The appeal of muscle cars is impossible to ignore yet quite easy to understand. Gearheads dream of sending their muscle cars down the tarmac, gapping any and every car that comes their way. It is because of this power that these cars house underneath their fancy hoods, that they must always be sturdy and durable.
One naturally hopes to see many years of reliable use when they invest in muscle cars. The last thing anybody wants is to be forced to keep bringing their car in for repairs and breakdowns. With parts that tend to go at a moment’s notice, the running cost of a muscle car goes sky-high.
Thus, here is a look at some of the best classic muscle cars made in the ’70s. These muscle cars are almost half a century old but came off the assembly line built like tanks. Thus, it’s a safe bet to say they could very well outlast you!
10 1974 Dodge Challenger
The first generation of the Dodge Challenger remains, to this day, one of the most iconic American pony cars to reach production. Coming in a whopping seven different engine options, ranging from 125 to 425 horsepower, the Challenger was an absolute blast to drive, while remaining good on gas mileage, and it rarely needed service.
Today, it the ’74 Challenger is an extremely collectible car, and it’s downright impossible to find a good unit for anything less than $30,000. Driven with care, this car was built to last the apocalypse, and even today, most, if not all of the Challengers from this year you would find would be going strong and well.
8 1971 Plymouth Hemi Cuda
The second generation of the Plymouth Barracuda, the 1971 Plymouth Hemi Cuda was the brand’s first entry into the world of muscle cars. Their 426 cubic-inch Hemi engine produced 425 horsepower and came with Dana axles, which are still, to this day, one of the most reliable axles in the industry.
Furthermore, there were even torsion bars planted up front for the 1971 Hemi Cuda, and the solid rear axle of the car benefited greatly from an optional, yet extremely beneficial Sure-Grip rear differential. This made the car as planted on the roads in straight lines as it was at curves, along with some phenomenal build quality that made the Barracuda timeless.
6 1970 Oldsmobile 442
Oldsmobile had managed to make their mark and carve a place for themselves in the muscle car market and become a famous muscle car manufacturer with the Tornado and the Cutlass. Sure, the 1970 Oldsmobile 442 might have a bit of a reputation of being a ‘grandparents’ car, but the series still had some of the best-looking and sought-after cars in the 60s and 70s.
The 442 has received some complaints about being a bit low on power, making 365 horsepower on a 455 cubic-inch V8, mated to a 4-speed manual transmission. However, it was still pretty quick when considered on its own, and people remembered it over the years for lasting long with minimal complaints and nary a run to the mechanic. Owners still swear by the car to this day, and rightly so.
5 1971 AMC Javelin
The American Motors Corporation merged with Chrysler in 1988, but they still gave us a timeless gem like the AMC Javelin. The 1971 model year of the Javelin in particular can easily be called one of the coolest muscle car designs ever.
The car was always extremely easy to maintain and never complained much, which meant trips to the service station or repair center were very few. Often overlooked, the Javelin was built to last, and owners of the 1971 AMC Javelin happily swear by its reliability today.
4 1970 Buick GSX
This special edition Buick GSX was an extremely competent car back in the day, being offered with a 455 cubic-inch engine, and it managed to go head-to-head with other competitors like the Chevy SS as well as the Pontiac GTO.
This special edition Buick GSX was even called ‘the quickest American production muscle car’ by MotorTrend at the time, and today, it remains a remarkable and impressive forgotten gem of a muscle car. The 1970 models are extremely collectible today, even more so than subsequent models.
3 1974 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am 455
Pontiac’s Firebird Trans Am 455 from 1974 wasn’t the best-looking car out there, but what it lacked in aesthetics, it made up for it through its engine. The 455 cubic-inch V8 power unit that the Trans Am housed underneath its hood produced a great 290 horsepower.
Even when government regulations had been getting stricter and had resultantly crippled most of the muscle cars on the market, the Firebird remained defiant and strong. The 455 V8 remains one of the most reliable Pontiac engines ever made, and what Car&Driver called a ‘hard-muscled, commando of a car’.
2 1971 Boss 302 Mustang
Ford, in 1971, brought forth a new body for their iconic Pony, the Mustang, and over time, the car garnered love and appraise to become a greatly revered collector car today. Able to cover the quarter-mile in just 13.8 seconds, the Boss 302 was built from the ground up to redeem the dismal performance of the 1968 Mustang 302 that had come before.
The 1968 Mustang 302 had abysmal reliability, and Ford then came up with the new engine that could handle not only everyday driving for years on end but also the extremes of circuit racing. They made one thousand units of the car for homologation, and the car remained consistently reliable since it was made with endurance in mind from the get-go.
1 1970 Chevrolet Chevelle SS 454
A Chevy Chevelle SS 454 is impossible not to recognize today, what with the pin strips, the unmistakable design, and the noise from the car which can easily put any custom modded car’s sound to shame. Powered by a monstrosity of a 454 cubic-inch power unit, the car churned out a whopping 450 horsepower with 500 lb-ft of torque! Those are crazy numbers even when you consider them today.
With a sub-14 second quarter-mile time and the ability to cross the 60 mph mark in 6.1 seconds, the Chevy Chevelle SS 454 goes for over $50,000 and remains as remarkable and capable a track toy as some of the best modern cars. Needless to say, the LS6 V8 block was phenomenally capable and dependable, and remains one of the most iconic engines by GM.