ELANA SCHERR: Everybody on my Instagram is posting push-up challenges right now. Don't worry. You are not going to get any exercise posts from me. But that doesn't mean I'm not interested in building muscle. I just prefer burnouts to pull-ups. Then there's going to be giant burnout. This is going to be great.
The term muscle car came about in the late '60s and early '70s, but you don't have to have a classic car to flex your muscle. This is my top 10 list of modern muscle cars.
Oh, we need rules. If we're doing this, we need rules, right? OK. Horsepower divided by torque with cylinders-- how many, eight? American, four doors, two doors? Could be all-wheel drive. How long a burnout versus how fast? This is hard.
In the old days, a muscle car was an American car company's most powerful engine in its sportiest mid-sized car. Think GTO, Hemi Charger, Big Block Chevelle. Then there were the pony cars, which is where you'd get your Challengers, Camaros, Mustangs, AMC, AMXs. Following those rules now would mean that this entire list would be nothing but Camaro, Challenger, and Mustang in various trim levels from base V8 to top of the line-- all great cars, but kind of a boring video. So I opened up the definition to all makes and models.
These are my only criteria. Number one, it's available now or it was within the last couple of years. Number two, it's one of the most powerful cars made by the company, and driving it will make you laugh. I expect this list is going to make you very angry. Heck, it made me angry, and I wrote it. Let's get to it.
Number 10, Tesla Model S Performance. Are you mad yet? OK, well, half of you get to commenting about how it's totally unacceptable for Tesla to be on a muscle car list, and the other half of you get to commenting about how it's totally unacceptable for it not to be number one on the muscle car list. Let me just tell you why I picked it and put it where it is-- so freaking fast.
Sure, no V8 engine, no engine at all, but the Tesla's performance is out of this world. And it has a lot of kind of trick options for showing off, which is very muscle car era. It has a 0 to 60 time of 2.4 seconds. That's half, half of what it took a classic muscle car. Modern times, modern muscle.
So why isn't the Tesla higher on the list? Well, first of all, price. It's $100,000 for the fastest one. And I don't think a muscle car has to be cheap necessarily, but it should be cheaper than that.
Mostly, though, it's about sound. Sound is a really important part of the muscle car experience, and the Tesla just doesn't do it for me. Sorry.
Number nine, BMW M8. Did I just say that price was a factor and then pick a car that cost $133,000? Yes, yes, I did. But blame Mark Takahashi. My BMW pick was the M5, which is also a 600-horsepower bruiser, but cost about $30,000 less.
Then Mark came in, and he was like, no, M8 because it's a two door. It's more muscly. And you know, I just didn't have the energy to fight with him.
I think he could take me, really. Think he could kick my ass. Point is, BMW makes some monster muscle. And the all-wheel drive M8 has a rear wheel drive mode so you can kick out the back end and do those very important burnouts.
Number eight, Nissan GT-R. Why is the GT-R on this list? Well, it is brutally, stupidly fast. It has a 0 to 60 time that competes with the Tesla, and it can do it all day long. Plus, it's kind of unexpected in Nissan's lineup. It's funny to look back at the early days of Pontiac and Chrysler and realize how stodgy those brands were, and then bam, GTO.
The GT-R is kind of Nissan's version of that. Why is it back at number eight? Well, the price, over $100,000. And it's a V6. Yes, it's a nearly 600-horsepower V6, but still it is missing some cylinders. Got to be a V8, new rule that I just made up right now.
Number seven, Mercedes AMG E63 and the Audi S8. Yep, it's a tie. It's a tie of two cars that at first glance shouldn't even be on this list, but hear me out. It's a tie because both the Mercedes and the Audi are nearly 600 horsepower. The AMG is a little bit over, and the S8's a little bit under. Both are surprisingly fast, faster than anything that big has a right to be.
Why are big luxury cars on my muscle car list? Again, if we go back to the muscle car era, the big engines came out of big cars. And the Chrysler 300 and huge cube Cadillacs were surprisingly powerful. Also, a lot of the popular cars like, say, Plymouth Roadrunner were available in wagon form like the Mercedes is. So you could get a big engine in an unexpected body, and that makes it a sleeper, which everyone knows is the coolest relative of the muscle car.
This is an '81 Trans Am, so it made about 200 horsepower. It's not really impressive compared to the classic muscle cars. Made about 400. But in '81, there wasn't much that was making more. So I'm going to say '81 Turbo Trans Am, still a muscle car-- just little muscle. Number six, the Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk.
Yeah, you heard me.
The Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk is powered by the same engine that Dodge put in the Charger and Challenger-- 700 horsepower, 6.2-liter Hemi. So yeah, it is an SUV, but I mean, with all that horsepower and kind of a low stance, it's not really an off-roader. So if it isn't a muscle car, what is it?
I'm making a new rule. Anything with a Hellcat engine is a muscle car. But nothing with four doors can be in the top three. Is that OK? Is that OK with you? Yeah? Going to be all right? He says it's OK.
Number five is the Lexus RC F. It's the least horsepower on this list, with a 5 liter making 472 horses. What a world we live in when nearly 500 horsepower isn't bragworthy.
The Lexus is on our list because it looks so muscly, with a long hood, and a short deck, and rear wheel drive, two doors. Plus, if you pay more, you can get a wing. And nothing is more muscly than a wing. Just ask anyone with a Plymouth Superbird.
Number four Dodge Hellcat Charger. Dang those pesky rear doors. The Charger has the distinction of being the only car on our list to have been an actual muscle car by the strictest standards. Dodge introduced the Charger in 1966 and redesigned it in 1968 to the more famous Coke bottle design.
In my opinion, that second-generation Charger is one of the prettiest American cars ever made. And it's also a very famous design. Seen it in movies like Bullet and Dirty Mary, Crazy Larry.
It's also in a TV show. What was it called? Um-- Dukes of Hazzard? I don't know. I never heard of it. Today's Charger has too many doors to crack the top three-- see the rule that I made during number six-- but it's one of the best all-around cars on our list, impressive even in 392 trim and downright remarkable as a Hellcat.
Onto the pony cars. I wish I could declare a three-way tie for the top three because each one is good in a different muscular way. At number three is the Chevy Camaro, obviously ZL1 because it's top dog with 650 horsepower. But a Camaro SS still lifts plenty of weight. The reason the Camaro isn't higher on the list is because the back seat is small, and visibility is bad. And those are sports car attributes. A proper muscle car shouldn't feel cramped.
Number two is the Dodge Challenger Hellcat Redeye. With two doors and a couple of variants of the incredible Hellcat engine, what else could it be but the Dodge Challenger? I mean, Redeye gets the pick because 797 horses. But the 717 horse regular Hellcat is no slouch, nor for that matter is the 392, the 485 horses.
The Challenger is the closest to a traditional muscle car on our list despite being based on a pony car design. It's roomy, comfortable, and happiest in a straight line rather than a corkscrew. That said, all the cars on this list are astonishing performers on a road course, as well as a drag strip. There's just no room for one-trick ponies anymore.
And here we are, number one, the car that put the pony in pony cars, the Ford Mustang. For maximum muscle, we're going to go with the GT500 with its 760 horsepower and 11-second quarter mile times. But like the others in the top three, the base GT is good too, everything a muscle car needs-- horsepower, style, legacy, the ability to make you look powerful even if you've never seen the inside of a gym. That's why it's our number one.
If you want more details on exactly why the top three ended up in the order that they did, watch our previous muscle car comparison from back in the days when we were all allowed to hang out together and go to race tracks. Oh my god, that was hard. I hate top 10 lists. I'm going to go online and start arguing with myself. You should too. Tell me what you'd put on your top 10 list.