When muscle cars are mentioned, the usual suspects come to mind: the Dodge Charger, the GTO, the Chevelle, etc. It’s obvious that the more famous models are seen as the best, thanks to their incredible power and how they can still handle themselves well on the road. However, the muscle car era was packed with scores of cars, many of which are forgotten. Granted, a few deserved to be as rather rough cars, and a few just flat out terrible.
Yet it’s astounding how many unique muscle cars have fallen by the wayside. It’s one thing if the model was rare, but some were popular in their time yet forgotten quickly. Even today, they can put modern muscle machines to shame with their power, and a pristine version can be a fantastic ride. Here are ten of the coolest underrated muscle cars around as proof it’s not just the big Detroit names that dominated the era.
10 1970 Buick Wildcat
Some versions of the Buick Wildcat may lack a lot of muscle. But 1970 produced an absolute beauty. The model may be dismissed because it’s more of a coupe, not to mention a convertible. But a car with a big-block 455ci V8 has to count as a muscle car.
In fact, this was the largest engine ever put into a Buick. With 370 hp and a fantastic 510 lb-ft of torque, the Wildcat was a real beast on the road, and the fact it ended fast remains a mystery.
9 Mercury Cyclone Cobra Jet
With names like Cyclone Cobra Jet, this car had a lot to live up to. It matched it. Released in 1969, it was one of the more offbeat offerings of the time and impressive how it worked. The 428ci V8 was advertised at 335 hp, but the performance was closer to 400.
This meant zero to 60 in six seconds and nearly 140 mph if pushed hard. It wasn’t a car to conform and just over two thousand made in its single production year. This makes the Cobra Jet a fast vehicle to find at auctions for plenty of bite.
8 Ford Galaxie 500
The Ford Galaxie 500 may be one of the best muscle cars the company ever put out, yet few even know it existed. The 425ci 7-liter V8 was terrific with 345 hp, and the cars even came with a “7L” label to ensure folks knew which was a real Galaxie.
More impressive was the car boasted features not common then from air conditioning to bucket seats and handled beautifully. Good success in its time, the Galaxie deserves to be remembered as a muscle car out of this world for 1964.
7 1968 Dodge Super Bee
Dodge had a winner with the Super Bee, a car that emulated its namesake with a sharp and buzz-worthy performance. A basic version of the Super Bee could have a good 383ci V8 with 335 hp and a whopping 425 lb-ft of torque.
The 1968 model raised that with an incredible 426 Hemi for 425 hp and zero to 60 in six seconds. Plus, it just looked cool with its sharp style and, when painted yellow, had plenty of sting on the road.
6 1971 GMC Sprint SP
GMC doesn’t often come into the conversation on great cars of any type. But the 1971 Sprint SP lived up to its name as an amazingly fast muscle car with plenty of power. A standard Sprint wasn’t bad as a rebadged El Camino so it offered a decent performance.
The SP boasted a 7.4-liter V-8 with a healthy 365 horsepower and 465 pound-feet of torque. It’s the rarest car on this list with just 114 sold and few surviving. But if one can be found, it can be a classic machine to run.
5 Plymouth Duster
If there’s a “hidden gem” at auto auctions, the Plymouth Duster is it. The Duster is one of Plymouth’s better muscle offerings with a 340 V8 offering 275 hp and 340 lb-ft of torque.
It was a good seller in its time thanks to a low price, yet somehow a car going zero to 60 in six seconds has fallen to the wayside. The great frame and suspension aid in a vehicle that left quite a few of its competitors in the dust.
4 1970 Oldsmobile Rallye 350
Oldsmobile made many great muscle cars, but somehow the 1970 Rallye 350 has slipped through the cracks. It was one of the last gasps of the powerhouse muscle cars before regulations, and the oil crisis ruined the era.
Perhaps its lack of fame is due to how only 3457 were built and didn’t sell well. Those who bought them were treated to an L74 350-cu.in. V-8, rated at 310 horsepower with 390 lb-ft of torque. Plus, that cool look makes this a treasure worth unearthing.
3 Jensen Interceptor
Yes, “England” and “great muscle cars” are not words that generally go together. But the Jensen Interceptor proved the Brits could build a muscle car as brilliantly as anyone in the States. In fact, the Interceptor can put many Aston Martin models to shame.
“The Gentleman’s Express” boosted the V8 to 325 hp and zero to 60 in seven seconds with a 135 mph speed. All for a late-’60s British car weighing two tons. While expensive, the Interceptor proved worth every penny.
2 1965 Pontiac 2+2
The “older brother” of the GTO, the Pontiac 2+2, somehow never gained the same fame. This is a shame as the 1965 version was one of the best muscle cars the manufacturer ever put out.
The “Nimble Brute” had a trio of engine offerings with the standard 421ci offering 338 hp, and the Tri-power could go to 376. It could go zero to 60 in seven seconds, and that’s without the modifications that could push it to almost 500 hp. A car that large being able to tear up the road like this means the math is excellent as the 2+2 equaled priceless driving fun.
1 Mercury Marauder X-100
Look at this baby. It’s twenty feet of muscle car luxury, an engineering feat few cars can properly pull off. But the Mercury Marauder X-100 also has the power where he counts thanks to a 429 ci V8 with 360 hp and 480 lb-ft of torque.
A car weighing 4500 pounds and twenty feet long should not be a fast machine, but the Marauder could hit 124 mph and handle like a dream. Just over 5000 were made, and, astonishingly, this masterpiece isn’t in the instant conversation of great muscle cars of the ’60s.
Sources: hemmings.com, caranddriver.com, hagerty.com,jalopnik.com
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