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20 Powerful Modern Muscle Cars

Vukasin Herbez June 6, 2019

You probably know that the golden times of muscle cars were during the ‘60s and early ‘70s. However, after several decades without any real power, muscle cars triumphantly returned in the early 21st century. This return started in the late ‘80s when power levels slowly started to rise.

The performance grew, so by the mid-90s, there was the new dawn of new muscle era. However, if classic muscle cars were crude machines with poor brakes and simple suspensions, the modern ones are state of the art. Modern muscle cars have combined power with cutting edge technology to deliver a unique experience.

Some say that modern muscle cars are not true to the original concept. But most people say that a modern muscle car is every bit a real muscle car, just improved in every way. So, here are the best modern muscle cars that have kept the spirit alive and well.

  1. Ford Mustang SVT Cobra

Inspired by the wild SVT Cobra Rs from the ‘90s, they didn’t name the 2003 model the R because it was limited in production. In fact, it was available to the public rather than just racing drivers and private teams. However, this SVT Cobra was an interesting, important model for the Mustang dynasty and muscle car mythology since it featured two firsts. First, it had the first factory supercharged engine ever.

And second, they gave it an independent rear suspension. The Special Vehicle Team or SVT took a standard 4.6-liter block and mounted different heads and a supercharger to get 390 HP and 390 lb-ft of torque. They named the engine the “Terminator” and rumor was that it delivered more than the advertised 390 HP. To handle all that power and torque, Ford equipped the SVT Cobra with the same independent rear suspension setup as the first Ford GT.

This helped maintain stability at high speeds and hard launches, making this Mustang handle like a dream. The 0 to 60 mph time took only 4.7 seconds so the SVT Cobra was a drag strip terror. Ford offered this model in 2003 and 2004, building around 20,000 of them in a coupe and convertible form. Despite being almost 15 years old, those cars still hold high prices on the used car market.

  1. Jeep Cherokee Trackhawk

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

The Trackhawk is a brutal machine that is highly unusual and influential. It is a proper muscle car, yet it is also an SUV. And that just shows a high horsepower Hemi engine can make anything a proper muscle car, even a full-size SUV.

  1. Chevrolet SS

Yes, the Chevrolet SS is out of production, but fortunately, dealers have enough unsold cars that you can 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, 412 HP, precise steering, and neutral handling, this car rivals Europe’s finest sports sedans.

Of course, this car is from Holden in Australia, but they rebadged it as a Chevrolet, finely tuning it for U.S. customers. The performance numbers are respectable, and a 0 to 60 mph sprint is possible in just 4.7 seconds while the top speed is over 150 mph. The Chevrolet SS is a good proposition for people who need a practical sedan but want a sports car.

The styling is elegant and unassuming, which is a good thing since this car can surprise many regular sports models with its performance. The Chevrolet SS is destined to be a future classic, so grab your example today.

  1. Shelby GT350R

Even though they based the Shelby on the Mustang GT, much of the car’s suspension, design, aero package and engine were new. The biggest single difference was the fantastic Voodoo engine with a 5.2-liter displacement delivering 526 HP and 429 lb-ft of torque. But the greatest feature of this high-revving powerplant is the flat-plane crank technology that allows the big V8 to scream to almost 9,000 rpm.

It is the same technology the exotic manufacturers like Ferrari use. However, this is the first time a muscle car has such an advanced engine. Ford’s investment into the Shelby GT350R paid off since the performance is mind-boggling with 3.9 seconds to get from 0 to 60 mph. But the numbers don’t do justice to this car. The Shelby GT 350 R is a pure sports car that delivers fantastic driving dynamics.

  1. Dodge Charger Hellcat

In 2014, Dodge presented the Hellcat and the car community went crazy. After all, they expected such a reaction since the 6.2-liter supercharged V8 with 707 HP is a proper monster of a muscle car which shouldn’t be on the streets. But, Dodge did just that by 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 is surprisingly easy to drive and can be docile at low speeds. It’s only when you press the throttle to unleash the fury of those 707 supercharged horses will you feel the brutality of the Hellcat package and all 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.

  1. Chevrolet Camaro ZL1

Chevrolet knew the Camaro platform could handle much more than 426 HP. In fact, it is capable of delivering fantastic cornering speeds and world-class handling. So, as soon as the new generation hit the streets in 2010, their engineers started developing performance versions. And the first of those was the great Camaro ZL-1 they introduced in 2012, selling it throughout 2015.

The ZL-1 was a special 427 V8 powered drag beast from 1969 but its 2012 counterpart follows the same formula. Chevrolet took the biggest, most powerful engine GM has, which is the 6.2-liter supercharged V8, and stuffed it into the Camaro. The result was a 580 HP street terror with a highly advanced Magnetic Ride suspension. Also, they gave it performance Goodyear tires, Brembo brakes and lots more.

  1. Dodge Challenger GT AWD

The definition of a muscle car is a two-door coupe with a big V8 engine and rear-wheel drive. However, Dodge has a different vision. For decades, muscle cars were rear-wheel drive only vehicles but in 2016, Dodge introduced a special model in its Challenger lineup they called the GT AWD.

For starters, it is a Challenger with recognizable coupe styling, retro charm, and aggressive stance. But underneath the cool-looking body, there is a V6 and intelligent all-wheel-drive system. However, there are no more smoky burnouts and rear wheels on fire. Instead, now there is loads of traction, even in the toughest conditions. At the moment, the Dodge Challenger AWD is the only all-wheel-drive production muscle car they ever built.

  1. Ford Mustang GT Performance Pack 2

So, what exactly is the Mustang GT Performance Pack 2? It is a GT, which means it has a 5.0-liter Coyote V8 producing 460 HP and 420 lb-ft of torque. They topped it off by mating it with a six-speed manual transmission in the tradition of classic muscle cars. With the 0 to 60 mph time in the low four-second range the Performance Pack 2 is fast.

But the numbers are just half of the story. The essence of the Performance Pack is in the handling, braking, low weight and a lot more driving dynamics. However, for $6,500 above the price of a regular GT, you will get chassis and aerodynamic improvements. Also, you’ll get stiffer springs, beefier anti-roll bars, performance tires, bigger brakes, racing seats and more.

With this package, the standard Mustang GT transforms from a great sports car to a fantastic driver’s machine. Some magazine editors think Ford should’ve named this Performance Pack 2 the Boss 302 since it captures the same idea and it is for the same type of customer.

  1. Cadillac ATS-V

Debuting in 2016, the newest American muscle four-door car is the compact but immensely powerful Cadillac ATS-V. With this model, Cadillac attacked the likes of the Mercedes C Class and BMW 3 Series. It is a modern executive sedan with recognizable styling and brutal power.

Under the hood is the twin-turbo 3.6-liter V6 engine producing 464 HP and 445 lb-ft of torque. And that is enough to launch the ATS-V from 0 to 60 mph in just 3.7 seconds with a top speed of 189 mph. But even though the ATS-V doesn’t have a V8, it is still a proper muscle car. And best yet, it is also available in a two-door form, as well.

  1. Ford Mustang Boss 302

Ever since the first retro Mustangs appeared in showrooms across America, Ford fans have asked for the return of the Boss 302. For those who don’t know, they first presented the Boss 302 in 1969 as a racing car homologation special for the Trans-Am races. Fast forward 43 years and Ford revived the Boss 302.

They added a new 5.0-liter Coyote V8 that delivered 444 HP and 380 lb-ft of torque. Again, this was nearly a pure racing car without back seats and with a factory-installed roll cage. And then they added a host of other external and internal modifications.

As you would expect, the performance was better than the regular Mustang GT. In fact, the 2012 Boss 302 could accelerate to 60 mph in 3.97 seconds and top 155 mph. Until there’s a future version of the Boss 302, the 2012 model is one of the best modern muscle cars that clearly deserves a place on this list.

  1. Chevrolet Camaro SS

Camaro fans were terribly disappointed when Chevrolet decided to retire the Camaro nameplate after the 2003 model year. It looked like the Mustang has finally won the muscle car battle since they had already discontinued the Firebird. That meant the Mustang was the only domestic pony/muscle car still on the market at the moment.

However, Chevrolet was waiting for the right moment to return the Camaro to the market in a redesigned, restyled and re-engineered form. And that moment came in late 2009 when they unveiled the new, fifth-generation Camaro to the eager market. So, after a few years of showing concept cars and design renderings, Chevrolet was finally ready to introduce its modern interpretation of the classic Camaro shape.

But this time, they used a new, highly advanced chassis and engine. In fact, the 2010 Camaro was the triumph of retro-futuristic design and engineering. And better yet, the GM Zeta platform was highly sophisticated, providing the new model with sports car-like road holding and driving dynamics.

  1. Dodge Challenger SRT Demon

If 707 HP from the Hellcat package is not enough and you want the ultimate modern muscle car and the most powerful street Hemi engine they ever made, choose the Demon package. With standard fuel, it will deliver an insane 808 HP. However, if you use the high octane stuff, it will pump out almost 840 HP.

The rest of the Demon package is equally insane from the special transmission, suspension, and brake to the widebody stance and exterior details. The acceleration times from 0 to 60 is less than three seconds. And under full power, the Demon will accelerate with a 1.8 G force. Amazingly, this car capable of covering a quarter-mile sprint in less than 10 seconds straight from the box.

  1. Chrysler 300C SRT8

The Chrysler 300C is an interesting car. It is one of the last American boxy-looking sedans with big V8 power and a chrome grille. But it is also a successful model that has been on the market for almost 15 years.

During that time, Chrysler produced numerous variants, most of them with the modern 5.7-liter Hemi. However, one is especially interesting on this list, and that is the mighty SRT-8. Under the hood is a 6.1-liter Hemi producing 425 HP. This car delivers fantastic performance, which connected with those Hemi models of the glorious Mopar past.

  1. Chevrolet Camaro Z/28

The legendary Z/28 version returned for the 2014 model year and in an interesting and extremely capable package. Once again, they made the Z/28 a track day car. In fact, it was and still is a road racing-oriented Camaro with the brakes, suspension and steering to provide the best driving dynamics.

Under the hood is a 7.0-liter V8 from the Corvette Z06 that delivers 505 HP and provides more than enough power and grunt. However, Chevrolet highly-engineered the rest of the car for precision, giving it stiffer shocks and thicker anti-roll bars, as well as special wheels and brakes.

But with its 300-pound weight loss, the Z/28 achieves better numbers at the racetrack. Although the Camaro ZL-1 faster with its supercharged engine, the Z/28 is a better all-around performer. And that is what makes it perfect for the racetrack.

  1. Dodge Challenger Scat Pack

Even though today’s muscle cars are faster than those European sports coupes with their advanced technology and innovative systems, some people still want an American muscle coupe with a roaring V8 and a whole lot of attitude. So, for those folks, Dodge has the Challenger, a cool retro muscle car. It comes with modern technology and a fantastic Hemi V8 delivering 6.1-liters and 485 HP.

The price tag may not allow you to buy the crazy Challenger Hellcat with 707 HP and rear tires as wide as the highway. However, you can still get the Scat Pack version, which is more than enough. The 0 to 60 mph acceleration time is in the 4.5-second range and the top speed is nearly 170 mph, which is quite decent.

  1. Chevrolet Camaro SS 1LE

The base Camaro SS is one of the best muscle cars around with its 6.2-liter, 450 HP V8 engine. But with loads of torque and a perfectly balanced chassis, the Camaro 1LE is even better. The engine is the same one as in the Corvette, which means it produces 460 HP. They made the suspension even more focused to give drivers a better driving feel and sharper response.

Imagine driving this perfectly tuned machine on a long road trip with every mile bringing you more driving pleasure. Also, Chevrolet improved the aero package. This means the 1LE is the best car if you want an all-around sports machine. It is capable and comfortable enough to use every day as well as for long drives.

The Camaro SS 1LE is sharp enough to be a track car, providing tons of fun on the racetrack. Besides the SS V8 1LE, for $10,000 less you can get the V6 1LE. Although it is less powerful and slower, it is still a good sports car.

  1. Cadillac CTS-V

For years, Cadillac was without the proper performance series they needed to compete with BMW or Mercedes. But finally, the V-Series was born. It was all that Cadillac lovers dreamed of with its powerful engine. It provided world-class handling with the updated suspension setup, as well as exclusive production. Even the competitors took notice when Cadillac rolled up with 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 producing 556 HP. And that made the CTS-V the most powerful performance sedan at that time. The suspension and the rest of the drivetrain were advanced and up to the task.

In fact, the CTS-V was a full package and one of the best driver’s cars available. 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 for that reason, it is a true muscle car sedan.

  1. Pontiac G8

Pontiac thought a rear-wheel-drive sedan would help them fight their European competitors. The G8 was a good idea and with a Pontiac redesign and small-block V8 engine, it was quite an effective performance sedan, too. But best of all, the base engine was a solid 3.5-liter V6 that pumped out 256 HP.

But the real deal was the G8 GXP with a 6.2-liter V8 delivering a mind-bending 415 HP. Also, they filled the G8 with high levels of standard equipment as well as a long list of optional extras. Unfortunately, the G8 came too late, so most customers weren’t ready to accept a performance sedan that could beat the overpriced European models. Sadly, after years of anemic models, front-wheel-drive economy cars and the minivans of the ‘90s, Pontiac lost its performance image.

In fact, only a handful of buyers remember what Pontiac was famous for and capable of producing. So, when they finally presented a car capable of reclaiming the title of a performance brand, they ran out of time. However, in two years, Pontiac sold just over 30,000 G8s.

  1. Ford Mustang Shelby GT500

The swan song of the SVT supercharged Mustangs is the 2013 Shelby GT500. This glorious muscle car has a 5.8-liter supercharged V8 that can produce 662 HP and 631 lb-ft of torque. At the time, that was the most powerful American-made V8 and a proper beast of an engine. When Ford installed it in rear-wheel drive with a live axle platform everyone knew as a tire smoke generator.

However, besides its burnout and show potential, the Mustang Shelby GT500 is also a serious performance machine. A 0 to 60 mph sprint takes only 3.5 seconds. That means the $50,000 Mustang could embarrass a $250,000 Ferrari at stoplight drag races. Buyers loved this overpowered Mustang, so despite being discontinued, it still is the king of the hill among Mustang fans.

  1. Pontiac GTO

The first year for the modern GTO was 2004 and the car received universal praise from car buyers as well as the car press. The design wasn’t exactly new or aggressive, but the GTO had a muscle car form and street presence. Under the hood was an LS1 5.7-liter V8 delivering 350 HP. And that was enough performance to make the GTO one of the hottest American cars for 2004.

The 2005 model year saw the introduction of the 400 HP 6.2-liter engine. That engine provided even better performance numbers with a 0 to 60 mph acceleration time of just 4.6 seconds. However, sales started to decline to 11,000, so for 2006, which was the final model year, they sold just 14,000 GTOs.

These are 20 of the best, fastest and most powerful modern muscle cars they ever built. Did you find your favorite? If so, start saving up since none of these cars is a bargain. However, they are sure to deliver the best driving experience ever.

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