The cars on this list all boast V8 power and classic muscle car designs, but enthusiasts can buy them for less than the price of a used Prius.
American Muscle cars are incredibly important in the history of the automotive industry. These cars often came with high levels of performance and were genuinely affordable when new. In fact, some of the most iconic cars to come out of the US have been muscle cars, and these vehicles have long lived in the minds of collectors. Despite the love for this segment reducing hugely in the late '70s, partly due to the new emissions standards and partly because of the rising popularity of sports cars, American manufacturers stuck to what they know best and continued delivering incredible V8 machines to this day.
While many of the iconic classic muscle cars can fetch big bucks at auctions, not all of them cost a fortune. The cars on this list all boast V8 power and classic muscle car designs, but enthusiasts can buy them for less than the price of a used Prius. While they may not be the poster cars of the era, the cars on this list are fantastic and actually affordable.
The Ford Torino GT was launched in 1968 and promptly redesigned in 1970. The GT is the vehicle that collectors opt for as it offers a sportier experience and the original sales of the car were great too, making it quite a popular vehicle. Also, the 1970 model came with quite a luxurious interior, making it all the more refined. The GT car also came with a 220-hp V8 engine which definitely brought a decent amount of power to the wheels.
While there was a convertible option, these are very rare to buy and the coupe version is arguably better looking. Buyers can get one for around $12,800 and while it isn't as iconic as other muscle cars from the same period, it is a nice option that brings a nice touch of luxury to the experience.
The Dodge Dart had been around since 1963 but Dodge decided to upsize the Dart in 1967, also offering bigger engines. The Dodge Dart Sport 360 of 1974 was the fastest production Dart and came with a 5.9-liter V8 engine that produced 245 hp. A very acceptable figure for the time.
Nowadays, the Dodge Dart Sport 360 is very cheap, costing around $11,800 in excellent condition. Ones in good condition cost even less with prices averaging at around $8,600. As such, prices are nice for a decently quick muscle car, even if it pales in comparison to other Dodge muscle cars of the era.
The 1979 Pontiac Firebird Formula brought the final redesign of the F-Body Firebird. There were changes to the grille and there were updates to the interior too. With the Firebird Formula special package, the car came with a Chevrolet V8 engine that produces 170 hp but there was also a model which came with a 6.6-liter V8 engine that produces 220 hp. This model is the most desirable, but the Chevrolet V8 model still works great and comes at a cheaper price.
The 220 hp offered by the engine is decent and the iconic styling makes it the perfect car for collectors. Costing around $24,200 on average, the Firebird Formula isn't a bad choice at all. Prices are remaining fairly stable too, so it is a great car to buy and keep for a long time.
A definite icon of the muscle car, the Chevrolet Camaro still lives on to this day. The second generation was launched in 1970 and many in good condition are available at a great price. The base model came with a small-block V8 engine that produces 200 hp whereas big-block offerings brought 375 hp in the top-of-the-range Z28 model. However, you'll probably only find the base model for sensible money.
For a base model from 1970, buyers can expect to pay around $16,500 for one. This price is outstanding, especially as the first-generation Camaro is worth so much more money. The second-generation Chevrolet Camaro is the way to go for buyers who want a classic muscle car with iconic styling, a V8 engine, and an affordable price tag.
The Chevrolet El Camino is another representation of an iconic muscle car and is perhaps the best-known muscle ute of all time. While the earlier El Camino SS is the more powerful option, this model sounded good, is cheaper to buy, and offered the same practicality. Coming with a V8 engine that produces 115 hp, this thing may have been slow, but it looked cool.
To buy a base model, the car costs around $11,400 which makes it really good value. While the third-generation El Camino SS may be the cooler, more iconic car, the fourth-gen El Camino is cheaper and offered a nicer interior too.
The first-generation Ford Mustang is the definitive muscle car and it isn't that expensive to buy. The Ford Mustang really set the precedent on what a muscle car was and how it would perform. Coming with a V8 engine that produced 164 hp, the Ford Mustang was a great hit among those who wanted a stylish and decently quick car. The more powerful vehicles cost more nowadays, but many collectors can easily get a slower example for relatively cheap.
The base I6 example can be found for around $17,800, a good price to pay for a car that transformed American car culture. For this, a collector could probably get either a coupe or convertible, with the fastback style the most desirable. Power probably isn't the first thing that buyers are looking for in a Mustang, but it is the iconic name and status that people are wanting, and for this low price it is a great way to own one.
The Chevrolet Impala is a great American car in its own right and enthusiasts absolutely love it. The Chevrolet Impala SS brought an even sportier feel to the vehicle thanks to a wide selection of powerful engines, the largest being a 7.4-liter Turbo-Jet V8 engine that produced 400 hp. The car is known for its high performance and great styling, coming with the road dominance that muscle cars are known for and the car has reached iconic status for many.
For one of these fantastic vehicles, buyers can expect to pay around $19,700 for one fitted with the 4.6-liter TurboFire V8 engine that produces 197 hp and is in good condition. While it may not be the best Impala SS of this generation or as iconic as the 1964 example, it's still a very impressive car.
The Oldsmobile Cutlass was redesigned in 1968 and in 1969 the car had an update to the front styling. It looked very cool and fans love the classic muscle car design of the vehicle. It shares styling cues with the Pontiac GTO, an appeal that solidifies the Cutlass a place as a popular muscle car. The V8 engine that produced 250 hp was brilliant, and the amount of power was definitely quick for the period. Indeed, it is a brilliantly fun car to drive and it isn't badly priced either.
Costing around $12,600 isn't bad for a vehicle that is undoubtedly going to increase in the years ahead. For now, it may be an incredibly cheap car but prices are rising quickly so buyers need to get their hands on one while they still can.
The Chevrolet Nova is an overlooked muscle car that now represents a bit of a bargain in the world of muscle cars. It isn't the most iconic model, but it is another great muscle car built by Chevrolet in the '70s. The SS model came with heavy-duty suspension, rally wheels, and a unique grille. This definitely added to the performance feel of the car and set it apart from the standard Nova. While power wasn't good, with the V8 engine producing 110 hp, it still looked impressive.
The Chevrolet Nova SS can be purchased for around $9,300 which is incredibly cheap. While buyers may struggle to find one easily due to its rarity, the Nova SS is an interesting-looking muscle car that may not offer excellent power figures, but it is sporty looking and one of the very few decent muscle cars of the mid-1970s.
Despite being envisioned as affordable performance vehicles for the masses, some Chevrolet muscle cars are now fetching a small fortune at auctions.
Ryan Gilmore is a formally qualified automotive journalist having studied a Masters degree in the subject in the UK. With a particular interest in modern classics, Ryan is a huge gear head. He is currently working with Valnet to produce content for HotCars.