When naming American cars, most gearheads immediately think of popular muscle car models like the Pontiac GTO, Ford Mustang, and Dodge Challenger. That’s not by accident, as muscle cars have been popular across the US and the world at large since the ’60s.
Although automakers are still producing muscle cars to date, it’s undeniable that they are not as popular as they used to be and that options are limited. As such, you’ll have to get a used muscle car if you don’t fancy any of the options still being produced today. However, before you start shopping for one, it’s important to know which models to avoid at all costs.
10 1982 Chevrolet Camaro Iron Duke
1982 was an exciting year for Camaro fans, as gearheads were finally getting a new generation after a disappointing second-generation model. Unfortunately, everyone was disappointed when the third-generation Camaro finally debuted.
Although it had a new design, the 1982 Camaro was equipped with a small Iron Duke four-cylinder engine producing less than 100 hp. It took almost 20 seconds to accelerate to 60 mph, making it one of the worst performance cars of the ’80s.
9 2006-10 Dodge Charger SE
In 2005, Dodge caused a huge wave of excitement when it announced that it would be reviving the Charger after a 20-year hiatus. However, not many were impressed when they saw the new charger, as it was an ugly four-door sedan.
Things got even worse for those who bought the entry-level ‘SE’ version. Equipped with a 2.7-liter V6 making less than 200 hp, the Charger SE wasn’t a muscle car in many gearheads’ eyes.
8 1975 Ford Maverick Grabber
The Mustang is Ford’s most famous muscle car model, but it wasn’t the only one. Ford had many muscle car models on offer for different markets. The Maverick Grabber is one of them, but many gearheads don’t remember it as it was a failure.
The Maverick Grabber was built in the late ’60s and was intended to be a cheaper alternative for gearheads who couldn’t afford the popular Mustang. Early models were quite popular, but by the mid-’70s, the Maverick Grabber had lost all its power.
7 1994 Ford Mustang Base
Ford has been producing the Mustang since 1964, and with its popularity still high, it will likely be around for many years to come. With so many generations, model years, and versions, there are bound to be several bad Mustang models. The 1994 Base Mustang is one of them.
Although it was a new generation model, the 1994 Mustang was still using an outdated Fox platform. To make matters worse, it was equipped with a 3.8-liter V6 generating a measly 145 hp.
6 1980 Dodge Aspen R/T
The Aspen R/T almost changed Chrysler’s fortunes in the ’80s. For one, it was among the best-looking muscle cars of the day. It also had some decent power despite being built during the horrible malaise era.
Unfortunately, Chrysler was facing financial challenges at the time and had to cut many corners during the Aspen R/T’s development process. As a result, the Aspen R/T had many build quality and reliability issues.
5 Mercury Montego GT
Mercury doesn’t exist these days, but it used to be among the top American automakers of the 20th century. Mercury built several awful cars during its lifetime, one of which was the Montego GT.
Produced in the early ’70s, the Montego GT was initially a hit thanks to its stylish design and range of V8 engines. Unfortunately, the Montego GT had a huge problem—rusting. It’s almost impossible to find a rust-free example of this car.
4 1982 Pontiac Firebird
The ’82 Firebird has lots of positives. It had a superb design and was quite a hit in Hollywood, landing a vital role as the original K.I.T.T in Knight Rider.
The only reason we’ve included the 1982 Firebird on this list is its engine. Just like the aforementioned 1982 Camaro, the 1982 Firebird was equipped with a 2.5-liter Iron Duke engine making just 90 hp. Calling this car slow is an understatement.
3 1977 Plymouth Volaré Road Runner
The Road Runner was extremely popular during its production run, helping Plymouth put up a strong fight against the top muscle cars of the day. The Road Runner would probably have helped Plymouth stay in business for long, but one version ruined its name and led to its discontinuation—the Volaré.
Although the Volaré had ‘Road Runner’ in its name, it didn’t feel like the muscle car gearheads had fallen in love with. It also suffered from the build quality and reliability issues that plagued Chrysler vehicles at the time.
2 1977 Chevrolet Monza Mirage
In 1977, Chevy hired Michigan Auto Techniques to create a body modification package for the Monza in an effort to boost sales. The result was the one-year-only Monza “Mirage” package, which had an eye-catching design featuring a white paint job with racing stripes, a special spoiler, and flared body panels.
Although the Monza Mirage looked cool, it had one big problem—it was based on the Chevrolet Vega, which is considered to be one of the most unreliable GM cars ever made.
1 1980 Pontiac Trans Am Turbo
In 1980, strict emission restrictions forced Pontiac to do away with all its large-displacement engines. To compensate, buyers of the 1980 Firebird could buy one with a turbocharged V8 engine.
Although the 1980 Firebird did have a turbocharger, it didn’t provide a noticeable boost in the power department. The car was so slow that the producers of Smokey and The Bandit II had to use Nitrous Oxide to achieve the desired speed. Also, since turbocharging technology was fairly new at the time, the 1980 Trans Am Turbo also had many reliability issues.