Cheap Muscle Cars

Nothing better than a big V8 in a classic American muscle car, but they can get pretty spendy. Here are a couple of cheap muscle cars to consider.

American Muscle on a Budget

There’s nothing quite like a classic muscle car from the ‘60s or early ‘70s. That rumbling V8 that spins the tires at the press of the pedal to the metal. It was a good time, but not for a long time. American performance cars have slowly come back into fashion in the 50 years since the muscle cars demise, but there was nothing quite like that era of cars.

That nostalgia unfortunately comes at a premium though if you’re looking to get your hands on one of these old muscle cars. It’s hard to find a good Pontiac GTO, Ford Mustang, Chevrolet Chevelle, or Dodge Charger on the cheap anymore. Even the decrepit ones come at a premium price. There are, however, still some great-looking muscle cars that can be had for a relatively cheap price. We scoured Carsforsale.com and even took note of recent sales to find some of the best prices for classic muscle cars. These may not be the most popular models or the most powerful of their time, but they still fit the mold and can be found for less than $15,000.

Ford Fairlane 500

1965 Ford Fairlane 500 - carsforsale.com
1965 Ford Fairlane 500 - carsforsale.com

What makes a muscle car a muscle car? You need a big V8 engine, rear-wheel drive, two-doors, and American made. The Ford Fairlane 500 Sports Coupe featured all of that but is often disregarded behind the more popular Ford Mustang. Now, you’re not going to get the 427 CID V8 found in the Fairlane Thunderbolt for a cheap price, but there are plenty of examples with the 289 CID V8 out there. This Ford small block with a two-barrel carb could produce 271 horsepower and gave a nice audible tone out of the standard dual exhaust.

Plymouth Barracuda

1966 Plymouth Barracuda - carsforsale.com
1966 Plymouth Barracuda - carsforsale.com

The fast back Barracuda was right there alongside the Mustang during its debut, but most only remember this nameplate once it was known as the Cuda in the early ‘70s. You can find the first generation of this fastback coupe with either a 180-horsepower two-barrel 273 CID V8 or a four-barrel performance version of the same engine dubbed the Commando V8 that made 235 horsepower. You’ll find the two-barrel version most often for under $15,000, but there’s a chance to find that Barracuda Formula S with the Commando V8 under the hood too at that price point.

Oldsmobile Delta 88

1967 Oldsmobile Delta 88 - carsforsale.com
1967 Oldsmobile Delta 88 - carsforsale.com

Looking for a cheap B Body? Check out the Delta 88s from 1965 to 1970. These things had that iconic Coke bottle design and can only be found with a V8 under the hood. They can run as small as a 330 CID “Jetfire Rocket” V8 up to the 390-horsepower four-barrel 455 CID “Rocket 455” V8. Nearly every year featured some visual refresh to the Delta 88s design, but I’m personally a fan of the sharp looking ‘66 Delta 88s.

Mercury Marauder

1969 Mercury Marauder - carsforsale.com
1969 Mercury Marauder - carsforsale.com

The Marauder had a short stint between 1969 and 1970 as a hodgepodge of different Ford parts, but it’s a forgotten muscle car than can be had on the cheap. The two-door Mercury Marauder can be found with either a 390 CID V8 or the exciting 360-horsepower 429 CID V8 found on the Marauder X-100 models. Yeah, the high-performance Marauder X-100 can be found for less than $10,000. It’s a crazy great value for a classic muscle car.

Buick Wildcat

1964 Buick Wildcat - carsforsale.com
1964 Buick Wildcat - carsforsale.com

If you can’t afford a Chevrolet Impala SS, the Buick Wildcat is a great alternative. This Buick muscle car was available from 1965 to 1970 and lived on the same platform as the Chevy icon. You won’t find a Turbo Fire or Turbo-Jet V8 under the hood of these Wildcats, but the Buick V8s that came with them are still pretty special. The smallest powerplant you’ll find is a 401 CID V8 that could produce 325 horsepower, otherwise there was also one of the biggest Buick V8s ever made – the 455 CID V8 that produced 370 horsepower.

Dodge Coronet

1967 Dodge Coronet - carsforsale.com
1967 Dodge Coronet - carsforsale.com

Don’t worry Mopar fans, there’s a cheap Dodge muscle car option for you. The fifth-generation Dodge Coronet can be found with a host of different V8 engines that were also found in Mopar legends like the Dodge Charger and Plymouth GTX. While the 426 CID Hemi V8 that was available in the Coronet is out of the cards when it comes to a cheap option, but other big blocks like the 361 CID V8 or the 383 CID Magnum V8s can still be found for a relatively low price.

Ford Thunderbird

1967 Ford Thunderbird - carsforsale.com
1967 Ford Thunderbird - carsforsale.com

The Ford Thunderbird is often forgotten from the Muscle Car Era as the Mustang stole the show when it came to Fords, but the fifth generation of the car is as affordable as it gets. There are plenty of two-door Thunderbirds available for under $15,000 and they all have a V8 under the hood. You can even find the 360-horsepower four-barrel 429 CID Thunder Jet V8 for a great price.

Buick Skylark

1969 Buick Skylark - carsforsale.com
1969 Buick Skylark - carsforsale.com

The first-generation Buick Skylark was already pretty cool, but the second generation is the one to look for. While most people are on the lookout for the Buick Gran Sport, the Skylark it was based on sits for a cheaper price. You can find two-door examples of the Skylark with a two-barrel 350 CID V8 that made 230 horsepower for relatively cheap and still carry a similar muscle car style that made the Gran Sport so cool.

Ford Ranchero

1970 Ford Ranchero - carsforsale.com
1970 Ford Ranchero - carsforsale.com

If you can’t find the Chevy El Camino for a cheap price, then take a look at Ford’s ute from the same era. The fourth- and fifth-generation Ford Rancheros are sweet rides that mix muscle car aesthetics with a truck bed in the back. While they’re a little scarcer than the El Camino, the ones you can find come at a great price and can even be found with 429 CID V8 under the hood.

Chevrolet Nova

1974 Chevrolet Nova - carsforsale.com
1974 Chevrolet Nova - carsforsale.com

The third generation Chevy Nova has a huge following as the model received a Super Sport version and was even given the Yenko treatment by Don Yenko himself. Now, you’re more than likely not going to get a Nova SS or a Yenko Nova for a cheap price, but there are a still some great V8 totting Novas out there that can be had for a great price.

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Jesse McGraw

Jesse McGraw brings his life-long car obsession into his writing. A fun childhood that involved growing up around race tracks, working on a rusty ‘99 Dodge Dakota held together by zip ties, and collecting Hot Wheels developed into a strong appreciation for automotive history. If there is an old, obscure, or rare car, he wants to know about it. With a bachelor's degree in Web Development & Design from Dakota State University, Jesse can talk shop about car or computer specs, focusing on classic cars, imports, and car culture.

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