Home Cars Top 20 Non-American Muscle Cars

Top 20 Non-American Muscle Cars

Vukasin Herbez September 27, 2018

Despite the fact that muscle cars are as American as country music, baseball, hot dogs, and apple pie, there some interesting models are available outside of the U.S. Of course, American muscle cars are still the most recognizable, powerful, and valuable models ever produced. However, many other car industries have successfully implemented the muscle car formula. Most of the cars on the list are unfamiliar to American car enthusiasts since they sold almost none of them in the U.S., even though U.S. car brands built them.

Some of them, like the Australian and South African models, only came in a right-hand drive configuration. Also, some, like the South American models, were only available on the local market and were never exported to the rest of the globe. However, all the cars on the list have one thing in common, and that is undeniable muscle car credentials. They come with powerful V8s or straight-six engines, rear-wheel drive, and deliver exhilarating performance. All the cars on the list are respected classics of the genre and recognizable models with a cult following. Read on to learn about the best non-American muscle cars you can buy today.

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20. Holden Monaro GTS 327

Ford’s Bathurst victory in 1967 started a muscle car war between Ford and its archrival Holden. Understanding the Falcon GT XR concept, Holden engineers decided to present their muscle car. They wanted to equip it with a bigger engine and better components, too. So, in 1968, the first Australian two-door muscle car was born, the Holden Monaro GTS 327.

Photo Credit: Which Car

This car looked and sounded like a proper muscle car coupe. It featured a two-door Monaro body with bigger wheels, a graphics package, a sportier interior, and Chevrolet’s 327 V8 engine under the hood. The V8 produced 250 HP which was more than enough for an exciting performance. Immediately, Holden pitted the new Monaro muscle car against the Falcon GT in Australian touring car races. And finally, the GTS 327 won the 1968 Bathurst race, which was the first Holden victory on that track.

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19. Ford Falcon GT HO 351

Probably the most famous of all Australian muscle cars was the mighty Ford Falcon GT HO 351 they introduced in 1971. Despite its performance portfolio, it was still a four-door sedan, but with proper muscle car equipment. Under the hood was a Ford 351 V8 and it came with a shaker hood. Also, they beefed up the suspension and brakes. The power output was 300 HP for the standard version, but Ford offered Phase II and Phase III options.

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The car looked the same, but they upgraded the mechanicals. So, in the ultimate Phase III version, the Falcon GT HO had over 350 HP. As a result, the performance was astonishing with 0 to 60 mph in the six-second range and a top speed of over 140 mph. As expected, the Falcon GT HO was successful at racing, dethroning its archenemy, the Monaro GTS 350.

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18. MG B GT V8

One of the most popular and typical British roadsters from the ‘60s is definitely the MG B. They presented it in 1962 as the successor of the MG A, which helped establish the roadster class in America. And the MG B was a modern car with unibody construction, a roomy interior, and a decent suspension and steering. The MG B GT V8 is a coupe version equipped with a V8 engine. And that engine is what turned this small two-seater open-top into a proper V8-powered muscle car.

Photo Credit: Motor 1

They presented it in 1973, and the MG B GT V8 was powered by a 3.5-liter engine with 175 HP. That was a good figure by the early ‘70s standards. The car was a strong seller because it combined the practicality of a bigger cabin and trunk with the performance of the V8 engine. In fact, it could accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in just 7.7 seconds. And lastly, American buyers loved the GT V8 since it offered compact dimensions and improved practicality with more power and performance.

Photo Credit: Gosford Classic Cars

17. Chrysler Valiant Charger VH

The Chrysler Motor Company also wanted to participate in the Australian muscle car class. So, in 1971, it introduced the Valiant Charger. They based it on the regular Valiant platform but gave it a sporty new two-door body. Also, the Charger got its name from its American cousin, the Dodge Charger. However, to keep up with the mighty Falcon GT, Monaro, and Holden Torana, the Valiant Charger came with several performance engines.

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They started from a hot version of a Chrysler six-cylinder engine featuring new cylinder heads and better intake systems. But, in the R/T version, the 4.3-liter six delivered over 240 HP. In fact, the most powerful version was the Charger 770 SE E55. Also, under the hood was the well-known Mopar 340 V8 with 285 HP and a three-speed automatic. They installed this engine in the Dodge Challenger and Plymouth Barracuda in America.

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16. BMW 2002 Turbo

The 2002 Turbo is the epitome of a German muscle car, despite being 45 years old. This is not a sports car, although it could outrun a Porsche 911 when they released it. And it is not a GT model, although it has four seats and a decent trunk. It is a pure muscle car BMW designed and built using the “biggest engine in the lightest body” mantra. In the early ’70s, BMW found success with their 02 Neue Klasse series of models. The 02s were quick, nimble, and light coupes that established the brand among performance lovers and racing fans all over the world. But BMW wanted more. They wanted to present the ultimate 02 model, incorporating its signature design with the latest in high-performance technology, turbocharging.

Photo Credit: BMW Group

So in 1973, BMW introduced the 2002 Turbo. It was a crazy and naughty cousin to the rest of the BMW lineup. The car featured a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine with 170 HP, and revised suspension and brakes. Also, it had unique design details, but only one color choice and an interesting graphics package. On the front bumper, they wrote the word “Turbo” backward so other drivers would recognize the model in their rearview mirrors. But despite the relatively small power numbers, the 2002 Turbo was a blast to drive thanks to its lightweight body. The car met universal praise from fans and the car press, too. However, the oil crisis of the early ‘70s killed the model after they built only 1,672 of them.

Photo Credit: Hemmings

15. Ford Maverick V8

American buyers got to know the Maverick as Ford`s base economy model they introduced in 1969 to fight the foreign compact car invasion. However, the U.S. Maverick wasn’t anything special. In fact, it was just another affordable runabout with no defining features. But in Brazil, it was one of the premium muscle cars in GT trim. The Brazilian Maverick production started in 1973 and lasted until 1979. Basically, the car was the same as the U.S. version with a straight-six engine and no special equipment. And, over the years, Ford Brazil produced over 500,000 Mavericks, which made it a popular and common choice in that part of the world.

Photo Credit: Quatro Rodas

But, for muscle car connoisseurs and enthusiasts, Ford produced the Maverick GT V8 with a 5.0-liter V8 that developed 199 HP. That was a big number by the standards of the day. So, in this relatively light package with a four-speed manual transmission, the Maverick GT was one of the fastest Brazilian cars and a popular muscle car. In 1975, Ford presented the Maverick GT with a Quadrajet four-barrel carburetor. It raised the power level to 255 HP and made this compact muscle car go fast. Also, this model came with the popular Ford Grabber colors, a front and rear spoiler, and sports wheels. Even today, this is one of the most popular and sought-after Brazilian muscle machines.

Photo Credit: Autoge Spot

14. MG X-Power SV Coupe

The story of this remarkable car is, unfortunately, a sad one. This was one of the last true UK-U.S. hybrids. It was a modern-day muscle coupe with Italian styling, American engine, and British exclusivity. They constructed it in Modena, Italy, and finished it in England. Also, they designed the MG X-Power to deliver a sports car-level of performance. They gave it aggressive muscle styling with a soundtrack to match. Under the hood was a Ford-sourced 4.6-liter V8 engine straight from the Mustang delivering 320 HP.

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MG even offered a supercharged version capable of producing 540 HP. When they introduced it in 2003, it was one of the most interesting releases. However, MG lacked the image and reputation to achieve success on the global market. On sale for just three years, they discontinued the X-Power in 2005. Today, this is a forgotten piece of the British muscle car class. But, it is still a capable V8 powered coupe with brutal looks and performance.

Photo Credit: Wikimedia

13. Chevrolet Opala SS

The Chevrolet Opala SS is a typical example of a Brazilian muscle car they produced in the height of the muscle car craze. They presented this handsome fastback coupe in 1969. It came in a wide arrange of formal body styles as Chevrolet’s main mid-size model for the Brazilian market. Also, the name, “Opala,” was a bit controversial since the customers thought it represented the mix between the names, “Opel” and “Impala.” But Germany’s Opel was a part of GM who produced a model they called the Rekord. It was visually the same, while the U.S.-made Chevrolet had the Impala. The Impala used the 4.1-liter straight-six, the same as the engine for Brazil’s Opalas.

Photo Credit: Quatro Rodas

Either way, Chevrolet decided to introduce the performance version of the Opala that used the same 4.1-liter straight six they tuned to produce 169 HP. Although it was not much by today’s standards, it helped the Opala SS deliver a decent performance. The Opala SS was even successful on the race track, winning many events in Brazil during the ‘70s. Lastly, the Opala SS got a distinctive appearance package. It included a vinyl roof, racing stripes, graphics, and sporty wheels to differentiate them from their lesser cousins.

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12. Ford Falcon Cobra

In 1978, Ford was getting ready to introduce a new body style for its popular Falcon. They wanted to produce their new model as a sedan or station wagon, so a two-door coupe was out of production. After closing down the assembly lines of the old model, Ford was left with 400 coupe body shells that they were supposed to scrap.

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So Ford decided to turn the leftover bodies into a special version called Falcon Cobra. The 1978 Falcon Cobra came with a 5.8 or 5.0 V8 engine and automatic or manual transmission. Also, it came in two colors, white or blue. Each car had stripes as an homage to those Shelby Mustangs popular in Australia. Today, the Falcon Cobra is a valuable and highly desirable car in Oceania.

Photo Credit: Mecum

11. Dodge Charger R/T

Most people know how the Dodge Charger looks like since it is one of the most popular and sought-after classic muscle cars in the world. But, the Brazilian version is totally different although it carries the same name and model designation. In the late ’60s, after the demise of the Simca operation, Chrysler decided to introduce the Dodge Dart, which they would produce locally.

Photo Credit: W Super Cars

The car was modern and among the most prestigious Brazilian models. But in 1971, Chrysler surprised Brazilian performance enthusiasts with a new model they called the Charger R/T. Basically, it was a dressed-up two-door Dart with a new front design and graphics. Also, it had a vinyl roof and a 318 V8 engine with 215 HP. The new Charger R/T was immediately one of the most desirable cars in Brazil. With its optional air conditioning, plush interior, and front disc brakes, it was highly advanced for the times. But the high price meant it was relatively rare, but also highly desirable.

Photo Credit: The Motor Hood

10. Ford Capri Perana

The most popular South African muscle car is the legendary Capri Perana. It was produced by Basil Green Motors, a performance car dealership from Edenvale, Gauteng near Johannesburg, South Africa. Basil Green was an accomplished racer turned tuner and dealer, so when Ford introduced their affordable, cool-looking Capri coupe in late 1969, he realized the potential. And soon, he introduced the Capri Perana. Basil took the 3.0-liter V6 Capri they delivered straight from England and installed a 5.0-liter Ford V8 from the Mustang. Also, to make the car handle properly, the Basil engineers modified the suspension, chassis, brakes, and steering. So, after some thorough work, the Capri Perana was born. The power output was around 280 HP.

Photo Credit: Sedge Class Cars

In the lightweight body of the standard Capri, the Perana was able to reach 60 mph in just six seconds. Those characteristics made it a favorite with racecar drivers, so during the early ’70s, the Capri Perana dominated the South African racing scene. However, since it wasn’t Ford`s official product, no one knows the exact number of Peranas produced. But, the experts agree that Basil Green Motors delivered around 500 of them between 1970 and 1972.

Photo Credit: Road and Track

9. Mercedes 500E

Back in the early ’90s, Mercedes produced the successful but docile W124 E-Class. The elegant sedan was known for its comfort and refinement rather than performance and speed. However, their team of crazy German engineers was soon to change that and in 1991, they presented the mighty 500E model. This was a high-performance version of their main sedan that featured a different drivetrain, suspension, brakes, and engine. In fact, the 500E was so demanding to produce, Mercedes asked Porsche to assemble this car. The main feature of the 500E was the 5.0-liter V8 engine that developed 326 HP.

Photo Credit: Mercedes Blog

While not an impressive number by today’s standards, it was a crazy figure for the early ’90s, especially in a formal sedan. The 500 E could accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in just six seconds, which was almost as fast as a Ferrari 348. The best thing was the design because the 500 E looked identical to the regular W124 Sedan. It was only if you looked carefully that you could notice slightly bigger wheel arches and brakes. But nothing else revealed there was a monster under the hood. Mercedes offered badge delete as a no-cost option for its customers. And if you chose a black or silver color, you got a stealth sedan that ate Corvettes for breakfast. Interestingly, you can pick up one of these German muscle sedans for around $20,000 in decent condition.

Photo Credit: Grass Roots Motor Sports

8. BMW 333i E30

The BMW 333i E30 was a true example of a factory hot rod. And it followed the true muscle car philosophy of installing the biggest engine in the smallest body to create a performance car. But back in the late ‘80s, the smallest BMW was the 3 Series coupe and the biggest engine was a 3.3-liter from the 7-Series luxury sedan. Buyers could get the 325i with six cylinders, but that was it, and not for BMW South Africa, at least

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In 1988, SA BMW introduced the 333i E30 coupe with 3.3-liter straight six, 194 HP, and vivid performance. The 0 to 60 mph sprint took around seven seconds, which was better than the M3 E30. The 333i came with a plush interior but only two options, air-conditioning or power steering. Apparently, the big six-cylinder took so much space in the engine bay that the buyers had to choose between an air-conditioning compressor or a power steering pump. Since this was a special model, BMW made only 210 of these fantastic 333i E30s. That means they are extremely rare today, even in South Africa.

Photo Credit: Car Advice

7. IKA Torino

The IKA Torino is the prime example of a South American muscle car that gained international fame and recognition. They established the IKA factory in 1955 as a Kaiser subsidiary in Argentina producing American-designed models for local buyers. However, in 1964, IKA, now a part of the American Motors Company, needed a modern-looking, powerful car to compete on the Argentinean market. So AMC provided IKA with the 1965 Rambler American platform, including some body panels and drivetrains. The car they named the Torino debuted in 1966. It was modern and advanced for the Argentinean standards of the day. The base engine was the 3.0-liter straight-six with 120 HP.

Photo Credit: Car Advice

But the Torino had an interesting construction feature, the convertible frame rails they used on the four-door sedan or coupe models. This gave the car more torsion rigidity and a stiffer chassis, making it a stronger car suitable for the rough roads of Argentina. In 1969, IKA started upgrading the engine to produce sporty variants with the Torino 380W model. This version included a 3.8-liter engine with 176 HP and special exterior trim. The company continued to produce more powerful versions like the Torino TSX, Torino GS, and Torino ZX. They used the same 3.8-liter engine, but with power ranging from 200 to 215 HP. The top Torino was the Interceptor with 248 HP from a highly tuned 4.0-liter straight-six engine they produced until 1981. Those Torinos scored many race track wins in Argentina and its neighboring countries.

Photo Credit: Car Advice

6. Holden UTE SSV

The Australian Holden Ute is a popular light-duty pickup featuring a passenger car chassis and engine but the payload and practicality of a truck. To further develop the concept, the engineers from Holden decided to install the biggest engine they could find. And doing so produced an insane truck with a 6.3-liter V8, 421 HP, and rear-wheel drive.

Photo Credit: Which Car

They named it the Holden Ute SSV, a fully GM product because the platform was already in some U.S. models. In fact, the engine was in the Corvette, for example. However, GM decided to leave this model in Australia even though most people think it would be popular in America.

Photo Credit: Drive Tribe

5. Marcos TSO

Outside of Great Britain, Marcos was a little-known sports car manufacturer. But on the domestic market, it had a reputation for building fast, relatively affordable sports coupes. Always considered a kit car company, Marcos used engines and drivetrain components from other brands.

Photo Credit: Best Car 4 Pictures

In 2004, Marcos presented the TSO, a cool-looking coupe powered by a Chevrolet LS1 V8 engine delivering 400 HP to the rear wheels. Despite its great looks, brutal performance, and aggressive marketing, the company managed to sell just a handful of them before disappearing from the market in 2007.

Photo Credit: Collecting Cars

4. Ford Sierra Cosworth

One of the most legendary non-American muscle cars was the fantastic Sierra Cosworth, which they introduced in 1985. The Sierra was an ordinary family sedan they produced in numerous versions. The car featured rear-wheel drive and an independent rear suspension. And when Ford decided to contract the Cosworth tuning house for a performance model, a legend was born.

Photo Credit: Collecting Cars

Cosworth took the three-door body and added a special body kit with spoilers, unique wheels, and colors. Under the hood was a 2.0-liter turbocharged engine which produced 225 HP. That engine could propel the car to 60 mph in just six and a half seconds. And for 1985, those were fantastic numbers.

Photo Credit: Motor 1

3. BMW M3 E92

The previous generation of BMW’s iconic M3 models were the best muscle cars they didn’t build in America. That was because it had a high revving V8 up in the front, as well as a close-ratio six-speed manual transmission and signature rear-wheel drive.

Photo Credit: Motor 1

The E92 M3 was equally a tire smoke generator as well as a highly capable sports car with sublime handling and a nice soundtrack. The factory rated the M3 at 420 HP, but independent testing got even better 0 to 60 mph times. Official figures are four and a half seconds, but Car and Driver managed to do the same in just under four.

Photo Credit: Car and Driver

2. Mercedes C63 AMG

One of the best modern-day non-American muscle cars is the C63 AMG. With its compact dimensions, stealth looks, brutal performance, and over 450 HP, this car is the definition of a muscle car.

Photo Credit: Car and Driver

The heart of the C63 is the AMG 6.2-liter V8 engine, which sounds as good as it goes. With 451 HP and a fast-shifting automatic transmission, this car can achieve 60 mph in less than four seconds. Interestingly, the C63 comes in station wagon and coupe form, as well.

Photo Credit: Best Car Mag

1. Lotus Omega

They based this car on the standard late ’80s Opel Omega. And it was a Lotus-tuned special edition model they equipped with a 3.6-liter turbocharged engine. The Lotus Omega delivered a massive 377 horsepower. Its six-speed manual gearbox came straight from the Corvette ZR-1.

Photo Credit: Best Car Mag

But, from the outside, the Lotus Omega looked standard with just a few badges. It was only the rear spoiler that revealed its true nature. The performance was outstanding with a 0 to 60 mph time of just over five seconds and a top speed of over 170 mph. Even today, this 28-year old car can outrun many modern performance models. These are the 20 best and most interesting non-American muscle cars you can find today. Which one was your favorite on the list? Hopefully, you’ll be able to find it and buy one someday.

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