A buyer's guide and tier list for modern muscle cars
The modern muscle car market is brilliant. While the jury is still out on what constitutes a muscle car, but the fact of the matter is that there's a plethora of muscle cars available for as little as a week's salary.
At the bottom of the world of modern muscle cars comes an interesting dilemma, how low are you willing to go? Do you sacrifice cylinders? Do you sacrifice brands and badges? A few options come to mind in the form of the Chevrolet Cobalt SS and Pontiac G5 GXP. The Cobalt SS and G5 GXP both carry American badges, they both offer plenty of power from super- and turbocharged engines, but they're four-cylinders only. IF you absolutely need a V8 to start off your foray into muscle car-dom, then you should probably pick up a Ford Crown Victoria. The 4.6-liter V8 is good for 230-ish horsepower and it rides like a couch. IF your can find a Police Interceptor or a repainted taxi, that's even better. The 4.6 is easy enough to maintain, and can run for hundreds of thousands of miles without any major issues. I definitely consider these three to be the starter kits for any modern muscle car enthusiast.
Further up the ladder, we get to some proper muscle cars like the Ford Mustang, Chevrolet Camaro and Pontiac Firebird. The SN-95 Mustang and 4th-Gen Camaros and Firebirds can still be had for a relatively cheap amount of money, and unlike the FWD cars in the earlier paragraph, these all come with optional V8s and send power to the rear wheels. The interesting thing about these vehicles is that you can find examples on their last legs for roughly $1,000 dollars, or you can find examples with the same specs with a few thousand miles on them, in showroom condition, that carry window stickers that could rival most NEW muscle cars.
The third tier of modern muscle cars includes the V6 versions of the 5th generation Camaro and fifth generation Mustang, but since this my list, I'm going to throw a rogue option in here as well, and for decent reason. The rogue option is the last generation of the Hyundai Genesis Coupe. I can already hear your keyboards clacking, but here me out. If you stick to the 3.8-liter models, power is somewhere between 300-350 horsepower, which is on par, if not a little better than the V6's in the Camaro and Mustangs. The Genesis also weighs in around 100 pounds less than the Camaro, and nearly 200 pounds less than the Mustang. When it comes to pricing, the Genesis is actually in line with most fifth Camaros and Mustangs, with the exception of some of the fully-loaded models. If you're looking to stand out a bit, I would go with the Genesis, it makes enough horsepower to put most of the Camaro RS's to shame, and any Mustang not wearing a GT badge is gonna get out run on the highways by the Genesis. Heck, in some cases, the Genesis might still have its powertrain warranty too.
As we reach the fourth tier of this list we are greeted by the now decade old, first generation of the four-door Dodge Charger, and the fourth generation of the Dodge Challenger. Even with the 3.5-liter V6 and a four-speed automatic, Challengers can still sticker for $5,000 and that's before the woeful amount of problems show up. Old police-spec Chargers can come in around $1,500, while low mileage examples can come in well over $15,000. Also in this tier is the Pontiac GTO, while a case could be made for the last generation Bonneville as well, the GTO stands out more for its ability to be a collectible, and abused at the same time. While decently kept models are sitting in and around $10,000, examples can be found for $6,000 but they've got more than a few stories to tell, from missing grilles to missing bumpers.
The top tier of the muscle car market is the latest ridiculous vehicles from The Big Three and their multitude of brands. This is where we find vehicles like the SRT8s, Hellcats, Demon, Trackhawk, Camaro ZL1, Z/28, Cadillac CTS-V, and the Mustang GT350, GT350R, and GT500. All of these vehicles can hold and increase their value based on model year, and configurations. Power doesn't really matter here, as it's more a matter of brand preference. Drive what you will and drive it like you stole it.
What do you think of this list? Did I miss your favorite muscle car? Comment Below!