Best muscle cars

Exhaust-snorting, tyre-smoking and enormous fun: these are the best muscle cars

BuyaCar team
Mar 9, 2017

Under the bonnet of most modern cars, engines are shrinking. Small but mighty power units can provide enough zip with a trickle of fuel.

But while most cars have never been greener or more frugal, there are a handful that are unashamedly old-fashioned, that shun under-bonnet miniaturisation for a big and hefty block that blasts out power and noise.

These are muscle cars. They might look like a standard family car, but the roar from their exhaust means that they don’t sound like one. And they’re practically unrivalled in their ability to shred a set of tyres in a cloud of smoke.

While some cars have tiny engines made of two cylinders, less than a litre in volume, muscle cars tend to have big V8 motors that can be more than six-litres in size. The vast power from those engines usually drives the rear wheels only, which makes it fairly to overwhelm the grip of the tyres and spin the wheels furiously.

That traditional formula might make them the dinosaurs of the car market, but the latest models add in new technology to boost performance and meet the latest emissions regulations. Here are the best muscle cars you can buy.

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Ford Mustang 5.0 V8 GT auto

Engine 5-litre V8
Power 416hp
Acceleration 0-62mph: 4.8sec

No list of muscle cars would be complete without the Mustang. All the traditional ingredients are here: a muscular and curvaceous shape covering a huge 5-litre V8 engine that’s normally aspirated, without a turbocharger or supercharger that boosts power, but can give an artificial feel.

There’s even a feature called line lock, which engages the front brakes but leaves the rear wheels to spin furiously and evaporate your tyre tread in plumes of white smoke. Should you find yourself in a socially acceptable position to do so. In short, it’s the real thing, except … it’s not that powerful - for a modern muscle car.

Without a turbocharger, you really need to rev the Mustang for some real shove-in-the-back performance - you can’t feel its brute strength the instant that you press the accelerator.

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Mercedes-AMG C 63 S

Engine 4-litre V8, turbocharged
Power 510hp
Acceleration 0-62mph: 3.9sec

AMG is the performance arm of Mercedes and in the C 63 S it has produced the closest thing to a genuine muscle car. It’s all here: the four-door saloon, the V8 engine and the rear-wheel drive layout.

There’s power too: hammer blows of it, even when you just gently squeeze the accelerator. Accompanied by a deep burble like a mammoth clearing its throat, it’ll leave you grinning every time you pull away.

The car’s turbocharger makes the C 63 S feel almost too polished and not mechanical enough for a muscle car, but it does mean that, for all the power, it’s surprisingly economical.

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Vauxhall VXR8 GTS 6.2i V8

Engine 6.2-litre V8, supercharged
Power 585hp
Acceleration 0-62mph: 4.2sec

The VXR8 is Vauxhall’s answer to the Ford Mustang. However, where the Mustang apes the original muscle car - the first Mustang from 1968 - the VXR8 is essentially a large family saloon that’s been beefed up, with muscly curves of a world heavyweight boxer – and the power to match.

Its V8 engine is not only much larger than the Ford’s but it’s also supercharged for more power. Importantly, that power is still used to drive the rear wheels only, which gives the heavy Vauxhall greater agility in corners.

That rear-drive set-up means that, just like the Mustang, the VXR8 struggles to accelerate at full power without spinning its rear wheels.

It’s quicker than the Ford but 0-62mph still takes over four seconds, a lifetime in this class. The Mercedes-AMG is half way down the road before you can say ‘Will Peugeot (Vauxhall’s new owners) end VXR8 production?’

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Audi RS6 Avant 4.0 TFSI quattro Performance

Engine 4.0-litre V8, turbocharged
Power 605hp
Acceleration 0-62mph: 3.7sec

The Mercedes C 63 S may be the next best thing to a traditional muscle car but the Audi RS6 Avant runs it close, while being much more practical. That might sound totally irrelevant, but even the most ardent car enthusiast needs to take their family on holiday or have a clear-out every now and then. At those points, having an estate car with 1680 litres of seats-down load space will come in very handy.

It won’t take long to get to your destination either. That’s partly because the RS6 is an unconventional muscle car, with four-wheel drive and a turbocharged V8 engine driving that estate car body.

The extra four-wheel drive grip might make it more difficult to spin the wheels, but it has a dramatic effect on acceleration: it’ll go from 0-62mph in under four seconds.

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Porsche Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid

Engine 4-litre V8 turbocharged petrol plus electric motor
Power 680hp 
Acceleration 0-62mph: 3.4sec

The Porsche Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid is every inch the modern muscle car. It has an electric motor that boosts performance while reducing emissions, and which promises up to 30 miles of electric-only driving.

Turbocharging means it can make do with a, relatively speaking, small 4.0-litre V8 engine. It has four-wheel drive to help it get off to a clean start, and an eight-speed automatic gearbox that helps to ensure that maximum performance is never more than a gentle squeeze of the accelerator pedal away.

Not only is the Panamera the fastest car on this page to accelerate from 0-62mph, but you can also feel that punch of performance if you’re already driving along: it can accelerate from 50mph to 75mph in just 2.2 seconds, for instant overtaking speed.

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