Hey guys and gals! We are back for another blog post. The first blog had some great, but "concerned" members that felt we hadn't given some muscle cars enough love. So, since we listen to you guys, here is our top 5 AMERICAN/MUSCLE cars on a budget. Be forewarned, I know how to build a SBC within a Datsun, but my history on muscle cars is a little hazy. Don't shoot me. The criteria for this list is the following: The cars MUST be under $10,000, American made, and they must have some good brand or model history. We went for a mix of iconic, reputable, and controversial car choices.
Number 5: 4th Gen Monte Carlo (1980-1988)
These bad boys can be found anywhere from $1500-$10k depending on how much of a project you’re in search of, with most of them being under $5000. RWD and the 305 small block engine means that performance parts are plentiful for this one. Also, a very viable option should you want to get into dirt asphalt car, as the Monte Carlo is often used as a starting frame for budget minded dirt racers. The tough part about these cars is finding a good body to work with. Also, the SBC is nice, but by no means make it a racecar. Some heavy tinkering is needed to bring her up good stuff with more modern sport cars.
Number 4: C4 Chevrolet Corvette - $6,000-$10,000
Why? Because why not. Old school Corvette's seem to have a weird stigma. People like them, but no one seems to own one. You don't see them as much as you would see an older Camaro or Mustang. Why? Well, everyone has their beliefs and some are certainly true (Overpriced as hell sometimes). But there is just something about them. Call it personal preference, but the C4 has a style that I think has aged just perfectly to remind you that the 80's and 90's were a thing. These can be found all day for under 10k, with some being just over half of our budget. Again, RWD and a GM 5.7L V8 makes this one a no brainer. Combine that with years of Chevrolet’s performance testing and tuning, makes the c4 Corvette a threat both on and off the track. The con's to this car is finding one. No one seems to be selling any good ones. Maybe I should move South or something...
Number 3: Chevrolet Camaro 1981-1992 $1000-$4500 (Average)
THE MULLET MAKER. If you ever plan on buying one of these, make sure you bring your 24 pack of Surge with and your $2.99 pair of gas station sunglasses. These things are EVERYWHERE. However, speaking from a budget point of view you simply cannot beat it. Muscle car, V8, America, and a few other things really make this thing a car in and of itself. Surprisingly though, they can be very tastefully done (Ahem Adam Wendt from 10th grade) These things are easy to work on, the parts are very available, and it's a great platform for a GM 350. Pair that with a great chassis for a drag car, and its easy to see why the 3rd gen is a solid choice for any practical enthusiast.
Number 1'ish: Dodge Neon SRT4 (2003-2005): $3000-$8500
We said it. And we aren't sorry. So many enthusiasts scream that this isn't an American car. They say it isn't a muscle car. But nevertheless, the SRT4 technically fits our requirements. Unarguably the most harassed car on this list, The SRT4 is a true contender for any enthusiast. A 2.4l turbocharged DOHC engine paired with a 5 speed manual transmission makes the SRT4 a fun car to drive day in and day out. FWD makes the SRT practical, and that's what bother's people the most. Say what you will about FWD, but watching a mildly modified SRT4 walk most muscle cars on any given day is pretty hilarious. Oh, and did I mention the exhaust note is complete heaven? (but let's be real, I can hardly tell if a SRT4 is built to hell or about to blow up.)
Number 1: Fox Body Mustang (1978-1993)
While not always the prettiest of cars (sorry fox body guys) the point can be made that the fox body is a great build platform. In fact, fox-bodies are still considered one of the best muscle platforms to begin and build on. They are known for producing some stupid high numbers, at a stupid low price. It's RWD, and offers plenty of power out of the gate and with some small tweaks to the 5.0l v8, it's a monster. Best part about these cars is they were produced for a long time, so both stock salvage parts and aftermarkets are plentiful. We made this number one because of it's overall quality and potential.
So what do you think? Did we do ok, or did we totally miss our mark? Tell us in the comments below and share what YOU think should be the topic of our next blog. We truly hope you enjoy reading this and if you do, we will continue to post them for you.
Written By: Dustin Korth & Alex Martinez