Ever since the advent of the American muscle car, owners have craved two things in their ride: performance and customization. Whether it’s a 427ci big block or an eye-catching all-leather interior, car enthusiasts have always wanted the most powerful engine in a body that’s one of a kind. In today’s market, you have hundreds of options to build the car you want from your manufacturer or choice’s year model. However, some shoppers want to go above and beyond and find a car that’s truly out of the ordinary. Up next are some of the rarest muscle cars and classics that you won’t find on the streets on any given day. No more than 150 of any of these cars are still around; some of these models have only a handful accounted for in official production and manufacturing records. For a look at the rarest cars in existence, keep reading.
15. 1970 Plymouth Hemi Superbird (135 produced)
Sicnag via Flickr
Plymouth had such great success with the Roadrunner line that they decided to modify and create a secondary racing line, the Superbird. It was supposed to rival the Charger Daytona with its 426 ci Hemi engine. The Hemi engines were making a great success with Chrysler brands including Dodge and Plymouth, so it made sense to use it in their 1970s racing builds. However, the Superbird became more famous for its high mounted spoiler and iconic horn that sounded just like the Roadrunner in Looney Tunes. Though the model didn’t live past 1970, the 135 produced are still coveted at auctions today.
14. 1969 Chevrolet Camaro ZL-1 (69 produced)
In 1969, Chevy offered an exclusive upgrade to their Camaro with the ZL-1 engine, a fine-tuned motor with the capacity to provide up to 560 horsepower. In comparison, the 2019 Camaro ZL-1 provides 650 horsepower. The ’69 ZL-1 was the first of its kind, as it was made entirely of aluminum instead of sheet metal like the L88s. This drastically reduced the weight of the engine to provide faster speeds for the drag strip. While the car was impressive, it came with a steep price tag. Chevy sold it for around $7,200 (which would be around $50,000 today), but the original ’69 model didn’t sell very well. Chevrolet eventually took some of the models back to the factory to refit them with L88 engines so they could be sold.
13. 1967 Ford Fairlane 500 R-Code (57 produced)
Sicnag via Flickr
The Fairlane was originally Ford’s full-size standard model, until 1962 when they remodeled the body style to emulate the more popular muscle cars. The Fairlane later inspired Ford’s classic muscle cars including the Torino and Cobra models, which were predecessors to the Mustang. The Fairlane 500 R-Code denotes the Fairlanes manufactured for racing, all of which had an “R” in the VIN number to identify the model’s dual quad carburetors. With these carburetors, The Fairlane 500 R-Code could produce 425 horsepower. Though these aren’t the most popular Ford muscle cars, they are certainly iconic to collectors and Ford enthusiasts everywhere.
12. 1967 Plymouth R023 GTX (55 produced)
Plymouth’s claim to fame is undoubtedly their Roadrunner and Barracuda lines; however, the GTX is a notable historic car for many reasons. The GTX models are significantly rarer because they never reached the popularity of other models. The R023 is especially unique because it was the racing model for the manufacturer, and had been specially designed to increase speed with significant reductions in weight and increase in horsepower. The R023s were void of the original GTX’s hubcaps, radio, heater, and even the carpet making it 500 pounds lighter than the streetcar. The lightweight build coupled with a 426 cubic inch Hemi engine made it possible for this racer to go from 0 to 60 in 4.8 seconds in 1967.
11. 1970-71 Plymouth Hemi Cuda Convertible (21 produced)
To car enthusiasts, racers, and collectors everywhere, very few muscle cars can compare to the Plymouth Hemi Cuda. Plymouth shortened the name of the Barracuda line and offered five different engine options to consumers ranging from 340 to 440 ci blocks. The Hemi engine upgrade was very expensive (over $870, which would be around $5,700 today) so the convertible models were rarely seen on the streets. However, you can’t argue that this American muscle was the quintessential hot rod of its time. In 2016, a blue Hemi Cuda sold for $3.5 million in under eight minutes. As Mecum auctioneers say, this is truly the “Holy Grail of muscle cars.”
10. 1967 Chevrolet Corvette L88 (20 produced)
Chevy made the L88 racing series in 1967 and 1968, producing just over 200 in two years. This car was never meant for the road — Chevrolet discouraged dealerships from selling to consumers because the 540+ horsepower engine was considered to be unsafe for street driving. Chevy even tried to hide the car’s performance by advertising a lower horsepower rating in order to convince consumers to purchase the street-ready Corvettes of the time. However, this rare model, of which only 20 were produced in 1967, still holds its place in car history today. The 427 ci Chevy big block engine and sleek body style will likely maintain it’s popularity for many more years.
9. 1970 Chevrolet Chevelle SS 454 LS6 (20 produced)
The 454 LS6 is the rarest of all Chevelles ever made. The standard Chevelle came with two engine options, the RPO225 with a 402 ci engine or the RPO215 with a 440 ci engine. If you chose the RPO215s, you had the option to upgrade to the LS6, which boosted engine performance to 560 horsepower. This option was only open to a select few customers with histories of custom orders, including well-known racers and Chevrolet employees. Today, these cars are worth around $150,000, as compared to the standard ’70 Chevelle which you can purchase for approximately $30,000 from owners.
8. 1971 Pontiac GTO Judge Convertible (17 produced)
The Pontiac GTO was originally designed by John DeLorean as an upgrade from the Pontiac Tempest Line. Eventually, it received its own title and model line, and began receiving more attention in the racing world. The GTO Judge was designed specifically for racing. Pontiac stripped the interior to reduce weight and replaced the original GTO motor with a 455 ci engine worthy of true muscle car status. The convertibles were especially rare, and only 207 were produced from the model line. Only 17 of those were made in 1971, making this year model convertible incredibly special. In 2013, one sold for a whopping $230,000, proving that these cars are still very well known and loved.
7. 1957 Jaguar XKSS (16 produced)
JOHN LLOYD via Flickr
Made famous by “The King of Cool” Steve McQueen, the Jaguar XKSS is still one of the rarest and most popular classic cars on the market. It was remodeled from unsold Jaguar D-Types that were popular at the time. While it kept the 3.4 liter racing engine, the XKSS has a road-ready body style and interior which made it a promising sports car addition to the Jaguar family. However, a fire at the factory during production allowed for only 16 XKSS models to be completed. The XKSS sold for around $5,000 in 1957, and is worth around $30 million today.
6. 1948-1950 Aston Martin 2-liter Sports DB1 (15 produced)
While the DB5 may have made Aston Martin famous in the James Bond movies, the DB1 is one of the manufacturer’s rarest and most valuable models. The first of the DB series (named after Aston Martin owner Sir David Brown), this model offered an impressive 90 horsepower and top speeds of 93, which was pretty fast in 1948. It became known as the Aston Martin 2-liter Sports for its 2-liter inline four engine, but so few were produced that the model never took off in popularity. The last one known to be auctioned sold for a surprising $120,000 despite its poor condition. The value of a well-kept DB1 is estimated to be much higher.
5. 1948-1951 Talbot-Lago T26 Grand Sport (12 produced)
This historic racecar is truly one for the books. It is an incredibly rare find, as the model was one of the last produced by Talbot-Lago before they were bought by Simca. Under the hood, these Grand Spots carried 4.5-liter 6 cylinder engines, making them one of the fastest and most powerful racers at the time. The model was driven by racer Louis Rosier throughout his career. He drove a Talbot-Lago T26 to victory at the 1950 Le Mans 24-Hour Race, reaching top speeds of 125 mph down the backstretch. Today, these rare racecars are worth an approximate $2.5 million.
4. 1954 Oldsmobile F-88 GM Concept Car (4 produced)
Oldsmobile is one of America’s oldest car manufacturers. It was founded in 1897 by Ransom E. Olds and continued as a GM brand until 2004. Oldsmobile F-88s are not particularly uncommon, but the 1954 model was only built four times as one of auto designer Harley Earl’s personal projects. His “XP 20” project outfitted the Oldsmobile with a 5.3 liter super 88 V8 engine, giving the car 250 horsepower. Earl obviously had high hopes for the model, but sadly only the four were produced as a concept car. Later F-88 models became more popular, while the 54′ model stayed in collector’s garages for decades. The last time one was auctioned was in 2005, where it sold for over $5.5 million.
3. 1954 Packard Panther-Daytona Roadster (4 produced)
This two-seater cruiser is an incredibly rare classic that deserves attention on this list. The Panther-Daytona Roadster was originally named “The Grey Wolf II,” and when it was built it boasted an impressive 212 horsepower straight-eight engine with two-speed transmission and top speeds of over 130. The all-fiberglass body was made with a one-piece molding, explaining why the car wasn’t produced by Packard for very long. However, its easy ride and astonishing speed for 1954 makes this classic an incredibly valuable concept car today. At The Barrett-Jackson auction in 2013, one of the four was sold for $825,000. There’s no telling what a car like this could sell for in 2019.
2. 1969 Chevrolet Corvette ZL-1 (3 produced)
The Corvette C3 was the standard in 1969, with a 350 ci small block engine and sporty new body style. The original 5.7-liter engine could produce up to 400 horsepower, but several Chevy employees wanted more. One employee ordered the ’69 Corvette with a ZL-1 engine block, containing an L88 427 ci special turbojet. The new and improved engine could get up to 500 horsepower and was made available to two additional employees for the price of $10,771. That’s the equivalent of around $75,000 today. Because it was available only the high-level Chevy employees, the price would have likely been much higher if it were sold to consumers.
1. 1967/1970 Dodge Coronet R/T 426 Hemi Convertible (2 produced)
This car is the rarest on our list, with only two being produced in 1967, and two produced in 1970. Dodge remodeled their 487 Coronet R/Ts with Hemi engines, a new and popular engine style that was used exclusively by Chrysler brands (Dodge, DeSoto, Plymouth, etc.). The 1967 model was the first R/T (road and track) model produced by Dodge for the Coronet. This same body style was used in 1970; however, Dodge revamped the Hemi engine build and was able to offer 425 horsepower that year. Though these concept cars never became popular, they will always be admired by collectors throughout history.