For some people, you may line up all the Ferraris, Lamborghinis, Maseratis, Porsches and Jaguars in the world, but there is still nothing like the good old fashioned American muscle car. A muscle car is a two door sports car equipped with a powerful engine and geared for high performance driving. It was originally intended for street use and drag racing, as muscle cars have the ability to maximize straight-line speeds. It follows the philosophy of hot rod makers of placing a large displacement engine into a small car.
The first muscle car recognized in the automotive industry was the Oldsmobile Rocket 88 built in 1949. The car featured a high-compression overhead valve V8 engine that was placed inside a small Oldsmobile 76/Chevy body that was originally designed for a six-cylinder engine. The engine was capable of blasting out 135 horsepower at 3,600 rpm. At that time, only the Hudson Hornet came close to the Oldsmobile muscle.
Muscle cars then became a regular fixture in American roads starting in the mid 50s, with the introduction of the Chrysler 300 in 1955 and the Rambler Rebel in 1957. The Chrysler 300 was considered the best-handling car at that time, while the Rambler Rebel was known as the fastest stock sedan. Mopar and Ford joined the muscle wars in the early 60s.
The early 70s saw the decline of the muscle cars. Higher fuel prices and stricter emission controls brought a drastic reduction to these American classics. It made a comeback in the 80s, though they were not as ubiquitous anymore when compared to the 60s.
Still, there will always be lovers of muscle cars. Up to now, there are car lovers who make it a point to restore such vehicles to its original glory. Some have even become really rare and expensive. These three, however, are the most expensive muscle cars in the world today.
1. 1970 Plymouth Hemi Barracuda – $4 million
The 1970 Plymouth Barracuda, also known as the ‘Cuda, was designed by John E. Herlitz. It was called the E-body, and it was based on Chrysler’s B platform, albeit with a shorter and wider body. It had an engine bay that was larger than the A-body of previous years, thus allowing it to fit in the 7.0-liter Hemi engine of Chrysler.
The Hemi engine is a hemispherical combustion chamber first built in 1951 as the Fire Power engine. The one used in the Plymouth ‘Cuda was the second generation Hemi. It was a V8 OHV engine with a capacity of 426 cubic inches and 6,981 cc. Carter carburetors power it.
The maximum power of the engine is 425 horsepower at 5,000 rpm. It has a three-speed automatic transmission, with solid disc brakes at the front and drum at the rear. It measures 186.7 inches in length and 74.9 inches wide. It weighs 3,880 pounds and stands at 50.9 inches tall.
The 1970 Plymouth Hemi ‘Cuda can go from 0 to 60 miles per hour in just 5.8 seconds and can stop at reverse that speed within 126 feet. Tested at a distance of a quarter of a mile, it cranked up all the way to 102 miles per hour and completed the distance in just 14 seconds.
Only 14 units of this vehicle were built to specifications made in the United States that year. It originally sold for more than $4,000 when new. Today, even a tired runner can go for $2 million, while a fully-restored vehicle can go up to as much as $4 million.
2. 1968 Shelby Mustang Green Hornet Prototype – $2.2 million
The 1968 Shelby Mustang Green Hornet prototype is the only one ever made, as it was not sold through any of the regular dealer channels. It features the fuel-injected 428 Cobra Jet engine and has an independent rear suspension.
The original 1968 hardtop that Ford gave the Green Hornet creator, Carroll Shelby, had a 390-ci engine. Shelby, however, replaced it immediately with the Cobra Jet. The test bed retained a 9-inch rear, coil springs, lateral links and rear anti roll bar. The transmission was replaced with a truck-spec C6. The body was also modified to include a ram-air hood and a tail panel that was designed to include the tail lights from the 1965 Thunderbird.
The engine has a displacement of 428 cubic inches using OHV V8, iron block and head-type. It has a dual exhaust system and a multi-port fuel injection pump. It can go up to 60 miles per hour in just 5.7 seconds and up to 100 miles per hour in 11.4 seconds. Its top speed is 157 miles per hour.
3. 1969 Chevrolet Camaro ZL-1 – $1 million
Only a total of 69 ZL-1 Camaros were ever built. This low number, along with its potential for high performance, makes the car one of the most rare and sought after muscle cars in the world.
The engine type is an OHV V8 with a displacement of 427 cubic inches or 6,998 cc. It has a maximum 430 horsepower at 5,200 rpm. The ZL-1 can go up to 60 miles per hour in just 5.3 seconds and can run the quarter mile in just 13.2 seconds at a speed of 110 miles per hour. On the converse, the car can stop within 132 feet when it is powered down from 60 miles per hour to a full stop.
The car has a four-speed manual transmission. It measures 186 inches in length and 74 inches in width. The car weighs 3,435 pounds and stands 51.1 inches tall.
The car’s high value today is ironic considering its poor sales performance when it was introduced. The Central Office Production Order of Chevrolet only approved the order after a dealer guaranteed it would buy 50 units. The first two units delivered would not even start because of the cold weather then prevailing in Illinois. The sticker price of $7,200 also turned off a lot of buyers. Only 13 were sold, with the rest shipped back to Chevrolet or exchanged with other dealers.