Muscle Cars Are Dead. Here Are Their Replacements.

Long gone is the true muscle car.

3y ago

Buckle up, because I'm going to give you my unprofessional opinion on semantics and car lingo.

Muscle cars don't exist any more. Not as they used to. We used to have the Oldsmobile Toronado. Ford Gran Torino. Chevrolet Impala. Dodge Charger. Ford Galaxie. Did you notice the cars I'm not listing?

Mustang? Not a muscle car. Camaro? Nope. Corvette? Viper? Challenger? No, no, and no. Muscle cars used to be family haulers or massive coupes with large displacement (big block) motors and tons of room in the engine bay for suping it up. What are coloquially known as "muscle cars" today fall under the category of sports car. Only a sparse few examples of muscle cars still exist. It's a travesty. An honorary mention goes to the Mercedes C63 AMG, which just misses the mark due to its German heritage and downsized and boosted motor. Muscle cars are just about dead.

The Buick Wildcat.

The Buick Wildcat.

Rather than lament the past indefinitely, though, we must look to the future of American muscle. The new age of glory and power. The offerings we're don't carry the same aura that muscle cars did in their golden age, but regrettably, SUVs are the way of the future.

Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk

It's one mean WK2. With a supercharged 6.2L Hemi pushing 707 HP at the crank, you'll be able to embarrass a lot of other car in a straight line--especially once you take to modding it for better airflow to the heads and lighter curb weight. Compared to the Challenger/Charger Hellcat, though, it loses a lot of drama through the drivetrain. The power is sent through a transfer case, to a center differential, then to another differential front and rear before the power gets to the wheels. It's a lot of opportunity for parasitic drivetrain loss. For some, though, the sound, power, and broad torque band packaged in a convenient package for the whole family can make it a worthy buy.

Chevrolet SS

One of my personal favorites, the SS is a blend of refinement and power in a classic American package. Naturally aspirated pushrod in the business end pushing power to the fun wheels. This car is one of my top picks due to its available manual transmission, but has a major fault of being tough to find due to limited production. It's rumored that the car was something of a special treat for GM executives and somehow made it to production, yet failed to take off due to lack of marketing and simple mass appeal. Now, if only I could find one for sale...

Dodge Charger 392/Hellcat

This one's kind of a no-brainer, and pretty popular at that. The refreshed 2015 model looks sharp and packs plenty of power to keep you entertained in 392 flavor. And updated interior makes the previously unrefined cockpit a great place to sit. Opt for the bonkers Hellcat if you don't like money.

Cadillac CTS-V

Supercharged 640 HP LT4. It has the heart of a Corvette Z06 in an upscale executive package. Kind of flashy while still respectable. After experiencing this car, I was 100% hooked on it. The way the rear end squats and kind of wallows on acceleration makes it feel raucous and raw at the edge. This isn't your grandpa's Cadillac. And hopefully, if the Cadillac brand gets axed due to its poor performance, the spirit of the CTS-V will live on under a related marque.

Tesla Model S P100D

Yeah, I said it. The Tesla Model S P100D is an American muscle car. The future is now. Us car guys can be dragged into it kicking and screaming, or we can get with the times. Stock-ish cars are running 10s in the quarter mile. With continuous, face-melting torque at the flip of a switch, the car's performance is enough to make you sick if you're not ready for it. Whether gasoline lives on, electric performance is nothing to turn your nose up at.

What do you think?

Do I have muscle cars all wrong? What did I miss? Which one of these cars would you pick?

Check out the new digs on our Aston!

#shiftinglanes #muscle #american

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Comments (29)

  • CORRECTION - The Chevy SS is an Australian Muscle Car originally made under the name of Holden Commodore and then exported to the US

      3 years ago
    • Yeah, I keep trying to tell people that as well. If you rip open the passenger side air bag, you'll see Holden. I believe it’s also under the seats as well. They just slapped a SS badge and tried to sell it. Love the car, but you won’t find them...

      Read more
        3 years ago
    • And no longer in production

        3 years ago
  • the “SS is a blend of refinement and power in a classic American package.” You spelt “Australian designed and built” wrong.

      3 years ago
  • I actually prefer the Dodge Challenger. I wish they did it in RHD!

      3 years ago
  • Great article Nate, very interesting stuff

      3 years ago
  • No no no. The Mustang, Camaro and Charger are all muscle cars. They have 4 seats (real sports cars only have two) and go really fast and make lots of noise. And the when you try to go around a corner, you end up in a tree. Sports cars are small, quick and agile and are not typically obnoxiously loud just to be loud.

      3 years ago