Home Cars 30 American Muscle Cars With Stellar Horsepower Ratings

30 American Muscle Cars With Stellar Horsepower Ratings

Vukasin Herbez December 16, 2018

What’s the most important characteristic that all cars have in common? Is it the number of doors, seats, or the price? Arguably it’s the power output. The horsepower rating is the single most important measure of a car’s performance. In fact, it’s the first thing that even non-car people learn to appreciate. Of course, the horsepower numbers under the hood don’t mean a thing if they aren’t backed by a proper suspension, transmission, and brakes.

But it is a great way to start a conversation with other car enthusiasts. So keep reading to learn about the top 30 most powerful American cars they ever built. They range from exotic supercars and high-priced sports cars to powerful sedans and muscle cars. The American car industry was always famous for big displacement motors delivering a lot of power and torque. So here is a list of the most powerful red white and blue beasts powered by Detroit’s steel, including some rare cars that fit the bill.

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30. Ford GT

The early 2000s supercar boost motivated many manufacturers to offer exotic cars, introduce new models or revive some old legendary names. So Ford jumped on the bandwagon with a new and retro-styled supercar simply called the GT. It was the obvious successor to the fantastic Le Mans-winning GT40 from the late ’60s.

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The heart of the Ford GT was Ford’s fabulous 5.4-liter supercharged V8 with 550 HP. The GT could achieve a 0 to 60 mph time of just 3.4 seconds and a top speed of 205 mph. Despite the fact they didn’t build the Ford GT with racing in mind, it was capable on the track in the hands of many private teams.

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29. Saleen S7

In the early 2000s, Steve Saleen, CEO of Saleen Automotive, decided to branch out. He wanted to enter the supercar market with the S7 model. It was a fast, good-looking, and powerful exotic model featuring the latest technology and proven V8 power. Saleen invested a lot of time and money into constructing the S7. He even used companies that produced parts for Formula One cars to help him in the development of this car.

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The result was the 550 HP Saleen S7 he introduced in 2000, immediately drawing attention from the supercar crowd. The S7’s superb performance, looks, and technology were up to par with the best European supercars at the time. In 2005, he released the even more powerful Twin Turbo version with 750 HP and a top speed of almost 250 mph. The car proved to be relatively successful, even on the racetracks. Soon, Saleen produced a racing version too.

Photo Credit: Motor Trend

28. 2013 SRT Viper

Many things happened between 2010 when Viper production stopped and today. In 2013, Dodge presented a new model they called the SRT Viper. However, the global recession had hit the automobile industry especially hard and Chrysler was one of the companies that received a government bailout. So Chrysler struck a deal with Fiat and the new corporation was about restructuring. They were more interested in looking for profit than investing in low-volume, high-priced sports cars. However, the Viper legend was so strong that Chrysler decided to resurrect it in 2013. It was a new generation featuring many improvements like the 640 HP all-aluminum 8.4-liter V10 engine. Also, it had a stiffer, lighter chassis. But the design was pure Viper with a long hood, characteristic front end, and sloping roofline.

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The new car looked fantastic and performed exceptionally well. In fact, it came with 0 to 60 mph acceleration times of 3.4 seconds and a top speed of over 200 mph. Better yet, the new Viper was a luxury car with the finest leather, infotainment systems, and all kinds of electric gadgets. In comparison to the original 1992 car that was a rugged beast, the 2013 model was a sleek rocket. And although it had a recognizable style, it was in a far better package. Interestingly, Chrysler offered just a coupe and never planned to offer a convertible. Initially, they offered two models the SRT Viper and Viper GTS. And they both featured racing stripes and more interior equipment. Unfortunately, despite the brutal performance, road holding, and overall quality, the sales of the last generation Viper were poor. Even though the people and the press liked the car, buyers were reluctant.

Photo Credit: Truck Trend

27. Shelby F-150

Although Carroll Shelby never got a chance to see this truck, he would certainly approve of the insane 750 HP Shelby F-150. After all, his company and legacy inspired the Ford Motor Company to build it.

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Under the hood is a 5.0-liter supercharged V8 producing 750 HP and delivering Raptor-beating performance. With its insane price tag and eye-catching appearance, this Shelby F-150 is the definitive continuation of the iconic Shelby legend.

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26. Ram TRX

Although the car industry is inevitably going in the direction of electric and renewable energy sources, it’s good to know that the people at Dodge are still neck-deep into gasoline oblivion. How else we can explain the newest and greatest addition to the extreme truck class – the 2021 Ram TRX. If you don’t know what the TRX is, let us put it this way: it’s a cross between the Ram Rebel and Dodge Challenger Hellcat. In other words, an all-terrain beast with a supercharged Hemi under the hood and a bad attitude.

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With a starting price of $69,000, it isn’t cheap, but it is an extremely capable, fast, and durable vehicle whose sole aim is to beat Ford’s Raptor in every aspect. That’s why it has a 702 hp engine under the hood, specially tuned chassis, suspension, and gearbox, and it is designed to be the new king of the hill when it comes to extreme off-road trucks you can get from your local dealer.

Photo Credit: Motor 1

25. Dodge Ram SRT-10

Dodge offered the SRT-10 between 2004 and 2006. The SRT-10 is one of the craziest, most powerful, and fastest pickups produced. That itself is a hard thing to say since Dodge has always had some wild special versions of their trucks. But look at the specs. The 8.2-liter V10 engine pumped out over 500 HP, with a 0 to 60 time of fewer than five seconds. Also, fuel economy was in the single digits.

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Then they topped it off with a crazy bright red or yellow paint job and two white racing stripes. With its big, shiny chrome wheels, you get an idea of what the SRT-10 is all about. It was something you couldn’t miss when you saw it on the street. Of course, with a price tag of over $45,000, the SRT-10 wasn’t exactly a sales hit. However, they produced a decent number of them in a three-year production run.

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24. Ford F-150 Raptor

If the first Raptor lacked acceleration, the second generation managed to earn the crown back for Ford. The latest Ford Raptor includes a 3.5-liter turbocharged V6 with 450 HP and 510 lb-ft. It also has a 10-speed automatic transmission with sub-five-second acceleration times. Although that suggests it’s an exotic supercar, it’s also a full-size pickup truck with room for five people and a regular truck bed. The Ford Raptor is the closest thing to a full Baja 1000 racing vehicle drivers can buy today. The truck-buying public didn’t expect such a move, but they were fascinated by the truck’s looks, performance, and capabilities. The idea behind the Raptor was to construct the fastest off-road truck money could buy.

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Ford did just that, installing numerous chassis and suspension upgrades as well as a powerful engine. The best thing about the Raptor is that Ford prepared an extreme off-road truck with a warranty for customers. With multiple driving modes, a 10-speed automatic gearbox, and an adaptive suspension, you can take this truck rock crawling or mudding. Ford did a great job of combining the toughness of an extreme off-road truck with the usability of a regular pickup.

Photo Credit: Guide Auto Web

23. 2020 Shelby GT500

After all the talk about electric Mustangs, pony car collectors are finally getting the most powerful, quickest, and most expensive Mustang ever – the mighty and glorious Shelby GT500. Fans have waited a long time for the absolute pinnacle of Mustang performance and this is it.

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The 2020 Shelby GT500 has a 5.2-liter supercharged V8 that delivers 760 hp. It’s designed to go against its main rivals, the Dodge Challenger Hellcat and Chevrolet Camaro ZL1. Results are impressive. This GT500 can reach 60 mph in 3.5 seconds and complete the quarter-mile in just 11.0 seconds straight from the box. However, even though its numbers are impressive in every way, there is one figure that we find freighting, and that is the price. With an MSRP over $70k and another $18k for Carbon Fiber Track Package (optional trim level), the new Shelby GT500 is dangerously close to the $100,000 figure. Even though the performance and driving dynamics of the 2020 Shelby GT500 is close to many exotic cars, we are not sure that the market is ready for the Mustang with the price of an exotic.

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22. Chevrolet Camaro Z/28

The legendary Z/28 version returned for the 2014 model year in an interesting and extremely capable package. Once again, the Z/28 was a track day car and a road racing-oriented Camaro. It came with brakes, suspension, and steering dedicated to precision and driving dynamics. Under the hood was a 7.0-liter V8 from the Corvette Z06. It delivered 505 HP and provided more than enough power and grunt.

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The rest of the car was all highly engineered for precision. Chevrolet gave it stiffer shocks and thicker anti-roll bars as well as special wheels and brakes. The new Camaro body shed 300 pounds, which helped the Z/28 achieve better numbers at the racetrack. While the Camaro ZL-1 was faster in a straight line with its supercharged engine, the Z/28 was a better all-around performer, making it the perfect track day vehicle of today.

Photo Credit: Motor 1

21. 2020 Mustang Cobra Jet 1400

True Mustang enthusiasts know a Cobra Jet is a big-block V8 Mustang. Or is it? In April of 2020, Ford introduced a Cobra Jet 1400 prototype that further divided the community. Using a legendary name, this iteration of dedicated drag racer is all-electric and faster than ever.

Photo Credit: Motor Authority

Look at the stats – 1,400 hp and 1,100 lb-ft of torque sent to rear wheels can propel this drag racing missile to an eight-second quarter-mile time at an insane 170 mph. This Cobra Jet is set to break some records. Although it’s still in the prototype phase, we can expect that Ford will produce it in the near future and that Mustang fans will get all-electric drag legend to go along with the Mustang Mach E SUV.

Photo Credit: Drive Tribe

20. Vector W8

The legendary Vector W8 is a wedge-shaped, V8-powered monster they presented in 1990. It was an ambitious project by the Vector Aeromotive Corporation. They wanted to produce the most advanced supercar in the world by using aeronautical technology and materials. Interestingly, the W8 had a space frame chassis with a Kevlar body they reinforced with a special kind of plastic.

Photo Credit: Motor 1

Under the engine cover was the typical American powerhouse in the form of a Chevrolet small-block V8. They paired it up with twin turbochargers to produce 625 HP, which was an impressive figure at that time. The company claimed that at full boost, the 6.0-liter twin-turbo engine was capable of 1,200 HP. However, they suggested drivers not use a full boost for extended periods of time, since it would affect the durability of the engine.

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19. SCC Ultimate Aero TT

They designed the Ultimate Aero to be the fastest, most powerful supercar on the market with engineering to represent a perfect blend of racing technology and streetcar design. The first Ultimate Aero models used a 6.2-liter Corvette racing engine with almost 800 HP that propelled this beast to 238 mph.

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But they presented a real treat in 2009 with the release of the Ultimate Aero TT. It featured a turbocharged Corvette mill delivering 1,200 HP and an improved suspension, chassis, and aerodynamics. Soon, the Aero TT broke the production car speed record by achieving 256 mph, making it the fastest car in the world. With a price of close to $300,000, they only built 24 Aeros between 2006 and 2009.

Photo Credit: Motor Authority

18. Hennessey Venom GT

If you are into domestic performance cars, you certainly know about Hennessey from Texas. In the last few decades, they have been one of the biggest names in aftermarket muscle and performance car parts, conversion kits, and engines. And since 2011, they have been the supercar manufacturers of the Venom GT. The Venom GT is not a 100-percent American car, but more of a British-American hybrid. They based it on the Lotus Elise, but significantly modified it. They widened and stretched it using an updated suspension, brakes, design, and drivetrain. Practically everything is different from the original car.

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The power comes from a 7.0-liter LS2 V8 engine with three power levels, 800 HP, 1,000 HP, and 1,200 HP. The Venom GT was available as a coupe or convertible. However, the biggest point is that it held the world record for the fastest production car, going from 0 to 186 mph with an average time of 13.63 seconds. They ended production in 2017 after building just 13 cars.

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17. Falcon F7 Twin Turbo

In 2009, American car designer and businessman Jeff Lemke established Falcon Motorsports. The company is dedicated to building high-performance, limited-production supercars. Their first car, which they called the Falcon F7, debuted at the 2012 New York Motor Show. Most people agree that the Falcon F7 is the coolest looking supercar for sale today.

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With its silver paint, sharp front end, futuristic interior, and aggressive stance, it is quite recognizable as a great-looking vehicle. The power comes from the naturally aspirated, all-alloy 7.0-liter V8 engine that produces 620 to 680 HP. But they didn’t stop there. Falcon has also announced a twin-turbo version with 1,100 HP.

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16. Callaway Corvette C4 Sledgehammer

Rives Callaway established Callaway Cars in 1977, long after the muscle car craze wound down and high horsepower performance machines were just a thing of the past. He specialized in producing turbocharger kits for installation mostly on European cars. His knowledge and expertise, in combination with the start of the turbo era lined up perfectly, so the company took off.

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In order to show the real potential of the twin-turbo C4, Callaway produced the legendary Sledgehammer Corvette. It is a highly-modified and heavily-turbocharged 1988 Corvette that produces a mind-blowing 898 HP and goes over 250 mph.

Photo Credit: Motor Trend

15. Dodge Challenger SRT Demon

If 707 HP from the Hellcat package is not enough and you want the ultimate modern muscle car, as well as the most powerful street Hemi engine, the Demon package is for you. With standard fuel, it delivers an insane 808 HP. But, if you use high octane fuel, it will pump out almost 840 HP.

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The rest of the Demon package is equally insane, from the special transmission, suspension, and brakes to the widebody stance and exterior details. The acceleration time from 0 to 60 is less than three seconds and under full power, the Demon will accelerate with 1.8 G-force. That is faster than being dropped off a cliff. Amazingly, this car can do a quarter-mile sprint in less than 10 seconds straight from the box.

Photo Credit: Motor Authority

14. Chevrolet Corvette ZR1

Just as you thought Chevrolet abandoned adding more power to the C7 Corvette, concentrating on holding and balancing their already powerful car, they’ve surprised consumers with the insane 2019 Corvette ZR1.

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A recent release, this version of the C7 Corvette features an improved Z06 chassis, suspension, and drivetrain with an absolute beast of an engine. The 6.2-liter heavily-supercharged LT4 engine pumps out 755 HP and 527 lb-ft of torque, sending power to the rear wheels through an automatic or manual gearbox.

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13. Dodge Charger Hellcat

In 2014, the Hellcat arrived, and the car community went crazy when Dodge released the Hellcat Charger and Challenger models. After all, they expected this reaction since the 6.2-liter supercharged Hemi V8 with 707 HP was a proper monster of a muscle car they shouldn’t release on the streets. But Dodge did just that, allowing the buying public to get one of the fastest, most powerful muscle cars and sedans they ever built.

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Despite being overpowered in every aspect, Dodge Charger Hellcats are surprisingly easy to drive and can even be docile at low speeds. When you press the throttle and unleash the fury of those 707 supercharged Hemi horses you will feel the brutality of the Hellcat package and all that power going to the rear wheels. The 0 to 60 mph acceleration time is in the high three-second range and the car can top 200 mph.

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12. Dodge Challenger Hellcat

If the Charger Hellcat sparked the imagination of the muscle car public, the Challenger Hellcat was a clear home run for Dodge. The gorgeous two-door retro-inspired body with well known 707 HP drive train and amazing performance numbers is the absolute pinnacle of muscle car engineering.

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The Challenger Hellcat is a clear example of the perfect blend of power, performance, and legendary name and design.

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11. Jeep Cherokee Trackhawk

There were fast SUVs before Jeep introduced the Trackhawk and there will be long after they discontinue the Trackhawk. However, this glorious machine deserves a place on this list for two reasons. First, it has the 707 HP Hellcat Hemi engine under its hood. Second, with a 3.4-second 0 to 60 mph time, this makes it faster than some supercars.

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The Trackhawk is a brutal machine that is highly unusual and influential. Better yet, it proves that a high horsepower Hemi engine can make anything a proper muscle car, even a full-size SUV.

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10. 2013 Shelby GT 500

The swan song of those SVT supercharged Mustangs is the 2013 Shelby GT 500. This glorious muscle car has a 5.8-liter supercharged V8 pumping out 662 HP and 631 lb-ft of torque. At that time, it was the most powerful American-made V8, as well as a proper beast of an engine.

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It comes with RWD and a live axle platform infamous as a tire smoke generator. But besides the burnout and show potential, it is also a serious performance machine. In fact, a 0 to 60 mph sprint takes only 3.5 seconds, so most car buyers love this overpowered Mustang.

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9. Chevrolet Camaro ZL1

The base Camaro SS is one of the best muscle cars around with its 6.2-liter, 450 HP V8 engine. However, with loads of torque and a perfectly balanced chassis, the ZL1 is even better. The engine is the same as you would get in a Corvette, which means it produces 650 HP.

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The suspension is even more focused and slightly revised to give the driver a better driving feel and sharper response. It is a capable road car that is comfortable enough for everyday use as well as for a long drive. Yet it is sharp enough to be a track car that will provide tons of fun on the race tracks.

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8. Ford GT

The new Ford GT is a fantastic performance machine that has proven itself on the race track. Although there are so many interesting features, the star is the engine itself. It is a 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 delivering 647 HP. That gives the car a 0 to 60 mph time of 2.8 seconds and a top speed of 216 mph.

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But what is interesting is that the GT engine is the same as the 3.5 EcoBoost V6 from an F-150 pickup truck. Of course, there are a lot of different details, but the basic architecture, block, displacement, and turbo technology is the same. They limited the production to 250 cars per year and their goal is to produce 1,000 GTs by 2020.

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7. Dodge Viper ACR

Dodge discontinued the last generation Viper in 2017 due to slow sales. But a car like a Viper doesn’t go without a fight. They unveiled the last special edition, which was the 2016 Viper ACR, as the best and one of the fastest track-ready cars in the world. As you may already know, ACR Vipers are a car purist’s dream. In fact, those specially-prepared road/track cars come with immense possibilities, sublime handling, and performance.

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But the secret of the ACR Viper was a slightly more powerful engine with 645 HP, as well as undergoing a significant weight loss. Also, it has a perfectly balanced chassis, race tires, and powerful Brembo brakes. Unfortunately, at $120,000, it is over budget for most drivers, but it is worth every cent.

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6. Cadillac CTS-V

For years, Cadillac was without a proper performance series they needed to compete with BMW or Mercedes until finally, the V-Series was born. It was all that Cadillac lovers dreamed of with its powerful engines, world-class handling, suspension setup, and exclusive production.

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They introduced the third-generation CTS-V super sedan in 2016 with a 6.2-liter LT4 supercharged engine and 640 HP on tap. This kind of firepower makes the CTS-V more powerful than most of its German competitors. In fact, it’s one of the fastest sedans in the world.

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5. Chevrolet Corvette ZR1

The biggest news for Corvette in 2009 was the return of the famous ZR1 package. The development of this ultra Corvette took several years under the code name, “Blue Devil.” Chevrolet gave their engineers the task to deliver the best, fastest and most powerful street-legal Corvette up to date. So in 2009, a brand-new Corvette ZR1 saw the light of the day, immediately stunning the automotive world.

Photo Credit: American Muscle Car Museum

Under the glass hood was a supercharged 6.2-liter LS9 engine pumping out 638 HP. It was enough to launch this hand-built sports car from 0 to 60 mph in 3.5 seconds, topping an insane 205 mph. Not only that, the ZR1 was the fastest, most powerful and expensive new Corvette in history with an MSRP of over $100,000.

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4. Shelby GT 350 R

Despite the fact they based the Shelby on the Mustang GT, much of the car’s suspension, design, aero package, and engine were new. But the biggest single difference was the fantastic Voodoo engine, with 5.2-liters of displacement, 526 HP and 429 lb-ft of torque.

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The main feature of this high-revving power plant is the flat plane crank technology, which allows this big V8 to scream to almost 9,000 rpm. It is the same technology exotic manufacturers like Ferrari use, but this is the first time that a muscle car has such an advanced engine. Ford’s investment into Shelby GT 350 R paid off since the performance is mind-boggling with a 3.9 second 0 to 60 mph acceleration time.

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3. Cadillac CTS-V

The CTS is a mid-sized Cadillac sedan with the performance “V” option. But the most successful was the second generation, which they produced between 2008 and 2014. Under the hood is a supercharged 6.2-liter V8 that pumps out 556 HP.

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And that makes the CTS-V the most powerful performance sedan on the market. The suspension and rest of the drivetrain are advanced and up to the task, too. Most car fans consider the CTS-V to be the full package, as well as one of the best cars available today.

Photo Credit: Top Speed

2. Chevrolet Corvette Z06

They presented the sixth-generation Corvette in 2004 with an improved design, drivetrain and engine better than the outgoing C5 Corvette. The engine lineup started with the 6.0-liter V8, which delivered 400 HP, and that was more than enough for a convincing performance.

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But the Z06 package returned with a 505 HP engine providing a brutal performance from the 7.0-liter V8 engine. Most car enthusiasts and experts alike consider the 505 HP output a huge achievement coming from the naturally aspirated engine.

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1. Dodge Viper SRT-10

They revealed the second-generation Dodge Viper in 2003. It featured improved mechanics and an engine as well as a new but still recognizable design.

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Under the body, the chassis and components were all-new and/or improved. However, the Viper`s most recognizable feature its monster V10, which displaced 8.3-liters and produced 500 HP. These are the 20 most powerful American cars they ever made. Did you find your ultimate favorite? If so, you’d better save up your pennies since these cars come at a steep yet deserving price.

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