6 great 1980s and ’90s alternatives to high-priced muscle cars

As a child of the 1980s, I’ve noticed the cars that were new when I was a kid are getting popular once again. And why not? Enthusiasts are known to buy things that made an imprint in their formative years. There’s even a reproduction parts scene for some once underappreciated models, like the Monte Carlo SS.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://www.hagerty.com/articles-videos/articles/2019/08/09/6-great-1980s-and-90s-alternatives-to-high-priced-muscle-cars
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How about a 1999 Mercury Cougar V6? A perfect example goes for less than $2500.

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Since the article title didn’t mandate a domestic manufacturer, I’d also include many of the RWD Imports of the late 80’s to early 90’s as alternatives. The prices are starting to rise but the V6 powered Nissan 300z (Z31 and Z32), N/A Toyota Supras are still relative bargains IMO. And then there were the V6 Mitsubishi 300GTs (and Dodge Stealth), including the AWD Turbo VR4…and any turbo RX7. All of those offer straight line performance on par with those muscle cars. Some exceeding them and even the alternatives mentioned. And they turn too.

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The article involves the heir apparents of classic muscle cars.

That means no imports, and no V-6 Cougars. Plus, Cougars are not on the expensive side, so there’s no need to find an heir apparent.

I would rather stay bald.

I need twenty characters when two suffice…No

I dunno, Diego…Cougars, if presented either in nice original condition or nicely restored (which is an expensive undertaking!) have been doing quite well in the past few years, thank you :wink: Check out just the most recent Bring A Trailer auctions with Classic Cats…

It’s the way the last-Gen was offered, in that it was a huge departure from the original, that sort of sticks out to me, as far as “non qualifying” here goes…

Where’s the 4th gen V8 Firebirds? 275-330 net HP, 6-speed or 4 speed auto. Will outrun and out handle nearly all 60s cars for a small pittance. Styling top notch too, many clearly non-car enthusiasts mistake them for a corvette. 3rd gen is OK, but 4th gen put all the muscle back.


Growing up in the 80s I have a love for this era of cars, and have low mileage examples of 3 of the cars on this list: GN (87 ht), Fox (90 7 Up Edition 5 spd), and Camaro (95 Z28 Cvt 6 spd in rare color). All are fun, amazing cars in their own right. The Mustang is the most rudimentary car, the Z28 6spd is the most fun, and the GN has the sinister rep and the best ride of the bunch.

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What about the 1995 through 99 Buick riviera supercharged Buick has a tendency slip in some fast cars like the gnx and in the 90s the supercharged 3.8s

Being a long time “Car Guy” or “Motor Head” if you want to through in the love for motorcycles, boats and anything with a “combustion engine” I’ve always been attracted to the 50-60 early 70 vehicles; maybe because that is when I grew from teens to adult or simply because they were changing every year (appearance), increasing HP and somewhat easy to work on (no computers);

With that said I realized that the “price” of many of these were skyrocketing; taking us “Shade Tree Collectors” out of the market.

Looking to get back into the “Muscle Car” arena and seen that many of the 80 and 90 vehicles (even with their environmental "add on’s) were somewhat affordable.

What did I decide to purchase; to get the “Muscle Car” feeling, to experience the “Throttle Pulse” and to finally “own one”…Well in my opinion one of the “Best Buys” right now for those of you that want to experience the aforementioned:

The “Corvette C4” models.

Here’s my 1995 Corvette; Fun to drive, Gives me that muscle car experience (no need to comment on the 320 HP, she has a nice set of “Flow Masters” on her and sounds and accelerates great):

I feel (cost and experience)

this should be in the “List of Great 1980s and 90s Alternatives to “High Priced” Muscle Cars”


I have a 97 Camaro I love it only 18k miles on it looks brand new.

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Purchased a '97 Trans Am last year and absolutely love it - all original with less than 52K miles. Love the power, handling and the T-tops . Doesn’t get a lot of attention at the car shows but that’s okay, it’s still my baby. Have an 81 Corvette I would sell in a heartbeat - the Trans AM? Never!!!

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How about the mid 90s Mercedes sl500 or higher? They are super cheap, fun to drive, and very plentiful as most were over 90000 new so they were well taken care of!

Another vote for 4th gen firebird / TA’s…
Got my all original low miler (25k miles) a few years ago and love it! Also was a bargain😁

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So the Daytona should had not been on the list then.

But I agree with the V-6 FWD Cougar. The Mustang based Cougar doesn’t bring Mustang money, the XR7 package or Eliminator can get pretty high. I would had been more inclined to go with the late 80’s - early 90’s XR7 supercharged V-6 as a comparison.

The Olds Cutlass Supreme has a strong place in this group.

You call the game before you deal the cards @diegorosenberg. That may have been your intention, but it was never stated. And we can share our opinions of what we consider appropriate, better appreciating and better performing alternatives.

You also have the mid 90s Impala SS vs. the 60s versions at less than half price. Maybe not the fastest but very respectable with a Corvette motor and you can take the whole family for ice cream!

I had a chance last year to purchase the Monte Carlo that had a T-top. The owner was asking $8,500 for it but I’d been told by a local classic car dealer owner (who knew this particular vehicle) that $6,500 was a more appropriate cost. I should have purchased it (didn’t quite have the $s but probably could have found some - I didn’t want to take out an auto loan), especially since I later found out the T-tops were purportedly made in relatively limited numbers and would be more valuable. Rats! Another opportunity lost.

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