10 alternative muscle cars and classics that are heating up

Muscle car prices are on the rise, but even if the price of admission isn’t an issue for you, not everyone wants to show up with the same handful of models. Perhaps that’s why we spotted these 10 cars climbing up the Hagerty Vehicle Rating.

These models are related to some of the most popular American muscle cars and classics, albeit in a different wrapper, whether that’s a different body style or a different brand. These cars still offer tremendous style and often came from the factory with some respectable power plants that can keep up with their harder-to-find muscle car relatives. We spoke with Hagerty auction editor Andrew Newton, who has his finger on the pulse of classic car values, to get the stats on some of the rising stars.

The Hagerty Vehicle Rating tracks a vehicle’s performance relative to the rest of the market, based on a 0–100 scale. A 50-point rating indicates that a vehicle is keeping pace with the market overall. Ratings above 50 indicate above-average appreciation, while ratings below 50 indicate vehicles that are falling behind.

Vehicle +/-
1968–72 Buick Skylark 50 +32
1970 Buick Skylark
1970 Buick Skylark
Mecum

At your average car show you may see one Skylark for every dozen Chevelles. Wouldn’t you rather have a Buick? The powerful GS and GSX versions of Buick’s A-body are falling behind in the classic car market, while the Skylark has moved up to take their place. Because they share their underpinnings with the Chevelle/Malibu, Tempest, and Cutlass, there’s no end to the options for building a drag race or Pro Touring Skylark.

1965–70 Buick Wildcat 63 +43
1970 Buick Wildcat
1970 Buick Wildcat
Mecum

We’ve seen a five-percent jump in the number of quotes on this big, bad Buick. Related to the Impala and riding on the same full-size GM B-body chassis, these luxury haulers never saw an inline-six or even a small-displacement V-8. Second-generation Wildcats were only equipped with one of three big-inch V-8s, the smallest being the 425-cubic-inch Nailhead. The 430- and 455-cu-inch V-8s followed with more power thanks to much better cylinder heads. In 1966 the Wildcat was even available with a Gran Sport 430 with dual four-barrels and 360 horsepower.

1964–65 Mercury Comet 67 +44
1965 Mercury Comet Cyclone
1965 Mercury Comet Cyclone
Mecum

Looking a bit like a compact unibody GTO with its stacked headlights, the ’65 Comet was available with some muscle of its own. The very same 271-horsepower K-code 289 and four-speed found in the Mustang could be optioned for ’65.

1964–67 Pontiac Tempest 68 +38
1966 Pontiac Tempest
1966 Pontiac Tempest
Mecum

Pontiac’s GTO was arguably the first muscle car, and its 389-cu-in V-8s and triple two-barrels are legendary among enthusiasts. However, the Tempest that the GTO was based on has managed to fly under the radar until recently. We’ve seen insured values rise 27 percent and the total number insured has risen nearly 10 percent, showing that the handsome, sporty cars are catching on.

1965–70 Plymouth Satellite 71 +33
1968 Plymouth Satellite
1968 Plymouth Satellite
FCA

An auction star, the Plymouth B-body that spawned the GTX and Road Runner has seen the number of cars offered for auction jump 24 percent. Average sale prices are up 43 percent with an 83 percent sell-through rate. The 196570 model years cover two basic body styles, from the earlier, angular models to the curvier body that lead to the Road Runner. Either way, all sorts of Mopar powertrains found their way under the sheet metal, all the way up to the mammoth 426 Hemi, so there was a Satellite for every budget.

1955–57 Pontiac Star Chief/Chieftain 72 +30
1955 Pontiac Star Chief
1955 Pontiac Star Chief
Mecum

Tri-Five Chevys are featured in movies and written about in song, but when it comes to ‘50s chrome, Pontiac has Chevy beat by a mile. While they’re not going to change 60 years of American pop culture, both Star Chief and Chieftain have moved up more than 30 points in the Hagerty Vehicle Rating thanks to increases in the number insured.

1971–74 Dodge Charger 74 +58
1972 Dodge Charger
1972 Dodge Charger
FCA

Coke-bottle Dodge Chargers of 196870 are among the most beautiful and iconic muscle cars of the era, definitely a tough act to follow. The fuselage-body styling that was ushered in with Mopar B-bodies in 1971 never earned the same kind of enthusiast following, although their time might have come as their average sale price at auction is up 57 percent and 75 percent find buyers, three percent higher than market average.

1971–77 Chevrolet Vega 77 +49
1971 Chevrolet Vega
1971 Chevrolet Vega
GM

Whether you’re a quarter-mile fanatic with aspirations of cloning one of Grumpy Jenkins Pro Stock drag racer or a canyon carver with dreams of owning a high-revving Cosworth Vega, now is the time to get on board the economy car with scaled-down Camaro looks. Insurance quotes are up 21 percent.

1967–70 Mercury Cougar 79 +67
1967 Mercury Cougar
1967 Mercury Cougar
Mecum

The Mustang’s Mercury cousin has been one of the hottest cars at auction lately, with average sale prices up 37 percent and the number of cars offered up for bid up 18 percent. XR7 Convertibles are particularly hot. Thanks to classic Mustang’s tremendous popularity, the Cougar enjoys a large aftermarket for restoration and performance modification.

1966–76 Ford Ranchero 84 +60
1970 Ford Ranchero
1970 Ford Ranchero
Mecum

It may be early on this one, as the numbers are still low, but Hagerty clients have purchased 29 percent more Rancheros this year compared to last year and their insured values are up 10 percent. A robust aftermarket and parts commonality with popular mass-produced Ford mid-size sedans and wagons means these utes are restorable and many came with potent big-block V-8s just like the Torino.