1. 1964 Studebaker Avanti R3
The Avanti isn’t generally counted among muscle cars, but then, Studebaker was never exactly considered a performance powerhouse to begin with. But the fiberglass Avanti had a long hood, short rear deck, and 289-cubic-inch V8 a full two years before the Ford Mustang did. In 1964 (after production officially ended), Studebaker bored out nine V8s to 304 cubic inches, slapped a Paxton supercharger on them, and dropped them into remaining Avantis. The result was a 171-mile-per-hour rocket, which the company claimed made it the fastest production car in America. This R3 was sold by Auctions America in 2010 for $96,250. With the collector market being what it is today, good luck finding one this cheap ever again.
2. 1965 Pontiac 2+2
3. 1964 Mercury Comet Cyclone
For ’60s Ford products, the Mercury Comet was about as basic as they came. Closely based on the Ford Falcon, the ’64-’65 Comet could be livened up with Ford’s famous 289-cubic-inch V8.
But for those who wanted more from their Mercurys, Ford built 50 Comet Cyclones for the dragstrip, complete with fiberglass hood, fenders, doors and front bumper, plexiglass windows, and the same 425-horsepower 427 V8 found in the Shelby Cobra. In ’66, Mercury introduced the production Comet GT with the 390 V8, and while they’re capable compact muscle cars, they couldn’t hope to match the insanity of their big block predecessor.
4. 1968 Ford Ranchero 500
5. 1969 Chevy Kingswood 427
6. 1969 Oldsmobile Rallye 350
When gearheads think of outrageous muscle cars from 1969, the Pontiac GTO Judge easily sits at the top of the list. But while the Judge has gone on to become a legend, Oldsmobile’s analog, the Rallye 350, is all but forgotten. Like the Judge (at least at first) it was offered in one outrageous color (Sebring Yellow), had color-matched wheels and bumpers, a spoiler, and a fiberglass hood. And compared to Olds’s top-dog 442, the car’s 310-horsepower 350-cubic-inch V8 made it significantly lighter, allowing it to scramble from zero to 60 in seven seconds and run the quarter mile in a respectable 15.27 seconds at 97 miles per hour. Just 3,500 Rallye 350s were built, making it one of the more obscure muscle cars to ever come from GM.
7. 1969 Ford Torino Talladega
Half a century on, the Plymouth Roadrunner Superbird and Dodge Daytona get all the love when it comes to NASCAR homologation specials. But in 1969, Ford tried its hand at aerodynamics too and built the Torino Talladega. Starting with a Torino Sportsroof, Ford worked with the Holman-Moody race shop to design a sleeker, longer front clip and rear fascia for the car. The Talladega was honed in the wind tunnel — a relative novelty for the era — and powered by the 429-cubic-inch V8 found in the Boss Mustang. Production was over by March; Ford only built 754 of them and they were barely advertised, but the slippery cars dominated during the ’69 season, winning 29 races. In 1970, however, the 200-mile-per-hour Superbird ruled NASCAR, and the Talladega’s time in the spotlight was over. Today, the Talladega (and near-identical Mercury Cyclone Spoiler II) are bargains on the collector market compared to the beak-nosed Mopars.
8. 1969 Pontiac Grand Prix SJ
The second-generation Grand Prix is largely remembered for its role in popularizing the Personal Luxury Coupe segment, but in its early days, it was one of the hottest cars on the street. With a long hood (the longest hood of any production car in ’69, in fact) and short deck, the Grand Prix was available with Pontiac’s 390-horsepower 428-cubic-inch V8, allowing it to scramble from zero to 60 in 6.5 seconds and run the quarter mile in 15 seconds at 97 miles per hour. Its combination of luxury and power made it the Grand Prix massive hit for Pontiac; within a few years, any semblance of performance would be gone.
9. 1970 Chrysler Hurst 300
10. 1971 AMC SC/360 Hornet
In the ’60s, AMC’s red, white, and blue Rebel Machine and SC/Rambler muscle cars failed to move the sales needle for America’s last independent automaker, but they sure caused a scene wherever they went. For 1970, the company had introduced the compact Hornet and Gremlin to replace the Rambler, and with them came the SC/360 Hornet. With an available 285-horsepower 360-cubic-inch V8 under the hood, the small Hornet could hit 60 from a standstill in 6.7 seconds, and run the quarter mile in 14.9 seconds at 97 miles per hour. But in 1970, displacement still ruled the day, and despite being cheaper than a Plymouth Duster 340, AMC found just 784 buyers for its smallest muscle car. We think it’s aged remarkably well, and would love to take one of these ’70s-era sleepers to the drag strip.
Source: Auctions America, General Motors, Ford.