We told you last month that driving America’s best muscle cars needed to be one of your key New Year’s Resolutions for 2014. The selection of pure American muscle motor on the roads today is better than it has been in decades. We present the cars you’ve got to test-drive before this calendar year is up. Just don’t ask us to rate them—that would be far too painful.
As much as we love the wickedly fast Viper, there is something about a big engine in an unassuming package that keeps us grounded when it comes to the ever-evolving Dodge lineup. The funky but powerful Dodge Challenger SRT embodies this ideal, and despite living in its brethren’s shadow, we all know from Chevy’s Vette-Camaro relationship that siblings have the added benefit of great family genes—engineers, in this case. The 2014 SRT holds its own with its 392-cubic inch HEMI which musters its giant 6.4-liter V8, pumping out 470 horsepower and 470 pound-feet of torque while still managing an exceptional 23 mpg highway rating. If the power, awe-inspiring growl and retro looks don’t get you, the under $40K price tag will.
We love novelty, but sometimes it’s nice to reflect on the tastes and styles of yesteryear—in this case the outgoing Ford Mustang’s injected behemoth, the Shelby GT500. While we’re torn between saying goodbye to this no doubt collectible and welcoming the new ’Stang (see below), the GT500 impressed us with its vicious styling, a classic homage to the late Shelby’s early vehicles, and pure brute power. Containing an aluminum 5.8-liter supercharged V8, the GT500 produced an unbelievable 662 horses of power and 631 pound-feet of torque. This vehicle contains the most powerful production V8 in the world. Permission to drool granted.
Joining Chevy’s performance lineup as the first RWD sports sedan in 17 years, the SS isn’t your typical muscle car. Moving in on the Challenger’s turf, cool dads who manage to get away with buying one of these sick puppies will be treated to a 6.2-liter V8 that produces a respectable 415 horsepower and equal amount of torque. Not bad, considering it’s closing in on the Challenger. We love the aggressive design and bold styling Chevy has put into the SS, and considering it shares the same track-proven platform of the Camaro, we know it’s going to handle the ridiculous amounts of tomfoolery you’ll want to subject it to. Leave the kids at home.
It’s finally here. Like a kid on Christmas morning, we’ve been counting down the seconds until our Best of Show choice from the 2013 New York Auto Show—the next-gen Z/28—made its ceremonial landing in showrooms across the country. The most track-capable Camaro of its kind, the Z/28 features 1.05 gs of cornering acceleration with an equal amount of stopping power due to the precision-tuned Brembo carbon-ceramic brakes. The massive, naturally aspirated 7.0-liter dry-sump LS7 V8 engine provides 505 horses of power and 481 pound-feet of torque. The first production model sold last weekend at the Barrett-Jackson charity auction for a cool $650,000, but you’ll be able to pick one up for a joyride starting at $75,000—steep by some estimations, but a guaranteed collector car that will give you hours of endless adrenaline? We’re betting on it. Oh—and it’s three seconds faster than the current flagship ZL1. Need we say more?
Ah yes, last but definitely not least stands the incredibly hot new 2015 Mustang Fastback. While we are still as torn as we were last month at its unveiling over the convertible variant, we’re sure that the wide-open Route 66 will eventually win us over on the merits of losing the top on special occasions. Radical, sexy and streamlined, the new American muscle legend—not to mention Ford’s poster child—is an absolute dream arriving 50 years after the inaugural model was first released. With three engine options up for grabs, a V6 (300 hp), Turbo V4 (305 hp) and flagship V8 (420hp), the Mustang range is well equipped to be affordable to the masses while providing lavish style, pride and nostalgia. Of our five cars to drive this year, we’d recommend starting here.