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The Greatest American Muscle Cars Of All Time, Ranked

Vukasin HerbezJuly 8, 2022

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10. Cadillac CTS-V

For years, Cadillac was without a proper performance series necessary to compete with BMW or Mercedes. But finally, the V-Series was born. It was all Cadillac lovers dreamed of with its powerful engines (via Motor Trend).

Photo Credit: GM

Arguably the most successful was the second-generation CTS-V model produced between 2008 and 2014. Under the hood was a supercharged 6.2-liter V8 delivering 556 HP. That made the CTS-V the most powerful performance sedan on the market. With 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. You could say it’s a true muscle car sedan.

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9. Dodge Challenger Demon

If for any reason, the 707 HP from the Hellcat package is not enough and you want the most powerful street Hemi engine ever, the Demon package may be the best option for you. With standard fuel, it will deliver an insane 808 HP, but if you use the high octane stuff, it will pump out almost 840 HP.

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Its acceleration 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 jumping off a cliff. This car is capable of covering a quarter-mile sprint in less than 10 seconds straight from the dealership (via CNet).

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8. Plymouth Hemi Cuda

Two of the biggest Chrysler legends from the classic days of the muscle car culture are the Barracuda and the 426 Hemi engine. In 1970 Plymouth offered this legendary engine in the Barracuda body, immediately creating one of the fastest, most desirable muscle cars ever (via AutoExpress).

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The mighty Hemi engine was an expensive top-of-the-line option for 1970 and 1971 available in coupe or convertible form. It cost around $900 over the price of the standard Barracuda. They installed it in about 600 coupes and only 17 convertibles during its two-year production period. The power was rated at 425 HP but was rumored to have delivered more than 500.

Corvette Stingray
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7. Chevrolet Corvette L88

Chevrolet produced the second-generation Corvette (C2) from 1963 to 1967. It was one of the most beautiful and aggressive-looking cars of the muscle car era. It was also a popular and successful racing car in the hands of many private racing teams. Corvettes equipped with the L-88 engine were in a class by themselves since the aluminum head produced close to 600 HP (via The Manual).

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Also, the L-88 had a mandatory heavy-duty suspension, brakes, and handling package. Chevy developed this option for racers. But it was expensive, almost doubling the price of the base ’67 Corvette. That’s why it is one of the rarest, with only 20 in coupe and convertible form.

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6. Mercury Cougar XR-7

Some people think of a Cougar only as a Mustang with a longer wheelbase and luxury interior. But Mercury’s muscle car was much more than that. With its unique styling and trim, it was an independent force in the muscle car wars of the late ’60s. The ultimate version that perfectly combined muscle car power with luxury was the mighty Cougar XR-7 (via Hemmings).

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This model had the 390 V8 engine with 320 HP. But buyers could also opt for the GT package, which included a beefed-up suspension and stronger brakes. Over the years, the Cougar was in the shadow of the Mustang.

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5. 2020 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500

It seems that every new generation of the Shelby GT500 pushes the envelope even further. Each model delivers so much power, it’s hard to comprehend. Just look at the latest 2020 model. From the outside, it looks like a menacing Mustang. But the real surprise lies beneath the metal (via JD Power).

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The massive 5.2-liter supercharged V8 engine delivers 760 HP and sends it to the rear wheels through an intelligent 10-speed automatic. This interesting combo makes the new GT500 the perfect combination of old-school muscle and modern technology. The result is even more astonishing as it takes just 3.3 seconds to get to 60 mph with a 180-mph top speed.

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4. 1969 Pontiac Trans Am

The 1969 Trans Am featured big-block power from the famous 400 V8 engine equipped with the Ram Air III or IV intake system. The difference between those engines was significant since the Ram Air IV featured many improved engine internals and components. But they rated both at 366 HP, which was understated (via Volo).

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However, this special version with its signature white paint, blue stripes, and Rally II wheels proved to be a tough seller. Sadly, they only sold 634 Firebird Trans Am. And among those, only eight were convertibles.

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3. Chevrolet Camaro Baldwin Motion

Think again if you believe Yenko was the classic Camaro tuner. There were several well-known names in the business, but the most extreme was Baldwin Motion (via Silodrome). Their 427 conversions for the early 1970s models were simply the best. Baldwin Motion installed numerous exceptional performance parts.

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They delivered them with a written warranty that the vehicle could achieve 10-second quarter-mile times and produce 500 HP. Today, Baldwin Motion Camaros are highly sought-after and valuable pieces of muscle car history.

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2. Ford Mustang Boss 302

The third redesign of the Mustang appeared for the 1969 model year and the car grew again. Ford produced it for only two years in 1969 and 1970. The Boss 302 featured a 302 V8 engine conservatively rated at 290 HP. The real output was closer to the 350 HP mark though (via Ford).

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The Boss 302 was a model Ford intended for racing in the Trans-Am championship. Apart from the blackout hood, spoiler on the trunk, and other details, it featured a stiff, track-tuned suspension, a close-ratio gearbox, and a high-revving engine.

Pontiac GTO (1964)
Photo Credit: Hot Rod

1. 1964 Pontiac GTO

A young engineer named John Z. DeLorean thought of a genius idea. He wanted to install a big, powerful 396 V8 into a light, intermediate Tempest two-door body. He knew it was an easy and affordable way to create a true performance machine. For just $295, buyers could get a high-performance 396 V8 with 325 HP in a standard or 348 HP in the famous Tri-Power form (via Muscle Car Facts).

Pontiac GTO
Photo Credit: Hot Rod

The package included a manual transmission, unique trim, GTO decals, and dual exhaust. And since the car was light, the Tempest GTO delivered a convincing performance. In fact, in 1964, it was one of the quickest American cars on the market. Even Corvette owners weren’t safe from Tempest GTOs lurking at stop lights across the country. The big sales made it clear the GTO was a hit among younger buyers and that a star was born.

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