14 American Muscle Cars That Underperform Despite Their Looks

American muscle cars are renowned for their aggressive styling and the roar of their powerful engines. However, not all muscle cars have lived up to the performance expectations set by their stunning looks. Here’s a list of 14 beautiful American muscle cars that, for various reasons, had underwhelming performance:

1974 Ford Mustang II

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The Mustang II was a drastic shift from its predecessor, smaller and less powerful due to the oil crisis and emission standards. Its base engine, a 2.3L four-cylinder, only produced 88 horsepower, failing to deliver the Mustang’s iconic performance.

1975 Chevrolet Camaro

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The ’75 Camaro suffered due to emission regulations. The base V6 engine managed just 105 horsepower, and even the V8 options were lackluster, with the top 5.7L V8 offering a mere 155 horsepower.

1982 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am

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The third-generation Firebird Trans Am was striking in appearance but had a base 2.5L four-cylinder engine with only 90 horsepower. Even its V8 variant couldn’t revive the expected performance.

1976 AMC Matador

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The Matador Coupe had a stylish design but was let down by its performance. The base 4.2L inline-six engine only churned out 120 horsepower, underwhelming for a car with a muscle profile.

1978 Ford King Cobra Mustang

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While it had an aggressive look with a prominent cobra emblem and aero add-ons, its performance didn’t match up. The 5.0L V8 engine produced a modest 139 horsepower.

1973 Mercury Cougar XR-7

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The Cougar XR-7 evolved into a luxury coupe, losing its muscle car edge. The base 5.8L V8 only made 168 horsepower, and the car’s increased weight didn’t help its performance.

1980 Chevrolet Monte Carlo

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The 1980 Monte Carlo sported a sleek look but came with a standard 3.8L V6 that made just 115 horsepower. Even the optional V8s were tepid in power output.

1974 Plymouth Barracuda

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This was the final year for the Barracuda, and it was a shadow of its former self. The standard powerplant was a 150 horsepower 5.2L V8, disappointing for muscle car enthusiasts.

1975 Dodge Dart Sport

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The Dart Sport, with its muscle car styling, came with a 3.2L inline-six that produced a meager 100 horsepower, far from the expectations of a performance car.

1975 Oldsmobile Cutlass Salon

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Although it had a stylish design, the Cutlass Salon’s standard engine was a 5.7L V8 with only 170 horsepower, not enough to provide thrilling muscle car performance.

1978 AMC Concord AMX

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The AMX was a compact muscle car with a 5.0L V8 that produced only 125 horsepower, less than expected from its sporty appearance.

1981 Chrysler Imperial

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Reviving the Imperial name, Chrysler introduced this luxury coupe with a 5.2L V8 that produced just 140 horsepower, underwhelming for its grand styling.

1979 Mercury Capri

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The Capri’s base model came with a 2.3L four-cylinder engine, making only 88 horsepower. It had the looks but not the expected muscle car performance.

1976 Pontiac Grand Prix

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The Grand Prix had an attractive design but the standard 4.3L V8 offered a lackluster 150 horsepower, not living up to the muscle car image.

This article originally appeared on MyCarMakesNoise.

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Author: Dave Johnston

Dave is a hands-on automotive technician with experience in performing service, diagnostics, and repairs on domestic and imported vehicles. He enjoys writing and sharing his knowledge far and wide.

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