If you’ve been in a Barret-Jackson auction, you were probably amazed by the dazzling chrome of the cars that went under the hammer. But considering how some guys bid their hearts out on a particular prized car, you might be scratching your head in bewilderment instead. Considering that these cars are not the ones that you may want to own decades ago – perhaps owing to the fact that they were ignored during their time save from some migrant farm workers who were swapping them for just tens of dollars – these barn finds are now amazingly fought over for millions. A 1967 L88 Corvette, for example, went for $3.5 million at Barrett-Jackson. A staggering amount, even before all the fees are applied.
But what if you find something that you REALLY like? Is it safe to surrender to, and find solace, from the thought that you probably can’t afford the classic muscle car of your dreams? How about you’re the other guy who is grinning all over for his prize. What will you do with that 3.5 million-dollar find? Will you be brave enough to drive it? I guess I know your answer to this already.
Now we’re not implying that dreams can’t come true – but they can be set realistically if you have the info that will point you to the right direction. You might need to tweak the way you consider and aim on certain things, and to look beyond certain stereotypes. It’s a mindset actually.
Now, in case you have taken that first step of looking at things differently, here are 10 solid, drivable and interesting cars that, more rather than less, qualify as muscle cars. More important, they’re cars you might be able to afford without probably giving away your entire life savings. The price ranges that we mention here are based on the most current figures offered by NADA Classic Car Guide. At the lower end is what you can expect that an average car will cost, while the higher numbers are for those cars that are excellently kept and maintained in its showroom condition.
A hat-tip to Car and Driver for compiling this list of classic American-branded muscle cars that are good enough to pass on in any auction, and yet still has the sanity of not breaking the bank. All of these cars are not more than $32,000 in their pristine condition, and they are not necessarily arranged in any particular order. We intentionally did that to avoid the false impression of preferring a particular car over the other.
1970–71 Ford Torino GT (High:$11,950; Low: $15,900)
1971–75 Ford Maverick Grabber (High: $6275; Low: $10,200)
1974–76 Dodge Dart Sport 360 (High: $5200; Low: $8500)
1979 Pontiac Firebird Formula 400 WS6 (High: $11,200; Low: $16,600)
1985 Chevrolet Camaro IROC-Z (High: $4500; Low: $9050)
1987 Dodge Omni GLH-S (High: $9850; Low: $20,000)
1989 Pontiac 20th Anniversary Trans Am (High: $19,600; Low: $23,800)
1993 Ford SVT Mustang Cobra (High: $8450; Low: $12,550) – not technically a classic yet, but will be one day!!