The 10 Best Muscle Cars… Ever

April 8th, 2011

1970 Buick GSX

There are two ways to view muscle cars:

As immature, childish ways for men to compensate for certain shortcomings or as ferociously fun vehicles designed to take a beating.

I prefer to think of American muscle as falling into the latter category, though I won’t deny the possibility of┬áthe former. However you view muscle cars, you just can’t deny that for over 45 years they have invoked a passion unmatched by any other category of automobile.

And now, as a quick summary of the last four decades, I present my list of the 10 best muscle cars ever. Here they are, in model-year order:

1965 Pontiac GTO

1965 Pontiac GTO

Poor handling. Questionable brakes. Sub-par muscle car? Don’t insult the goat, please.

1967 Mercury Cougar

1967 Mercury Cougar

A 428 cubic-inch V8 and some European flair gave the Cougar even more personality than the Mustang it was based on.

1967 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500

1967 Ford Mustang GT500

The first year of the massively popular and competition-crushing legend.

1969 Dodge Charger

1969 Dodge Charger

The 425-hp Hemi engine used in the ol’ General Lee weighed almost 1,000 pounds. Yup, just the engine.

1970 Buick GSX

1970 Buick GSX Coupe

This one makes the list on exclusivity alone. GM built only 678 copies of this 455-cubic-inch V8 coupe.

1970 Ford Mustang Boss 302

1970 Ford Mustang Boss 302

Its high-revving V8 engine and 0-60 sprints in the 6-second range made this race-ready ‘Stang an instant classic.

1970 Plymouth Barracuda Hemi

1970 Plymouth Barracuda

Sure, it handled like garbage, but the 425-hp 426 Hemi engine ate up quarter-mile strips like nothing else.

1970 Chevrolet Chevelle SS

1970 Chevrolet Chevelle SS

Specifically, with the 450-hp 454 engine.

2010 Ford Mustang GT

2010 Ford Mustang GT

Yes, the 2011 version is better because of the return of the 5.0-liter engine, but notice the 40-year span between cars here? This Mustang is the one that made muscle cool again.

2012 Chevy Camaro ZL1

2012 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1

Camaro ups the ante in the rejuvenated muscle era with this 550-hp beast.

Are there any other muscle cars you think deserve a spot on this list?

-tgriffith

Find Used Cars in Your Area at CarGurus

Used Pontiac GTO
Used Mercury Cougar
Used Dodge Charger
Used Ford Mustang
Used Chevrolet Camaro

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  1. | #1

    What about the 1969 Ford Mustang Boss 429. Extremely rare.

  2. Marco
    | #2

    New Dodge challenger 392 pure muscle of a dying breed

  3. Bob
    | #3

    The 1970 Camaro Z28 was fast and could turn and stop.

  4. J Johnson
    | #4

    This list is completely Ford slanted. How do you get away with not putting in a 1st gen camaro? Heresy. A Buick GSX is a blip on the radar when campared to a COPO Camaro. So in the top 10 you have 4 mustangs when counting the cougar. I just bought a brand new Ford Ecoboost F150 and I still don’t bleed as blue as you guys do. You guys are a joke.

  5. | #5

    Good list, These are the real deal.

  6. | #6

    My 1989 Pontiac Bonneville with a 3.8L v6 beat a 2008 Mustang GT in a straight line by a car length, Therefore the 2010 does not belong here, neither does the ZL1 simply because they are new cars, they have not yet been proven as classic Muscle cars. They are but Ghosts of their former selves, and a money grab for auto makers today. Keep Classic Classic.

    The GTX/Roadrunner should have been on here, so should the ’70 Superbird.

  7. Randy
    | #7

    Mustang, Camaro, Firebird, Challenger and the like are NOT muscle cars, they are pony cars. (as created in the same class as the Mustang.) Compact cars designed specifically to be sporty, typically with a long hood/short back, barely-usable rear seat, front-engine and rear drive. Those mid-size family cars with big engines like GTO, Torino, Charger, Chevelle, GSX and the like are muscle cars.

  8. Steve
    | #8

    1970 AMC Javelin AMX

  9. James
    | #9

    @

    No doubt! And with a Ford Hemi none the less.

  10. steve
    | #10

    :
    What about the 1969 Ford Mustang Boss 429. Extremely rare.

    @

  11. steve
    | #11

    @
    They were rare back in 1969 only place I saw them was in my rear view mirror.

  12. Rob
    | #12

    You all forgot about the best and current muscle car ever! The Corvette! World class power, handling, braking, and classic looks. Dont forget the luxury accessories and the excellent weight to power ratio. One last thing never mentioned about any muscle car, is the great gas mileage you get!

  13. tom schoonover
    | #13

    What about the Fairlaine GT 1966-67? No Rambler/Scrambler? AMX ?

  14. pat owens
    | #14

    How about the 69 Z28? It CRUSHED the boss 302 on the Trans Am Circuit.Cougar? PLEASE! nothing more than a fluffy Mustang!Cool cars (both) but certainly not as well balanced As the Camaro.I also think the w-30 deserves mention.Don’t really think a COPO, Yenko, or the like should make the list since they aren’t “Normal” RPO’s

  15. pat owens
    | #15

    I agree somewhat.However a true Pony car would have a smallblock; agreed? Certainly an L78 Camaro 440 Cuda, or a GT 500 qualifies as a muscle car?
    @ Randy

  16. pat owens
  17. KevHouston
    | #17

    @Steve

    Hear! Hear on the Javelin! 1970 Javelin SST was my first car, not the AMX. Mine was with the 390 RAM air. Fastest car in the valley.

  18. Colin Ellison
    | #18

    missing the THE badest most revered muscle car of them all, and the most copied car in the world, A 1966 AC (Shelby) Cobra 427 sc

  19. Jeff
    | #19

    How about the 1979 Firebird Formula? Mine has the California 403 6.6 V-8 with 129K miles, original tan velour interior, t-tops gold & brown original paint.

  20. | #20

    1964 PLYMOUTH SPORT FURY would be a sweetener to the list.
    1966 FORD GALAXIE 7 LITRE always overlooked.
    1965 CHEVELLE Z-16
    1968 HURST OLDS 442

  21. Bill
    | #21

    2011 Hemi Challenger 392 SRT is awesome; 392 ci; 470 (underrated) horsepower; 470 feet lbs of torque, runs 12.44-12.8 quarters; no bolt ons or silly add ons (superchargers, turbos, etc) Just raw American muscle. This car actually puts out upwards of 500 hp and 435 to the pavement. Simply amazing.

  22. | #22

    The judge was much more iconic than the regular gto. If you had any car that actually fit that profile the judge is by far the best.

  23. James Collier
    | #23

    What about the ’87 Grand National and GNX? Both are truly worthy adversaries, and would give most cars on this list a real run for their money… :)

  24. cfaubs
    | #24

    The true muscle car era died in 1974. The cars of today can’t be called “muscle cars”. Muscle cars made their power on brute force, big jugs and big carbs, not on FI, turbos, and computer controlled engines. Yes todays cars are packed with power and technology but the term muscle car should be kept for the 60′s and 70′s cars that created and earned the name. Also, pony cars, being a smaller, better handling, luxury version of a muscle car had every potential when equipped with the right options (engine, trans, rearend) to be a formidable muscle car. I owned a 68 firebird 400 that had no trouble keeping up with any “muscle car” when the street light turned green.

  25. Ron Arter
    | #25

    i need a list of chevy cars with sbc that had solid lifter cams OEM

  26. IGTARD
    | #26

    Cobra, Stingray, 409, Deuce Coupe. ’51 Chevy stock 3 on the tree.

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