Muscle Cars 

The 10 Most Underrated American Muscle Cars

It’s a shame when special cars are forgotten and get lost in the shadow cast by their middling brethren. Others are just unappreciated and relegated as collateral damage from failed marketing, while some only stayed in production for a limited period due to fluctuating economy. This post is for muscle cars that didn’t receive their full due praise. You may argue what really constitutes a muscle car, but any auto enthusiast would be proud to have any one of these in their garage.

Underrated American Muscle Cars

Ford Falcon Sprint [1964-1965]

Fate can be cruel sometimes, and that was precisely the case with the Falcon Sprint. When Ford debuted its Mustang, the Falcon started its descent into its eventual cancellation.

However, the car didn’t simply go without a fight: the Sprint package featured heavy duty springs and included the same V8 engine from its pony car brood.

It was cheaper too, but buyers didn’t care, at least not enough to purchase it in numbers that would have kept it rolling out from production lines.

By 1970, the Falcon disappeared completely from the American market, and was constructed purely as an Australian car – one that you may recognize from a movie series about an enraged man named Max.1965 Ford Falcon Sprint

AMC Matador

AMC Matador Machine [1971-1972]

The production of the Matador spanned the bulk of the 1970s, specifically from 1971 to 1978. However, the year to get was 1971 or 1972.

The mid-size car is powered by a 6.6 liter V8 engine mated to a manual transmission that ceased to be an option in 1973. That was the time when anything except for an automatic was patently unacceptable.

American Motors Corporation (AMC) gave its Matador a major redesign from 1974 to 1978.

The second-gen 4-door and station wagon models were later categorized as full-size muscle cars and did not share the unique styling featured by the Matador coupe which was unveiled in 1974.

Mercury Cyclone Spoiler

Mercury Cyclone Spoiler [1970-1971]

The Cyclone was initially intended to be a beautification package for the Comet, but by 1969, the car had a 335 horsepower 428 engine under the hood.

The following year, the Cyclone became its own car and came with an optional performance package dubbed as the “Spoiler,” which offered prospective buyers a 375 horsepower Super Cobra Jet (SCJ) 429.

Mandatory with the SCJ was the Drag Pack which added a front mounted engine oil cooler and a 3.91 ratio gear.

Colors for the Spoiler were limited to Competition Blue, Competition Yellow, Competition Gold, Competition Orange, Competition Green and Pastel Blue.

1970 Buick Wildcat

Buick Wildcat [1963-1970]

The Buick Wildcat is a full-size car produced from 1963 to 1970. It got its name from a 1953 concept car with a fiberglass body.

The Wildcat started as an engine option for the 1962 Invicta, which involved packing Buick’s 401 cid “Wildcat” V8 under the bonnet.

Once it emerged as its own car, the Wildcat V8 was the smallest engine in the market.

That is an amazing piece of Cold War trivia, because you can place two of those V8s on a cart, link them together, and then use the combo as the starter engine for the SR-71 Blackbird.

Chevrolet Biscayne 427

Chevrolet Biscayne 427 [1966, 1968-1969]

The Biscayne was named after a show car featured at the 1955 General Motors Motorama. It was the cheapest model in the Chevrolet full-size car range (except for the 1958 Chevrolet Delray).

Most of the luxury convenience options offered on the more expensive Chevy models were not available on the Biscayne.

The absence of such options remained through the production run of the series, as the slightly pricier Chevrolet Bel Air had more interior and exterior trimmings at a cost that is a lot lower than that of the Chevrolet Impala.


Buick GNX [1987]

The Grand National eXperimental barely made this list because it is beginning to get the respect it deserves.

For a number of years some questioned if it can be discussed in the same breath as other bonafide muscle cars.

In case you are not familiar with the vehicle which has often been described as “Darth Vader’s car,” instead of a hefty V8, there is a turbocharged V6 engine under the bonnet, featuring drastic mods prescribed by McLaren.

Officially rated at just 245 horsepower, but in reality it is just a bit slower to 60 mph than the latest Mustang GT. When you consider the fact that it is almost 30 years old, that’s not bad at all.

1976 Dodge Dart

Dodge Dart Swinger/Demon/Sport 340 [1968-76 (all three combined)] 

Dodge built some pretty awesome Darts at one point.

The first thing that comes to mind is the super-limited production run of the Hemi Darts, which were built to be street legal drag racers, and for which you needed to know the correct option code (L023) when ordering.

For muscle cars that you can buy off a dealership’s lot at that time, the Dart Demon and Swinger deserve to be in the hall of fame for naming purposes.

The Swinger was fast but it was replaced by the Demon as the top Dart in 1972.

Urban myth has it that the Dart Demon was originally intended to be called the “Beaver” until somebody explained the notion of innuendo to the folks at Dodge.

1971 Ford Torino Cobra

Ford Torino Cobra [1968-1971]

The Ford Torino was a competitor in North America’s intermediate market segment.

It was named after the Italian city of Turin, regarded as “the Italian Detroit.”  The fastest version of the Torino was not officially called Torino Cobra until 1969, although the 429 Cobra Jet engine was introduced on April 1, 1968.

The Cobra was the car that went head to head with the renowned Superbird for NASCAR supremacy, and particularly in its 1968 and 1969 iteration, the car embodies everything great about the era of muscle cars.

Pontiac Catalina 2+2

Pontiac 2+2 [1964 to 1967]

The Pontiac 2+2 is a full size car built on the B-body chassis.

It made its debut in 1964 as a trim-only option for the Pontiac Catalina, with buckets seats, center console, special door panels and exterior badging. The 2+2 was marketed as the “big brother” of the Pontiac GTO.

The car was equipped with a 6.9-liter engine, heavy duty front springs, dual exhaust and its own outer body trim appointments. It became its own series in 1966 but reverted to an option the following year.

It was discontinued in the U.S. due to poor sales, but continued in Canada as a series until 1970.

Mercury Marauder

Mercury Marauder [1964-1965, 1969-1970, 2003-2004]

The Mercury Marauder is the name given to three distinctly different generations of full-size cars that were produced by Mercury.

In the 1960s, the Marauder was unveiled as the high-performance version of the full-size Mercury line.

The Galaxie 500 XL was its Ford counterpart for the 1963 to 1965 model years.

In 2003, the Marauder name was used for a high-performance iteration of the full-size Grand Marquis.

It was discontinued towards the end of the 2004 model year due to lower than expected sales.


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