In the late '60s, muscle cars were all the hype, with amazing models such as the Cobra Jet Mustang and Hemi chargers. In the '70s, however, times weren’t the best for muscle cars. It seemed like manufacturers were focusing mostly on design, with amazing-looking cars such as the Ford Mustang Cobra, but many of these were underpowered and simply not fit for the track. Thankfully, in the '80s, muscle cars got back to their former glory, but the road to recovery was far from easy.
Today, we’ve compiled a list of 15 muscle cars that are a hot mess on the racetrack, with models from Pontiac, Ford, Chevrolet, and many others. Today, as you probably know, muscle cars are alive and well, and it’s interesting to look back on its history and its not-so-glorious days. Anyway, without further ado, let’s get right to it!
15. Oldsmobile Starfire GT
The Starfire GT is part of the second-generation of the model, and it was first released in 1976 before being discontinued in 1980. The GT was the performance version of the car, and it came equipped with a 3.8-liter V6 engine, but it wasn’t the best performer on the track, far from it.
14. 1974 Pontiac GTO
The 1974 Pontiac GTO came equipped with a 5.8-liter V8 engine that was only able to produce a mere 200 horsepower. This slow, underpowered muscle car was seen by many as a failed attempted by Pontiac to bring back the GTO name, and it was discontinued after only 7,000 were produced.
13. AMC Pacer X
The Pacer was a popular compact car in the 70s, and the Pacer X was the performance version of that vehicle. It came equipped with a 4.6-liter straight-six engine able to produce 150 horsepower, which isn’t much, but it was considered quite powerful at the time. Also, it came with a unique appearance package to differentiate it from standard Pacers.
12. 1978-79 Oldsmobile 442
The Oldsmobile 442 was a midsize luxury coupe that was quite respected at the time. However, in 1978 and 1979, the 442 was an option on the Aeroback Oldsmobile Cutlass Salon, the lowest trim of the Cutlass. It featured distinct styling features such as the badge on the trunk and striping on the doors.
11. Pontiac Sunbird Formula
The Pontiac Sunbird Formula was a compact hatchback released in the '70s that came equipped with a V8 engine able to produce 165 horsepower. It was similar to a muscle car, but much lighter, and it looked almost exactly the same as the Chevrolet Monza and Buick Skylark, other popular cars at the time.
10. Ford Mustang King Cobra
The second-generation Ford Mustang King Cobra features an awesome body kit, but unfortunately, it looks much better than it performs. It comes equipped with a 5.0-liter V8 engine only able to produce 140 horsepower, but even though it’s underpowered, its awesome body kit makes it a collector’s choice today.
9. AMC Spirit AMX
The AMC Spirit AMX was a compact muscle car that came equipped with a V8 engine, and it was the performance version of the regular Spirit. It did see some success, as many people liked the design and it wasn’t very expensive, but ultimately, it was only produced for two years.
8. Plymouth Volare Road Runner
Just like the Mustang King Cobra, the Plymouth Volare Road Runner did much better in the looks department than in its actual performance. It came equipped with an underpowered V6 engine only able to produce 160 horsepower, and this one was taken off the market only four years after its initial release.
7. Chevrolet Vega Cosworth
The Chevrolet Vega Cosworth was quite an interesting offering by Chevrolet, but unfortunately, it wasn’t a success. Admittedly, the Vega Cosworth is a beautiful looking muscle car, but it is severely underpowered, with an engine only able to produce 110 horsepower. It featured a unique black and gold paint job that many found attractive.
6. AMC Gremlin GT
The AMC Gremlin was first released on the 1st of April, 1970 so many people thought it was an April Fool’s joke. However, it was the real deal, and it even helped AMC survive the nasty recession of the '70s. However, the GT version was only produced 3,000 times before being discontinued in 1978.
5. Pontiac Firebird Trans Am Turbo
In 1979, Pontiac decided to fit the Firebird with a turbocharged engine, giving birth to the Trans Am Turbo. With a V8 engine able to produce around 200 horsepower, it wasn’t the most powerful car in the world, but it made up for that with its relatively high torque of 340 lb-ft.
4. 1975 Plymouth Fury Roadrunner
via The Truth About Cars
You might be surprised to see this car on this list, but you are probably confusing this one with the Plymouth Roadrunner, one of the most popular muscle cars of the 1970s. However, the Fury Roadrunner was far from a success as it was way too underpowered. It needed more than eight seconds to go from 0 to 60 miles per hour!
3. 1977 Chevrolet Camaro Z/28
The 1977 Chevrolet Camaro Z/28 is definitely a cool-looking car, but the good folks over at Chevy failed to replicate the standard Camaro’s success. It came equipped with an engine able to produce 170 horsepower, which wasn’t considered underpowered at the time, but it was still not exciting enough to Camaro fans.
2. 1983 Dodge Charger
The Dodge Charger from the '70s was such an awful car that it risked threatening the future of all muscle cars of the '60s and '70s. However, the good folks over at Dodge still decided to give it another go by offering a Charger package on the Dodge Omni, and this later gave birth to the L-body Charger of 1983.
1. 1974 Mercury Cougar
The 1974 Mercury Cougar looks like the type of vehicle that looks right at home in front of a massive mansion and lush gardens. This was the third-generation Cougar, and although it came equipped with a decent V8 engine able to produce 220 horsepower, it was extremely slow to accelerate.