Too often it seems, we muscle car guys get really excited at the sight of a shiny new muscle car. Pick up your favorite muscle car magazine or visit your favorite muscle car website (Streetfiends.com) and you’re bombarded by actions shots of awesome new machines displaying what they’re really capable of. It makes you dream, it makes you plan financial strategies, and it might even make you take extreme measures, like spending your kid’s college funds!
Unfortunately, the current pack of muscle cars are pretty well out of the price range for the common guy like me. On the other hand though, there’s quite a few muscle cars within the last 10 years that are quickly becoming very affordable, sometimes costing just a third of a what a new Camaro would cost. Just because you may have to opt for an older model doesn’t mean you have to forget about performance altogether. The target of this article is to point some of you budget-minded street fiends into the right direction. Without further ado, lets take a look at some of your options.
Let’s start out with the ’04-’06 Pontiac GTO. Pontiac’s last 2-door muscle car wasn’t what many had in mind when it was released to a luke-warm reception, but it still delivered the goods when it came to balls-out performance. The ’04 model was quick with it’s 350 horsepower LS1 engine, but it was quickly overshadowed by the ’05-’06 model that featured an even more potent 400 horsepower LS2 V8. While the ’04 GTO isn’t anything to scoff at, the LS2 may be more worth the extra initial cost in the long run. ’04 GTO’s can be found for between $10,000-12,000, and ’05-’06 GTO’s can be had for about $14,000-17,000–sometimes more depending on the mileage and condition.
Mopar fans can also finally begin to find budget-friendly modern muscle with the ’06-07 Charger R/T and Daytona. The 5.7 Hemi offers plenty of grunt with about 350 horsepower and both the R/T and Daytona sub-models can be found for between $15,000 and $20,000 on a pretty frequent basis. The ultra-frugal shopper can sometimes even find an SRT8 model for right around 20k. One of the great things about the Charger is it’s ability to transport the whole family while still retaining some of that classic muscle car attitude.
Perhaps the most affordable of all new muscle cars is the ’05 Mustang GT. Finding a fifth-generation Mustang for under $15,000 isn’t too much of a challenge, and that’s for a car with decent miles on it, too. Recent redesigns and new drivetrains in the newest Mustang models have pushed the prices of the older models down quite a bit. The ’05 Mustangs lack in the power department a little bit with the 4.6 V8 rated at 315 horsepower, but the weight difference between the Mustang and it’s competitors almost makes up the difference. With an enormous aftermarket, the Mustang is a smart choice for anyone planning on doing any kind of modifications to their car.
Other notable mentions are the ’98-02 Firebird Formula, Trans Am, Camaro Z/28, Camaro SS which all have the LS1 which puts out respectable power for under $10,000. The G8 GT is also becoming a popular choice, but still hasn’t quite fallen into the “affordable” range just yet. And sure, there’s plenty of other import choices, but nothing beats the sound of an American V8!