Thanks to movie franchises, such as The Fast and the Furious, XXX, or, well, just about anything with Vin Diesel in it, there’s this idea you can jump into a classic muscle car, outrun any cop car, and tear up the streets. Now here’s the reality check: Classic muscle is nearly a half century old, and to put it mildly, a lot has changed. Case in point: The 1970 Chevy Chevelle SS396 is one of the most coveted muscle cars of all time — you know, the red and black one you see at every car show. The hot Chevelle made 350 horsepower and could go from zero to 60 in 6.8 seconds. In other words, it would get completely embarrassed by the new Focus RS, which gets 350 horsepower from its turbo four and makes the zero to 60 jump in 4.6 seconds. And that’s not saying anything about the other areas where the Focus has beaten the Chevy, such as quality, construction, reliability, fit and finish, handling, and safety.
So the good old days aren’t exactly transferrable to the 21st century. That’s OK. Today, you see all kinds of restomod updates on classic iron. Inside many classic muscle cars lies newer technology, such as disc brakes, power steering, electronic ignition, and revised suspension components. These modifications keep the spirit of the car intact and ensure the car gets driven, which, after all, is what it was meant to do. But preservation has become increasingly important in collector car circles, and we completely understand why. Keeping a car as it was when it rolled out of the factory makes it an important link to our automotive past. But if you’re going down that route, be prepared to make some compromises because they don’t drive like modern cars. We took a look at the muscle car era and came up with 10 cars that despite their reputation were just fundamentally flawed. Some can be fixed with a little modification. Others are too valuable to fix at this point. Either way, here are 10 classics that likely will leave you wanting for more if you ever find yourself behind the wheel.
1. 1964-1973 Ford Mustang base
It’s the iconic first-generation Ford Mustang — the Carroll Shelby, Steve McQueen, Gone in 60 Seconds Mustang. Yes, the Mustang was one of the most popular cars of the ’60s and could be had with fire-breathing V8s. But the vast majority of the 2.9 million produced came with the base engine: Ford’s bulletproof old inline-six. Available as a 170 (1965 only) and later a 200-cubic-inch six-pot, the Thriftpower pumped out a wheezy 120 horsepower (the 170 made 101), making the majority of Mustangs anything but sporty. We’re all for historical preservation, but we can’t get mad whenever we see a vintage six-banger ‘Stang that had a V8 transplant.