Every boy’s dream in the 60s and 70s; muscle cars were always something a gear head strived to own. Either for visual, aesthetic purposes driving around town, hanging out with a girl at a drive in, or for street racing, these beautiful cars always put the peddle to the metal.
In order to be classified as a ‘muscle car’, it has to be built by an American manufacturer between 1964-1972. Cars after 1972 changed completely due to the new emission control regulations and cost of fuel. The car has to be a two-door; it usually has a hatchback, and it can fit up to four adults. Lastly, the muscle car is powered by a V-8 engine and has a higher output than the base models.
A fully restored muscle car can cost upwards of millions at auction. The more rare the car is, the more a person is willing to pay. If the car isn’t completely restored, then the new owner could spend thousands for parts; is it worth it? People come to auctions from around the world with their fat wallets in hopes of being the one to walk away with the keys and pink slip.
Here are the 15 most expensive muscle cars sold at auction, prices in USD:
15. 1969 Dodge Charger Hemi Daytona – $900,000
Dodge built only 503 Daytonas. Only 70 of them were Hemi-powered, and 20 of those had a 4-speed manual transmission. One was sold at the Mecum auction in Kissimmee, Florida for $900,000 with only 6,435 miles, the lowest-mileage known to exist with an original 425-hp Hemi. Formerly part of the Otis Chandler Collection and later owned by NFL All Pro linebacker, Kevin Green, this Daytona was featured in American Muscle in 2006 and 2014. After a high-quality restoration from paint to the under carriage, this copper and bumblebee striped Daytona was one that really stood out on the auction block.
14. 1965 Shelby GT350 R – $445,500
Everyone should know the iconic Ford Shelby brand. If you don’t, it’s time to take some notes. The GT350R was made for speed. Sent straight from the Shelby factory to the racetrack, the GT350R always won. It’s a three-time B production (A was for big block Cobras and ‘Vettes) SCCA Champion. The 289-cubic inch V-8 engine starts with 271-hp with a high-riser intake manifold, welded-tube headers and cast-aluminum valve-rocker covers, peaking to 306-hp. The four-speed also contained special jetting to make it compatible with a free-flow exhaust system. Shelby built 562 GT350s in 1965, as well as other prototypes. This was sold at the Barrett-Jackson Scottsdale auction in January 2017 for $445,500.
13. 1967 Shelby GT500e Super Snake – $1.3 million
The Shelby GT500e Super Snake is like a diamond in the rough. The manufacturer didn’t think that anyone would purchase the Super Snake, so they arranged it on a pay-per-order system. However, they were right… no one purchased it, except for one. Even still with a dealer discount, the Super Snake is the most expensive Shelby, even more than Eleanor. Starting out as a demo car for Goodyear, the car changed significantly after the production-based 428-engine was replaced with a ready-to-race, lightweight 427 from the Le Mans-winning Ford GT40. The end result? Over 500 horsepower and a top speed of 170 mph.
12. 1967 Shelby GT500 ‘Eleanor’ – $1 million
Only a dozen of the GT500s were produced, thanks solely to the independent movie, Gone In 60 Seconds by H.B. Halicki in 1974, then later in 2000 staring Nicolas Cage. The 1974 movie used two 1971 Mustang Sportroofs: one that was completely modified for stunts including the long car chase and wreckag,e and the other was used for beauty shots. The 2000 movie used the custom 1967 Shelby with the iconic pepper grey exterior. The fastback has a 351/400hp crate motor, coil over suspension, power rack and pinion and a detailed body. Nine cars were used in the movie and only three made it to the auction block. Mecum Indianapolis auctioneers were surprised at the sale price of $1 million; it’s a little excessive, but that’s showbiz for you.
11. 1969 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 – $1 million
The ZL1 engine is an aluminum casting of the L88 engine block and cylinder heads; and steel was used for the forged crank, connecting rods, pushrods, and camshaft. This resulted in weighing more than a cast iron small block engine, but it generates 550hp. Only 69 Camaros were fitted with the ZL1, as the cost doubled the price of the car and only 12 of those had a Muncie M22 ‘Rock Crusher’ four-speed manual. After 1969, Chevy no longer produced the ZL1 engine, making this model unique and highly sought after. The only red ZL1 was sold for $1 million at the 2013 Dallas Mecum auction.
10. 1965 Shelby Cobra Roadster CSX – $1.595 million
Originally a car built in the UK, Shelby asked if AC Motors could build a frame to accept a V8 engine. Ford wanted a car that could compete with the Corvette. Casted at the Windsor engine plant, the 3.6L lightweight, thin-wall cast small block engine went through many mini mods before it was ready – from front end bodywork with the steering box to stronger rear outboard brakes to a) reduce cost and b) withstand the power. In 1962, the small block engine was reduced to a 4.3L and then began road testing. The Roadster was sold for $1.595 million at Barrett Jackson’s Scottsdale auction in 2015.
9. 1970 Chevrolet Chevelle SS 454 LS6 – $1.15 million
A popular pick for collectors, this Chevelle is one of 20 ever produced with a 450-hp LS6 454 CID engine that cranked out 500 lbs-ft of torque. The big block engine features a forged steel crank riding in 4-bolt mains, forged connecting rods and aluminum pistons, a high lift, high duration solid lifter cam, and a Holley 4-barrel carburetor on a dual plane intake manifold. There are also massive intake and exhaust valves, ready to rev up the beast and take the “King of the Streets” to the drag strip. This sold at the 2013 Mecum auction after a restoration by Car Connection for $1.15 million.
8. 1970 Plymouth Hemi Cuda Convertible – $2.25 million
Convertibles weren’t as popular in the late 60s, early 70s; only 14 ‘Cudas were produced in 1970. Only nine of these were manufactured with the specific Hemi A727 Torqueflite three-speed automatic transmission and a dual-quad 426-hp Hemi V8 engine. This teamed up with a performance package with power steering, brakes, and more. The auctioned car was originally built for Chrysler designer, John Herlitz, for his efforts in designing this beast. The one-of-a-kind muscle car went through multiple owners from Brett Torino, to Darrell Davis, chairman of Chrysler Finance. The Cuda was restored to its natural beauty in 2002 by Cumins Restorations and then sold in 2015 at Mecum Monterey.
7. 1954 Pontiac Bonneville Special Motorama Concept Car – $3.08 million
Even though this was a bit earlier than the muscle car revolution, the Bonneville is one of two ever made and finished in a sea foam green. The 230-hp, 268-cubic inch 8-cylinder never made its way into the market, even though the four-speed Hydramatic automatic was Pontiac’s most powerful engine to date. The exterior resembles the 50s fascination with space, with rocket-powered tailfins, a wind tunnel hood with bright work over the fender, body, and grill. Twin scoops channeled cool air into the driver’s side and carried out a sleek, chic, and unique design. It was sold for $3.08 million at Barrett-Jackson’s 35th anniversary auction in Scottsdale in 2006.
6. 1970 Ford Boss 429 Mustang
The Boss 429 has been recognized as one of Ford’s most desirable muscle cars due to its uniqueness; it was created to satisfy stock enthusiasts. The Boss 429 V8 uses O-rings instead of cylinder head gaskets and a forged steel crankshaft with massive cylinder heads with ‘semi-HEMI’ combustion chambers. The 429 Mustangs were built on a different production line to allow clearance for the massive engine. All 429 Mustangs came with a four-speed Toploader transmission with a Hurst shifter. A standard front air dam and hood scoop were all aesthetic statements for the 500 Boss 429 Mustangs. This model is up for grabs at Barrett Jackson’s Northeast 2017 auction in Connecticut.
5. 1968 Plymouth HEMI Road Runner
The standard 335-hp, 383/4 barrel engine Road Runner is a lean, mean machine that is getting buyers excited for Barrett Jackson’s Northeast auction this June 2017. The side-scoop hoop with HEMI vent inserts adds to the tough personality. This sedan body is ideal for street racing due to its added strength and reduced weight. The lightweight aluminum manual steering box is a lot easier to handle than the iron power box. The four-speed adds to the Dana 60-style rear axles and the power disk brakes to ease deceleration at top speeds. The Road Runner was restored in 2016 and still features all original sheet metal.
4. 1971 Hemi Cuda Convertible – $3.5 million
The “Holy Grail of Muscle Cars” and the most expensive muscle car on the list, the ‘71 Hemi Cuda is highly desired due to only 11 have been produced in the world and only one of two four-speed manual and factory built Hearst shifter adds to its rarity, plus the original powertrain. The Cuda has a 440ci Hemi, six-barrel carburetor with upgraded suspension and reinforcements. The rarity, performance, and presentation is what makes this car a legend. The Cuda was sold in 2014 for $3.5 million at the Seattle Mecum auto auction and is the most expensive Chrysler to have ever been sold.
3. 1967 Corvette L88s – $3.85 million
Twenty of the most desired Corvettes ever built, the L88 line overextended its performance on the racetrack. There was no radio and no heater in the car, so more of the power could go to the engine. The L88 boats a 12.5:1 compression, high lift cam, and a 4-barrel carburetor with aluminum heads; all delivered and tested at a whopping 560hp. It is also said that the high speed from the light body melts the tires. Thankfully Goodyear has been the go-to for production. Sold to a wealthy buyer at the Barrett Jackson Scottsdale auction in 2014 for $3.85 million, the L88 attained an NCRS 98.2 Regional Top Flight award for performance in 2001. It’s the best of the best.
2. 1966 Shelby Cobra 427 “Super Snake” – $5,115,000
One of two Super Snakes ever made, one was originally for Bill Cosby, although later returned to Shelby then sold to Tony Maxey who unfortunately committed suicide with the car by driving off a cliff. The other ‘Super Snake’ went through a mini modification with paint, but still had its original details from the rear end oil cooler and pumps and coded engine block. Carroll Shelby built this monster because he wanted to find out how fast it could actually go. The one of a kind was sold for $5.5 million in 2007 at the Barrett- Jackson auction in Scottsdale, Arizona.
1. 1964 Ford GT40 Prototype – $7 million
What a special car. The GT40 is the second oldest in existence; Ford’s debut entry in Le Mans, and was the first with a podium finish. The basic layout consists of a lightweight steel monocoque chassis and a double A-arm suspension. Ford’s all aluminum 4.2L engine is complete with a Colotti gearbox to handle the 350hp. Over time with modification to the Shelby American 289 ci block with Le Mans specific internals, the GT40 was driven by some of the top stars of the era. Ford displayed this beauty at the Detroit Auto Show for a number of years until the last restoration in 2010 by Paul Lanzante. The blue GT40 was sold at the Houston Mecum auction in 2014 for $7 million.
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