When we look back to the past, we might do so with ‘rose-colored’ glasses, so to speak. It can feel like every car back then was cooler/simpler, especially when you see awesome vehicles like the 1969 Dodge Charger, Chevelle SS, and so on.
A lot of these badass muscle cars are highly sought-after, even to this day. As such, their value can skyrocket as they get older and rarer. Though, they didn’t always start life like that. Unlike a 1970 Challenger or a ZL1 Camaro, many old sports cars failed to live up to expectations on release.
However, time can remedy all things, even likeability. It’s been proven in all sorts of areas, including old muscle cars.
To showcase what we’re on about, we gathered up a few instances of once unpopular American muscle cars that, after a while, flew up in price!
10 1967 Pontiac Grand Prix 428
To kick things off, we wanted to start with a car that we have a bit of history with: the mid-to-late-’60s Pontiac Grand Prix. Though, the one we had wasn’t anywhere as fast as a 428 V8 version.
The normal Pontiac Grand Prix at the time was your run-of-the-mill American cruiser. Typically, a Grand Prix would go for only $3,500 or so, but that doesn’t account for inflation. Yet, nowadays, the 428-ci V8 trim can be found for upwards of $70,000!
9 1968 Buick Wildcat
Out of all the American car manufacturers to innovate and go ‘outside the box’ decades ago, we’d argue that Buick was among the highest ranking. They’ve built many vehicles that’re both fast and stunning in appearance, including the 1968 Buick Wildcat.
Characterized by its sweeping angles and one-of-a-kind rear-end design, the Wildcat sat in limbo for a long time after production. Up until recently, an old Wildcat would hover around the $5,000. Today, though, it’s increased four-fold; climbing ever higher as time goes on.
8 1972 Dodge Dart Demon 340 V8
When we hear the name ‘Dodge Demon’, we’re usually flooded with images of the modern-day Challenger with a massive wide-body kit, tons of horsepower, and looks sharp enough to cut a diamond. Believe it or not, though, the new Demon isn’t the first Dodge to carry that moniker.
Originally, the Demon was associated with a late-’60s to early-’70s Dodge Dart alternative; the Dart Demon 340. Of course, this wasn’t like the Challenger we have currently – both in terms of popularity or performance. Still, its past failures haven’t stopped it from climbing in value.
7 1968 Pontiac Tempest Custom
No, this isn’t a Firebird, nor is it a GTO. It is, however, a Pontiac, just not the one you’d think at first. This is the 1968 Pontiac Tempest Custom – A sort-of hybrid between the GTO and Firebird.
The Tempest is the go-to muscle car for those of us who can’t drop $50,000 to $80,000 on a pristine GTO. It looks pretty similar, but doesn’t cost as much. Yet, like the Buick Wildcat, it won’t be long before its value increases what it’s already at. Get ’em while they’re still under $25,000!
6 Buick GNX
We’re not done with Buick’s just yet. Although the Wildcat is an excellent example of a once-underappreciated classic, it pales in comparison to Buick’s best car: the GNX.
Of all the Buick’s we’ve written about, the GNX is definitely the most frequent topic. Over the past five-years or so, it went from a well-known muscle car to a near hundred-thousand dollar collectable.
With a McLaren-tuned engine, a unique turbocharged V6 setup, and a timeless design, we’re stunned that it took this long for the GNX to hit six-figures.
5 1966 Dodge Charger
“A Dodge Charger being unpopular?! What world are you living in?” If this were a 1968 – ’70, we’d agree with you, but this is no normal second-gen Charger. Rather, this is its forerunner: the first-generation Dodge Charger.
Produced from 1966 to 1967, the original Charger got a less-than-warm welcome. When new, the ’66/’67 Chargers “were categorized by low sales and Dodge really trying to find their footing with this new model.”
Further overshadowed by its far more successful second-generation, the classic Charger entered a weird place in the automotive market. For a time, it was both extremely rare AND affordable, which caught the attention of many muscle car enthusiasts. Today, more car-lovers have hopped onto the O.G. Charger bandwagon; causing its price to skyrocket far more than it realistically should’ve.
4 1970 Chrysler 300H
In an effort to capitalize on their beloved 300-series, Chrysler partnered with with Hurst Performance Inc. to release a more performance-focused alternative to the standard 300. The result was the 1970’s Chrysler 300H.
The 300 Hurst (yes, the same as Hurst shifters) should’ve been far better received than it ended up being. Nevertheless, it was a limited production model. As we wrote in a previous HotCars article, “only 501 pieces were built, out of which 500 were hardtops, and one was a convertible.” Such a low production number would drive up its prices with just scarcity alone.
3 1970 AMC Rebel Machine
“How do you turn a relatively tame station-wagon/sedan into a sought-after muscle car with an awesome paint scheme?” We don’t know exactly how to ourselves, but AMC sure did, as evidenced by their transformation of the AMC Rebel into the iconic Rebel Machine!
Like many muscle cars of the 1970’s, the AMC Rebel Machine was built to be a compact, low-cost, sports car that everyone could enjoy. New, the Machine would run you ~$3,500. A steal for the time, but not as high-selling as a Mustang or Camaro. By the end of 1970, 2,326 units were made, of which it’s estimated about 600 still survive to this day.
When you combine scarcity with desire and a free market, you get a financial opportunity. That, dear reader, is what every AMC Machine is taking advantage of right now. What once sold for less than $4,000 now costs more than $50,000.
2 1969 Mercury Cyclone SCJ ‘Drag Pack’
If underappreciated American classics is your goal, few carmakers will meet your requirements like old Mercury muscle cars. Among the many forgotten models, it’s the 1969 Cyclone SCJ ‘Drag Pack’ that has our attention.
The Cyclone SCJ (‘Super Cobra Jet’) is one of Mercury’s quickest – and rarest – muscle cars available. Well, not the normal SCJ, rather the SCJ ‘Drag Pack’; of which only three were made.
They cost a good bit back in the day, but nothing compared to what they’re selling for as of late.
1 1969 Ford Torino Cobra 429 ‘Cobra Jet’
Speaking of the ‘Cobra Jet’ series of sports cars, there’s yet another with a similar story. It’s not a Mercury, but a Ford. To be specific, the 1969 Ford Torino Cobra 429 ‘Cobra Jet’.
Because of its place in comparison to the later ‘Gran Torino’ model/trim, the older Ford Torino and Torino GT’s have gotten snubbed in favor of the newer version. We don’t know why, though, since there are heaps of great Torino’s, especially the Cobra 429 ones.
As the ‘Cobra Jet’ title alludes to, this Torino Cobra shares the same power-unit as the Mercury SCJ: the FE-engine.
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