More than a half-century ago, the love for American muscle cars was ignited. Whether their intended use was for street racing or as daily drivers, American muscle filled the production lines, grabbed the attention of car buyers, and hit the asphalt ready to run.
The performance and power born from these classics of the ’60s and ’70s was unmatched at the time, and although there have been many enhancements to both in modern times, there is still and will always be a place in the heart of car enthusiasts for the American muscle car.
That fact is commonly highlighted by the sums of cash that are traded to own one of these American icons. In the past several years, records have been set and broken at auction houses such as Mecum, Barrett-Jackson, and Sotheby’s while selling these historic hotrods. Here are some of the most expensive muscle cars ever sold at auction.
9 1967 Shelby Mustang “Eleanor:” $1 million
In 2013 at a Mecum auction, a 1967 Ford Mustang sold for a cool $1 million. This particular Mustang was known as Eleanor in the movie “Gone in 60 Seconds” and had just undergone a rotisserie restoration by Cinema Vehicle Services.
The Pepper Gray Metallic ’67 ran on a 351 cubic-inch V8, with a NOS boost for an additional 100-plus horsepower. It had less than 90 miles since it was completed.
8th 1969 Chevy Camaro ZL1: $1.1 million
In 2020, this 1969 Chevy Camaro ZL1 sold under the hammer for $1,094,500. This one is #50 of the 69 COPO ZL1’s ordered for the production year.
It is finished in Hugger Orange and includes the owner’s manual and original window sticker. It boasts matching numbers with a 427 cubic-inch V8 and an M22 Rock Crusher transmission.
7 1970 Chevy Chevelle SS Convertible: $1.15 million
In 2006, this 1970 Chevy Chevelle SS crossed the stage at Barrett-Jackson and pulled in $1.15 million. The Chevelle was known as a former NHRA Super Stock drag car – the original Troppi-Kling, Ray Allen-raced LS6 Chevelle Super Sport convertible.
The Chevelle was sold by Allen himself at the auction. The selling price for this piece of Chevrolet nostalgia set a record at the auction.
6 1970 Plymouth Hemi Cuda Convertible: $2.25 million
This convertible 1970 Plymouth Hemi Cuda went up for auction with Mecum in 2015, with a final selling price of $2.25 million. Adding to its value was the fact that it was a personal car of John Herlitz, the overseer of Chrysler’s 1970 E-Body design, and it included the original documents to show it as an executive lease car.
The Cuda was restored in 2002. It was driven by a dual quad 426 Hemi V8 and included nearly every option available at the time.
5 1967 Chevy Corvette Stingray Convertible: $3.2 million
In 2013, the famed NHRA A/Sports champion 1967 Chevy Corvette L88 convertible sold for $3.2 million. This L88 was one of only 20 put into production for the 1967 model year. A restoration was done retaining its factory-correct Marlboro Maroon exterior. It is complete with the L88 427 V8 and M22 4-speed manual transmission.
4 1971 Plymouth Hemi ‘Cuda Convertible: $3.5 million
Setting a record at a 2014 Mecum Auction was this 1971 Plymouth Hemi Cuda Convertible. The auction touted the ’71 as “arguably the most sought-after factory muscle car in the world.” The claim appears to have held true with the 2002 auction for the same model as the first-ever muscle car to break a million dollars at auction and this $3.5 million price a dozen years later. This Cuda retained its original 426 Hemi and transmission. It was one of only two 1971 Hemi Cuda convertibles produced for the US and features a four-speed manual transmission.
3 1968 Ford Mustang GT “Bullitt:” $3.74 million
The 1968 Ford Mustang “Bullitt” sold in 2020 at auction for $3.74 million. The Mustang was driven by Steve McQueen in the iconic movie Bullitt. The ’68 Ford retained the camera mounts used in the shoot. It was powered by a rebuilt 390 cubic-inch V8 mated to a 4-speed manual transmission.
2 1965 Shelby Cobra Roadster: $5.94 million
In 2021, this 1965 Shelby 427 Cobra Roadster’s final bid came in at $5.94 million. Carroll Shelby purchased this Cobra and owned it until the time of his passing. It was one of only five originally produced in Charcoal Gray. The ’65 was restored in 2019, had the original body and chassis, and is driven by a 427 cubic-inch V8 with dual four-barrels and a top-loader 4-speed transmission.
1 1962 Shelby 260 Cobra CSX 20000: $13.75 million
In 2016, this 1962 Shelby Cobra was sold at an RM Sotheby’s auction for a record-setting $13.75 million. It was the first-ever Shelby Cobra and was sold by the Carroll Hall Shelby Trust. When tested, it ran a blistering 4.2-second zero to 60 with a top speed of 153 mph. It is said to be the most important American sports car in history. The Cobra had a 260 cubic-inch V8 with a four-barrel carb and four-speed manual transmission.