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.