Perhaps you’ve heard the term “American muscle car”? This expression usually refers to a powerful, smaller two-door coupe boasting the same type of mighty engine as much larger sedans. People who collect these vehicles generally associate them with speed and high performance. Although disputes exist around the precise definition of a muscle car, the consensus of opinion holds that the souped-up sedans possess V8 engines.
Defining Muscle Cars
Most authorities today claim that the 1949 Oldsmobile Rocket 88 served as the prototype. Popular American muscle cars enjoyed their heyday between 1965 and 1970. During that period, manufacturers offered appealing high-powered two door sedans to attract buyers into showrooms. Although the genre largely passed away when rising oil prices created high demand for energy-efficient automobiles, today many fans continue to celebrate these increasingly rare, exotic vehicles from the Hippie Era.
American muscle cars enjoy broad appeal today. Racing fans appreciate them because of their mechanical power. Many beginning rare auto hobbyists focus on restoring them. This article discusses the prices commanded by the seven most expensive American muscle care ever auctioned.
The top five muscle car prices at auction probably account for some of the keen interest that collectors show in these 60s, early 70s Era vehicles. What attributes do hot sellers include? Just consider the list in ascending price order:
5. 1970 Chevrolet Chevelle SS 454 LS6 — $1.15 Million
The history of this vehicle testifies to the enduring allure of muscle cars. Chevrolet produced the Chevelle SS454 LS6 in 1970 as the largest and most powerful convertible coupe of its generation. Packing 450 horsepower and a very large LS6 engine this sleek car holds allure for collectors. After extremely attentive restoration, one sold for a record $1,150,000 in Dallas in 2013 at the Mecum vehicle auction.
4. 1967 Shelby GT500e Super Snake – $1.3 Million
The history of the 1967 Shelby Super Snake GT500e demonstrates how low sales figures in one era sometimes translate into high auction figures in another. The manufacturer offered the GT500e, a race car, to the general public for the first time in 1967 expecting to produce a limited number. High prices resulted in sluggish sales. Technically classified as an American muscle car, this one-of-a-kind vehicle set new sales records at Mecum auto auction in Indianapolis in 2013.
3. 1970 Chrysler Plymouth Hemi Barracuda Convertible – $2,250,000
In 1970, Chrysler manufactured far fewer Hemi Barracuda Convertibles, a line that had diminished sharply in popularity as the 60s progressed. Despite low sales statistics, the Cuda today commands astronomic prices. At a Russo and Steele auction in 2011, one sold for a record $2 million.
This same model, another 1970 Chrysler Plymouth Hemi Barracuda Convertible, sold at auction for a quarter of a million dollars more at the Monterrey Mecum auto auction in August, 2015. This particular vehicle did possess some distinctive qualities, however, since it ranked among a small number of autos produced by Chrysler with A727 Torqueflite 3-speed automatic transmission during the 1970-71 season. It once belonged to the executive in charge of overseeing 1970-E body design, and included every available option for its line.
2. 1971 Chrysler Plymouth Hemi Barracuda Convertible 4-Speed – $3.5 Million
Yet a third Chrysler Plymouth Cuda set another record in Seattle in 2014. One of only 11 convertibles manufactured during 1971, a completely restored and refurbished muscle car commanded great interest. It retained its original V8 engine. This in-demand model of muscle car has become one of the most sought-after by auto collectors attending the Mecum auto auction.
1. 1967 Chevrolet Corvette L88 – $3.85 Million
The popularity of the sporty Corvette gained media attention during the 1980s hit television show, The A-Team. First introduced during the 1950s, the Corvette enjoyed long lasting popularity and has remained as a signature GM brand since 1953. Just 20 L88s sold in 1967. In 2013, Mecum auto auction sold one of these rare muscle vehicles for a cool $3.2 million. The Chevy Corvette L88 continued rising in popularity amongst collectors after setting records in 2013. In 2014, Barrett-Jackson auction reportedly sold one of these fast coupes for an impressive $3.85 million.
A Rewarding Hobby
If you’ve ever considered collecting vintage automobiles for fun and profit, you might do well paying attention to the popular, acclaimed American muscle car. These products of superb Detroit engineering appeal to collectors and racing enthusiasts alike.
Do you agree with the muscle car list presented here? Have we missed a vehicle that deserves inclusion? Let us know, and tell us about your favorite muscle car brand!
Matthew Young is a Boston based freelance writer. As an aspiring automotive journalist looking to make a name for myself in the industry, he is passionate about covering anything on 4 wheels. When Matthew is not busy writing about cars or new emerging tech, he usually spends time fiddling with his camera and learning a thing or two about photography. You can tweet him @mattbeardyoung