The 10 Most Iconic American Muscle Cars According to U.S. News

What are the baddest muscle cars of all time? You probably won’t be surprised to learn that a lot of them were American-born and bred. Famous names from Ford, Dodge, Chevy, and Pontiac, and Plymouth have echoed through the halls of infamy. These American muscle cars set the stage for most of today’s modern sports cars. 

There have been hundreds of cars over the decades that could qualify into the muscle category. But, to find the most iconic, we take a look at 10 of the best classic American muscle cars.

10. AMC AMX

The AMC AMX wore the skin of the ultimate classic muscle car: the aggressive front, the tucked rear, the iconic hood line. The AMX was sold throughout the late 1960s and enjoyed only a short life. It made 325 horsepower, which was impressive but not unheard of for the time. The 60s brought huge engines to these cars, delivering hundreds of horsepower from massive V6 and V8 engines

Grey 1972 AMC AMX classic American muscle car
1972 AMC AMX Muscle Car | National Motor Museum/Heritage Images/Getty Images

9. Buick GNX

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The fastest muscle cars aren’t necessarily the most iconic cars—but the Buick GNX got the chance to be both. In the mid-to-late 80s, the GNX boasted 276 horsepower and 420 lb-ft of torque and a 4.6-second 0 – 60 time. That’s even pretty impressive for today’s modern muscle car and was jaw-droppingly fast at the time.

8. Oldsmobile 442

You might do a double-take to see an Oldsmobile on the list of most iconic American muscle cars, but this model was a big deal in the 70s and 80s. The “442” name was a nod to some of its top specs: 400 cubic-inch engine, four-barrel carburetor, and dual exhaust system. The early model years of this classic muscle car are incredibly valuable.

7. Plymouth Roadrunner

Inspired by Warner Brothers’ fast-running ground cuckoo (Plymouth even paid for the rights to the name), the Plymouth Roadrunner was quite the character. Its massive rear spoiler and sharply angled nose set it apart from other muscle cars. The Roadrunner retains some of its loyal fans today and is a favorite among collectors.

Side-angle rear view of a bright orange 1970 1970 Plymouth Roadrunner Super Bird on display at the Denver Auto Show. This American muscle car had a huge rear spoiler.
1970 Plymouth Roadrunner Super Bird at the Denver Auto Show | Andy Cross/The Denver Post via Getty Images

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6. Pontiac GTO

This muscle car may have been the Daddy of all muscle cars. It was one of the first muscle cars on the scene in the 1960s and currently gets the credit for inspiring the movement. Its V8 engine and larger-than-life personality made the Pontiac muscle car a tough standard to beat.

5. Dodge Charger

The Dodge Charger is one of the most enduring American muscle cars. Like many of the cars on this list, it emerged in the mid-60s. The original model was a two-door coupe, but the Charger that was revived in 2006 landed as a full-size four-door sedan. The Charger offers a variety of super-powered engines, which makes it one of the fastest muscle cars in the world.

Vintage 70s Dodge Charger, one of the best American muscle cars
Vintage Dodge Charger | Alexandros Athanasopoulos via Unsplash

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4. Dodge Challenger

You can’t talk about modern muscle cars without mentioning the Dodge Challenger. Following close on the heels of its sibling, the Challenger has an immediately recognizable silhouette. The Challenger is one of the few remaining muscle cars that still holds on to the beloved classic design. 

3.  Chevrolet Corvette

The Corvette is slinking more into supercar territory these days, its design aligning more closely with Lamborghini and Ferrari. But, new lines and a tighter body don’t negate the Corvette’s decades of being an iconic American muscle car.

Red vintage Chevrolet Corvette classic muscle car on display at the Thailand International Motor Expo
Vintage Chevrolet Corvette cars are displayed at the Thailand International Motor Expo 2021 | Jack Taylor/AFP via Getty Images

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2. Chevrolet Camaro

The Chevy Camaro is another model that’s made it through to join the ranks of modern muscle cars. It took a short rest period in the early 2000s before exploding back onto the scene in 2010. A number of special editions, limited-edition releases, and upgrade packages have helped keep the Camaro competitive.

1. Ford Mustang

One of the top American muscle cars, as listed by U.S. News & World Report, is the Ford Mustang. No surprise here. This pony has been around since 1964 and is known around the world for being one of the premier classic muscle cars, and its reputation is keeping it on top. 

Red classic Ford Mustang, an American muscle car
1972 Ford Mustang Mach 1 | Meritt Thomas via Unsplash

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