If you’re thinking of investing in a muscle car, getting the proper information can feel overwhelming. A lot more goes into making a sound purchase than just how cool a car looks (although let’s face it, that is one of the major factors). The muscle cars on this list prove that you can have your cake and eat it too – a proper muscle car that is cheap to maintain and keep running smoothly.
Robust fury under the hood, heavy-duty design, classic American style and the honor of being a quintessential muscle car are characteristics shared by the cars on this list. Another aspect all of these cars have in common is that they are surprisingly cheap to own.
Owning a muscle car like a Pontiac doesn’t have to be a wallet-draining affair. Sure, it can be, but if you could choose, wouldn’t you want to own a muscle car that can go for miles without bankrupting you? Keeping a muscle car purring for decades is totally possible on a budget. But not all muscle cars get cut from the same cloth of being easy to maintain.
Here are eight of the top muscle cars that offer the best bang for your buck, without skimping out on power and finesse.
8/8 Chevrolet El Camino SS
From 1978 to 1987, Chevrolet offered the El Camino SS, a high-performance sport version of the “not quite a car, not quite a truck” ride.
The El Camino SS will be a very reliable car with regular maintenance. The great thing about owning an El Camino SS is that parts are abundant, and maintenance is easy to perform yourself (even for the more green gearhead). If you’re looking for great resources on DIY for your SS, El Camino forums and specialty parts dealers who focus on El Caminos should come through for you.
7/8 1967 Ford Mustang
Ford Mustangs are the most iconic pony cars of all time, and 1967 is one of the more sought after years for the Mustang. Lucky for muscle-car-seeking gearheads, the 1967 Ford Mustang is surprisingly cheap to keep running.
A name as big as Ford carries the weight behind it of accessibility to documentation and parts. Whether it’s replacing pieces that break, upgrading, modding, or restoring – you will not have a hard time. Parts will be plentiful thanks to so many third-party reproductions. Resources are also endless, thanks to the internet and popularity of the Mustang.
6/8 Mercury Cyclone
While the Mercury Cyclone is often forgotten about and swept under the rug, it is a notable and unique looking car. It didn’t sell well when it first released, but gained a great cult following in the modern age.
A giant plus for this Mercury car is that the Cyclone was reliable. This means less time spent in a shop, or with its hood open. There aren’t a ton of parts sites dedicated to the Cyclone, but eBay is a great option where you can find almost any running part you’d need.
5/8 Plymouth Barracuda
The Barracuda is a tough car that Plymouth produced with Chrysler engineered parts. And we all know that Chrysler parts have proven themselves to be dependable.
The Barracuda is so reliable and easy to maintain that some have even amassed over 400,000 miles.
4/8 Dodge Charger
Like the Ford Mustang, the Dodge Charger has enjoyed a celebrated history, with a place firmly in the middle of the muscle car revolution.
The Dodge Charger is a prime example of a car that has great documentation, accessibility to parts, and is easy to work on yourself from the comfort of your own garage. You won’t have trouble finding parts for this gem of automotive history. Track down one of the numerous specialty parts stores online for the harder to find odds and ends.
3/8 AMC AMX
Talk about severely overlooked, the AMC AMX was a great and revolutionary diamond in the rough. Unfortunately for the AMX, it happened to come at the wrong time.
With a short three-year production run, there aren’t exactly an abundance of AMC AMX cars. If you’re able to purchase one, it may be expensive but also well-built. This is due to its ambition to directly compete with the popular Ford Mustang and Chevrolet Corvette.
AMC put their best foot forward, and it showed with the incredible power to weight ratio that is still impressive in today’s age. Built like a tank, the AMC AMX is a great collector’s classic. You’ll find maintenance receipts relatively low for what this car is, which makes this worth the routine maintenance it will need.
2/8 Chevrolet Nova SS
The Chevrolet Nova SS may have not been in the limelight in the same way that the Mustang, Charger, Camaro, or its big brother the Chevelle were, but it was an exciting and accessible muscle car. Especially with the addition of the “SS” tag – super sport.
Today it is quite popular and easy to modify, repair, or source parts for. If you’re looking to modify, the Nova offers ample space under the hood, which is a big bonus. The ease and low price of parts with modifications make this an ideal car to restore or upgrade. The Nova won’t give you a headache like some of its competitors.
1/8 Pontiac Firebird Trans AM
With the Pontiac Firebird Trans AM production occurring from 1969 to 1981, it has a pedigree that places it in the pocket of the American muscle car industry.
Sharing the same platform as the Camaro, you have two different models of a car that share a lot of the same major components. That means almost anything you need can be easily found, replaced, or interchanged between the two in the early versions. From 1975 onward, there was a huge rise in sales for the Trans AM. This put more demand on parts, helping to drive down costs.
Sources: Hemmings, Muscle Cars