It’s entirely too easy to get lost wading neck-deep through the thousands of high-gloss, big-money muscle cars that hit the auction block every year. It’s usually the same predictable contenders, year after year, with enough ‘60s Mustangs, Camaros, and Corvettes sold to fill the Woodward Dream Cruise. On the eve of auction powerhouse Barrett-Jackson’s 2017 Scottsdale sale, we found some alternative GM muscle from the genre’s most unloved era to balance out the glitz.
Here’s one of the more obscure Malaise-era American cars. Much like the semi-popular Monte Carlo SS Aerocoupe from the same period, the 2+2 was a homologation attempt by GM to fit a more aerodynamic design onto its NASCAR stock cars. Thanks to rear-end lift on the boxy G-Body cars, GM was eaten alive on the oval, prompting the smoother appearance of the 2+2.
Under the front hood beats a fairly standard 5.0-liter (305 ci) V-8 engine, pushing out a miserable 165 hp and 245 lb-ft of torque, sent to the rear wheels through a four-speed automatic transmission. It didn’t do so hot on the dealership floor, with just 1,225 sold in the single model year.
Don’t get too excited – the 7.4-liter (455 ci) V-8 in the ’75 Hurst/Olds only puts down a pitiful 190 hp and 350 lb-ft of torque. It’s a far cry from the red-blooded early-70s Cutlass’, but it was surprisingly the first Hurst/Olds to break the 2,000 unit mark in sales. It’s not much of a dragstrip superhero, but the long profile has aged well, and it will look right at home at your local cruise-in or car show. Luckily, this one looks like it already has an updated powertrain, so performance is likely to be on-par with the go-fast appearance.
Here’s a more mainstream nameplate to balance out the previous oddities. This iteration on Trans Am didn’t catch on as much as they did a few years down the road, but it’s still a shapely muscle coupe. Much like the previous cars, don’t expect much from the lump under the front hood. The 7.4-liter V-8 produces just 200 hp, long removed from the 360-hp monsters from the late 1960s. Still, for cruise nights, it doesn’t really get much better than a gold-on-black Trans-Am.
Sure, aside from the macho 454SS from the early 1990s, the long-running Chevy C/K truck lineup didn’t offer much in the way of straightline performance, but the short-cab trucks serve as fantastic cheap rear-wheel drive platforms for every budget. This 1977 C10 is the perfect balance of performance and reliability, thanks to the modern 5.3-liter LS V-8 engine swap. Snazzy gold and black paintwork gives way to fabulously gauche cowhide upholstery and a set of updated gauges.