3. Chrysler New Yorker
Even though Chrysler introduced the Hemi engine in 1951, it wasn’t until 1954 that they became a hot item. This is because the Chrysler engineers managed to produce 235 HP, which was considered ludicrous power. They installed it in the elegant, restrained New Yorker.
The 331 Hemi V8 proved to be fast and durable, but also a record breaker. Chrysler entered the special 24 hours endurance run with the 1954 New Yorker. It averaged 118.8 mph over 24 hours of nonstop driving. This highly publicized achievement was a strong marketing tool for the Chrysler New Yorker’s performance.
4. Rambler Rebel V8
This interesting early muscle car was born by chance. Squeezing a 327 V8 engine from the Nash Ambassador into a compact, light Rambler body created a fast yet unassuming muscle machine. The 327 V8 delivered 255 HP which wasn’t that much but in the small Rambler body, it was enough for 0 to 60 mph times in just seven seconds.
To make things even more interesting, only the expensive fuel-injected Chevrolet Corvette could beat the small Rambler in 1957. However, the powerful engine option raised the price of the Rebel, so there were few buyers ready to pay extra to outrun anything else on the road. As a result, Rambler production run only for a year and only made 1,500 of them.
5. Buick Wildcat
The Buick Wildcat is one of those almost forgotten models that were popular back in the day. Buick introduced it in 1963 and the Wildcat was something between a personal luxury model and a muscle car. It featured restrained, elegant styling like the rest of Buick’s lineup.
But it also had powerful engines, sporty trim and an impressive performance. In 1967, they also offered the Wildcat as a four-door. This boosted its appeal and improved sales numbers. For 1969, the Wildcat got a new look and a powerful new 455 V8 with 370 HP. This transformed it into a hidden performance car with room for six adults.
6. Dodge Coronet Hemi
Chrysler Corporation introduced its legendary 426 Hemi engine for 1966 as an option on selected Plymouth and Dodge models. The iconic powerplant was an option on the Dodge Coronet because customers could order the Hemi with any body style. However, buyers associated Hemi power with two-door coupes or convertibles. In fact, most people didn’t realize they could have a Hemi in a sedan or even in wagon form.
That is why only a few people bought the Coronet De Luxe Hemi four-door in 1966, getting the ultimate muscle car sedan. With an advertised 425 HP under your right foot, the Coronet Hemi four-door was the fastest production sedan in America, making it the ultimate four-door muscle car.
7. Pontiac Bonneville
Pontiac introduced the Bonneville in 1958. A desirable car, they packed the best and biggest engines in highly-designed bodies. However, in the 60’s, the Bonneville was popular and in a class of its own. The success of the GTO affected the whole Pontiac range. Suddenly, all Pontiacs became sportier, more powerful and aggressive.
Even Pontiac’s four-door sedans became performance machines. And the biggest and the most luxurious Bonneville is their best example. They restyled the Bonneville for 1965, but in 1966 its design evolved into an elegant, low and sleek form, perfect for this performance sedan. The Bonneville came in a hard top with Pontiac’s signature wide-track design, split grille and nine-bolt wheels.
Customers could get optional equipment and powerful engines. The 389 V8 with 325 HP was standard, but you could also get the mighty 421 V8 with the famed Tri-Power option delivering 360 HP. Unfortunately, in later years, during the 70’s and 80’s, Bonneville became primarily a luxury car, losing its performance edge.
8. Ford Galaxie 500 427
Like the Chevrolet Impala, the Ford Galaxie was the Blue Oval`s most important series. It received high production numbers, lots of versions and a wide appeal. However, Ford was behind on design trends, still featuring heavily-chromed models with late 50’s styling in 1964. So, for the 1965 model year, Ford introduced the all-new Galaxie with stacked headlights, fresh sheet metal, and more versions and options than ever.
The most popular were the base trim models like the Galaxie Custom, but Ford also offered a Galaxie 500 LTD. It was a luxury version featuring a vinyl roof and a selection of upscale details and creature comforts. For 1965, Ford offered the 427 V8 engine as an option, too. The V8 was the engine from the Thunderbird with 345 underrated horsepower. With over 460 pounds per foot of torque, the Galaxie could go fast, despite its large size and weight.
9. Chevrolet Impala 454
Impalas had a long relationship with performance. In fact, some of the best full-size muscle cars were Impalas with 409 and 427 V8 engines and the SS package. However, all those models were two-doors, so although Chevy offered the 427 in a hardtop sedan, it didn’t have the same power ratings and performance. Fans who wanted big cars with big power had to wait until 1971 when Chevrolet debuted their fifth generation Impala.
It came with a big block 454 V8 engine and 345 HP on tap. The large, heavy car had some performance edge and proved that Impalas still had some muscle car spirit in them. Unfortunately, the following years marked a sharp decline in performance. So the once mighty 454 V8 produced only 190 HP for 1976, which was the final year for this engine option.
10. Ford Taurus SHO
Back in the late 80’s, Ford caused a revolution with the introduction of the Taurus. This was the first truly modern American sedan to ditch the heavy ladder-type chassis and big engines. It went in a different direction with a sleek, aerodynamic body, new technology and front-wheel drive. The Taurus sold in volumes but the most interesting is the famed Super High Output (SHO) version.
The SHO wasn’t a muscle car since it was a four-door family sedan. But since it delivered a significant amount of power, it must be on this list of the best American 80’s performance cars. The SHO was a performance model in the Taurus lineup which featured the Yamaha-sourced 3.0-liter high-revving V6 with 220 HP.
Today, this doesn’t sound huge, but for 1989 it was a lofty figure. In fact, the performance was outstanding with just 6.7 seconds to go from 0 to 60 mph. On the outside, the Taurus SHO looked like a regular Taurus, but the badge on the back revealed its true nature.
11. Buick Roadmaster
The legendary Roadmaster returned to the Buick lineup in 1991 after a 33-year-long hiatus with a freshly styled luxurious sedan and station wagon model. The car was basically the same as other offerings from General Motors in the same class. However, the Roadmaster had more luxury options and an interesting engine, turning this comfy cruiser into a muscle car.
The Buick engineers installed the Corvette LT1 5.7-liter V8 engine into the Roadmaster. The LT1 produced 300 HP in the Corvette, but in the Buick, it delivered 260 HP. This was more than enough to turn this heavy car into a hot rod. Despite the curb weight of over 4,400 pounds, this car could outrun most muscle cars of the day.
12. Chevrolet Impala SS
The Impala SS is one of the most legendary names in Chevrolet history. They produced the original Impalas SS from 1961 to 1969. They were full-size muscle cars that could beat many other performance cars on the stoplight drags. With big-block engines and a close-ratio four-speed transmission, the Impala SS was a street-legal drag racer of the highest order.
However, as the muscle car era came to an end, they discontinued the Impala SS, only to resurrect it in 1994 as the seventh generation. The early 90’s marked a return to performance for most American manufacturers. So, Chevrolet installed the famous 5.7-liter LT1 V8 engine in a full-size rear-wheel drive sedan. They also equipped it with a heavy-duty suspension and components to create a modern-day muscle legend.
For two years, Chevrolet produced almost 70,000 Impala SS models in several colors, with dark purple being the most popular. The engine delivered 260 HP and propelled this big sedan to 0 to 60 mph times in just seven seconds. For the mid-90’s, the Impala SS delivered a stunning performance.
13. Mercury Marauder
Back in the 60’s, Mercury produced the Marauder, a high-performance version of the regular Mercury performance sedan. The model was popular, but now, it is largely forgotten and shadowed by more popular muscle cars from the same era. But 40 years later, in 2003, Mercury decided to introduce the final Marauder model. They wanted to base it on Ford’s venerable Panther platform cars.
Ford’s Panther platform is one of the longest-serving platforms in the car industry. They first used it in 1978 and it served until 2011, underpinning many models like the Ford Crown Victoria, Mercury Grand Marquis and Lincoln Town Car. This chassis proved sturdy in extreme conditions, so they used it as the basis for many police cars and taxis. Even today, six years after they discontinued it, millions of Panther-based models are still on the roads.
Even though they never intended the Grand Marquis to be a performance car, Mercury decided to turn it into one by installing a highly tuned 4.6-liter V8 with 302 HP. They revised the suspension, gearbox and brakes, too. All those changes turned this sleepy, comfy sedan into a sharp muscle car. One of three color options, the black option gave the Marauder menacing looks and an aggressive stance, differentiating it from its sedate cousins.
The performance was impressive for such a big, heavy sedan with 0 to 60 mph times in around seven seconds. But the Marauder’s biggest asset was its appearance. Just the sight of a big black sedan in your rearview mirror made most people move over – and fast.
14. Pontiac G8
In a desperate attempt to revive its performance image, Pontiac decided to import Australian-built Holden cars and rebadge them as Pontiacs. The first was the Holden Monaro, which was granted U.S. citizenship and a new old name: the Pontiac GTO. Despite the 400 HP engine and convincing performance, the new GTO wasn’t the success Pontiac wanted. The next was the G8 which they conceived as the Holden Commodore.
Pontiac thought that a rear-wheel drive sedan would help them fight their European competitors. The G8 with Pontiac’s redesign and small-block V8 engines was quite an effective performance sedan, too. The base engine was a solid 3.5-liter V6 with 256 HP, but the real deal was the G8 GXP with a 6.2-liter V8 and 415 HP. Also, the G8 came with high levels of standard equipment, as well as a long list of optional extras.
Unfortunately, the G8 came too late, so customers weren’t ready to accept a G8 performance sedan that could beat those overpriced European models. After years of anemic models, front-wheel drive economy cars and minivans, Pontiac lost its performance image. Only a handful of buyers remember what Pontiac was famous for and capable of building. So, when they finally presented the car that could reclaim their title of a performance brand, Pontiac ran out of time. In two years, Pontiac sold just over 30,000 G8s.
15. Cadillac CTS-V
For years, Cadillac was without a performance series to compete with BMW or Mercedes, but finally, the V-Series was born. It was all that Cadillac lovers dreamed of, like powerful engines, world-class handling, suspension setups and exclusive production. Even the competitors took notice when Cadillac rolled out the new V-Series model.
Arguably the most successful was the second-generation CTS-V model they produced between 2008 and 2014. Under the hood was a supercharged 6.2-liter V8 with 556 HP making the CTS-V the most powerful performance sedan on the market. The suspension and the rest of the drivetrain were advanced. In fact, most drivers considered the CTS-V the full package, as well as one of the best driver’s cars available.
Cadillac produced three body styles, so the CTS-V came in a sedan, a coupe and a wagon too. With a 556 HP LS9 V8 engine and 0 to 60 mph time of just 3.8 seconds, the second-generation CTS-V was one of the fastest four-door vehicles on the planet and a true muscle car sedan.
16. Chevrolet SS
Unfortunately, the Chevrolet SS is out of production, but dealers have enough unsold cars that you can still buy one right now. And you should do that since the SS is one of the best affordable performance sedans on the market today. With a 6.2-liter V8 delivering 412 HP, precise steering and neutral handling, this car rivals Europe’s finest sports sedans. This is a Holden from Australia, but they rebadged it as a Chevrolet, fine-tuning it for U.S. customers.
The performance numbers are respectable. A 0 to 60 mph sprint is possible in just 4.7 seconds while top speeds are over 150 mph. The Chevrolet SS is perfect for people who need a practical sedan but want to drive a sports car. The styling is elegant and unassuming, which means this car can surprise many regular sports models with its performance.
This is one of the best sleepers on the market. It can blend with traffic and nobody can tell you have 400 HP under your right foot ready to jump in a second’s notice. Chevrolet SS is destined to be a future classic, so grab your example today.
17. Cadillac ATS-V
Cadillac introduced the ATS-V in 2016 as the newest American muscle four-door car. It was compact but immensely powerful, too. With this model, Cadillac attacked the Mercedes C Class and BMW 3 Series with a modern executive sedan with recognizable styling and brutal power.
Under the hood is the twin-turbo 3.6-liter V6 engine with 464 HP and 445 pounds per foot of torque. This is enough to launch the ATS-V from 0 to 60 mph in just 3.7 seconds and top speeds of 189 mph. Even though the ATS-V doesn’t have a V8, it is still a proper muscle car available in a two-door form, as well.
18. Dodge Charger Hellcat
The car world went crazy when Dodge announced the Hellcat Charger and Challenger models. After all, the reaction was totally expected since the 6.2-liter supercharged V8 with 707 HP was a monster of a muscle car that shouldn’t be on the streets. But, Dodge did just that, allowing the public to buy one of the fastest, most powerful muscle cars and muscle car sedans they ever built.
Despite being overpowered in every aspect, the Dodge Charger Hellcat are surprisingly easy to drive and are even docile at low speeds. But when you press the throttle to unleash the fury of those 707 supercharged horses, you can feel the brutality of the Hellcat package and the power going to the rear wheels. The 0 to 60 mph times are in the high three-second range and the car can top 200 mph.
19. Ford Taurus SHO
Ford Taurus SHO is the champion of understatement and one of the best sleepers you can buy. With its powerful EcoBoost V6 engine displacing 3.5 liters and delivering 355 hp to all four wheels, the new Taurus SHO can outhandle and outperform many current sports cars. It must be very frustrating getting beaten by a Ford sedan which looks like a rental car but goes like Audi S6.
The current Taurus SHO continues the tradition of fast Ford sedans in ordinary packaging but with extraordinary performance.
20. Buick Regal GS
One of the cars that helped Buick remerge is the Regal, a family sedan which was in fact designed in Europe by Opel, and sold as Opel Insignia. However, for the American market, the Insignia was turned to Buick Regal with a few design items, a different grille and interior appointments. With totally unassuming looks, compact dimensions but a capable powertrain, the Regal GS was the first true performance car in Buick`s lineup since the mid-80s Buick GNX.
The secret of the 2019 Regal GS is its engine, a 3.6-liter V6 which delivers 310 hp. The power was sent to all four wheels over an advanced AWD system and 6-speed manual transmission which made driving fun and engaging.
So, do you believe there is a four-door American muscle car in your future? Any one of these would be a welcome addition to anyone’s garage. And when you take it out on the street, heads will turn and drivers will get out of your way.