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Are Muscle Cars Reliable? Yes, but only if impeccably maintained

Over the years, automobiles have changed dramatically, and one of the most notable eras was that of the muscle car. Built for performance and speed, these beautiful creatures screamed “drive me”, and they did not want to be treated nicely. Although there is nothing quite like the sound of a V8 growling under the hood of a classic car, many people have asked, are muscle cars reliable?

A well-maintained old-school muscle car is reliable, however, they require more maintenance and costs more to maintain than modern cars. A modern muscle car is very comfortable, reliable and comes with modern car safety features.

Continue reading to learn more about muscle cars and their reliability.

American muscle car on street

What Are Muscle Cars?

Although there is some debate among car enthusiasts about what exactly defines a vehicle as a muscle car, many of them share these things in common:

  • Two-door
  • Large V8 engine
  • Fast acceleration
  • Rear-wheel drive
  • Big tires
  • Medium body size
  • Low weight
  • American made

The term “muscle car” is used to describe a wide variety of high-performance vehicles. They became popular in the mid-1960s, especially with young drivers. They were fast, loud, and best of all, affordable.

What is the Difference Between a Sports Car and a Muscle Car?

Sports car

While there is again some disagreement amongst drivers over the distinction between the two, there are some obvious differences.

DifferenceMuscle Car’sSports Car
PowerBuilt for power and speed with a massive V8 engine.Smaller engines, designed for acceleration, not power.
TorqueLarge engines generate a massive torque output. Often more torque than power.Speed and agility come from fast engines, not high torque levels.
BodyBeefy with dramatic curves, big angles, and more space.Compact with slender lines, slim frames, and rounded edges.
HandlingDesigned for fast driving on straight roads, they are a bit harder to handle on curvy roads.Designed for agility, steering, cornering, and braking with ease.
ManufacturedAmerican-made is one of the prerequisites of a classic car.Typically manufactured outside of the United States.
CostInitially affordable, their large engine was the most obvious feature.A bit more expensive due to the extensive safety features and modern gadgets.
PurposeMean and aggressive, muscle cars were built to accelerate quickly and move but are not always the best choice for daily driving conditions.Nimbler, sports cars accelerate a bit slower but are designed to maintain speed through cornering and offer more control in various driving conditions.
AC Cobra gas cap

Are Muscle Cars Hard to Maintain?

It seems that, again, there is some debate about this question. Some owners say it is easier to maintain their muscle car than their newer daily driver, while others have a much more colorful way of explaining the maintenance issues surrounding their car.

The most-reported advantage is that older cars were made during a much simpler time. They are more accessible than a newer vehicle and, in some cases, easier to repair. Additionally, since most people do not use their classic car as a daily driver, they do not need to maintain them as often.

The most-reported disadvantage is that it can often be hard to find parts because they are no longer being manufactured. Although, the internet does make that much easier today. Additionally, some parts can be quite expensive because there are only a few left in circulation.

Ultimately, it seems as though keeping a muscle car that is in good condition and has been properly cared for is not as difficult as it may seem. However, if you plan to restore an older vehicle, or drive it quite often, maintenance could become quite a time-consuming and expensive endeavor.

Are Muscle Cars Expensive to Repair?

The cost to repair a muscle car depends on what type of car you are repairing and where you plan to have the repairs done. Depending on the vehicle you have, and the year it was manufactured, it might be hard to find original parts. Most of the parts are no longer manufactured and you must either track down used parts in good condition or cross your fingers and pray there is one collecting dust on a shelf somewhere.

The easiest way to save money on repairs is to do them yourself. Luckily, older cars are easier to repair than newer vehicles and much of it can be done without special tools. However, if you and wrenches do not get along, you will have to pay someone to do the repairs for you, and this can become quite expensive.

How Many MPG Do Muscle Cars Get?

Muscle car

Compared to some of the newer fuel-efficient vehicles, muscle cars are gas guzzlers. However, in their defense, many of them were manufactured during a period when gas was only 30-40 cents a gallon! While there are a few things that you can do to increase the fuel efficiency of your classic car, it will never fully stack up against many of the more modern vehicles.

Exactly how many MPG a muscle car will get depends on the vehicle. Generally, the older the vehicle is, the less MPG you can expect to get from it. For example, a 1953 Chevrolet Corvette averages around 10 to 14 MPG, while a 1992 Dodge Viper could get up to 20 MPG. On average, older muscle cars will get around 10 to 16 MPG.

Although advances in technology have helped the fuel efficiency of newer muscle cars, it does not always guarantee they will have better gas mileage. For example, the 2002 Hummer has been rated as getting below 10 MPG.

How Many Miles Do Most Muscle Cars Last?

While these vehicles might look rugged enough to last forever, they often suffered extensive rust damage before 100,000 miles. However, it is possible to keep these beauties running long past the 100,000-mile mark if they are kept in a garage and maintained properly. Additionally, many of the newer muscle cars are made with technology that will allow them to hit 200,000 miles or more, and they are not as susceptible to rust damage.

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Are old cars easier to work on?

Should I buy a used Camaro?

Are muscle cars hard to drive?