By Dave Ashton
The ubiquitous muscle car represents more than just a huge engine and stocky design. Back in the golden age of muscle cars, from the late 1960s to the early 1970s, these vehicles coincided with the space race and the height of rock ‘n’ roll. We were going to the moon baby, and we had the soundtrack to match. Add in some of the most powerful vehicles on the planet at the time, such as the 1970 Chevrolet Chevelle SS 454, and you end up with a heady mix. There were lots of vehicles to choose from back then, but what are the most popular muscle cars worldwide today, and how are muscle cars faring in today’s market?
Back in the nineteen sixties, the big three (Chrysler, Ford, and General Motors) owned 89.6% of the market. These guys still produce the most popular muscle cars as we will come onto later. But the automotive scene is far different than in the mid to late last century. Today we will go through the most popular muscle cars worldwide and the possible future for our beloved muscle cars.
The Muscle Car Formula
A vehicle needs a specific set of criteria to be classed as a muscle car. The ideal recipe needs an American-made vehicle, a bass-rich V8 engine, two doors, rear-wheel drive, and two seats upfront and in the back. There are variations on the theme, along with the ‘Pony car’ sector, which is more strictly the Ford Mustang and Camaro. More loosely, the Chevy Corvette is a two-seater sports car and the Shelby Cobra was originally a British body with an American V8.
Back in the late 1960s when muscle car makers ruled, there were a plethora of brands to choose from. Many have gone the way of the Dodo, but living examples are very much rare collectible classics. Muscle car brands of the day included – AMC, Buick, Chevrolet, Chrysler, Dodge, Ford, Mercury, Oldsmobile, Plymouth, Pontiac, and Shelby. Many of the designs were quite similar, but it was what was under the hood that counted.
Muscle Car Engines
The outer shell and even the interior of a car may leave you drooling, but it’s nothing without a potent engine. These original drag racers became more ‘plush’ as time went on, but the space race for the most power was equally as important. By roughly 1969, the no replacement for displacement concept had almost been pushed to its limits.
Ford had the Boss 429 V8, Chevrolet with the 454Ci. V8, and Mopars with the legendary 426 Hemi engine. Nostalgia shouldn’t be underestimated in the car world, which is why modern interpretations follow the same theme. Huge displacement V8 engines, but now with almost twice the horsepower. Owning a car in 1970 with 425HP or the Plymouth Superbird going round the NASCAR track at 200mph+, is still impressive today.
The Most Popular Muscle Cars Sold In The US
Tracking down the most popular muscle cars sold in the US from the current breed was the easiest task. It’s no surprise that Ford sells the most with the Mustang, followed by the Dodge Challenger and the Chevy Camaro. However, according to Goodcarbadcar.net the Dodge Challenger outsold the Ford Mustang with 5,631 units sold compared to 4,935 sold by Ford in December 2020.
Most Popular Muscle Cars Sold Worldwide
Tracking down non-US muscle car sales, along with the used market is a much harder proposition. Taking into account private sales is harder to quantify. However, auction websites and international shippers provide some data.
International muscle car sales are more important than ever to raise awareness of the breed and to keep the current inventory going. According to hagerty.com, 30,000 classic cars were shipped from American ports to European destinations in 2018.
Many of these American classics go to Sweden and Finland, with Australia, the UK, New Zealand, and France also been strong contenders. Many vehicles also go to the Netherlands and Germany, where they are distributed to surrounding countries. Popular types include muscle cars, pony cars, and classics from the 1950s and 1960s. One of the apparent reasons for so many exports is that the climate in the US is far better than in Europe. Thus, more solid examples are available from the US.
There’s also the fact that there are more variety and supply of vehicles in the US. The shipping costs are also very reasonable, making the US rich pickings for classic vehicles.
According to wcshipping.com, the Ford Mustang is the most popular vehicle to be exported to the likes of Europe, Australia, and Asia. 2nd is the Chevrolet Corvette, with the Chevrolet Camaro coming in 3rd and the Dodge Charger in 6th place.
For solely modern muscle cars, the Ford Mustang is romping ahead with sales in 140 countries. The Ford Mustang has done especially well in Europe being available in native hand drive. The Mustang has also been a big seller in China, being one of the best selling sports cars.
Popular Muscle Car Selling Websites
If you want to own your own muscle car, what are the most popular muscle car selling websites? These websites can be arguably split into specific and generic. Some websites specialize in buying and selling classic vehicles, while others sell a bit of everything. Both types have their pros and cons. Dedicated classic car websites generally list the more expensive examples, but also have the best aftermarket service and checks. Generic car websites are where you can find a bargain, but there is also less reassurance if anything goes wrong.
Dyler – This website is the newest of the bunch, but also a good port of call for overseas car buyers.
Mecum – Some of the rarest and most valuable muscle cars pass through this auction house.
Barrett-Jackson – Another auction house that specializes in ultra-rare and expensive muscle cars.
Hemmings – There are plenty of classic cars for sale on this website, being one of the most popular in the US.
ClassicCars.com – This website lists plenty of reasonable value vehicles, with a huge inventory.
Ebay Motors – For the sheer variety and size of the audience, you can’t beat eBay motors. You can search country centric versions of the website, and if you land on your feet, you can snag a very good value bargain.
Autotrader Classics – back in the days before the Internet, Auto Trader was the number 1 spot to find used vehicles. It was especially popular in the UK and Europe and is still one of the most respected in the US.
No matter if you want that one-off pristine classic or a beat-up restoration project, there is a muscle car out there for you. Muscle car prices have steadily increased over the years, making them a worthwhile investment for the future.
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