10 More Alternative Muscle Cars For Free-Thinking Gearheads
We've always been a fan of thinking outside the box when it comes to choosing a muscle machine. After all, there's so much sweet high performance metal out there that restricting your choices to the usual suspects means missing out on the joys of the many different drivetrains, designs, and driving experiences offered by less common options.
An added bonus? These alternative muscle cars are often much cheaper than their more common contemporaries, allowing you to pick up a tire-shredding monster without any collateral damage to your bank account.
We had such a strong response to our original list of alternative muscle cars that we had to hit you back with another batch. Here are 10 more choices for free-thinking enthusiasts looking to walk their own path.
1. Chevrolet Monte Carlo
When the Chevrolet Monte Carlo appeared for the 1970 model year, the new 'personal luxury' coupe was offered with many of the same drivetrain options found on the slightly smaller Chevelle thanks to their shared A-body platform. That means that these hardtops could be had with anything ranging from a 300 hp, 350 cubic inch V8 all the way up to a monster 454 cubic inch unit good for an impressive 360 hp and 500 lb-ft of torque.
The Monte Carlo SS was expensive compared to its Chevelle SS cousin, and as such wasn't nearly as popular, forcing Chevrolet to drop the package after 1971. Still if you can track down an LS5-powered Monte Carlo it makes for a formidable muscle car sleeper.
2. AMC Javelin
The AMX might get most of the attention from muscle car fans seeking an American Motors product, but the Javelin it's based on is worth a look, too. Offering a larger interior than some of the pony cars it was sent out to street fight with, when the vehicle was redesigned for 1971 it inherited much of the AMX's might in the form of a 330 hp, 401 cubic inch V8 engine.
With the AMX now a trim level on the Javelin instead of its own two-seat model, American Motors incorporated as much of its Trans-Am racing know-how into the car as it possibly could. This included unique aero upgrades and a number of other goodies (limited slip differential, stiffer springs) as part of its Go Package. With 430 lb-ft of torque on tap, the second-gen Javelin remains a strong choice for alternative muscle fans.
3. Plymouth Belvedere/Satellite
Everyone knows about the Plymouth Roadrunner and more upscale GTX, which enjoyed a huge advertising boost as part of the brand's Mass Transit marketing effort in the early 1970s. Fewer are familiar with the Belvedere or the Sport Satellite, which were the more pedestrian Plymouth B-bodies on which the Roadrunner and GTX were based.
The most intriguing versions of the pair were offered from 1968 to 1970, featuring up to 335 hp from a 383 cubic inch V8. Even more interesting? You could get them as sedans and wagons, too, making them easier to find than their vaunted siblings, and a little more practical if you're forced to mix your muscle with daily reality.
4. Cadillac CTS-V
The first-generation Cadillac CTS-V broke new ground for the luxury brand. Here, finally, was a sport sedan that could match the best the BMW et al had to offer, and it had the Nurburgring tuning laps to prove it.
The angular sedan may have been nimble, but at its heart beat the eight-cylinder staccato of a muscle car. Featuring either an LS6 (2004-2005) or LS2 (2006-2007) V8, the CTS-V was good for 400 hp sent to the rear wheels via a six-speed manual transmission. This uncommon speed machine has seen its prices fall to the mid-teens for a well-kept driver, making it a stunning deal on the used market.
5. Buick Regal T-Type
The Grand National GNX gets all the glory, but Buick spent a good chunk of the 80s putting the T-Type badge on a number of models, many of which featured a respectable amount of turbocharged power.
The Buick Regal T-Type was offered from 1983 to 1987, and while the GNX was king, you could still get 190 hp and 280 lb-ft of torque from a 3.8-liter turbocharged V6 in a more affordable package if you opted for the base model. Power would continue to climb throughout its five years on the market, and with a little modern turning these coupes offer big fun for low money.
6. Ford Ranchero
The Ford Ranchero ute was never intended to pull work duty beyond transporting the occasional dirt bike or cooler, but the fact that certain model years it shared their underpinnings with the Torino family of sedans, coupes, wagons, and convertibles meant that it had considerable access to the Blue Oval's part's bin.
Case in point: for 1970 and 1971, you could dump a 429 cubic inch Cobra Jet V8 under the hood of the restyled Ranchero, and harness its 370 hp for as many air-hauling burnouts as your tires could stand. Even the vehicle's available 300 hp, 351 cubic inch eight-cylinder engine was a winner.
7. Oldsmobile Rallye 350
The Oldsmobile Cutlass was better known to muscle car fans in 442 trim, but there was another hi-po version of the coupe that escaped almost everyone's notice. For 1970 only Oldsmobile would build the Rallye 350, a car that straddled the line between cost-conscious and hooligan.
The car's centerpiece—and what helped keep the price within the reach of the average buyer—was a 350 cubic inch engine good for 310 hp. Not quite as overwhelming as the 442's big-cube firepower, but still enough for a wild weave while leaving the parking lot of your local Sonic. The rest of the car got the same look-at-me appearance package as other GM muscle machines of the day, including air gulping nostrils hewn out of the hood and a Sebring Yellow paint job that made it impossible to hide from the local constabulary.
8. Lincoln Mark VIII
When it debuted in 1994, the Lincoln Mark VIII gave Ford fans a sneak-peak at the 32-valve 4.6-liter V8 that would soon grace the Mustang Cobra. More than that, however, it delivered an exceptional (for the time) 280 hp and a Teksid-cast aluminum block that could take a serious amount of boost before tapping out.
Throw in aero-friendly looks, an adjustable ride height air suspension, and pricing that rarely cracks five-figures, and the Mark VIII is an appealing choice for coupe fans sick of the same-old same-old when seeking a 90s performer. Second-generation cars, which appeared in 1997, delivered a slightly longer nose to go with a minor performance bump under the hood.
9. Pontiac Tempest
The Pontiac GTO is often cited for being responsible for the muscle car craze. Predictably, prices on this icon have soared out of reach of many gearheads, but even back in the day Pontiac realized that some people were looking for performance without all of the hoopla.
Enter the Tempest, the intermediate coupe on which the second-generation GTO was based. Starting in 1968, it was possible to order a Tempest with a 350 cubic inch high output (H.O) engine, which was good for up to 325 hp. The H.O. would stick around until the Tempest left the market in 1970.
10. Mercury Comet Cyclone
The Mercury Comet was a slightly more upscale version of Ford's humble Falcon, which enthusiasts will remember for donating its guts to make the Mustang a reality in the mid-60s. Around the same time, Mercury began to offer a 'Cyclone' version of the Comet that debuted in 1966 after the car made the switch from the Falcon to the Fairlane platform.
This opened up access to a larger 390 cubic inch V8, meaning a 335 hp Comet was now in the cards. The following and final year of Comet production saw a 390 hp, 427 cubic inch engine become available for the Cyclone trim, giving the unassuming Mercury serious punch in a straight line.
Looking for more high performance classic cars? Check out these unusual go-fast models that escaped the hype machine.