Here Are The Most Ridiculous Myths People Still Believe About Classic Muscle Cars

Myths have a funny way of taking hold and becoming a reality for people. In the automotive world, misconceptions are easy to come by, especially for those who are only casual car owners. This includes muscle cars, which makes sense as those have built up mythology in the car world. There are debates on where exactly they originated and how long it took for them to become the machines folks know. Some even debate precisely when the “classic” muscle era began and ended.

Some things are undeniable, such as how the best ones are V8 powerhouses and the U.S. produced some terrific machines. Yet, there remain numerous misconceptions about classic muscle cars that even some buffs can fall for. Some myths refuse to go away from technology to history despite the evidence, and these ten misbeliefs in muscle cars can still pop up today.

10 Engines Are Everything

Ford Flat Head V8
Via Hot Rod Newtwork

Here’s a fallacy that affects many cars: The belief that the bigger the engine, the better the overall car is. A great V8 is critical to a muscle car, especially one with great output. Yet, in some cases, a larger engine ended up weighing down the car and keeping it from achieving the speeds needed.


via BringaTrailer

Also, no matter how vigorous the engine may be, it won’t do any good if the steering, transmission, or body is bad. Sadly, not all the prime era’s muscle cars were created equally, as the engine isn’t the only reason they worked.

9 Only Fast In A Straight Line

A yellow Dodge Dart Demon

Mention classic muscle cars, and one term comes to mind: “only useful in a straight line.” Modern muscle cars have taken to be able to handle a curve much better as many of the older models were terrific for a straight race but bad on turns.

For 1970, This Dodge Challenger R/T Se Was One Of Just 23 Such Hemi Four-Speed Ones Made And Sold
via Hemmings

Yet a few classics could be terrific on an oval track, such as the Dodge Dart, Challenger R/T, and the Pontiac Trans Am. The speeds may not have matched a straight-line racer, but it shows that classic muscle cars could better handle a curved road.

Related: 5 Old Muscle Cars That Could Actually Go Around A Track (5 Classic Sports Cars That Were Best In A Straight Line)

8 Limited Slip-Rear Was Popular

As muscle cars are meant for a serious straight-line racer, limited-slip differentials are a must. So it’s natural to assume that from the start, this was a prevalent need for owners. Yet several muscle cars of the classic era, such as the Road Runner and the Hemi only offered LSD for half of their models.

This Is The Best Dodge Coronet To Buy And Collect
via Mecum

It was more an option, and not everyone chose to go for it. It took a bit for it to become a popular choice despite how limited-slip aids a muscle car’s performance.

7 Serious Gas Guzzlers

via mecuum

The reason for the muscle is the engines, which lend the image of muscle cars as having the worst fuel economy imaginable. That was an issue for the 1970s, yet the Camaro and the Ford Mustang could be outfitted with smaller engines that, while lowering the horsepower, did make for better mileage.

1970 Chevy Camaro

It’s not just today’s muscle offerings that are more eco-friendly as several classic models also won’t hurt the wallet at the pump.

Related: These Tuned Muscle Cars Are Producing Ridiculous Amounts Of Power

6 They Weren’t Called That Back Then

via MyCarQuest

This is one of the odder myths, but somehow, the idea developed that “muscle cars” was a term only added after the classic era passed. This is tied into how several historical eras need time before they can be labeled.

1962 Ford Thunderbird in a room

Take a deep dive into car ads and stories from the 1960s, and numerous mentions of “muscle car” can be found discussing the 1962 Thunderbird, among others. While “supercar” was sometimes used, they’ve been called “muscle” from the start.

5 They’re All Easy To Restore

TV shows make restoration jobs look a lot easier than they really are. A benefit of the classic muscle era is that several of the cars are no-frills jobs that are relatively easy to restore. But others can be harder, especially rarer models, so it’s challenging to find the right parts for them.

Old Pontiac GTOs 1968-1972 Muscle car Restoration Parts Orange
Via Hagerty

Even the “easier” restoration jobs can still toss an unexpected wrinkle from the wrong materials to tricky getting the output right. A classic muscle machine is not some weekend lark but serious work to restore to greatness.

Related: These Classic Muscle Cars Are Too Cool To Modify

4 Lower Mileage Is Better

the underrated 1971 AMC Hornet SC/360
Via: GAA Classic Cars

This is a fallacy for classic cars of any type. Too often, someone thinks that because a car is low-mileage, that means it’s in great shape thanks to not being driven often. A lack of high mileage should be a major warning sign something is wrong with a muscle car.

This is a 1972 Dodge Dart Demon, an excellent first muscle car.

If an owner didn’t want to drive this car too often, there’s a reason, as a well-maintained machine can get terrific miles and still be raring to go. Low mileage is okay, but a classic muscle car with only a few thousand miles may not be worth its price.

3 They Were All-American

Muscle cars are usually defined as American machines, which makes sense given their power and performance. Yet other nations in the ’60s and ’70s were putting out their own excellent muscle machines. Australia’s Holden Monaro GTS 327 and Falcon GT could challenge anything the U.S. had at the time.

via Mecum

Brazil sold over half a million Mavericks, many with a unique V8 variant, and even BMW offered a few good models. While the best were made in the USA, there were terrific international classic muscle cars too.

Related: 10 Best Muscle Cars That Aren’t From The United States

2 They’re All Fast

This Is What You Need To Know Before Buying A Ford Torino GT
via HotRod

It’s sad but true, but muscle cars are not all created equally. Even in the classic muscle era, some offerings were pitiful in terms of horsepower and could be outpaced by a sedan. The 1970 Ford Torino GT takes ten seconds to get to 60 mph, and the 1965 Chevrolet Impala SS Hardtop Coupe is a whopping twelve and a half.

via Mecum

Some can be modded to do better but don’t assume any old-styled muscle car is automatically a speed machine.

1 They’re Incredibly Expensive

via mustangforums

“Classic” has a way of becoming “pricey” in the back market. It’s thus easy to assume that a pristine muscle car has to fetch a massive price tag. The reality is that some terrific muscle cars can be found for a song.

via Hemmings

A ’68 Ford Mustang sells under $20,000 and a Ford Torino GT goes only up to $15,000. Yes, some are pricey, but most classic muscle cars are well within reach of any owner and cheaper than many of today’s cars.


Next: 10 Classic Muscle Cars We’d Avoid Like The Plague

Cosmic Stardust Harley Davidson

10 Worst Motorcycles Collectors Paid A Fortune To Own

About The Author