10 Best Classic Muscle Cars For Restorations

10 Best Classic Muscle Cars For Restorations

The United States of America is renowned for being the birthplace of some of the most formidable muscle cars ever produced. Since the introduction of the Oldsmobile Rocket 88 in 1949, American car manufacturers have tirelessly pursued the development of the ultimate muscle car. During the golden era of the domestic automotive industry, renowned companies such as Ford and Pontiac produced some of the most remarkable automobiles ever seen. Six decades later, these classic cars still exude the same impressive characteristics they possessed during their heyday.

10 Best Classic Muscle Cars For Restorations

Restoring a classic muscle car is a formidable challenge. Aspiring car enthusiasts must possess a substantial budget to fund their project, and a plethora of factors come into play as the project nears completion. It is not uncommon for car enthusiasts to lack the necessary time, resources, or energy required to complete a restoration project. In such cases, it is essential to examine some of the best classic muscle cars to restore.

The 1969 Ford Mustang GT is a prime example of a classic muscle car that is worth restoring. Introduced in 1964, the Mustang revolutionized the American car industry. Although the original Mustang was popular, it lacked the required sportiness. In 1965, Ford began offering the GT package, which gave the Mustang the sporty edge it needed. The Ford Mustang is the best-selling muscle car ever produced for several reasons. It boasts a stunning appearance, and the best versions are equipped with Ford’s legendary 428 Cobra Jet engine. Despite its low sales numbers in 1969, the Mustang GT remains a remarkable car, and it is relatively easy to find parts for a 1969 GT due to the high number of Mustangs sold that year.

10 Best Classic Muscle Cars For Restorations

Another iconic muscle car worth restoring is the 1969 Pontiac GTO Judge. It is almost impossible for younger car enthusiasts to comprehend the level of excitement that existed in the domestic car scene during the late 1960s. To put it into perspective, the Pontiac GTO was once compared to the legendary Ferrari 250 GTO. Pontiac produced significantly more GTOs than Ferrari during this period. The GTO Judge, in particular, is remembered as one of the coolest muscle cars of the 1960s.

The GTO Judge is a genuine icon of the late 1960s. Pontiac decided to appeal to a younger audience by introducing a cheaper, cooler, and head-turning muscle car. The executives at Pontiac opted for two variations of the Ram Air V8 to power the GTO Judge. The least powerful configuration produces an impressive 366 horsepower at 5,100 revolutions per minute and 455 pound-feet of torque. Although only 72,000 GTOs were sold in 1969, restoring an old GTO Judge is a feasible undertaking.

In 1965, Chevrolet launched the Camaro as a response to Ford’s Mustang, as the brand had no contender to counter-attack in its lineup at the time, with the Corvair being the only car that could compare somewhat to the Mustang. The 1970 Chevrolet Camaro Z28 is a timeless classic, and though less than 8,000 were produced, several shops offer parts for this vehicle. The stock 350 cu in small-block LT1 V8 generates 360 hp at 6,000 rpm and 380 lb-ft of torque at 4,000 rpm, making it an impressive muscle car.

While Oldsmobile vehicles were often disappointing before the brand’s demise in 2004, the ’70 Oldsmobile 442 was an exception. The 442, factory-rated at 365 hp at 5,000 rpm and 500 lb-ft of torque at 3,200 rpm, had a 454 cu in Rocket V8 and is considered one of the most attractive muscle cars of the era. Approximately 20,000 442s were produced in 1970, and although it is harder to restore than other muscle cars like the Mustang or Camaro, the 442 is worth the extra effort.

Chevy’s El Camino, released in 1959 as a coupe/pickup hybrid, was more popular than Ford’s Ranchero. The 1971 Chevrolet El Camino SS, with a 454 cu in LS5 V8 engine, was capable of producing 285 hp at 4,000 rpm and 390 lb-ft of torque at 4,000 rpm, making it a mean-looking beast. With about 42,000 El Caminos produced in 1971, the possibility of turning a rust bucket into a beautifully restored collectible exists.

The History of the Chevrolet Camaro, from 1967 to Today

Plymouth’s Road Runner, a low-end market segment competitor in the past, has become a prized possession today, with cars like the Barracuda and GTX selling for no less than $100,000 in pristine condition. The 1971 Plymouth Road Runner, with a little over 14,000 built, was more common than the GTX and had several meaty engine options, including the 440 cu in RB-Series V8 capable of producing 385 hp at 4,700 rpm and 490 lb-ft of torque.

Dodge’s Polara and Charger models came with powerful engines like the 426 in the mid-60s. By the ’70s, Dodge vehicles had started to look sportier and more aggressive. The 1972 Dodge Charger Rallye, while often overshadowed by its direct predecessor, is still an exceptional classic muscle car. With a 440 cu in V8 that produces 330 hp at 4,800 rpm and 410 lb-ft of torque at 3,200 rpm, the ’72 Charger Rallye is a fantastic contender. Dodge produced just under 76,000 Chargers in 1972.

In the early 1970s, the muscle car industry was thriving despite the Nixon administration’s efforts to constrain the automobile sector. Car manufacturers persisted in producing numerous timeless classics during that period. While some muscle cars from the 70s have aged poorly, the Ford Gran Torino remains an exceptional muscle car, even if it is not as popular as the Mustang.

However, it must be admitted that the ’72 Ford Gran Torino is significantly underpowered compared to other muscle cars. Most muscle cars had lost some of their appeal that year. Although the installation of a Coyote engine would address this issue, the top-of-the-line 429 cu in V8 still produces only 208 horsepower at 4,400 rpm and 322 lb-ft of torque at 2,600 rpm. Although these figures may not be impressive by today’s standards, they are sufficient for a classic car of this caliber. The Hagerty Valuation Tool estimates that finding a Gran Torino in decent condition for less than $20,000 is possible, with 56,819 units sold in 1972.

Buick is not well-known for its muscle cars, unlike most automobile companies at the time. Although the company did release the GSX and the Skylark GS, it paled in comparison to the number of muscle cars released by the Chrysler Group or Ford. In 1973, Buick surprisingly offered a car that looked eerily similar to a Chevrolet Nova.

The ’73 Buick Apollo shares a striking resemblance to the Chevrolet Nova of the same year as both cars are based on the same platform. In ’73, the Malaise Era had already set in. The Buick Apollo was powered by a 350 cu in small-block V8 rated at 175 horsepower at 3,800 rpm and 260 lb-ft of torque at 2,000 rpm. These numbers are far from impressive, but they were considered adequate in 1973. A total of 9,868 two-door Apollos were produced that year, which although not abundant, were not in high demand.

The Chevrolet Corvette was initially designed to rival European two-door sports cars, specifically the Porsche 356. The Corvette quickly established itself on and off the track. Almost two decades after its debut, the Corvette earned a spot at the table and is still considered one of the best American cars ever made.