23. Shelby Cobra 289
The story of Shelby Cobra 289 is a widely known one, but it’s still interesting enough to tell it again. Carroll wanted to build a sports car with his name on the hood and contacted British company AC Cars. They delivered the bodies and Ford supplied the engines and that is how the Cobra was born. The small but powerful American V8 in a light and nimble body proved to be a match made in heaven and soon, Shelby installed the 289 V8 with 271 HP which brought some serious performance to this little roadster.
24. Dodge Viper RT/10
The release of the original Viper R/T 10 in 1992 was one of the biggest events of the American automotive scene in the `90. Under the hood was a 8.0-liter fully aluminum V10 with 400 HP and 465 lb-ft of torque which was unheard of at the time and secured Viper`s place as one of the most powerful new models on the market. The design wasn’t much different from the prototypes and a long hood and short rear end with necessary roll bar made Viper visually dramatic and fast-looking even when it was parked.
25. Vector W8
The legendary Vector W8 is a wedge shaped, V8 powered monster presented in 1990. It was an ambitious project by the Vector Aeromotive Corporation. Under the engine cover was a typical American powerhouse in form of a Chevrolet small block V8. They paired it up with twin turbochargers to produce 625 HP, which was an impressive figure. The company claimed that at full boost, the 6.0-liter twin turbo engine was capable of 1200 HP. This car showed that Americans can build exotic machinery which could rival the best from Europe.
26. Jeep Cherokee Trackhawk
There were fast SUVs before Jeep introduced the Trackhawk and there will be long after the Trackhawk is discontinued. However, this glorious machine deserves a place on our list for two reasons. First, the 707 Hellcat Hemi engine under the hood. Second, with 3.4-second 0 to 60 mph time, this makes it faster than some supersports cars. The Trackhawk is a brutal machine which is highly unusual and influential.
27. Chaparral 2J
The most interesting and extremely fast model from the famous Chaparral company was the 2J which featured two fans and rubber skirts around the vehicle. Powered by an additional two-stroke engine, the fans were designed to suck air from under the vehicle and plastic skirts were there to keep the vacuum and hold the car practically sucked to the ground. That was an insane combination, but it worked, and years later, Formula One cars used the same principle which just shows how good Jim Hall`s vision was.
28. Shelby EXP 500 “Green Hornet”
Although only a working prototype, the Green Hornet featured the most innovative features for any muscle car like 390 V8 equipped with fuel injection, disc brakes on all four wheels, and independent rear suspension. With this layout, the Green Hornet was a very capable car which handled and stopped better than any other sports car on the market. Unfortunately, the cost of producing those features was too big and Ford and Shelby decided to go with more conventional technology.
29. Chevrolet Corvette ZL1
The Corvette ZL1 was kind of a secret model but still it was one of the most unusual American sports cars. The heart of the ZL1 was the fantastic and basically racing-spec fully aluminum 427 V8 with up to 550 hp in mild tune. This monster of an engine was far more powerful than anything Mopar or Ford had in production at the moment. Chevrolet produced around 200 of those engines and while most of them went to Can-Am racing teams, Chevrolet also made around 12 test Corvettes with that engine inlate 1968. The performance potential was unbelievable and Chevrolet didn’t want to offer this wild racing engine to the general public, so the ZL-1 option was never mentioned in the press or official brochures.
30. Callaway Sledgehammer C4 Corvette
Rives Callaway established Callaway Cars in 1977, long after the muscle car craze winded down and high horsepower performance machines were just a thing of past. He specialized in producing turbocharger kits to be installed mostly on European cars. His knowledge, expertise and start of the turbo era perfectly lined up and the company really took off. In order to show the real potential of twin turbo C4, Callaway produced the legendary Sledgehammer Corvette, a highly modified and heavily turbocharged 1988 Corvette which had 898 HP and could go over 250 mph!
These are the top most unusual and innovative American performance and muscle cars available today. But, car fans know Detroit is working on more of them to offer in the future. Who knows what those designers are thinking up now.