Autos

17 Of The Sickest Muscle Cars That Were Built To Last Forever

17 Of The Sickest Muscle Cars That Were Built To Last Forever

The modern muscle car wars in Detroit drew a ton of headlines thanks to ridiculous horsepower stats, special-edition models, and a bit of aggressive, retro styling. But as gnarly as a Dodge Challenger Demon might sound to own, with its 840 horsepower and burbling exhaust, the car is actually too powerful for its own good—FCA had to stipulate that racing the Demon could void the warranty.

After all, it should come as no surprise that continuously putting the pedal to the metal in a Fiat product isn't a particularly wise idea. But even the Camaro, Mustang, and Charger have increasingly turned into computerized gadgets that just happen to have big engines under the hood. Will they stand the test of time? Or will they end up like each new generation of iPhone—obsolete and replaceable?

But back in the day, muscle cars were built as beefy as possible. Keep scrolling for 17 of the best muscle cars that most people forget are built to last.

17. 1974 Pontiac Firebird

The Pontiac Firebird never managed to create the same legend as its Camaro sibling, but the first two generations were built with longevity in mind. Now, leaving one of these beasts out in the snow isn't a great idea, but they were built with optional beefed-up V8 engines that were still simple enough for any home mechanic to wrench on.

16. 1970 Buick GSX

The Buick GSX might not sit at the top of most gearheads' lists of muscle car royalty, but the special-edition GSX package of the Gran Sport was built to compete with the likes of the Pontiac GTO and the Chevelle SS. But when equipped with the 455ci engine, it could crank out 510 lb-ft of torque – the most of any American production car until the Viper over 30 years later.

15. 1971 Plymouth Hemi Cuda

The second-generation Plymouth Barracuda bumped this model up into the serious muscle car range. Any serious buyer opted for the 426ci Hemi engine option, which produced a reported 425 horsepower that was sent to the ground through a Dana 60 rear axle. Almost 50 years later, Dana's axles are still top-notch and known for their reliability.

14. 1969 Mercury Cougar Boss 302 Eliminator

As a brand, Mercury has gone by the wayside, but before Ford started selling economy cars under the marque, some serious muscle cars came and went, as well. Case in point is the Cougar, which could be had equipped with the Boss 302 Eliminator package.

Mecum reports that only 169 were ever built, and hopefully, most are still roaring around with happy drivers behind the wheel.

13. 1964 Pontiac GTO

The Pontiac GTO is one of the most famous muscle cars, though the first two generations are definitely the most desirable—while the final experiment with the name in the mid-2000s was just a disappointment.

The first-gen pictured above left the factory with either a 6.4 or 6.6-liter V8 under the hood to match some of the most classic styling of any Detroit product ever built.

12. 1970 Chevrolet Chevelle SS

This muscle should need no introduction, though given the range of options packages available on the Chevelle, anyone would be forgiven for wanting to take a peek under the hood. This one has the highest-spec LS6 V8 under the hood which, according to AutoTrader, when equipped with a four-barrel Holley carburetor could crank out 450 horses and 500 lb-ft of torque.

11. 1968 Chevrolet Camaro

The Camaro is another muscle car that stands out as a highlight of the era, though the first generation, which ran from 1967 to 1969, definitely remains the most desirable. Plenty of Camaros are still on the road today, thankfully, which is evidence that they were built to last given how many were tuned up by backyard mechanics who wanted to win drag races.

10. 1965 Ford Mustang Shelby GT 350

Few cars remain as legendary from the muscle car era as the Shelby-modified Ford Mustangs. Though the Mustang may technically be a pony car, the Shelby upgrades to the GT350 and GT500 models made them potent in terms of both power and handling.

Hertz still brags on their website about their awesome Rent-a-Racer program, though a clean white Mustang with blue racing stripes is about as classic as a car can get.

9. 1974 Dodge Challenger

By the mid-70s, America was about as infatuated with muscle cars as possible—and the Dodge Challenger was among the greatest of them all. Just looking at this 1974 Challenger reveals how much Dodge has gone back in time to find inspiration for the current iteration. Though the 1974 couldn't match today's models in terms of brute force, it sure was built to last.

8. 1967 Ford Galaxie 500

Ford's Galaxie might not retain the same legendary status as the Mustang, but it sure does pack some serious attitude. Those aggressive lines represent a styling shift from the finned and chromed-out cars of the 1960s as they moved towards the beefy haunches of the 70s. Heacock Classics quotes the dual-quad-barrel carburetor-equipped Galaxie 500 as putting out 425 horses.

7. 1967 Dodge Charger

Anyone who has watched the Fast and Furious movies has a soft spot in their heart for Dom's Dodge Charger. Anyone who lived through the original muscle cars years undoubtedly does, too.

Dom drove a second-gen with all the mods in the world, though the simple lines of the first-gen pictured above are a bit more classically-informed.

6. 1967 Ford Fairlane

Over the years, Ford transformed the Fairlane from a classic cruiser with styling that rivaled the Chevy Malibu into a serious bruiser in its own right. Generational changes came quickly back then, with the fifth through seventh generations spanning from 1965 to 1970. The Fairlane is also famous for spawning the Ford Ranchero car-truck amalgamation.

5. 1967 Dodge Coronet

The Dodge Coronet has never managed to become as popular as the Charger or Challenger, though its fifth-gen design was undoubtedly muscly. In fact, the Coronet shared a platform with the Charger and was also the basis for the Super Bee, which ran from 1968 to 1971, though only 125 ever left the factory with the expensive Hemi engine option.

4. 1974 Ford Torino

It's hard to say which piece of Hollywood history contributed more to the fame of the Ford Gran Torino: Starsky and Hutch or the Clint Eastwood film that's named after the car itself. The car above was obviously inspired by the TV show, which featured a 1974 model as the duo's muscle car. The real go-getters, though, were the Gran Torinos equipped with 428 and 429ci V8 "Cobra-Jet" engines

3. 1970 Oldsmobile 442

When most people think of Oldsmobile, they probably think of big, boat-like cars that their grandparents drove. But Oldsmobile built some awesome cars back in the day, including the Toronado, the Cutlass, and the 442 pictured above. The model numbers were originally written as "4-4-2" to signify the four-barrel carburetor, four-speed stick shift, and dual exhausts.

2. 1971 AMC Javelin

AMC is a defunct automotive brand that was melded into the Chrysler corporation by 1988. But before its disappearance, American Motors Corporation contributed to the industry with models like the Javelin muscle car seen above. Just look at those wheel flares as they bulge up next to the hood; that's pure American muscle at its best!

1. 1971 Plymouth GTX

The Plymouth GTX is another platform-mate of the Dodge Charger that still deserves its own place in muscle car history. Differences were slight between all the various versions, but the GTX still offers a bit of rarity that its more popular siblings don't. Plus, all the engine options are pretty impressive, as well.

Sources: Hertz, Mecum Auctions, and Wikipedia.