80s American Muscle Cars Destined to Become Classics

For some reason, ’80s muscle cars don’t get the same street cred as the American hot rods from the ’60s and ’70s. But as time passes, more and more vehicles from the ’80s will become classics.

And then, some of them may fade into obscurity like these vintage muscle cars.

If you’re enterprising or just really love any of the following options, now is a great time to snatch up ’80s muscle cars, before prices skyrocket.

Remember that you’re always taking at least a little bit of a chance when guessing which cars will become classics. There are cultural factors that can change public perception in a hurry. Just look at what “The Fast and the Furious” did to prices for used fourth-gen Toyota Supras or third-gen Mazda RX-7s.

So grab your Walkman, pop in a Van Halen cassette, pull on some white Pony shoes and let’s take a walk down memory lane.

Buick Grand National/GNX

There’s a hardcore following for these ’80s muscle cars, and the public is becoming increasingly aware that they’re actually wolves in sheep’s clothing (thanks in large part to “The Fast and Furious” franchise). They look like a funky, unfortunate Buick from the 1980s, like something a boring grandpa would drive, only murdered out. So what?

While they weren’t and aren’t much to look at, it’s the innards that count. With emissions regulations emasculating so many muscle cars at the time, Buick did something genius. It took the G-Body Regal Coupe and shoved a monstrous turbocharged engine into it. The result was a true sleeper that could in stock form run a 13-second quarter mile and go 0 to 60 mph in about 4.5 seconds.

People have been tuning the Grand Nationals and GNXs to make them even faster. They’re great fun to play with, and they’re incredibly unique for a muscle car, so their prices will only continue to climb.

Ford Mustang SVO

Way back in 1984 and 1985 Ford turned to turbocharging as a way to make the Mustang faster, while still complying with emissions regulations. The funny thing is Ford’s doing a pretty similar thing now with the new Mustang EcoBoost, which only makes the old SVO that much more relevant and interesting.

Among the unique looks was a completely different front fascia than the other Mustang models at the time. The off-center hood scoop and dual rear spoiler only add to the unique features of the car.

Plenty of people consider the 2.3-liter four-cylinder engine a big positive. They think the SVO was a more sophisticated version of the Mustang, instead of a muscle car that handled like garbage and did nose dives with the best of them. As an added bonus, it was one of the first American cars to ride on 16-inch alloy wheels, which for the time were massive.

Chevrolet Monte Carlo SS

Sometimes the vehicles you want to make an investment mark the end of an era that people are going to look back on with nostalgia. The 1983-1988 Chevrolet Monte Carlo SS is just that. It was the last full-frame V-8 couple from the automaker. Not only that, the L69 5.0-liter V-8 under the hood was the last carbureted V-8 used in a GM passenger car, with fuel injection coming into full use.

On top of that, the vehicle just looks great. It exudes a stock car racer feel, with plenty of muscular details. Plenty of people will appreciate the brutish, chest-thumping qualities of this automobile and the end of an era it marked.

If you want to go for a super-rare version of the car, look for an “aerocoupe” from 1986 or 1987. The back glass was designed to boost high-speed aerodynamics.

Pontiac Grand Prix 2+2

The Pontiac Grand Prix 2+2 is one of the best 80s muscle cars

Most people have forgotten about this ultra-rare ‘80s muscle car. But already there’s some rumbling among enthusiasts and some collectors about it, showing that the vehicle could definitely be headed toward the status of a collector.


It was a limited-run version of the Grand Prix and was only made in 1986. Production was capped at a mere 1,225 units. Like the old Monte Carlo SS, it was old school, or didn’t have electronic fuel injection. Instead, a 5.0-liter four-barrel V-8 pounded out loads of power. A four-speed automatic was part of the setup as well.

Ford Thunderbird SC

Made in 1989, this version of the Thunderbird was unlike other models. While the car had become a pathetic excuse of what Ford had originally set out to do long ago, the Blue Oval tried to reignite the passion with the Super Coupe.

To be fair, it didn’t improve the plain looks of the Thunderbird at the time. What it did do was team up the Fox chassis with a lively, supercharged 3.8-liter V-6. For the time, it was a pretty hot commodity. Back in 1989, Motor Trend named it the Car of the Year. Enthusiasts loved it as well, and so it’s a good vehicle to snatch up now.

Chevrolet Camaro IROC-Z

You might laugh to see a third-generation Camaro on this list of ’80s muscle cars, but unlike mullets, they’re becoming classics. The IROC-Z models are especially hot. They’re not earth-shatteringly powerful or particularly good-looking, but for a 1980s American muscle car they actually handle quite well.

If you can get your hands on a 1985 or 1986 with a manual, they’re particularly valuable. Starting in 1987, an automatic became the only transmission available, which was a real downer.

Pontiac Fiero

Can the Fiero really be classified with other ’80s muscle cars? Maybe not, but it doesn’t really matter, because they’re becoming quite desirable. While all models are hot, the 1984 Indy Pace car replicas are particularly valuable, as are V-6 GT and Formula models, and they’re only going to become more sought-after.

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While the Pontiac Fiero has been derided by plenty of people, the fact is that they’re now being looked back at with fondness. You can find plenty that aren’t in the best of shape, making them a true diamond in the rough. With some careful restoration work, you can have on your hands a bonafide classic that could go for a nice sum in the future.

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