976, Car and Driver did a top speed test of four different cars. In first place was the Corvette, in second place was the Dodge Dart, and in third place was the Trans Am.
Ford Mustang Coupe
Why not own a classic muscle car that still has new generations rolling off the production line? Sure, there are some Mustangs that will go for high dollars. But you can find Mustangs from the 60s and 70s at an affordable price. They just might need a bit of TLC to get them looking show-ready again. Once you get them cleaned up, you’ll have a great looking car that performs reliably.
If you’re looking to keep your initial investment down, avoid the convertibles. Opt for a coupe instead. You should also keep an eye out for a six-cylinder to get the most bang for your buck.
Pontiac Firebird Formula
The Firebird Formula tends to get overlooked as car fans gravitate to the Trans Am with visions of channeling Smokey and the Bandit. But this lack of popularity is now an advantage. The Pontiac Firebird Formula has the same exquisite body styling. However, it does slightly lack in performance capabilities.
Look for the 1979 6.6-liter V8 if you crave power. It pumps out 220 horsepower and comes with the upgraded handling package. There were only 24,852 Firebird Formulas produced in 1979, and not many of them had the upgraded engine and handling packages. This means you’ll score a rare car.
The first generation of this car is a little higher in price. This is mainly due to the short production period of just two years. But the second generation from 1970 to 1981 is still an affordably-priced muscle car.
Chevrolet Nova SS
The Chevy Nova SS was an example of poor naming as it sounded like “No va” in Spanish, which means “No go.” No one wants a car that doesn’t go. Thankfully, the unfortunate name choice didn’t stop Chevy from exceeding sales expectations for the car. Today, there are plenty of used models available. You’ll find that they’re commonly sought out within the drag race circuit.
Produced from 1962 to 1972, it was around the 1964 model year that the Nova came into its own as a genuine muscle car contender. This was when the first V8 engine was put into the car. Soon after this, Chevy used the same engines in the Nova as the Camaro. This included both the 375 and 396 horsepower engines. If you’re looking for performance, this is the ultimate sleeper sports car.
Buick works hard to shed its dated image in the modern car market, but it will never erase the legacy of this classic car. These days, you can find Rivieras that are in beautiful condition for an affordable price. You’ll easily find cars for sale at under $10k.
The most affordable models are from the 1969 to 1972 production years. They won’t be the GSX model, but they still look great. The Riviera has plenty of performance under the hood with a 7.0-liter V8 that produces an impressive 430 horsepower. This makes for a serious cruising machine.
One standout on the Riviera is its style and flash. Unlike other muscle cars of the era, Buick embraced a bit of flair. You’ll find gold paint and tan interiors, which create a stunning look.
When you say Oldsmobile, the first thing you may think of is your grandma’s old boat of a car and definitely not high-performance hot rods. The third generation of the Cutlass is anything but that. Produced from 1968 to 1972, this semi-fastback features some of the same styling lines that you’ll find in the Pontiac GTO. The good news is that it doesn’t sport the same price tag that the GTO has.
You can find third generation Cutlasses in two or four doors. The F-85 model is especially cool-looking with its semi-fastback roofline design. It went through a major redesign for this generation. The sportiest looking cars are the two-door coupe, hardtop, and convertible. The V8 engine comes in 250, 350, 400, or 455 cubic inches.
For some reason, the AMC Javelin slipped through the cracks. It’s a shame because this vintage car sports some seriously good looks and attitude. Plus, it’s packed full of raw power with its V8 engine. This is good news, though. Since car collectors are focused on other vehicles, this leaves the Javelin available at reasonable prices on the used car market.
AMC stands for the American Motor Company. Formed in 1954, it briefly competed with the likes of Ford, GM, and Chrysler. The Javelin was among its main model offerings. Other muscle cars produced by the company include the Marlin and AMX.
The Javelin is a standout in the AMC lineup thanks to its impressive 335 horsepower engine. It’s a four-barrel carbureted 401 cubic inch engine. In its heyday, it could put any standard Ford Mustang in its place.
Mercury muscle cars tend to get overlooked, which is sad because they’re impressive in their own right. Ford, at the time, had such an extensive lineup that the Mercury muscle cars were thought of as unnecessary or unimportant. They also didn’t have a stylish look to keep up with the Ford models.
This lack of attention is now your advantage as the almost forgotten Marauder is now one of the top affordable muscle cars on the market today.
The first few generations used the same engines as the Thunderbird. This included the 390, 406, and 427 cubic inch engines. You have the option of a three- or four-speed manual transmission or a three-speed automatic. The second generation was upgraded and came with the 390 and 429 engine options.
When you think about Plymouth American muscle cars, the Barracuda, Roadrunner, and Superbird all come to mind. But these cars are in high demand with price tags to match. Instead, consider the Fury. This model can be found for under $10,000. Look for the models that are pre-1973; they have the best look. If you can find the six-barrel version, then you’ve really scored a deal.
You could also look for a 1958 model for a little bit of pop culture history. Stephen King’s Christine features a 1958 red and white Plymouth Fury.
Cruise In Your Own Classic Muscle Car
If you are itching to get behind the wheel of a classic muscle car, but your budget is not ready for an in-demand collectible car, do not lose hope. What you need is a lesser-known muscle car that’s in good condition.
The classic cars on this list won’t break the bank. But do not let their affordable price fool you. Under the hood, you’ll find some of the most powerful engines of the era. So why not buy a piece of American history with your own classic muscle car?