You don’t need to break the bank to own a decent muscle car

Muscle cars from the golden era, which usually include the late 1960s and early 1970s, are highly desirable nowadays. They’re not as expensive as the Ferraris of the 1960s, which fetch millions of dollars, but many of them will require six-figure sums. Luckily, there still are a few affordable muscle cars you can. And even though most of them are a bit more modern, you can still buy a handful of golden-era cars without breaking the bank. Here are our top 10 cheapest muscle cars on the market.

1990 Chevrolet Camaro IROC-Z - $7,000 - $9,000

Top 10 Cheapest Muscle Cars
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Launched for the 1985 model year as part of the third-generation Camaro, the IROC-Z is the first candidate on our cheap muscle cars list. The IROC was named after the International Race of Champions and was offered as an option package to the Z28. All told, it was the range-topping model for many years, and it was included on a few lists of "best cars" from the era. The package became standard on the Z28 in 1988. The bundle was discontinued after the 1990 model year when the 5.7-liter V-8 reaches its peak output at 245 horsepower and 345 pound-feet of torque. By far, the most popular version of the third-generation Camaro, the IROC-Z, can be found for less than $10,000. Sure, well-maintained models usually go for $12,000 to $18,000, but you can score many IROCs with $7,000 to $9,000 if you’re okay with more than 100,000 miles on the odometer and small issues to fix.

Top 10 Cheapest Muscle Cars
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1990 Chevrolet Camaro IROC-Z specifications
Engine: 5.7-liter V-8
Power: 245 horsepower
Torque: 345 pound-feet
0-60 mph: 6.1 seconds
Top speed: 145 mph
Quarter mile: 14.7 seconds

1975 Dodge Dart Sport - $6,000 - $9,000

Top 10 Cheapest Muscle Cars
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The Dart Sport is one of the more interesting 70s cars on this list. The Dart started life as a full-size automobile in 1960, but it was relegated to a compact in 1963 and remained small until it was discontinued in 1976. The fourth-generation model joined the muscle car wars with exciting engine options, but the Dart started losing power following the 1973 oil crisis. The Sport 360 arrived in 1974 with a 5.9-liter V-8 engine rated at 245 horsepower, the most potent variant you could buy at the time. This trim remained in showrooms until 1976 when it was transformed into an option for the Sport V8. The Sport 360 is among the most expensive Darts from the era, but you can still take one home for less than $20,000. However, you can settle for one with the less powerful 5.2-liter V-8 and get away with spending $6,000 to $9,000.

Top 10 Cheapest Muscle Cars
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1975 Dodge Dart Sport specifications
Engine: 5.2-liter V-8
Power: 145 horsepower
Torque: 255 pound-feet
0-60 mph: 10.3 seconds
Top speed: 112 mph
Quarter mile: 19 seconds

1993 Ford SVT Mustang Cobra - $18,000 - $20,000

Top 10 Cheapest Muscle Cars
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This is one of the more modern muscle cars on our list. The 1993 Mustang SVT Cobra is the first model with this special badge. Introduced just as the third-generation Mustang was going out of production, the first SVT Cobra was sold for one year only. Although it’s not as exclusive as the R model, the SVR Cobra is the sportiest and most powerful version of the Fox-body Mustang. These cars aren’t as cheap as they used to be, so expect to pay close to $20,000 for one. Mint models will set you back more than that, but do a proper search and be prepared to fix some issues, and you won’t pay more than $20K for a car that’s becoming a prized collectible. The SVT is fitted with a 230-horsepower V-8 engine and hits 60 mph from a standing start in 5.9 seconds.

Top 10 Cheapest Muscle Cars
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1993 Ford SVT Mustang Cobra specifications
Engine: 5.0-liter V-8
Power: 235 horsepower
Torque: 280 pound-feet
0-60 mph: 5.9 seconds
Top speed: 140 mph
Quarter mile: 14.5 seconds

1996 Chevrolet Camaro Z28 SS - $8,000 - $15,000

Top 10 Cheapest Muscle Cars
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The fourth-generation Camaro wasn’t as popular as its predecessor. Slow sales and the declining sports car market led Chevrolet to discontinue the nameplate altogether in 2002. That’s one of the reasons why you can buy Camaros from the era really cheap. And even though they’re far from spectacular, some models are worth it. The 1996 Camaro Z28 SS is one of them. Essentially an upgrade over the Z28, it featured a V-8 engine rated at 305 horsepower, 30 horses more than the regular Z28. I know old muscle cars are cooler, but you can have a lot of fun with the Z28 SS too. You can buy one of these for as low as $8,000, although some versions will fetch close to $15,000.

Top 10 Cheapest Muscle Cars
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1996 Chevrolet Camaro Z28 SS specifications
Engine: 5.7-liter V-8
Power: 305 horsepower
Torque: 335 pound-feet
0-60 mph: 5.5 seconds
Top speed: 150 mph
Quarter mile: 13.9 seconds

1975 Ford Maverick Grabber - $9,000 - $20,000

Top 10 Cheapest Muscle Cars
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The Ford Maverick isn’t a true-blue muscle car, but the Grabber package made it look like one. The stripes, the bulge on the hood, and the white wall tires were cool additions to the sporty-looking coupe. It’s one of the coolest looking old cars from the 1970s. The six-cylinder engines that Ford was offering at the time were far from powerful, but the 5.0-liter V-8 came in at 129 horsepower in 1975. Also far from impressive, but you should keep in mind that the Maverick tipped the scales at less than 3,000 pounds. Prices for Maverick Grabbers usually start at around $9,000 but be prepared to pay up to $20,000 for a well-optioned and well-maintained model.

Top 10 Cheapest Muscle Cars
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1975 Ford Maverick Grabber specifications
Engine: 5.0-liter V-8
Power: 129 horsepower
Torque: 208 pound-feet
0-60 mph: 10.6 seconds
Top speed: 106 mph
Quarter mile: 18.2 seconds

1971 Ford Torino GT - $12,000 - $19,000

Top 10 Cheapest Muscle Cars
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The short-lived Ford Torino wasn’t designed as a muscle car. Offered in various body styles, including sedans and wagons, it was a more upscale version of the Fairlane. However, the GT coupe version joined the muscle car market from 1970 to 1971, when it was offered with the bigger V-8 engines. The Torino GT is one of the most authentic and classic muscle cars you can buy without breaking the bank. Prices vary greatly depending on trim and engine, but you can find some for as low as $15,000. A Torino you have to work on will set you back even less than that. It’s one of the best muscle cars on a budget you can buy right now.

Top 10 Cheapest Muscle Cars
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1971 Ford Torino GT specifications
Engine: 5.8-liter V-8
Power: 285 horsepower
Torque: 370 pound-feet
0-60 mph: 7.4 seconds
Top speed: 129 mph
Quarter mile: 15.9 seconds

1970 Mercury Cyclone GT - $14,000 - $20,000

Top 10 Cheapest Muscle Cars
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The Cyclone GT was essentially Mercury’s version of the Torino GT. It shared underpinnings with the Torino, but it featured its own unique exterior design and a fancier interior. Engine options were pretty much the same, so it came with a variety of V-8 powerplants. Cyclone GTs from 1970 and 1971 are a bit harder to find than the Torino. They’re also a bit more expensive at around $18,000, but you will stand out in a crowd. Be sure to look it up while you search for classic cars for sale, as you may find a true gem.

Top 10 Cheapest Muscle Cars
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1970 Mercury Cyclone GT specifications
Engine: 5.8-liter V-8
Power: 300 horsepower
Torque: 380 pound-feet
0-60 mph: 6.7 seconds
Top speed: 130 mph
Quarter mile: 15.5 seconds

1968 Ford Mustang - $12,500 - $17,000

Top 10 Cheapest Muscle Cars
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When it comes to affordable muscle cars, it doesn’t get better than this. 1968 was a very good year for the Mustang, and believe it or not; you can still find one for less than $20,000. As long as you’re not gunning for the higher performance versions or the limited-edition variants. A quick look online reveals you have tens of options for prices varying between $12,500 to $17,000, all equipped with V-8 engines and in good condition. These are the best deals for a V-8-powered first-generation Mustang. No "muscle cars for sale" should miss the 1968 Mustang.

Top 10 Cheapest Muscle Cars
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1968 Ford Mustang specifications
Engine: 4.9-liter V-8
Power: 230 horsepower
Torque: 310 pound-feet
0-60 mph: 6.9 seconds
Top speed: 120 mph
Quarter mile: 15.7 seconds

1979 Pontiac Firebird / Trans Am - $10,000 - $19,000

Top 10 Cheapest Muscle Cars
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The Pontiac Firebird was living its best years in the late 1970s thanks to the PR it got through the Smokey and the Bandit movie. Getting a specific Trans Am model is a bit tricky, but you can go with the standard Firebird or even one fitted with the Formula package. They should pop up on any list of old cars for sale in any state. Prices range from around $10,000 to $19,000 for a well-preserved model, including a few Trans Ams. And yes, you have plenty of V-8 models to choose from, so don’t worry about the lazy six-cylinders from the late 1970s.

Top 10 Cheapest Muscle Cars
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1979 Pontiac Firebird / Trans Am specifications
Engine: 4.9-liter V-8
Power: 135 horsepower
Torque: 240 pound-feet
0-60 mph: 13.1 seconds
Top speed: 114 mph
Quarter mile: 19.5 seconds

1971 Ford Ranchero - $13,000 - $19,000

Top 10 Cheapest Muscle Cars
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You probably weren’t expecting a truck on this list, but muscle is muscle, no matter the body word. Based on the Ford Torino/Fairlane, the Ranchero isn’t as famous as the Chevrolet El Camino, but this means it’s more affordable than its GM rival. And you can actually buy a 1970 or 1971 model, which means more muscle, for less than $20,000. If you stay away from the limited-edition models and the cars with really low mileage, you can buy one of these muscle trucks for $13,000 to $19,000. Not bad for an authentic classic that packs V-8 engine with big power.

1971 Ford Ranchero specifications
Engine: 5.8-liter V-8
Power: 240 horsepower
Torque: 350 pound-feet
0-60 mph: 9 seconds
Top speed: 115 mph
Quarter mile: 16.8 seconds
Ciprian Florea
Senior Editor and Supercar Expert - ciprian@topspeed.com
Ciprian's passion for everything with four wheels (and more) started back when he was just a little boy, and the Lamborghini Countach was still the coolest car poster you could hang on your wall. Ciprian's career as a journalist began long before earning a Bachelor's degree, but it was only after graduating that his love for cars became a profession.  Read More
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