Finding the right muscle car

Im currently looking at investing some time into restoring a muscle car from the mid 70’s to mid to late 80’s

Currently considering








Any other ideas or recomendations would be greatly appreciated.

Firebird Trans Am, Does it have to be GM?

How about a Dodge Charger or Ford Gran Torino, turn it into a movie car (General Lee, or Starsky & Hutch’s car.)

Kind Of partial to James Garner’s Trans Am in the Rockford Files

Why the mid 70s-80s?
why not go back before they started using emissions components and get a mid 60s muscle car.
Though, I think the Monte came out in 70, with a 454ci engine.

Also, if you want mid 80s muscle car, find a Buick Grand National.

The last “Muscle Car” was made in 1970. The best ones were made between 1962-1969. Any GM car made after 1972 is a smog slug. 1981 to 1986 were the worst cars ever made. They had no muscle…You can buy one cheaper than you can restore one… Half the “muscle cars” on the market today are phony replicas built up from aftermarket trim pieces pasted on more mundane models of the same car…

If you can afford it. GNs are mighty popular.

The 1987 Buick GNX was as quick as a late 60s Chevelle SS396. Both did the quarter mile in about 13.5 seconds. Not bad for a smog hog.

You won’t find many performance or muscle cars from around the early 70s and up.
Some exceptions would be the Buick Grand National, SVO Mustang, or the SD455 TransAm.

in 1972 smog and tuning started killing performance off for the most part. From '71 back there are a lot of choices.

One of the main things to keep in mind is not get in any hurry to buy and do your homework thoroughly. Hire an outside expert if necessary.
The cost of an outside opinion can be well worth it if it keeps you from making an expensive mistake. There are a lot of cars being sold as “totally restored”, “frame off restore”, “numbers matching”, etc. and a number of them are NOT as advertised.

They even have companies repopping body plates, altering engine block casting and serial numbers, etc. and that “genuine, as from the factory SS '69 Camaro” you’re looking at may be nothing more than a dolled up Plain Jane with some funky numbers.

In the Rockford Files, James Garner drove a regular Firebird, not a T/A!

What’s that old saying?

“Horsepower costs money. How fast can you afford to go?”

My Chevelle isn’t a race car by any means, but it sounds like it’s going faster than what it really is. And right now, I’m kinda low on funds to be dropping anything more than a new floor pan or maybe some new badges on it right now.

A resounding second here…

If you want to kill yourself and make it impossible to find parts for … and not truley a “muscle car” my bro. had a Corvair Spyder turbo convert. that I loved to take and let him take my Rambler on dates (seats made into a bed)

The SVO Mustang from the early 1980s was a turbocharged four cylinder, not a V8. I test drove one of them in 1984. Its problems were turbo lag and questionable life expectancy of a small engine with that much power.

Something else to consider is the Ford Taurus SHO from 1989 to 1995. The car had a 220 hp V6 from Yamaha. 0-60 time was in the mid six second range. It had a tighter suspension than the regular Taurus. It handled well and felt good doing it. When I test drove a new one, the only thing I didn’t like was that you couldn’t shift the manual transmission very quickly. That might have improved after break in.

True muscle cars were built before the 1970s emission controls took a hold and the insurance companies discovered the large claims, and raised their rates. My favorites were the late sixties GM intermediates, Chevelle Malibu SS and Olds Cutlass models with the bored out small block V8s. They handled resonably good and were street friendly, and well balanced. Parts should be easy to get; at one time these two models were some of the best selling US cars.

You guys do know this thread is 5 months old?

I’m not a muscle car guy, but I wouldn’t touch any domestic newer than about 1970 (the beginning of the end).

See, I don’t consider the 70s and 80s domestics all bad. There’s too many of them running the roads today.
I agree the early 70s were strangling them but there were still a large number of powerful cars being built; the SVO Mustang with the turbo 4, Buick Grand National, Pontiac Trans-Am SD 455, Mustang GT 5.0s, etc.

Heck, my son loves his '88 Camaro that he used for a daily driver until he got hit week before last. It was considered a total and will need an entire front clip, but it looks like old Dad is going to be repairing this since he likes it so much.
It has 280k miles on it and the engine/trans/rear end has never been touched while being rock solid reliable. It even has the original water pump on it and still gets 26 MPG or so while only using a small cup of oil between oil changes.
What’s not to like.

"Im currently looking at investing some time into restoring a muscle car from the mid 70’s to mid to late 80’s "

Between 1971 and 1983, they are ALL Smog Cars, with a few rare exceptions.

There is nothing left to restore. They have all been restored, the ones that are worth it, and now sell for big bucks.

After you drive one of these things for an hour or two, you realize how much progress has been made over the last 40 years…Take a drive in a modern Mustang GT before you invest a lot of time and money in a fantasy that never really existed…

Good point, a decent restored muscle car is going to cost a lot more than a new mustang; however you won’t see another one (driven by a 16 year old kid) coming down the road every 2-1/2 seconds. If you want reliable daily transportation, buy a civic. If you are going to spend significant time/money on a real muscle car find something unique (preferably pre-70s).