Until recently you had to be over the age of forty to even know what a Real Muscle Car was! Now that American automotive companies are paying a little more attention to the Muscle Car heritage and history, enthusiasts are finding more to love about some “Detroit Steel” than we have in a very long time!
There was a time when enthusiasts were being deprived of new Muscle Car models which we had grown so very fond of. This happened when the oil crisis hit us full force, and had manifested itself at our gas pumps with super high prices and extreme shortages. There were other pressures like the emissions movement and the Safety groups led by people like Ralph Nader, who deemed Muscle Cars to be “Unsafe”. So unfortunately this desolate time of no Muscle Cars lasted from about the early seventies until the mid eighties when things made an abrupt turnaround in the automotive industry.
Some of the problems could not be avoided such as the restrictions on exhaust emissions, just one among many influences which had our automotive industry hog tied to the point of extinction. This was a strange time when there was actually such a thing on the market as a four cylinder “Mustang II” and the shrunken Dodge Charger which was really just an Omni with a fastback! This was truly an awful time for production Muscle Cars because there were basically none being made!
Fast forward to better times when we were back to having more prosperity then we knew what to do with, and in 1987 what many enthusiasts think to be the Modern Muscle Car was reborn. Depending who you ask, this was a critical moment in time when a new muscle car era began to evolve. To my way of thinking that started with the reinvention of the 1987 Turbocharged V6 Buick Grand National GNX model. This car was a lot like the regular Supercharged Grand National with some performance adders adapted to the 231 cubic inch V6 engine which gave it 276 horsepower up from the 245 on the stock “Grand National” Buick.
The GNX did around 13.5 seconds in the quarter mile which was incredible for a 3.8 Liter V6 and it was done in a production car at that! Interestingly enough this model actually bested some of the original muscle cars at their peak including the 426 Hemi, and the 454 big block Chevy. The GNX was the fastest production car ever built up to that point.
So then more time goes by and other companies tinker with high output models which had some of the basic characteristics of old school Muscle Cars, but not until the 1990’s did the new muscle car era really get rolling. Fast forward to 2010 and what we have now is a very solid grouping of real muscle cars available again, some with nostalgic retro styling, and others with brand new aesthetics to charm new buyers.
Dodge Challenger SRT8
This list of my top five new muscle cars begins with my absolute favorite of the new crop, the 2010 Dodge Challenger SRT8. This new Challenger looks so much like its grand daddy that it snaps your neck when you see one rumble by on the street. The specs read like a shopping list of high tech gadgetry, but the bottom line is that these are really sharp cars, and they are not pretenders to any throne, they are the real deal. I especially like the selection of vibrant colors which are a complete throwback to the same colors which were available back then! This Muscle car comes with a 426 horsepower 6.1 Liter V8 engine, and gets 14 mpg city, and 22 highway. Dealers are getting around $39,500 for this model, and I would be driving one today if there were sufficient funds.
Chevy Camaro 2SS
The next true performer which looks and rides like its early muscle car predecessors would be the 2010 Chevy Camaro 2SS. With the same classic body styling and massive tires this car really does have the cool looking part of muscle car thing down. I owned a 1969 Camaro, and let me tell you about its lame little 307 cubic inch engine! If I had a couple of thousand extra dollars back then, I may have been able to turn it into something fast, but that was not to be. This new model needs no modifications to join the ranks of a true Muscle Car. They have used a 6.2 Liter V8 which is capable of generating 426 Horsepower while delivering 16 mpg in the city, and an incredible 24 mpg on the highway! Incredibly you can buy one of these for around $33,000 which makes this the least costly model on this list!
Ford Mustang Shelby GT500
Third choice was not very difficult for me to choose since it leaves you with the last of the “Big Three” retro Muscle Cars! It would have to be the Ford Mustang Shelby GT500. This thing is really dressed up and on fire! With a stout 5.4 Liter Supercharged Engine it is loud, fast, and moderately efficient when you are not storming down the highway! The thing about this model which I am really into would be the small size of the V8 engine at a diminutive 5.4 Liters, it is literally dwarfed by others on this list, however due to an incredible power boosting device called a Supercharger, this little engine gets up to 540 horsepower! interesting that the fuel economy is not too bad for a car with 540 hp! In the city it is rated for 14 mpg, and then on the highway it gets 22 mpg. When it is all said and done, you could be driving a really hot looking Mustang that pays homage to the classic mustang Muscle Cars of the past. These are selling for around $45,000 if you can find one at a dealership.
Fourth would have to be the Dodge Viper only because it has the amazingly cool V10 engine as its crown jewel of automotive Muscle. It is very fast and can keep up with the Chevrolet corvette which to me has long ago graduated up and out of the Muscle car class into “Super Car” status, in performance, handling, and ultimately cost! The Viper has aesthetically pleasing good looks, and the horsepower to make it a contender up against other Super cars. The V10 engine generates a whopping 600 horsepower, and it does this with sheer brute force of ten big cylinders totaling 8.4 Liters! Now if you are sitting down I will tell you how much to expect to pay for this amazing ride, wait for it, how about $89,000 One gentleman I used to work with has one of these and he says it is worth every penny! I doubt anyone is buying this car for its fuel economy but the 13 mpg city and 22 mpg highway is not too shabby for a car with this much horsepower! I suspect that the highway number is due t the six speed transmission with overdrive.
Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8
My last Muscle car on this particular list is going to seem like an odd choice to most, but since there are really very few true “Muscle Cars” available from American auto manufacturers today I selected one which is built with the most powerful V8 that Chrysler offers today. Surprisingly it is the 2010 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8. This Four Wheel Drive SUV sports a decent sized Hemi V8 that has 6.1 Liters of fire breathing thunder wedged under the hood. This is a truly amazing four wheel drive SUV. The “Hemi” engine sports 420 horsepower and 420 foot pounds of torque! Rock crawling will probably be a lot more fun getting to and from the event in this Jeep! Not surprisingly this model gets poor fuel economy at 14 mpg city, and 16 mpg highway, but I doubt people are buying this car for that particular feature! Expect to pay about $41,500 for this unique example of what some off road builders were going to do with this vehicle once they got it back to their garage anyhow. I can say as a long time Jeep owner that I have no idea what it would be like to have that much horsepower available in a true four wheel drive vehicle, but I am willing to learn.
Granted this is not what you might see as a classic Muscle car, but with all of the Hemi horsepower it has, plus the low fuel mileage, and handling like a brick, it definitely fits most of the important Muscle Car criteria! This model seats five, which is the highest seating on this list!
Now this is probably only the tip of the new Muscle Car iceberg as far as I can tell, since the buying public seems to be thrilled with these new muscle car models, and I do no expect this trend to slow down anytime soon.
Some specifications were discovered by visiting local dealerships to check out these new models.
Other specs such as price were collected from ads in local newspapers, and on-line sources.
A favorite resource for comparing models is:
Remaining information is my personal opinion and knowledge gained from years of automotive experience.
Thank you for reading my articles here on AC-Yahoo!