Battle Of The Muscle Cars

The muscle car is typically an American trend started by the moonshiners of the 1930s and 1940s, and popularized by the Plymouth Barracuda and Ford Mustang in the 1960s. While the muscle car was all the range in the US, Europe saw many vehicles which follows the same trend – even if they weren’t classified as ‘brutish’.

The European muscle car is mostly categorized as a sports or GT car, often featuring luxurious touches and fancier technologies. These attributes are combined with massively powerful engines which produce enough of a punch to give traditional muscle cars a run for their money. Older examples of these include the De Tomaso Longchamp – and the Pantera for that matter – and the more modern Aston Martin V8 Vantage and Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG with its huge 6.2-liter V8. These cars compete nicely with the likes of the Ford Mustang, Dodge Challenger, and Chevrolet Camaro, but still have a more premium feel to them – especially in terms of price.

The US may be the master of the muscle car, but Europe has produced some models which are just as good at shredding tires. Here are ten of the best muscle cars to use in a US versus Europe automotive battle.

10/10 The US – Ford Mustang GT500

2021 Ford Shelby GT500 Front Three Quarter
Via: Ford 

The Ford Mustang is considered by many to be the best American muscle car around. Whether this is true or not, the Mustang is the model that popularized the whole idea. The various Mustang models were great, but the absolute pinnacle was always the special Shelby version.

2021 Ford Shelby GT500 Rear View
Via: Ford 

The current Shelby GT500 is the most powerful yet, featuring a 5.2-liter supercharged V8 producing 760 hp. It is also the first Mustang model to feature a dual-clutch transmission – as opposed to the traditional manual. It is one of the coolest Mustangs ever made.

9/10 Europe – Mercedes-Benz E60 AMG ‘Hammer’

1992 Mercedes-Benz 300c AMG Hammer 2 Cropped

Back in the 1990s, Mercedes-Benz wanted to compete with BMW in the still-fresh sport sedans segment and so took its humble W124 sedan and kindly asked Porsche to re-engineer it to fit its big 5.0-liter V8 under the hood. The result was the glorious 500E.

1992 Mercedes-Benz 300c AMG Hammer Cropped

Then AMG got a hold of it and turned it into the E60 AMG, enlarging the engine to 6.0 liters and blacking everything out. It also gained the nickname, ‘Hammer’, thanks to its brutal performance. The Hammer was available in both sedan and coupe body styles.

Related: These Are Our Favorite Features Of The Mercedes-Benz AMG Hammer

8/10 The US – Dodge Challenger Hellcat

Blue 2020 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Redeye
via: Mecum

The revival of the Challenger name was a big moment for Dodge and the initial model had a lot to be desired. The Challenger was built on the same platform as the Charger and the Chrysler 300C, so it gained the same 3.5, 5.7, and 6.1-liter V8s mated to 4- and 5-speed automatics.

Mecum Auctions

With the 2015 update, Dodge improved the Challenger and Charger with new interiors, driving dynamics, and, most importantly, new engines. The best of the lot was the new 707 hp 6.2-liter supercharged Hellcat V8 – an engine that will go down in history as one of the coolest.

7/10 Europe – De Tomaso Longchamp

De Tomaso Longchamp - Front
Via Historics

The De Tomaso Longchamp is an Argentinian-Italian take on the GT car, but due to the 5.8-liter Ford V8 under the hood, the Longchamp is more muscle car than the Italians care to admit. It had the proper American muscle style and even had a muscle car transmission.

De Tomaso Longchamp - Rear
Via Historics

The Longchamp did have a more premium feel and the interior was far fancier than anything from the US. When the V8s began drying up from Ford US, De Tomaso sourced the same engines from Ford Australia, creating a weird Argentinian-Italian-American-Australian hybrid.

6/10 The US – Chevrolet Camaro ZL1

2018 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1
Via Chevrolet Media

The Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 may not be the most powerful of the current breed of American muscle cars, but it is the fastest around a track. The supercharged 6.2-liter V8 produces ‘just’ 650 hp, but the clever magnetic suspension system makes sure to keep the car stable and controlled at all times.

Via Chevrolet Media

The Camaro ZL1 is now nearly seven years old, but it is still dominating current head-to-head reviews, even ending up on top over some European sports cars and lower-end supercars. It may not be a proper muscle car anymore, but it is better in every way.

5/10 Europe – Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG Black Series

Mercedes-AMG C63 Black Series
via Pinterest

The Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG Black Series is probably the closest the Europeans ever got to building an American muscle car. Everyone was stunned when AMG unveiled the 6.2-liter M156 V8 as they weren’t sure the Germans could have that kind of humor, but we certainly are glad they did.

2012 Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG Coupe Black Series
Via: NetCarShow.Com

The normal C63 was already a sideways machine, but the Black Series added a wider body kit, stickier tires, and a large rear wing on the trunk. The result was pretty much exactly the same, as the car would go sideways at the slightest provocation. Still, it is a gloriously impressive car.

4/10 The US – Buick GNX

The 1987 Buick GNX parked on the road.
via: BaT

The Buick GNX was an oddball when it was launched in 1987 – and only in 1987. Unlike other muscle cars – or even the normal Grand National on which the GNX was based – it did not have a V8 under the hood. Instead, it had the engine out of a pickup, with a turbocharger bolted to the side.

The rear end of the 1987 Buick GNX.
Via: Bring a Trailer 

The 3.8-liter turbo V6 produced 276 hp – although it was closer to 300 – and it turned out to be faster to 60 mph than a Ferrari F40, measuring in at just 4.6 seconds. Just imagine it – a square American muscle car beating a sleek Italian supercar in a drag race.

3/10 Europe – Aston Martin V8 Vantage

2005 Aston Martin V8 Vantage via Car Pixel
via Car Pixel

The Aston Martin V8 Vantage may be a sporty GT car by the looks of it, but it is a British muscle car underneath. Granted, it can actually go around a corner and is mighty fun on a back road or mountain pass, but it is definitely a muscle car.

via CarPixel

The V8 Vantage featured either a 4.3 or 4.7-liter Jaguar V8, producing between 380 and 430 hp – depending on the model. The car came with a 6-speed manual, or a choice of either a 6-speed or 7-speed automated manual transmission – although many went for the manual.

2/10 The US – Shelby Cobra

Shelby Cobra Replica Featured Image
via Mecum Auctions

The Shelby Cobra’s story is now immortalized within the automotive history books. Shelby took the humble, yet underpowered British AC Ace roadster, stuffed a V8 in it, and gave it some stripes down the middle, creating one of the most well-known American cars ever made.

Superformance Shelby Cobra Ford v Ferrari quarter rear
Via Mecum Auctions

The Cobra first got either a 4.3 or 4.7-liter Ford V8, before later gaining a massive 7.0-liter V8 and becoming the famous Cobra 427 with the rollover bar and the side-exit exhausts. Today, a real Cobra 427 can cost anywhere between a few hundred thousand dollars, to a few million.

Related: 10 Things Gearheads Forgot About The Shelby Cobra

1/10 Europe – Aston Martin Vantage V600

Aston Martin V8 Vantage Le Mans - Front Quarter
Via William Loughran

The Aston Martin Vantage of the 1990s was much different from the 1970s or the 2000s model. For one, it wasn’t nearly as pretty, but it had quite a large trick up its sleeve. The 5.3-liter V8 may have come from the 1970s, but it had not one, but two superchargers.

Aston Martin V8 Vantage Le Mans - Rear Quarter
Via William Loughran

The V600 model produced an amazing 600 hp and 600 lb-ft of torque, mated to a 6-speed manual. All the power was sent to the rear wheels, and apparently, it was quite a handful to drive quickly. Still, it may not be the greatest-looking car, but it is one of the coolest European muscle cars ever made.