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Bryan
Hagerty Employee

6 full-size alternatives to muscle cars

There are plenty of cars from the ‘60s and ‘70s that offer beautiful designs and gutsy power plants that don’t neatly fall into the muscle car category. We’ve even offered up some more affordable, mid-size alternatives to the typical muscle car. This time, let’s delve into some of my favorite full-size cars from the era that, while heavier than their drag-strip hero counterparts, brought some big V-8 power to bear. 

 

Read the full article on Hagerty.com:

https://www.hagerty.com/media/lists/6-full-size-alternatives-to-muscle-cars/ 

102 REPLIES 102
DeanoK
New Driver

63-65 Buick Riviera.  Always will be!

wotdahal
Passenger

I would add to the list:

1959 Thunderbird 430 Convertible

1965 Riviera

1966 Thunderbird 428 Convertible

1967 Eldorado

1967 Riviera GS

1968 Toronado

1972 Riviera

All are readily available, potentially high performance and will turn heads at any car show.

shoulderboards
Intermediate Driver

My uncle had a 1968 Plymouth Fury 2DR hardtop with a 375 hp 440 V8 with a floor-shifted 4-speed.  I was always impressed when he would show off when I was in the car by burning rubber and rowing the 4-speed as if that big boat was a Barracuda.

DarrylBirch
Passenger

Let's remember folks that horse power rating in north america, pre 1972 was measured in Gross HP not Net.  Therefore, it is much less powerful that the rating says.  

Brandan
Hagerty Employee

But they're also massive V-8s and ripe for modification. 

jdreeves
Pit Crew

We are aware of that. But one can coax a lot more h.p, from those small and big block engines with aluminum heads ported and polished and hotter cams and bigger intake and exhaust valves and headers etc.

Guitar74
Gearhead

Not as much as you are illustrating. Net just means through mufflers with the accessories that are belt driven being attached. The BIG drop in horsepower after '71 was more attributable to the big drop in compression, the addition of smog equipment, and detuning year by year of said engines to pass emissions standards. Also keep in mind that during the horsepower wars, many engines were purposely "under rated". If you look at factored horse power it takes approx 350 horsepower to push a 3600 lb car through the traps in the 14 second range. A lot of so called "over rated" engines could push a car of that weight through the 1/4 mile much quicker than that in stock trim.

Much less powerful than claimed? I don't think so.
Sharx
Pit Crew

These cars all look best going straight, at a car show or cruising your local main street.  But come up on a sharp corner too fast and you'll wish you had slowed down ALOT more because you have rear drum brakes, often  in front as well.  The body lean?  Ya better have your seat belt on tight.  My old '68 Mustang F/B GT 390 was even like that.  But that said, I love the styling that has made them more popular, albeit with most of us older crowd.  Unless it's a low mileage keep it original, it makes sense to redo the entire suspension to more modern parts, but think twice, because you may never get the return on your investment when sold.

Doug42
Intermediate Driver

I thought this was a hobby for people who love cars not not investment club. It appears the auction houses have won the message.

Guitar74
Gearhead

My '65 Galaxie stays flat around the turns with the factory suspension. My '76 LTD is another story altogether. My wife's '79 Tbird stays much flatter than any fullsize car I have ever driven. So much so that it was a pleasant surprise the first time I took a curve "at speed". My '68 Cougar is alike a slot car. The four wheel manual drums on my Galaxie will throw you through the windshield.....Once. Do more than one panic stop and the fade is unbearable. The one ting an old car requires of the driver is to actually drive it. I am just as at home driving the '65 Galaxie with four wheel manual drums as my wife's '13 Fiesta. That being said, the FIRST thing I got rid of on the Cougar was the drum brakes. The drums on that would not bite, not bite, not bite, and then lock up. Not a good recipe with Atlanta and Metro Atlanta traffic.

But....Disc brake swaps are easy, as is upgrading the sway bars and/or adding a rear.
DaveA
Detailer

I’ve never worried about return on investment when it comes to cars. I buy cars so I can enjoy them. Worrying about value doesn’t seem like a fun way to spend my time.

DUB6
Gearhead

Amen, @DaveA!  I've no truck with folks who buy and sell vehicles with the intent to profit from it, but I'm 100% with you.  My vehicles (cars, trucks, motorcycles, go-carts, everything really) were all because I wanted them.  Never a thought for resale value - not even once.  In fact, I lost several pairs of shorts more than once when trading out - and never batted an eye or had a tear in one, except maybe for the "goodbye" mistiness in getting rid of something I'd really enjoyed driving and having.

jdreeves
Pit Crew

I would add the 1962 Sport Thunderbird Roadster with the 390 with 406 heads with tri power which produced 345 h.p. And the 1957 Ford Thunderbird F Code supercharged 312 that depending on the boost produced from 300 to 377 h,p,

Sfzeller
Passenger

1969/70 Mercury Cougar

georgiahoosier
New Driver

I had a 69 AMC Ambassador SST coupe and loved it. I preferred the Teague-restyled wide front end over the stacked headlights of the year before but they were still sharp clean cars. In fact Ambassador 2 door hardtops were good looking cars clear up to 73.

shafe99
Passenger

I would add A Chevrolet Caprice 2 DR SS 396 with the Optional 375 HP. Great car and very quick for the weight. 

Mike
Diego
Detailer

Such a car was never built. Only 425 horses (1965) or 325 (through 1968).
Decepticondave
Passenger

Too bad few have seen a 1965 Chrysler 300 2D HT....

Cmertes
Navigator

What? No mention of Imperial?
dooscoop32
Detailer

I agree about the '70 Thunderbird.  I have never understood why there is so little love for the 4-seat Thunderbirds of ANY year.  It seems as though people just turned their backs on them after 1957.  I love the Square Birds, the Rocket (or Bullet) Birds, the Flair Birds, the Big Birds and all that followed.  I can't believe how little most of these cars sell for at auction.   And that's not because I'm a Ford man.  Because I'm not but I am an admirer of great automotive design and so many 4-seat T-Birds were just that!

AngryBird
New Driver

2002 - 2005 Thunderbird Retro-Birds were abandoned for the cookie cutter Mustang.

Steve1957
Pit Crew

I bought a 61 T-Bird, Honey beige with black interior, 390 and only 18K miles in the early 80s. I loved the styling, but alas, speedwise, it was a parade float. Still, the styling kept my satisfaction with it high. The guys resto-modding my 63.5 Galaxie right now have one in a bay nearby, and it really brings back memories of my fun twenties. Now I have the Galaxie and my daily driver, a perfect 1972 Cad CdV with 35K miles. That's a real attention getter. Do love the Birds, though.

Guitar74
Gearhead

I just saw one on the road the other day. In all my years it was the FIRST. The '70 was a beautiful car. Add a 429 and you had a definite sleeper. 

Jmz65
Passenger

I have to add my current project and favourite from that time.  1965 Galaxie 500 XL

Guitar74
Gearhead

Agreed. I have a '65 500 XL. Factory buckets and console. I LOVE driving that car. Post some pics.

crispyquail0831
Passenger

I have a 1969 Impala 427 SS

I would have thought it would have been at the top of the list.IMG_3264.jpgIMG_3871.jpg

 

Scott
Pit Crew

It says “alternatives” to muscle cars. Your SS would be considered a muscle car.

72ChevelleSS
Navigator

Hmmmm... they must have also forgot the 1970 Hemi Cuda, and the 1970 Chevelle SS 454? Maybe we should go back together and READ THE TITLE?!?!!

Scirocco
Pit Crew

You need to actually read the article.

DK72
Passenger

I may be wrong, but is this a rebadged Caprice? I thought that the formal roof line is a giveaway.

Guitar74
Gearhead

My dad had a gold '69 Impala. It was just a 396 2bbl. Still that car could rip the rear tires. Gotta' love a Chevy Big Block. I bet your SS is a lot of fun! And yes. It should have made the list. 

elldorado2000
Intermediate Driver

Such beautiful cars.  I'm liking that Buick Wildcat.  I bought a 74 Pontiac Grand Am as a project car last year.  It's a A body car, but the proportions hide how truly big these cars are.  My Grand Am is a tighter fit in my garage around the perimeter than my 2005 Chevy Tahoe.  

Watch enough of the video to hear that wonderful V-8 rumble

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f_lsuJ3xkwg&list=PLDVMZI_3FDreUgeiihv4nG8KWDXGh2eti&index=9&t=95s

63vette
Passenger

I would add the '63 through '66 GPs, though the first two are probably the '64 GTO's equal on the drag strip.  The '67 GP convertible is also worthy of inclusion.  Lastly, the 69-70 GPs were fabulous looking, smooth and powerful beasts, especially in SJ trim.  I don't share the author's opinion that the nose on these cars is "polarizing." 

DennisTheROACH
New Driver

1970 Toronado GT

400 hp, 500 ft lb torque

0-60 7.5 sec 800 lb heavier than the 442 at 7.2 sec

Etapza
Passenger

I found this 1969 Mercury Marauder X100 with only 87,000 miles that's been in storage since 1981...How can I download my pics?

Guitar74
Gearhead

What are you waiting for? Post them. I wanna' see the Merc.

dooscoop32
Detailer

My all-time favorite in the full-size cars is the 1967 Chevrolet SS 427 which was the Z24 option.  By the way, it is NOT an Impala.  You will not find the word Impala anywhere on one of these.  

 

 

 
 

 

JCB1952
Passenger

All of these ugly ducklings made the list over the '69-'72 A-Body Grand Prix ?! 

 

John1
Pit Crew

My uncle had a 68 Tornado. I was 6 at the time but I was spell-bound by it size and interior....black and chrome everywhere...long wide console and huge front seats....

TerriStreet
Passenger

My mom drove a 1966 Rambler Ambassador that I actually had a chance to buy from her by didn't want it. The car had great pick up and rode like a Cadillac. 

MarkM
Navigator

A 1966 as well as 1967 Thunderbird should qualify. No snails in this flock.

DB8054FA-7827-4DB4-B96F-847A30F07073.jpeg

JBaguley
Intermediate Driver

Too big and barge-like for my taste. Powerful, yes, but so is an ocean-going ore freighter.

trinity77555
Passenger

I loved and owned a 1967 Ford Galaxy 500 390ci and a 1967 Buick Wildcat 455 both were Tudor Hd tops and Wonderful Cars.

TDASmith455
Pit Crew

How about a 1973 Suburban with a factory 454 and 3.73 posi rear end?  Ok, ok it's a 'SUV', but back in the late 70's I smoked the disco-era Vettes, Z28s and Trans Ams that the 'rich kids' were driving around in High School.  Loved the look on their faces when I shot by them, making the $300, 6 point drag racing ticket I ended up getting worth it!

bobbieduvall
New Driver

Ah the big boys!  You gotta love em eh?  To bad you left out mine.  The 1974 Pontiac Grand Ville Convertible.  In Pontiac Porcelain Blue.  I've got a 455 plant with enough HP to push my grandmothers empty grocery cart.  Single exhaust, low compression, catalytic converter, **bleep** OPEC.  But man does it cruise.  🙂

turbobill
Intermediate Driver

I've always felt  the big cars with the biggest engines were better than the muscle cars. I currently have two. One a 66 Biscayne Wagon with a 427 and a '68 Wildcat. With minor tuning, mild cams 2teens@.050" lifter rise and headers, both run low to mid 14's. Stock gears, intakes and Q-jet carbs. Both weigh north of 4500# (actual weights) too.

 

Only difference between a '68 and '69 Wildcat other than the styling is that the '68 was on the C body chassis with 4 inches more wheelbase and the fender skirts from the Electra. That extra length (and weight) was in the rear seat foot.well area. Both cars have surprised many over the years!

Bobnoir
Passenger

Even with the recommended alternatives and  their prices,  one might as well buy the muscle cars.

1930-Model-A
Passenger

The beautiful car shown above is spectacular with except to the disgusting exhaust pipes hanging down for all to see. The exhaust installers totally destroyed the appearance of this amazing beauty. The exhaust should have the underside hidden from view.

RH-41
Pit Crew

All beautiful cars, but who did the exhaust on the purple T-Bird?   GAG!