Ten Most Rare American Muscle Cars
The Muscle Cars Are Difficult to Find
It is just natural for people to seek for different things in cars. There are those who desire to have the comfort and prestige afforded by high-end luxury vehicles, while others simply want the style provided by exotic models. Then there is that unique group of daredevils who crave for a little danger and excitement in cars. This last group is well known for their love of American Muscle Cars. They hardly care for the usual needs such as comfort and luxury, but are driven by a quenchless thirst for raw power and extreme performance reminiscent of the 1960s and 70s American cars.
So what exactly is an American muscle car? This powerful ride can only be described as an all American-made two-door car with a hard top and a V-8 engine. There are many 4-door muscle cars and even convertibles but to earn the title they must meet two core demands: They must be made in America and have a V-8 engine. The engine actually defines the muscle car. It should be 8 cylinders and nothing less. Horsepower is everything in a muscle car.
Muscle cars are no longer a thing of the past. A good number of American car makers have released, or re-released, original versions of the 60s and 70s muscle cars. Fine examples include the GTO by Pontiac and the new Chargers and Challengers launched by Dodge. However, models of the new generation of muscle cars are not considered as the real thing by die-hard fans, primarily because for a car to deserve the muscle designation it must be 30 years old or more but less than 49. Anything younger doesn’t count and if older than 49 years then it’s an antique.
The following list gives an insight into the ten rarest American muscle cars with special emphasis on the model years and other important factors.
10. The 1970 Plymouth Hemi Superbird
There were actually 135 of this muscle car produced in the year 1970. The car was a modification of the Roadrunner line of Plymouths designed for racing. The Superbird, designed after Dodge’s Charger Daytona, featured a Hemi 426 cubic inch engine and high performance parts. It was well known for its high mounted spoiler that looked like a wing and a horn that mimicked the sound produced by Looney Tunes’ Roadrunner cartoon character.
9. The 1969 Chevrolet Camaro
The 1969 Camaro ZL-1 was released as an upgrade of the original 69 Camaro. It had an L88 engine made of aluminum unlike the other models that had sheet metal engines. The engine, according to factory stats, could produce 430 horsepower, but in reality the engine produced 560 horsepower. Since it was made of aluminum, it weighed 500 pounds only. There were only 69 ZL-1s manufactured in ’69. The first twenty cars were used on professional drag racing tracks while the rest were sold to the public for $7,200 a piece. The price was too high for the average consumer so much that 12 of these cars were sent back to the factory to be fitted with smaller engines and made affordable for the general public.
8. The 1967 Ford Fairlane 500 R-Code
The Fairlane was released in 1955 and remained Ford’s only full size car until 1962 when it was redesigned to compete more effectively against other models in the muscle car market. It was in fact Ford’s first muscle car. The preceding Ford muscle car models such as the Torino and Cobra were based on the Fairlane design. In 1967, Ford launched the 500 R-Code. The letter R, which was included in the VIN number, signified that the new Fairlane had dual quad carburetors. The modification gave the Fairlane 500 425 horsepower. It was a popular muscle car despite the fact that there were only 57 of this model manufactured.
7. The 1967 Plymouth R023 GTX
Prior to the release of the GTX023, Plymouth’s GTX was nothing more than a shadow of the popular Barracuda series and the powerful Roadrunner. This is probably why GTXs are rarer to come by than other Plymouth models. The rarest of them is the GTX R023 model. There were only 55 of them made and all were designed for the racing track. The car lacked all the luxurious amenities of the former GTX such as radio, heater, carpet, insulations, and even hubcaps. It was stripped all non-essential extras to shed off extra weight. In fact, it was 500 lbs lighter than the normal GTX, despite having a 426 cubic inch Hemi engine. Notably, it could go from zero to 60 within 4.8 seconds, which was quite a feat in 1967.
6. The 1970-71 Plymouth Hemi Cuda Convertible
Ask any muscle car fan if there has ever been or will ever be a better car than the Hemi Cuda and the answer will be a definite no. The Cuda was born after Plymouth redesigned its Barracuda series in 1970. It came with 5 different engine sizes starting from 340 cubic inches to 440 cubic inches. The rarest of them all is the 426 cubic inch Hemi. Between 1970 and 71, Cudas were the only cars having a 426 cubic inch Hemi engine. The 1970-1971 Cuda convertibles are quite rare today. There were only 21 produced, probably because the engine upgrade cost $871.
5. The 1967 Chevrolet Corvette L88
Chevrolet’s Corvette L88s were manufactured between 1967 and 1968 at a factory in St. Louis, Missouri. They were racing cars with a large 427 cubic inch block engine. Chevrolet designed the L88 specifically for professional racing and consumers were discouraged from accessing the car for fear of releasing such a beast on city streets. The car’s engine produced 435 horsepower, which was a bit higher than your everyday Corvette. The L88 production was later halted due to increased emissions. Only 196 left the St. Louis assembly lines. The rarest of them are the 1967 models. There were only 20 produced that year.
4. The 1970 Chevrolet Chevelle SS 454 LS6
Of all Chevrolet Chevelles, the 454 LS6s are the most difficult to find. Chevelle SS models were available in two options: the RPO225 that had a 402 cubic inch engine or the RPO215 with a 440 cubic inch engine. The LS6 was an upgraded version of the RPO215 and came with a horsepower capacity of 560 hp.
3. 1971 Pontiac GTO Judge Convertible
Designed by John DeLorean, the GTO was actually an upgrade for Pontiac’s Tempest line. The upgrade was largely inspired by the advances made in the Ferrari 250 GTO design. By 1966, the car was completely different from the Tempest. The Judge was launched in ’69 as a racing version of the GTO. It was stripped down to reduce weight and make it a true racing car. It was then fitted with a 455 cubic inch engine. Production of GTO Judges was later halted by the government due to strict emission standards. Only 207 convertibles of this model were ever produced. Today, GTO Judges are some of the most sought after convertibles. The rarest of them are the 17 convertibles made in 1971.
2. 1969 Chevrolet Corvette ZL-1
Before we delve any deeper about this car, keep in mind that there were only 3 made in the year 1969. That should give you a general idea about the rarity of the ZL-1 1969 model. The car was born after Chevrolet dared to fit an all-aluminum ZL-1 engine block into a Corvette. Only three Corvettes were lucky enough to benefit from this venture. The idea originated from an order placed by a factory worker at Chevrolet’s St. Louis plant. Two more orders were later placed by the plant’s workers. The all-aluminum 427 cubic inch engine gave 500 horsepower. In 1969 each of the three cars cost $10,771, which was $3000 higher than the price tag of a normal Corvette. Keep in mind that the three cars were bought by Chevrolet employees. We can only wonder how much each would fetch today.
1. 1967-1970 Dodge Coronet R/T 426 Hemi Convertible
This car was born after Dodge thought it wise to fit Hemi engines in 487 Coronet R/Ts. There were only four convertibles in this group. Two were manufactured in 1967 and the other two later on in 1970. The letters R/T actually mean Road and Track. In 1967, Dodge made Coronet Road and Track models which, after a makeover, could deliver 425 horsepower. What makes this muscle car the rarest of them all is the fact there were only two made in 1970.
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