It was the 60’s and 70’s when Americans were left wowed by the muscle cars, with their powerful performance. These were the dream cars of many be it street racing or cruising down the countryside, everybody just loved them.
And, even if we look back love for these beasts has not even flinched a bit, although their price has definitely changed as they are now viewed as iconic muscle cars.
While cars are a depreciating asset as they age, a few of these classic cars are now valued quite high and can sell for a princely sum at the auction. The “7 Most Expensive American Muscle Cars” is a pretty exclusive niche, as entry starts at well above a million dollars.
7- 1954 Pontiac Bonneville Special Motorama Concept Car – $3.08 Million
In the starting 1950s, GM wanted to paint its Pontiac brand as sporty and exciting to attract a younger demographic to showrooms. Supposedly inspired by the cars he saw vying for speed records on Utah’s Bonneville Salt Flats, Harley Earl tasked designers Homer LaGasse and Paul Gilland with building a car worthy of the Bonneville name, one that would give the rival Chevrolet Corvette a run for its money. The result was the Pontiac Bonneville Special concept, of which only two were ever built.
The 230-HP, 268-cubic inch 8-cylinder never made its way onto the market, even though the four-speed Hydramatic automatic was Pontiac’s most powerful engine to date. It was sold for $3.08 million at Barrett-Jackson’s 35th-anniversary auction in Scottsdale.
6- 1967 L88 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray – $3.2 Million
The Chevy Corvette is one of the most recognizable American muscle cars and a favorite of many motorheads. The car’s iconic Stingray design and powerful performance have helped it hold its value quite well over the years, but only a few Corvettes have ever matched the price of this 1967 L88.
This L88 was one of 20 made that year. The L88 trim level was a secret model for Chevrolet — it didn’t advertise the option to the public or to its dealers. Most of those models were sold discretely to race teams, and with its 430-HP rated engine, you can see why.
This particular convertible was modified and used as a drag racer until 1970 and has since returned to the stock L88 specifications, but it still retains all of its iconic features. Its black-on-red paint exterior has been meticulously restored, the warning sticker for the fuel is still attached to the center console, and it’s equipped with the mighty “Rock Crusher” four-speed manual transmission.
5- 1971 Hemi ‘Cuda Convertible – $3.5 Million
Resembling similar in appearance to the ‘71 ‘Cuda Convertible that sold for $2.2 million, this 1971 convertible is particularly desirable because it is the only remaining convertible that has its original matching-number parts. It still has its original Hemi-426 V8 engine, and it’s the only Hemi ‘Cuda in existence with the 4-speed manual transmission with the original Hurst shifter. Only 11 have been produced in the world, and 1971 was also the year with the fewest Hemi convertibles ever produced.
Nicknamed the “Holy Grail of American Muscle Cars,” this ‘Cuda has a 440ci Hemi and a six-barrel carburetor with an upgraded suspension and reinforcements. Its first known owner was Russ Meyer, a famous cartoonist from the Southwest.
Meyer sold it to a man in Oregon for $250,000, but it was later seized in connection to a drug raid and was sold at an auction for $405,000. The car was subsequently restored its former glory by Julius Steuer, its original B5 Bright Blue color scheme with blue paint, black top, matching blue seats and all.
4- 1967 Corvette L88S Coupe – $3.85 Million
However this L88 doesn’t have the archived race time that its convertible cousin did, it stays one of the most wanted Corvettes at any point assembled.
Of the 20 L88 Corvettes made in the 1967 model year, this was the only machine with a matching red-on-red color scheme. With a heavy-duty suspension system, a 430-HP engine, and a transmission tuned for optimum performance on the quarter mile, this vehicle was armed for high-performance drag racing.
But despite the astronomical price tag, this car offered no features of comfort— it had no radio, no heater, and no air conditioning. Its engine is deliberately underrated, as well, as it delivers more than 560-HP in independent tests.
With the weight of its NCRS (National Corvette Restorers Society), the car was able to eclipse the sales mark set by its convertible cousin. Though both cars earned a regional NCRS Top Flight award, this vehicle surpassed the convertible by winning a national Top Flight Award as well as the Duntov Mark of Excellence Award and was sold to a very wealthy buyer at the Barrett-Jackson Scottsdale auction in 2014 for a hefty $3.85 million.
3- 1966 Shelby Cobra 427 “Super Snake” – $5.11 Million
This CSX 3015 is in a real sense the most uncommon Cobra that exists, as it is one of just two Super Snakes at any point constructed and the final straggler getting by. It has almost 1,000 HP from its twin-supercharged 427 V8. Carroll Shelby assembled this beast for himself since he needed to figure out how quickly it could really go.
This vehicle has gone through meticulous inspections, which included comparing it to other competition Cobras, where it was determined to be a full Competition Roadster, still retaining its original body with its aluminum “Super Snake” hood.
Steve Davis scraped through two layers of paint to find its original brilliant Guardsman Blue. It has its original date coded 1965 Competition Girling CR and BR calipers. The car still has its 427 Competition 377 rear end, its original rear end oil cooler and pumps, and astonishingly enough still has its original 1965 date-coded engine block, 5M17, December 17, 1965. It even has its original headers with its original chrome side pipes. This CSX 3015 is actually considered to be so “period original” that it was opted to renew instead of restore.
2- 1964 Ford GT40 Prototype – $7 Million
This GT40 was Henry Ford’s debut in Le Mans and has been driven by the likes of Bruce McLaren, Bob Bondurant, Phil Hill, and Chris Amon and has been raced in-period at locations like Le Mans, Sebring, Daytona, Nassau, and Monza. It’s even said to be the very first GT40 delivered to Shelby American for development.
The basic design consists of a lightweight steel monocoque chassis with a double A-arm suspension. Its all-aluminum 4.2L engine is complete with a Colotti gearbox to handle the 350-HP.
Ford displayed this rare machine at the Detroit Auto Show for a number of years until its last restoration in 2010 by Paul Lanzante which was sold at the Houston Mecum auction in 2014 for $7 million.
1- 1962 Shelby Cobra CSX2000 – $13.75 Million
The Shelby Cobra has had a long and illustrious reputation in the history of American muscle cars. With its bold design and high-powered performance, owning a vintage Shelby Cobra is a dream for many muscle car fanatics. Any original is going to be worth a heck of a lot of money, but the very first Cobra is priced way beyond any other. Chassis number CSX2000 sold for a monumental $13.75 million (a final bid of $12.5 million plus auction fees) at a Monterrey, California auction.
This particular Cobra is out of the world for more than just being the first-assembled by Carroll Shelby and his crew. It was painted several different colors within its first year of existence as it was shipped from event to event in order to make it seem as if production had officially kicked off. It, in fact, hadn’t, but the trick worked. It finally ended up the brilliant shade of blue you see today, and it’s impressively never been restored (which is very observable with dents and dings throughout the body and mismatched paint colors hiding in layers all over the chassis). Despite these flaws, however, it ended up being the most expensive American car ever sold.