Greg Zyla: My top 10 pony cars

Greg Zyla

Q: Hi, Greg, I really like auto nostalgia and enjoy your column. I know you do top 10 lists every now and then, and I would like to know your top 10 pony cars of all time. I’m hoping the Ford Mustang makes your list! Thanks, John M., a Ford lover from Pennsylvania.

A: John, here’s my all-time top 10 pony car list, and indeed the Mustang makes my list several times. Here they are, in no particular order.

1: 1968 Mustang Cobra Jet 428: Although rated at only 335 horses, the 428 Cobra Jet produced way more horses (425) with headers and a few ignition tweaks, and was a pony car to be feared. Did very well on the nation’s drag strips in Super Stock eliminator. If you wanted a Mercury, it was the Cougar Eliminator 302 or 428!

2:  1968 Camaro Z28: One of Chevy’s most collectible, the Z28 had a Muncie 4-speed, 302 with solid lifter cam and either one or two four-barrel carbs. This car set the stage for Chevy’s “Z” cars.

3: 1970 AAR Challenger/Cuda: With a 340 6-pack for power and SCCA Trans Am Racing for inspiration, these rare Dodge/Plymouth small blocks are now few and far between in matching number originals. With special side exhaust, stripes and lettering, the 6-pack AAR is an attention getter at car shows coast to coast.

4: 1969 Boss Mustang: With a 302 under the hood and excellent cylinder heads breathing lots of air into the chambers, the Boss 302 cast a legend in stone as one of the top collector pony cars of the era. Want more? How about a priceless 429 Boss Hemi Ford … if you can afford one.

5: 1969 Camaro SS 396-375: This big-block monster was heavy in the front and didn’t handle like a “Z,” but if you were going straight, few cars around would get to the quarter-mile finish ahead of you. I know, as I owned one.

6:  1969 Shelby Mustang: In either GT350 (351-V8) or GT500 (428-V8) form, the Shelby Mustang might be the most popular pony cars of all time. Rare and very expensive nowadays, this is Carroll Shelby’s Mustang effort following his wildly popular sports car - the AC Bristol-bodied Ford Cobra.

7:  1970 Hemi Cuda: With 426 inches of MOPAR Hemi power under the hood and 425 horses in a de-tuned state, few ponies could outrun one of these rare pieces. Also one of the most expensive cars currently going over the action blocks.

8: 1970 AMC Donohue Javelin: Be it the two-seater AMX or the back-seat Javelin, AMC receives a nod from this scribe. Be it a 390 or 401 under the hood, these “Ramblers” were good looking and affordable. The Mark Donohue Javelin released in 1970 was AMC’s answer to the AAR Cuda, and came with a 360 or 390 “Go Pack” V8. Roger Penske Racing took a Javelin to many wins on the Trans Am circuit, including a manufacturer championship for AMC in 1971 with Donohue driving.

9: 1970 Pontiac Trans-Am 400 Ram Air IV: The Trans-Am will always be the pony darling of the Pontiac crowd, and the ’70 400 delivered 370 horses. If you bought the Super Duty engine at your Pontiac dealer and made it a Ram Air V, you could put out near 500 horses thanks to different heads, solid lifters and a few other tweaks.

10: 1970 Dodge Challenger 440 6-Pack: A few inches longer than the sibling Barracuda, the Challenger offered similar engine options, but the 440 6-Pack is my selection for outright torque and ease of driving on the street. “Three Twos” on a factory Edelbrock intake is the way to go!

Any additions? Let me know.

Greg Zyla writes weekly for GateHouse Media, and welcomes reader questions and comments on anything to do with car nostalgia and collecting at greg@gregzyla.comor at 303 Roosevelt St., Sayre, PA 18840.