Are you planning to purchase a used muscle car and you want to learn more about the muscle cars from the 90s? Well, if that is the case, then you are at the right place because, in this article, there will be quite a lot to cover on this topic.
Doing your own research before you purchase a car is always a good thing. It is really good to be informed and know more about the options that are out there for you. And frankly, a lot of people are into muscle cars nowadays which is absolutely crazy, especially looking for the most popular classic cars.
And for a good reason, considering that these vehicles are really powerful and offer a ton of performance for you as a driver. There is nothing better sounding than that V8 rumble on a cold morning I must admit. Even though, your neighbors might not like it. But who cares about that anyways?
So, in this article, we are going to learn more about muscle cars and what are muscle cars in general. Then we will cover the reasons why to get a muscle car from the 90s era, with as much passion as one might with the most wanted classic trucks.
And then we will discuss the muscle cars from the 90s. We will learn their main selling points, some of their specs, and also how much money you need to purchase one of these cars now. So, if you want to learn more about this, follow along.
What Are Muscle Cars
Now before we dive into our list of muscle cars from the 90s, let’s take a look at what are muscle cars in general. Not every reader is a car expert. So, we need to understand the core concepts of a muscle car and learn its main characteristics. Now let’s cover the characteristics before we look into the muscle cars from the 90s.
Now let’s talk about the definition of what is a muscle car. And frankly, this is a topic that has been endlessly debated and is rather subjective. But there are some key differences between a standard car and old muscle cars.
The main thing is that a muscle car is always an American car. So, there are no muscle cars from Europe or other continents. All of the muscle cars ever made are purely American, representing an important milestone in the history of classic American cars.
The first time this term was used was in 1949. It was used to refer to the instance when Oldsmobile put a big powerful Rocket V8 from the Oldsmobile 98 into the Oldsmobile 88.
And this instance started a big competition among the American automakers. Soon in 1951, Chrysler followed with their 331cu HEMI engine that they borrowed from the Chrysler New Yorker and installed in the smaller Saratoga.
But what really defined muscle cars started in the late 60s with the introduction of the Dodge Charger and Challenger. Not to forget the Plymouth Road Runner and Dodge Super Bee. As well as the Chevrolet Chevelle, Pontiac GTO, Oldsmobile 442, Mercury Cyclone and Buick Grand Sport.
All these models have written the history and defined what is a muscle car. And that is a relatively cheap two-door car with big V8 power under the hood.
Why Buy Muscle Cars From The 90s
So, we learned what is a muscle car. Now we know that these vehicles are usually 2-door coupes with plenty of power under the hood. Now let’s take a look at the reasons why you should get one of the muscle cars from the 90s.
What is worth noting is that the 80s and 90s in terms of muscle cars were not particularly good. And this traces back to 1973 when big smog restrictions came into place which greatly de-tuned the engines and this basically killed the muscle car as we knew it.
Still, muscle cars continued to be sold during the 80s and 90s but with a lot less power compared to the glory days of the late 60s and early 70s.
That’s why muscle cars from the golden era are worth a ton of money to purchase on the second-hand market. Even as bare bone shells without any parts.
So, muscle cars from the 90s are greatly undervalued. And this is rather good since you will be able to get all the performance for very little money. As would people would say, dirt cheap performance. This is one of the reasons to get one of these models since you can trash them and nobody will care.
Another reason is that the aftermarket is full of parts that you can install on one of these cars. Usually, all muscle cars follow the same principle with a lot of space under the hood and a lot of space to work on. So, swapping an engine couldn’t be easier.
And the last reason is probably the fun factor. There is nothing more fun than thrashing a Camaro on some back road. But what are the muscle cars from the 90s? Let’s find out more about that next.
90s Muscle Cars
We learned more about the definition of a muscle car and learned that these cars are usually American coupes with a lot of power under the hood and the reasons why you should get one of these muscle cars from the 90s.
Now let’s take a look at what is available on the market for purchase. The market as you probably know values the cars that have the most sentiment higher than the ones that don’t. So, prices might be different for older cars and in some cases look unrealistic. But that’s how the market is.
Now let’s cover the models and learn more about what is available for purchase right now in the muscle cars from the 90s segment.
Muscle Cars From The 90s #1: Pontiac Firebird & Chevy Camaro Third Generation (1982 – 1992)
Now let’s start our list of muscle cars from the 90s with something really cool looking and quite affordable. And this is the Chevy Camaro and Pontiac Firebird produced from 1982 to 1992. Why do we list these two cars together? Well, because genuinely, they are the same car under the hood. Two of the most popular 80s muscle cars and later 90s muscle cars.
Both of these vehicles are based on the same F-body platform and except for the badging, they are practically the same. Camaros and Firebirds are often considered pony cars. But for many, they are also considered to be muscle cars as well since they pack very powerful high-displacement engines under the hood.
We decided to add them to the muscle cars from the 90s list because even though most of their life was produced into the 80s. There are still two model years from the early 90s. And frankly, these model years are probably the most craved, because they were practically the most refined versions of the F-body platform.
And what is good is that they were produced in vast numbers. Even in 1992 when sales dropped quite significantly, there were a total of 70,000 units sold in the US. Not to mention the golden years like 1984 when these vehicles sold more than 261,000 units.
So, there are many of them, and also they are dirt cheap to purchase. But more on the price, we are going to cover later on in the article. Now let’s take a look at the trim levels.
Now let’s discuss the trim levels of these muscle cars from the 90s. What are the trim levels that were offered in the third-gen Camaro and Firebird?
For the Camaro, there were a few trim levels available. The most widely produced version was the RS introduced in 1987. Which was practically the base version of the model. There was also the 1LE introduced in 1988. There were also high-performance models like the IROC-Z and Z28 models.
For the Firebird there were also a lot of trim levels. There were the standard Firebird, the Firebird SE, and the Firebird Trans Am that had two trims, the Trans Am GTA and Trans Am TTA, which was the turbo version of the Trans Am.
For the 1991 model year, there was a big revision in the design with a more aerodynamic nose and other cool touches.
Engines & Transmissions
In terms of engines, there was a big variety of options. But from 1990 to 1992, there were only four options.
The engine lineup for the Camaro from 1990 to 1992 was the following. The base engine was the 3.1L V6, 305 and the most potent version was the Chevy 350 engine.
The base engine for the Firebird was a 191cu 3.1L V6, there was a 305 cubic inch V8, and a 350 cubic inch V8. They basically included the same engines. Even though between 86 and 89, the Firebird included the 3.8L Buick turbo engine that came with the 1987 GNX. But what about the price of these muscle cars from the 90s? Let’s learn more about that next.
In terms of pricing, a base RS model can be found for less than $3,000 if you are lucky. But these are models that require some extensive work.
A Camaro RS or a base Firebird in good condition from 1990 to 1992 will probably set you back somewhere between $7,000 and $12,000. If you are looking for an IROC or a Z28, you can expect to spend even more, up to $30,000 for cars in excellent condition. Now let’s move on to the next muscle cars from the 90s
Muscle Cars From The 90s #2: Pontiac Firebird & Chevy Camaro Fourth Generation (1992 – 2002)
The next two muscle cars from the 90s that we would like to cover are the Firebird and Chevy Camaro from the fourth generation.
As we noted previously, even though the third-gen can be considered a 90s car, it is still not a proper 90s model. The real model 90s model is the fourth generation.
This generation was introduced in 1992 and was in production until 2002. Similarly to its predecessor, the new generation of the F-body platform shared most of its components. So, both the Firebird and the Camaro are basically the same car under the hood. And even visually.
The new generation of these F-body cars brought a more streamlined design that improved the aerodynamic coefficient and also made these cars more modern looking and up-to-date with modern standards. Consequently, this also gave it the nickname, the Catfish Camaro.
In terms of trim levels, the Camaro included the base RS and the Z28 which was the high-performance model. As well as the SS model which was the Super Sport version.
The Firebird on the other hand included the standard Firebird, Trans Am, and Trans Am Convertible. But what about the engines from these muscle cars from the 90s? More on that next.
Engines & Transmissions
These two models also shared the same engines between them. Similarly to the predecessors, there were two base V6 engines with 207 and 231cu, respectively, and the Chevy 350 V8. As for the latter, perhaps you might be curious to read up on our guides on the Chevy 350 firing order, as well as the correct timing for a Chevy 350.
In terms of transmissions, there were four of them available throughout the years, two 4-speed automatics, a 5-speed manual, and a 6-speed manual. But what about the price of these muscle cars from the 90s? Let’s find out more about that next.
A few years ago, these could have been found for close to nothing. But nowadays everything skyrocketed in value and so is the case with the Camaros and Firebirds from this era.
You can find one in poor condition for $4,000 to $7,000. But if you want a really low mileage example, you can expect to pay close to $12,000. And for special models like the SS 35th Anniversary Edition, you can expect to pay close to $30,000. Now let’s move to the next muscle cars from the 90s.
If you’re keen on extracting more power from these Camaros and don’t mind ruining its puristic base, you could consider getting a twin turbo upgrade for the Camaro V6.
Muscle Cars From The 90s #3: Ford Mustang Fourth Generation (1994 – 2004)
A list of muscle cars from the 90s cannot be complete without a Mustang. And is there a more legendary car than this fourth generation? I think not. Mainly because this Mustang was everything that a Mustang shouldn’t be.
More precisely, rather than following the same muscle car design that was introduced in the late 60s, the new Mustang implemented a rather modern design for the time and this Mustang was a big hit.
It sold extremely well. Even though it is not as popular among Mustang fans because of this and does not have an extremely large following like the model that was released afterward in the 00s during the muscle car era revival.
But what is good is that this model came with a few trim levels to choose from. Namely, the Mustang GT. But a trim that was really popular was the Cobra. More specifically, the SVT Cobra. The SVT refers to Special Vehicle Team, which meant that the SVT is an even higher-performance model than the standard Cobra.
There were also some special editions like the Bullit inspired by the legendary Bullit model. As well as the Mach 1. Also, there was the 40th Anniversary Edition of the Mustang, as well as the 100th Anniversary of Ford special edition. Released in 2004 and 2003, respectively. And these were one of the coolest 90s sports cars or as you like it 90s muscle cars.
Engines & Transmissions
The engines used in the Mustang from the 90s era varied in performance quite a bit. The entry-level was a 3.8L V6 that produced a moderate 145hp. Then there were 4.9L and 5.8L V8s on the earlier models. These were basically 302cu and 351cu respectively.
But the real modern engines used in the Mustang were the 4.6L and 5.4L Modular V8 engines (a similar 5.4 engine in the 2010 Ford F150 truck). So, if you want to get a proper Mustang, then going for one of these engines is the way to go. Especially the 4.6L, which is practically bulletproof.
The transmissions used in this model were many during the years, but the one that you probably want is the 5-speed manual. But what is the cost of these muscle cars from the 90s? Let’s find out next.
When it comes to price, you can find these Mustangs as low as $2,000. They are dirt cheap, especially the first model years with the older engines.
But what you really want is a 4.6L V8, And these are often found on the higher end of the spectrum and can cost $4,000 or more in some cases. And for a really low mileage model, you can expect to pay up to $12,000.
If you take good care of them, you also don’t have to worry about how many miles do Ford Mustangs last. Suffice it to say, it’s a dependable car.
Muscle Cars From The 90s #4: Chevy Impala SS (1994 – 1996)
Not a proper muscle car. But we still wanted to include it in our list of muscle cars from the 90s. Mainly because the Impala was a proper sleeper.
The Impala SS was a short-lived model based on the Chevrolet Caprice B-body produced between 1994 and 1996. And in some ways, it’s technically the forefather to the criminally underrated Chevy SS of recent times.
In total, there were only 69,768 units produced and the model got into the history books. The Impala SS was highly regarded by a lot of automotive journalists back in the day, and even now for its cool-looking aesthetics and the huge amount of power that it delivers.
And this resulted in 5.9 seconds 0 to 60 times and a quarter mile of 14 seconds. And frankly, this was a ton of performance for a vehicle this heavy. Remember that this is a full-size car, unlike the previous models that we reviewed.
This model weighs precisely about 4,036 lbs. So, you get the idea of why these numbers are so significant. But what about the trim levels from these muscle cars from the 90s? More on that next.
In terms of trim levels, there were not many. The base was the SS model and there was a Callaway Supernatural SS model. This model was the most powerful version of the Impala SS.
Engines & Transmissions
In terms of engines, it is worth noting that there is only one engine available with this model. And this is the Chevy 350, also known as the LT1 that was included in the fourth-generation Corvette. This engine developed about 260hp and 330lb-ft of torque.
The transmission used in the Impala SS was the 4-speed 4L60-E automatic transmission (remember to be wary of the 4L60E transmission problems). Unfortunately, the Impala SS didn’t come with a manual. But what about the price of these muscle cars from the 90s? Let’s learn more about that next.
In terms of price, Impala SS models are rather expensive. These are considered collectible cars and can go for a minimum of $12,000. And also, there are not many of them left on the roads.
A low mileage model can even cost you $30,000. So, if you are into collecting cars, this model is probably the one that you want because the chance that you will lose money on it is pretty low. Now let’s conclude this article on muscle cars from the 90s.
Muscle Cars From The 90s: In Conclusion…
In this article, we have covered quite a bit when it comes to the muscle cars from the 90s. Firstly, we learned more about muscle cars in general and we covered their main characteristics. Then we covered the reasons why to get a muscle car from this era.
Then we listed our recommendations when it comes to muscle cars from the 90s. Our personal favorite is the Firebird or Camaro produced between 1990 and 1992. Even though it might be an 80s design, it is a rather timeless piece of machinery.
Frequently Asked Questions
Now let’s answer some frequently asked questions.
What Is A Muscle Car
A muscle car is usually an American-made car. The vast majority of muscle cars have these two features. A coupe design and big V8 power under the hood. This is basically the definition of a muscle car. Muscle cars might not be good at catching corners but they are quite quick in a straight line.
Why Are They Called Muscle Cars
These vehicles are called muscle cars because they are packing a lot of power under the hood at a relatively cheap price. Also, in terms of looks, they are rather bulky and not particularly the most aerodynamic designs.
What Is The Most Reliable Muscle Car
The most reliable is probably the Dodge Charger and Challenger. These two models have been with us since forever, and during these years, they were perfected, and if you decide to purchase you will not make a mistake.
What Muscle Car Should I Buy
If you want something that stands out, we would say to purchase the Dodge Challenger. This car is big and bulky. It also has some special models like the Scat Pack and the Hellcat that output more than 707 horsepower.
When Is A Car Considered A Classic
A classic by definition is any car that is older than 30 years. But some cars that were popular in the 90s and early 00s are known as modern classics. But in order for a car to be a proper classic, it has to be older than 30 years in general.
What Is A Pony Car
The term pony car saw mass use when the Mustang was introduced. And this model basically created this segment of cars. The term pony car simply refers to a small coupe that packs a lot of horsepower. Other examples of a pony cars are the Chevy Camaro and the Pontiac Firebird.