Real muscle cars don’t power the front wheels: they lift them! And, that holds true for all classic muscle cars. Their demand is rising again, and so are their prices. Unfortunately, not everyone is fortunate enough to afford a fully restored classic muscle car. However, there is a piece of good news awaiting muscle car enthusiasts. There are a few collectibles that are still available on the market that won’t cost you an arm and a leg. However, you shouldn’t wait too long, as the list of the best cheap muscle cars will be on the radar of classic muscle car enthusiasts, which will lead to the cars being snatched up and going up in price as they become rarer.
The golden age of muscle cars may be long gone, and recent downsizing in engine displacement coupled with the increased importance of fuel efficiency is condemning even precious few options currently available in the market. Still, if you’re shopping for a muscle car – don’t despair. Second-hand icons are still out there, and they come from the time when cars were built to last. That is to say, even 50-year old hot rods can still be found in very good or even mint condition. But, you probably knew that already.
All you’ve got to do is keep your eyes peeled and your mind open. And understanding that there’s more to classic American muscle cars than your Hemi Cuda, Chevrolet Corvette, Chevrolet Chevelle, Dodge Charger, Dodge Challenger, Shelby Cobra, and Mercury Cougar usual suspects. There are more are equally fun and more affordable options out there!
Cheap Classic Muscle Cars
Here are 20 affordable muscle cars that are actually still affordable…for now.
20. Ford Torino ’69-’72
It depends on perspective but like any other classic muscle, the Torino can soar sky-high when it comes to the sticker price. However, late ’60s and early 70’s Ford Torinos can easily be priced below $10,000 as well. We’re talking good condition, not project cars here. After all, would this list make any sense the other way around?
19. Pontiac Grand Prix
The first couple of generations of the Grand Prix were the real deal. I’m not really sure if that’s the reason why you can get a great deal for them even today. Like all cars that qualify for this list, the Pontiac Grand Prix is widely available for less than $10,000. In fact, there are few of them going for as little as $7,000 in good condition. Furthermore, there are no real differences between the model years and everything from ’64 to ’72 qualifies for mentioned price tags. Not bad for a classic Pontiac, right?
18. Buick Riviera
Another full-size muscle, second or third generation Riviera is available for around $8,000 on a regular basis. In fact, even the most expensive Buick Riviera’s on the market rarely have price tags as high as icons like the GTO, Mustang, or Camaro of the late sixties. You’re most likely to find a great deal on models from 1969 through 1972. It’s not a Buick GSX, but it will look good on your driveway nonetheless.
17. Plymouth Fury
The Barracuda, Roadrunner, and especially the Superbird can be quite expensive these days, but the Fury on the other hand… The Plymouth Fury GT, an exquisite American muscle car, can be yours for much less than $10,000 if you look hard enough, and if you find the 6-barrel version – even better. It’s best to look for models prior to 1973/73 years and muscle car’s decline in general.
16. Ford Galaxie
It’s a strange world out there when executive cars are less expensive than compacts, but muscle cars aren’t your average cars. The Ford Galaxie is yet another full-size option you can have. Most affordable options usually go for around $8,000 for a big block, but they can be found for less. Of course, they can also cost more – much more.
15. Ford Ranchero
You probably didn’t expect this one here, but muscle is muscle. The Ranchero isn’t as prolific as the El Camino, but at least it’s more affordable. The GT versions are, of course, more expensive than conventional 351’s, but can still be found for a 4-digit figure – especially fifth and sixth-generation models from the early ’70s.
14. Dodge Polara
When looking for an already rare Polara, you’ll likely have to go through a number 383’s before you zero in on the real deal. While the 383 Polara’s are definitely recommended, the 440 is what you’re actually looking for. This cheap classic car can be found for $8,000, more or less, but as already mentioned – it won’t be easy.
13. Chevrolet Monte Carlo
The only newer generation representative here is the Chevrolet Monte Carlo SS. As luck would have it, most surviving Monte Carlo’s on the market actually are SS muscle cars with 305 V-8’s. Needless to say – without vintage years under their belts, there’s no significant price burden as well. You’ll probably be able to find one in very good condition for $7,000 on any given day, and it won’t be older than 30 years to the day.
12. Mercury Cyclone Spoiler
Spoiler versions of Cyclone were performance-oriented ones fitted with 429 Cobra Jet engines. If that wasn’t enough, optional 429 Super Cobra Jet with Drag Pak and Super Drag Pak were also available. The problem was that Ford‘s lineup at the time already had plenty of depth and some random Mercury simply wasn’t looked upon as important enough. That, and it didn’t exactly have the looks according to some.
11. Mercury Marauder
Another Mercury which earns its underrated status for aforementioned reasons. First-generation models were available with 390, 406 and 427 ci Thunderbird engines, while second-generation models came with 390 and 429 ci options. Needless to say, first-gen 390 ci Marauder is probably the least expensive way of owning this cruiser muscle but there are exceptions on the market too.
10. Chevrolet Nova SS
Did you know that “No Va” means “No Go” in Spanish? Perhaps the designers at Chevrolet didn’t put a lot of thought into the name when they made the car. An urban legend claims that Latin American buyers shunned the Chevy Nova SS! Fortunately, that is all it is – an urban legend. Chevrolet actually exceeded their sales expectations in a number of Spanish-speaking countries. These cars are still around at an affordable price today, and you will often find them in the drag racing circuit.
9. AMC Javelin
You cannot deny that the demand for pony and muscle cars is on the higher end of the spectrum. This genre’s golden age was a short-lived one, but somehow the AMC Javelin slipped through the cracks in the collector car market. It could be because everyone is too busy looking for the Chevrolet Camaro to notice this AMC’s sleek looks and raw V8 power. This is good news for enthusiasts like you, as you do not have to break the bank to enter the world of muscle cars when you buy the Javelin.
8. Oldsmobile Cutlass
You can still hunt down the third generation of the Oldsmobile Cutlass (1968 to 1972) without giving up the family fortune. Since it shares a number of the coveted Pontiac GTO’s styling lines, it is almost unbelievable that the demand for this classic has not skyrocketed. There is no doubt that this generation of the Cutlass is one of its era’s coolest muscle cars. It gets its super-awesome stance from the 442 model’s raw power and the semi-fastback, oversized rear end. Collectors, in the years to come, will definitely be sorry that they did not purchase every one of these while they were still available for a bargain.
7. Chevrolet Impala
The Chevy Impala is one of those classic cars that will drastically vary based on which year it was produced. This classic car is coveted by gearheads, low riders, and classic purists alike. But if you conduct a thorough search effort, you can become a proud owner of an important piece of American history. The Impala was introduced in 1958 and considered a world-class coupe and convertible. After four years, Chevrolet released the SuperSport version, making the iconic muscle car become synonymous with performance. You can still find low-priced treasures today, but you can do yourself a huge favor by not searching for the 1961 model with the 409 motor. The carmaker produced only 142 of these, making it very rare and an expensive classic car to acquire.
6. Dodge Dart
Over the years, the Dodge Dart underwent a lot of changes, both under the hood as well as the body. The car was a huge success for the automaker, and it is likely that the constant changes in body style were what made people believe that each Dart generation was an upgrade from the last version. Starting out as larger cars that were more box-shaped, they eventually evolved into cars with a curved roofline shape. No matter what your taste, you will find plenty of Dodge Darts that are available as cheap classic muscle cars perfect for your budget.
5. Pontiac Firebird Formula
The price of the first generation of Pontiac Firebirds (1967 to 1969), for the most part, has already gone up due to only two years of production and high demand. However, you can still find the second generation (1970 to 1981) at reasonable prices. It could be that the Formula’s price is still relatively low because of the “Smokey and the Bandit” wannabe generation looking for Trans Ams. While the second-generation Firebird may not have the Trans Am’s performance capabilities (the exception being the 1979 version with the 6.6-liter V8), it comes with the same superb body style. If you are looking for cheap muscle cars for sale, you should consider the Pontiac Firebird Formula.
4. Ford Mustang Coupe
Do you often wonder if the designer of the Ford Mustang ever dreamed that the car would become such an icon when it made its debut in 1964? And after four generations, it is still rolling off the production line at a price almost everyone can afford! Yes, you will find classic Ford Mustangs selling for $200,000 and up, but you can still find the 60s and 70s models that need a bit of TLC to get them rolling again – you need to look around. If you are looking for a less expensive alternative to the classic Mustangs, you should keep your eyes peeled for 6-cylinder versions. Also, you should avoid going for the convertibles if your goal is to keep your initial investment to a minimum. Opt for the Ford Mustang Coupes if you are looking for cheap American muscle cars.
3. Chevrolet El Camino
When it comes to classic cars, the Chevy El Camino is certainly one of the most recognized names. It also seems to be one that goes into the shop at an affordable price and comes out on the auction block with an outrageous number attached to it. The good news is that you do not have to go that rigmarole if you are shopping for a vintage car and eyeing the El Camino. To get the muscle car at an affordable price, you can be smart and go for the model from 1975. It is still available at a relatively affordable price compared to other models, and if you are lucky, you can get one with the original parts as well as the stock 350 engine. Though this car has been out of production for decades, there are still some proper and affordable examples floating around the market. You can get the 1975 Chevrolet El Camino in good condition for less than $12,000, making it a great and affordable classic muscle car. Do a little research and you are bound to find one.
2. Mercury Comet
This is the car that often beats the Mustang pound for pound in the power-weight ratio. What’s more? Lovers of vintage cars generally have to compromise on looks when they choose the Mercury Comet. You will find this model is hard to find because it sold nothing like the Mustang did. That does not mean that because it is rare, the Comet is more expensive than other good muscle cars out there. Look for a 1972 Mercury Comet equipped with a 302-cubic inch V8 as well as Flowmaster dual exhaust or a similarly equipped ’73 model – they are available for about $15,000.
1. COPO Camaro
America loves speed, and the classic Chevy Camaro is one of the wildest and most powerful muscle cars that one can own. Most Camaros will cost you in the range of $400,000 in an auction for a car that is fully restored and ready to hit the roads. But, if you take the time to look around, you are bound to find a COPO Camaro at a real bargain for a lot less. While you cannot expect a fully restored car that is in mint condition for a price like that, it is definitely a great starting point for one that is still in relatively good shape and running. If you put in a little more time, efforts to restore it, and, of course, a little extra cash, you will find that you have made an excellent investment in one of the planet’s best motoring experiences. You will love this car with its plain vanilla Camaro badges!
20 Affordable Classic Muscle Cars
- COPO Camaro
- Mercury Comet
- Chevrolet El Camino
- Ford Mustang Coupe
- Pontiac Firebird Formula
- Dodge Dart
- Chevrolet Impala
- Oldsmobile Cutlass
- AMC Javelin
- Chevrolet Nova SS
- Mercury Maurader
- Mercury Cyclone Spoiler
- Chevrolet Monte Carlo
- Dodge Polara
- Ford Ranchero
- Ford Galaxy
- Plymouth Fury
- Buick Riviera
- Plymouth Grand Prix
- Ford Torino
The cheap classic car scene is wide and various, and there are certainly many options not listed here, so don’t be afraid to do some independent research on the matter as well. Now, however, it is time to explore the answers to a few frequently asked questions that you may have in mind.