Brace yourselves for the new breed of American muscle cars.
n. 1 Typically refers
to American-built, two-door, street legal coupés equipped
American sports cars have always had an image problem in haughty Europe: monster engines, styling stuck in the era of Smokey and the Bandit, the ride and handling of a bendy bus and annual fuel consumption stats only marginally less than Luxembourg’s. But with news that the next Ford Mustang is getting its first official UK (right-hand drive) release in 2015, it could be time to shake out a few of these old clichés. This latest batch suggests that on performance, personality and price, they’re a match for anything on the road. And if you really want one now, local dealers can supply import details.
1. The Godfather
FORD MUSTANG SHELBY GT500
The unofficial don of the muscle car market gets a mega-powered spin-off in the form of this brand new GT500 version. It mounts a 5.8l 662hp V8, capable of 0–60mph in just over three seconds, which will threaten the 200mph marker with a straight road and a fair wind. Possibly not the perfect daily driver, though, where the stiffness of its ride makes you feel every bump (“Was that a pedestrian?”). The sheer pant-darkening power surely places it in the box marked frightening rather than fun. ford.com
2. The PLAYER
CHEVROLET CAMARO ZL1
Yes, the one in Transformers, except this ZL1 version is even angrier and more likely to explode in a steroid side-effects rage. It offers up the best horsepower to cash ratio of pretty much anything out there; 580 of them for $54,350. It’s also billed as the most technically advanced Camaro yet, thanks to its Magnetic Ride Control suspension system and massive brakes. You’ll need them, too — the ZL1 is capable of 184mph and hitting 60 in four seconds. It may look like a 12-year-old’s wet dream but it’s a muscle car classic in the making.
3. The All-American
DODGE SRT VIPER GTS
If cars could talk, the Dodge Viper would have an accent so strong you’d be asking Billy Bob Thornton to translate. Boasting insane statistics including an 8.4l 640bhp V10 engine, this latest SRT GTS incarnation of America’s favourite supercar promises such modern upgrades as stability and traction control — a first for the Viper — so you’re less likely to find yourself upside down in the Mojave Desert. Or a layby on the A40. There’s even a nod to reducing emissions. Yes, you heard right. These are changing times. Be warned, the in-car stereo only accepts Springsteen.
4. The BIG DADDY
JEEP GRAND CHEROKEE SRT8
Not a muscle car in the original sense, but this giant SUV sure has firepower in family-size bucket-loads. Imagine Tony Soprano’s dream ride crossed with a hip-hop tour bus then add a sprinkle of a revamped A-Team van and you’re halfway there. It features a 6.4-litre 470bhp V8 engine which rumbles and roars just the way you want it to, a super-slick interior, 20in chrome alloys, blacked out windows, front spoilers, LED lights and giant exhausts — the list goes on. This wagon takes the SUV rule book, rips it up, pours petrol over it, lights a match, spits on it… you get the idea.