Classic Muscle Cars vs. Sports Cars: What’s the Difference?

Ideal Classic Cars January 23, 2023

Classic Muscle Cars vs. Sports Cars: What’s the Difference?

Muscle and sports cars are terms that get thrown around when discussing classic vehicles, often interchangeably, but the terms actually refer to very different types of cars. Below, we’ll discuss what makes a classic vehicle a muscle car or a sports car and compare their differences.

What Is a Muscle Car?

What does a vehicle need to earn the title of a muscle car? For starters, a muscle car has to be American-made, which includes manufacturers like GM, Ford, Chevrolet, and more. Besides its production, perhaps the most important quality of a muscle car is that it features a big, powerful, and loud engine—and it has to be at least a V8.

Big, American-made engines are the key qualities that make a vehicle a muscle car. A muscle car should also be a coupe or a two-door sedan. And since they were mostly made in the 60s and 70s, they typically feature a large, boxy design. Some of the most famous vehicles that inspired the title “muscle car” include the following:

  • Pontiac GTO
  • Chevrolet Camaro
  • Plymouth Road Runner
  • Shelby Mustang
  • Ford Thunderbolt

All of these vehicles fit the criteria of a muscle car perfectly and are iconic models of the category.

What Is a Sports Car?

While the muscle car category has specific criteria that a car must meet, the term sports car is a bit looser and more general. But, in general terms, the difference between a classic muscle car and a sports car resides in body design and maneuverability.

While muscle cars are more about the size and straight-line speed, sports cars are considered smaller and centered on quick acceleration and maneuverability. Sports cars also have much more variety and can come from any manufacturer on the planet—not just America. A sports car is more about fast handling and fun to drive on curvy and windy roads, while muscle cars are for going 0-60 mph as fast as possible.

There are many to choose from, but some of the most iconic classic sports cars include these vehicles:

  • Dodge Viper
  • Chevrolet Corvette
  • Jaguar E-Type
  • Porsche 911
  • Ferrari 250 GTO

What Classic Car Is Better: Muscle or Sports?

While we can tell you all the differences between these two categories of cars, we can’t say which is the superior type of vehicle. It’s like comparing apples to oranges—both are incredibly fun and exciting cars, and there’s no reason you can’t enjoy them both, but everyone has a slight preference.

In a general sense, classic muscle cars are typically more affordable than classic sports cars because so many vehicles were made, and many still survive to this day.

Ultimately, it’ll come down to the individual’s taste for cars—do you love a boxy muscle car with a big engine, or do you long for a sleek Sportster that handles like a dream? At Ideal Classic Cars, we’ve got plenty of custom classic cars for sale that fit both categories! Stop by our showroom or contact our staff to learn more about our inventory of classic cars today!