Best Used Muscle Cars to Buy in 2021

Best Used Muscle Cars to Buy in 2021

Muscle cars are as American as it gets. The concept is simple: take a normal, small-to-mid-sized automobile and fill it with as much power as humanly possible. The end result is a vehicle that effortlessly delivers sportscar-like performance, but at a reasonably attainable price-point.

But if you just think of muscle cars as performance vehicles, you’re missing the point. Yes, they’re fast, but they’re so much more than that. Conceived in the booming post-World War II era, muscle cars became a statement of American affluence and ingenuity, and demonstrated that mass-market vehicles needn’t be utilitarian. For the first time, ordinary people could own a car that was fast, attractive, and affordable. 

And yet, despite that, the definition of what constitutes a muscle car isn’t entirely solidified, and there’s plenty of crossover with similar performance-driven cars, like “pony cars” and sportscars. 

Some purists insist that the category exclusively encompasses models manufactured in the United States during the halcyon post-war period, particularly in the 1960s and early 1970s. Chrysler, Ford, and General Motors (not to mention the late Pontiac, which brought the Australian-made GTO to the US market in 2004) would all disagree with that assessment, having released self-described muscle cars in the past two decades. 

On a technical level, most agree that a muscle car should come with a powerful V8 engine, which lends favorably to its drag racing credentials. And it shouldn’t be big, either. Almost all have two doors, and most (but not all) have two seats. Rear-wheel drive is the norm, so forget about track-tearing all-wheel driving. Additionally, a great many come with a manual transmission. 

We’ve compiled some of the best muscle cars on the second-hand market. Some are classics, and rank among the best muscle cars of all time. Others are affordable powerhouses that’ll remind you of the sheer joy of driving, without causing serious damage to your bank balance.

Best Muscle Cars To Buy

2019 Ford Mustang Bullitt (from $44,000)

2019 Ford Mustang Bullitt (from $44,000)

The mustang is a type of free-roaming horse that’s endemic in the rugged inland parts of the West. It has since become a cultural icon that symbolizes the American pioneering spirit, defined by a sense of individualism and independence. 

And so, it shouldn’t come as a Ford picked this animal for its flagship muscle car. And boy, does the 2019 Ford Mustang Bullitt live up to its name. 

At the heart of this model is a roaring 5L V8 engine, which delivers up to 480HP, and thus, incredible acceleration. Gas mileage is decent, in no small part thanks to its small aerodynamic body, and owners can expect to get 15MPG in the city and 24MPG on the highway. 

The Bullitt edition of the 2019 Mustang is well-equipped with luxury touches, ranging from subtleties like heated leather seats, to high-tech wonders like a fully-equipped infotainment and safety system.

Still, it’s important to remember that this isn’t the most practical car on the market. Although it comes with four seats, the rear two suffer from a dearth of leg-and-head space. There’s just 30.6-inches between the rear and front seats, making long trips feel akin to the misery of flying long-distances on a low-cost carrier. This space would be most wisely used as a cargo space, in addition to the car’s generous trunk.

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2019 Ford Mustang Bullitt (from $44,000)

The mustang is a type of free-roaming horse that’s endemic in the rugged inland parts of the West. It has since become a cultural icon that symbolizes the American pioneering spirit, defined by a sense of individualism and independence. 

And so, it shouldn’t come as a Ford picked this animal for its flagship muscle car. And boy, does the 2019 Ford Mustang Bullitt live up to its name. 

At the heart of this model is a roaring 5L V8 engine, which delivers up to 480HP, and thus, incredible acceleration. Gas mileage is decent, in no small part thanks to its small aerodynamic body, and owners can expect to get 15MPG in the city and 24MPG on the highway. 

The Bullitt edition of the 2019 Mustang is well-equipped with luxury touches, ranging from subtleties like heated leather seats, to high-tech wonders like a fully-equipped infotainment and safety system.

Still, it’s important to remember that this isn’t the most practical car on the market. Although it comes with four seats, the rear two suffer from a dearth of leg-and-head space. There’s just 30.6-inches between the rear and front seats, making long trips feel akin to the misery of flying long-distances on a low-cost carrier. This space would be most wisely used as a cargo space, in addition to the car’s generous trunk.

30-Day warranty
Free 7-day return
Free 7-day trial return
30-days warranty
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No-Contact Test Drives
Shop Used Ford Mustang

2008 Chevrolet Corvette (from $30,500)

 2008 Chevrolet Corvette (from $30,500)

One of the oldest cars in this line-up, and thus the cheapest, the 2008 Chevrolet Corvette doesn’t offer much in terms of modern conveniences. And yet, it’s still a worthy contender, with performance and stylings prioritised. 

Under the hood, there’s a 6.2L LS2 V8 engine, with 430HP and 424lbs of torque. It’s a big engine, and yet, fuel efficiency is outstanding. You can expect 15MPG in the city and 26MPG on the highway, assuming you opt for the six-speed manual transmission, rather than the four-speed automatic. This is largely thanks to its smaller frame and lighter construction. 

With a seating capacity of two, the 2005 Chevrolet Corvette is well-suited for those muscle car purists, while remaining relatively uncompromised when it comes to interior comforts. And given its low price, it’s really hard to fault it.

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 2008 Chevrolet Corvette (from $30,500)

One of the oldest cars in this line-up, and thus the cheapest, the 2008 Chevrolet Corvette doesn’t offer much in terms of modern conveniences. And yet, it’s still a worthy contender, with performance and stylings prioritised. 

Under the hood, there’s a 6.2L LS2 V8 engine, with 430HP and 424lbs of torque. It’s a big engine, and yet, fuel efficiency is outstanding. You can expect 15MPG in the city and 26MPG on the highway, assuming you opt for the six-speed manual transmission, rather than the four-speed automatic. This is largely thanks to its smaller frame and lighter construction. 

With a seating capacity of two, the 2005 Chevrolet Corvette is well-suited for those muscle car purists, while remaining relatively uncompromised when it comes to interior comforts. And given its low price, it’s really hard to fault it.

30-Day warranty
Free 7-day return
Free 7-day trial return
30-days warranty
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No-Contact Test Drives
Shop Used Chevrolet Corvette

2017 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat (from $56,000)

2017 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat (from $56,000)

The first Challenger emerged in the 1970s, during the glory days of the American muscle car. Revived in 2008, newer models are a modern-day homage to the original icon, and the 2017 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat is a shining example.

First: it looks cool. Mean, even. Even though it left the assembly line just a few years ago, you can easily imagine the likes of Burt Reynolds or James Stewart behind the wheel, having stayed faithful to the original stylings that made the muscle car so special. Under the hood you’ll find a screaming 6.2L V8 engine, which delivers 707HP and up to 650lbs of torque.

And yet, it’s weirdly sensible by the standards of a muscle car -- let alone one with “Hellcat” in the name. It’s one of the few specimens to come with five seats (although the limited amounts of space and two-door setup makes this an unlikely family car). Although far removed from a gas-sipping Prius, fuel economy isn’t too atrocious, with up to 23MPG on the highway and 13MPG on city roads. And with an eight-speed automatic transmission, it’ll prove gentle to those who never learned the nuances of a stick shift.

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2017 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat (from $56,000)

The first Challenger emerged in the 1970s, during the glory days of the American muscle car. Revived in 2008, newer models are a modern-day homage to the original icon, and the 2017 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat is a shining example.

First: it looks cool. Mean, even. Even though it left the assembly line just a few years ago, you can easily imagine the likes of Burt Reynolds or James Stewart behind the wheel, having stayed faithful to the original stylings that made the muscle car so special. Under the hood you’ll find a screaming 6.2L V8 engine, which delivers 707HP and up to 650lbs of torque.

And yet, it’s weirdly sensible by the standards of a muscle car -- let alone one with “Hellcat” in the name. It’s one of the few specimens to come with five seats (although the limited amounts of space and two-door setup makes this an unlikely family car). Although far removed from a gas-sipping Prius, fuel economy isn’t too atrocious, with up to 23MPG on the highway and 13MPG on city roads. And with an eight-speed automatic transmission, it’ll prove gentle to those who never learned the nuances of a stick shift.

30-Day warranty
Free 7-day return
Free 7-day trial return
30-days warranty
No-Contact Test Drives
No-Contact Test Drives
Shop Used Dodge Challenger

2017 Chevrolet Camaro 1SS (from $40,900)

2017 Chevrolet Camaro 1SS (from $40,900)

The Camaro delivers on the fundamentals of what you’d reasonably expect from a muscle car. Under the hood is a 6.2L V8 engine, providing 455HP of horsepower and 445lbs of torque. With its low-to-the-ground design and aerodynamic composition, this guarantees a fun ride, particularly on open roads where you can take advantage of the Camaro’s spectacular acceleration. 

It’s a four-seater, but woe betide anyone unfortunate enough to be stuck in the rear rows, with just 29.9-inches of space. Not even the Camaro’s bevy of accessories, which include built-in LTE Wi-FI and satellite radio, can distract from this. Like the Mustang, this space is best utilized as a cargo space. 

Still, the 2017 Camaro 1SS redeems itself on the fuel economy front, delivering some of the best mileage found within the category. With 16MPG on the street and 27MPG on the highway, the Camaro benefits from a comparatively lower cost of ownership.

30-Day warranty
Free 7-day return
Free 7-day trial return
30-days warranty
No-Contact Test DrivesButton Text
No-Contact Test Drives
Shop Used Chevrolet Camaro
2017 Chevrolet Camaro 1SS (from $40,900)

The Camaro delivers on the fundamentals of what you’d reasonably expect from a muscle car. Under the hood is a 6.2L V8 engine, providing 455HP of horsepower and 445lbs of torque. With its low-to-the-ground design and aerodynamic composition, this guarantees a fun ride, particularly on open roads where you can take advantage of the Camaro’s spectacular acceleration. 

It’s a four-seater, but woe betide anyone unfortunate enough to be stuck in the rear rows, with just 29.9-inches of space. Not even the Camaro’s bevy of accessories, which include built-in LTE Wi-FI and satellite radio, can distract from this. Like the Mustang, this space is best utilized as a cargo space. 

Still, the 2017 Camaro 1SS redeems itself on the fuel economy front, delivering some of the best mileage found within the category. With 16MPG on the street and 27MPG on the highway, the Camaro benefits from a comparatively lower cost of ownership.

30-Day warranty
Free 7-day return
Free 7-day trial return
30-days warranty
No-Contact Test Drives
No-Contact Test Drives
Shop Used Chevrolet Camaro

Brains and braun

We’ve listed some of the best second-hand American muscle cars money can buy. With a range of seating and interior options, but a consistent sporty-level of performance, there’s something for everyone. 

Found the muscle car for you? Now it’s time to pick the smart choice for where you buy it. With Shift, you can buy your next vehicle from the comfort of your own home. Our simple and transparent up-front pricing means there’s no haggling or bartering. And with all cars undertaking a 150-point inspection from one of our qualified mechanics, and Shift Certified cars are covered with a free 30-day warranty, you can hit the road with confidence.

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Author
Shift Editorial Team