It’s a dream for car guys (and girls). Find an old American muscle car hidden away in a barn and restore it to its former glory. Problem is, there are precious few of these cars hidden in barns anymore and when you do find one, most owners know what they are worth. Does that mean give up on your muscle car dream? Nope, just lower your sights a bit. Instead of going for the big-block Chevelles, Baracudas and Hemi Chryslers, go Tier2! There are plenty of cars of the 60s and 70s that are real muscle cars but aren’t in real high demand yet.
1967-1969 Chevrolet Camaro
The first-generation Camaro is a good looking muscle car with virtually all examples powered by V8s. Parts are readily available, even things like trim and interior parts. Perhaps the best news, though, is the drivetrain. There are dozens of companies that offer rebuilt engine parts. The first generation Camaros are a great option to restore.
1967-1976 Dodge Dart
There are plenty of genuine Mopar muscle cars but most are big bucks. Consider the old Darts. There are still a ton of them around and they’re generally cheap. Our friends in the service department at Akins of GA, a local Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, Ram dealer in Winder, GA, recommended looking at the fourth-generation Darts. These are especially good looking and came with everything from a thrifty 170 cubic inch slant-six to a big-block 440 V8. Pick one up for a few thousand bucks, and build it your way.
1970-1974 Plymouth Barracuda
Plymouth’s Barracudas were fitted with small block and big block V8s and yes, they came with Hemis. But due to demand, the hemi-powered models are rarely sold cheap. Our advice is to look for a Barracuda with a smaller engine. Those will be just as nice looking and will be less money. Fortunately, plenty of restoration parts are available too.
1965-70 Ford Mustang
OK, you find a cherry one of these cheap but there are a lot out there. In its first five years on sale, Ford sold over 2.5 million of them. This means that not only plenty of surviving cars, there are plenty of companies supplying replacement parts. The classic Ford Mustang is an excellent car to restore because a lot of people have very fond memories of them and this drives their values.
1971 AMC Hornet SC/360
American Motors doesn’t get much credit in the muscle car world and that’s too bad. The Hornet had a lot of things going for it. At just over 3,000 lbs, the Hornet was quick and reviewers claimed it was one of the best handling muscle cars of its day. Look for a SC/360. It delivered 285 horsepower, which was powerful enough for sub-7 seconds to 60, and high 14s in the quarter. These cars are really affordable too.
1968-1972 Oldsmobile Cutlass
Back in the ’60s and ’70s, the Oldsmobile Cutlass was one of the best-selling cars in America. Arguably GM’s best-looking A-body design and offered some of the best performance of its day. You could get them with both small blocks and big blocks. Because of quantities, there are plenty of specialty parts companies to get restoration parts from.