American car manufacturers have always been considered inferior when compared to their European counterparts. It’s hard to argue with that, as Europeans have built icons like the McLaren F1, Bugatti Chiron, Porsche 911, and many others. However, American automakers have one thing that Europeans will never have—muscle cars.
The muscle car segment started in the ’60s when American manufacturers started installing powerful V8 engines into intermediate-sized vehicles. Since then, the muscle car segment has spawned some of the most iconic American cars. This article explores ten fantastic muscle cars we’d choose over any European sports car.
10 Dodge Challenger SRT Demon
Gearheads love the Dodge Challenger, which is why it’s one of the few muscle car models still in production today. Of all the Challenger generations and model years ever made, the 2018 SRT Demon is the fastest and most powerful.
The SRT Demon is powered by a 6.2-liter supercharged Hemi V8 blurting out up to 840 horses. With a 0-60 of 2.3 seconds, a top speed of 211 mph, and the ability to cover the quarter mile in 9.65 seconds, the SRT Demon is one of the most feared drag racing muscle cars ever.
9 Buick GNX
The second-generation Grand National impressed many with its mean-looking design, but it just wasn’t offering much in the performance department. So, for the final year, Buick decided to build a limited edition version of the Grand National that would offer the performance many gearheads wanted.
Buick roped in McLaren on the project, who upgraded the engine and added a turbocharger to boost its output to around 300 hp. Only 547 GNX examples were made, making it one of the rarest muscle cars you can buy.
8 1970 Chevrolet Chevelle SS 454
When asked to name the fastest, most powerful Chevy muscle car they can think of, many will say a certain type of Camaro. However, that wasn’t the case in the early ’70s, as the Chevelle SS 454 held that title.
The Chevelle debuted in the early ’60s but wasn’t a strong seller for Chevy as many gearheads felt it was underpowered. Chevy decided to change that in 1970 when they equipped the Chevelle with a 454cid big-block V8 engine. With an output of 360 hp, the Chevelle SS 454 was a beast.
7 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500
In the late ’60s, the renowned Carroll Shelby took a Mustang GT500 and worked his magic on it, resulting in the Mustang Shelby GT500. This awesome vehicle was such a huge hit that Ford has kept producing it to date.
The latest Shelby GT500 comes with a hand-built 5.2-liter aluminum-alloy supercharged V8 engine producing 760 hp and 625 lb-ft of torque. It goes from 0 to 60 in just 3.4 seconds and will top out at 180 mph.
6 1969 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1
The competition for dominance in the muscle car space was stronger than ever in the late ’60s. Everyone was trying to build the fastest, most powerful muscle car, which is why we got icons like the 1969 Dodge Charger R/T, Ford Mustang Boss 429, and Pontiac GTO Judge.
Chevy didn’t want to be left behind, so it offered the amazing ZL1 package for the 1969 Camaro. The ZL1 package was only sold through Chevy’s COPO program, and since it was expensive, only 69 examples were made.
5 Plymouth Hemi ‘Cuda
Plymouth went out of business more than two decades ago, but before it did, it made sure to leave us with many fantastic vehicles to remember it by. The Barracuda is one such vehicle.
The Barracuda was Plymouth’s flagship muscle car and one of its most popular models ever. The Barracuda was loved for its beautiful coke bottle design, excellent driving dynamics, and raw power, particularly the 1969 “Hemi ‘Cuda.” Equipped with a monstrous Hemi V8 engine dishing out 425 hp, the Hemi ‘Cuda was insanely fast.
4 Equus Bass 770
Equus Automotive aims to become America’s version of the likes of Brabus and Alpina. The Bass 770 shows that they mean business. This handcrafted luxury muscle car costs a crazy $634,000, earning it a spot on the list of the most expensive muscle cars of all time.
This price tag sounds insane, but many gearheads believe it’s worth every penny as it offers a superb design inspired by beautiful ’60s muscle cars, a luxurious cabin, lightweight aluminum, and carbon fiber construction, and a 640-hp supercharged V8.
3 1977 Pontiac Firebird Trans AM
Like most muscle cars built during the ’70s, the second-generation Firebird was awful. Despite having a great design, many gearheads hated the second-generation Firebird as it offered horrible performance.
However, not all second-generation Firebirds were horrible, as the 1977 Trans was amazing. It had a gorgeous design featuring the iconic ‘screaming chicken’ graphic on the hood and was producing over 200 hp. The main reason why the 1977 Firebird Trans AM is iconic is that it’s one of the greatest movie cars, having played a vital role in Smokey and the Bandit.
2 Pontiac GTO Judge
Whenever ‘GTO’ is mentioned, the first thing that most gearheads think of is the Pontiac GTO. The GTO is Pontiac’s greatest model and the main reason why gearheads hope the brand will be revived one day.
Any classic GTO would be welcomed into any collection, but we have a soft spot for the Judge. The Judge was a special package introduced for the 1969 GTO which offered unique graphics and a lot more power than the standard GTO.
1 1970 Ford Mustang Boss 429
The Mustang was a huge success when it debuted in 1964, but by 1969, it was facing stiff competition from the faster Hemi-powered Chrysler muscle cars. As such, Ford decided to build the high-performance Mustang Boss 429 to stay competitive.
The Mustang Boss 429 needed a lot of power to compete with Chrysler’s muscle cars, so Ford equipped it with the largest engine available at the time – a 7.0-liter V8 dishing out 375 hp and 450 lb-ft of torque.