In America, your regular, average Joe, more than men from any other country in the world, is supposed to grow up dreaming of not just his first girlfriend or first job, but also his first car. Basically, ever since Henry Ford first started rolling Model Ts off his assembly line and getting everybody worked up about that new-fangled contraption, the automobile, American teenage boys have been gearheads. In fact, most guys start saving up to buy a car by mowing lawns, shoveling driveways, and flinging newspapers long before they’re even legally allowed to drive. And once they are allowed to drive, they’re constantly tinkering with the old beater they were able to afford and dreaming about what kind of ride they’ll buy when they come into some real money.
But let’s face it guys: ever since you’ve been a teenager, there’s really only one kind of car you’ve ever wanted to own. No, I’m not talking about Uncle Jerry’s 20-year-old beast of a Buick that was handed down to you. I’m not talking about your older sister’s sub-compact with the “Peace” stickers on it that she’ll “give” to you for way more than it’s worth. I’m not even talking about that stick-shift Cherokee Chief the neighbor down the street was selling that you begged and pleaded for months for your parents to buy.
Nope, the car every red-blooded American boy has always wanted is what’s known as a “Muscle car.” As in, the car that has a lot of muscle. As in, it’s freakin’ fast and looks awesome. Of course, that’s what a real guy wants. And not just for the speed and toughness. Perhaps even more importantly, every guy, deep in his bones, knows that the best way to impress a hot chick is to have a hot car. So, if you’re looking for a hot girlfriend, or if you already have a hot girlfriend and want to keep her, here are the 15 best muscle cars of all time, both classic and current, that will keep her coming back for more.
15. 1969 Mercury Cougar Eliminator 428 Cobra Jet
As we go through our list of both the best current and classic muscle cars, you’re going to notice that there are a lot of classic entries from the very late ‘60s and early ‘70s. It makes a lot of sense — this was the era when American automakers really began flexing their muscles (so to speak) and making the classic barnburners we remember today. And since gas was like 10¢ a gallon back then, these rip-roaring, gas-guzzling machines were easy to move off the assembly lines. Plus, every guy wanted one. Mercury has always had a history of being sort of a luxury car, so their move into the muscle market was aggressive. You had to get the 428, though, which was a much more powerful car than the standard Cougar Eliminator with its 302 engine. The 428 generated more than 335 horsepower, which is insane to this day, and with its racing stripe, cool grille, and spoilers both fore and aft, the 428 Cobra Jet looked the part, too.
14. 1970 Oldsmobile 442
Here’s a classic any cool chick would love to tool around town in with you. The 1970 Oldsmobile was made back in the day when Oldsmobile stood for something other than your grandpa’s old boat that he tools around town in at 15 miles-per-hour. It’s called the 442 because, you guessed it, it’s got four carburetors, four manual speeds (who needs fifth in a classic?!!?), and twin exhaust. Now that’s classic! It was originally based on the well-known Cutlass, but by 1970, this monster was packing a 455 inch V8 engine with 360 horsepower. Back in the day, and to this day, if you have a classic mint model, the 442 could hit 60mph in less than 60 seconds. Not too shabby for its time and better than what half of today’s street cars can do. Plus it looks awesome — which is even more of a guarantee your hot girlfriend will hop into it with you.
13. 1970 Chevy Chevelle LS6
OK, remember that modern 2017 Chevy SS at the top of our list? Here’s the original SS Chevy Chevelle. (I know, I know, it’s called an LS but it’s really an SS — don’t get me started.) This absolute “Beast Mode” of a machine from 1970 is perhaps the coolest muscle car of all-time. “Why, Geer, why???” you ask. Well because the thing had 450 horses under its hood. In 1970. Some experts believe that because of its massive carburetor and compression ratio, it might actually clock in at 500 freaking horses! On top of that, Car & Driver (you know, the bible of the car world) tested this monster way back in 1970, and it hit 60 mph in 5.4 seconds. Modern observers think that, with modern tires, a LS6 in mint condition would shatter that time, even now. So yeah, it’s fast. What more do you need to impress your date?
12. 2017 Dodge Challenger
Way back in 2008. Dodge decided to make a smart decision and bring back their classic Challenger. That’s a really good thing for all of you gearheads out there; believe me. The Challenger was, is, and will be a true muscle car classic forever and ever. It’s totally retro-looking with its two-door body style. However, it supposedly has a lot of cargo room as well, just in case you and that hot girlfriend of yours decide to head to the beach or the mountains for the weekend. If you do so, you can try out the 305 horsepower V6 base model at $26,000. If that’s not enough for a real man, there are also 372 and 485 horse V8 “Scat Pack” models to choose from. And if even that’s not enough, well, Dodge has got you covered. You can get behind the wheel of a Challenger “Hellcat” with its 707 horses. No one will even know how stylishly retro your ride looks because you’ll already be long gone. If you don’t believe me about this car, just check out the commercial with Vin Diesel in the Hellcat — he’ll convince you.
11. 2017 Chevy Camaro
The Chevy Camaro is an all-time muscle car classic, which is still going strong. In fact, Chevy is celebrating the Camaro’s 50th anniversary this year, and they’ve pulled out all the stops to do so, quite literally. Your lady will love the top-of-the-line model ZL1’s 650 horsepower V8 engine, which goes like a bat out of hell off the line. Obviously… it’s 650 horses. How could it not? It’s only $61K, but what does a little extra cash mean if you’re trying to impress a hot chick, right? OK, OK, so you don’t have $61,000 — I get it. The base model still has 275 horses and is only around $26K. It also has some pretty incredible mileage for a muscle car: 20 mpg in the city and 30mpg out on the open highway, which is where you’ll want to take her anyway. Both the car and your lady, that is.
10. 1970 AMC Rebel Machine
The AMC Rebel (does anyone even remember AMC anymore? And no, I don’t mean the movie theater chain) was a nice car for its time but a bit sedate and nowadays, very dated. The 1970 Rebel Machine looks a bit dated in the 21st century as well but in the best possible way. It’s a total classic of a muscle car that any babe would want to hop into and cruise on down the highway. Its V8 engine (and really, the best of the muscle breed can only be V*s — am I right, or am I right?) pushed 340 horses. It was so powerful (and such a diva) that it would only take really high octane gasoline — think 95, which most gas stations don’t even sell anymore. The best part of the car might have been the option to go “patriotic” with it, which meant you could order it with red, white, and blue reflective paint. Now that’s a guaranteed way to get the hottie next door going!
9. 1969 Pontiac GTO Judge
The Pontiac GTO might be even more famous than its younger cousin the Grand Am. In fact, it’s been around for as long as the Ford Mustang and Dodge Charger, and some purists consider it the very first muscle car ever. And why not put it on that pedestal? For starters, you’re always gonna know a GTO when you see it, from the very first one in 1964 to the ones made famous in The Fast and Furious franchise. “The Judge,” named by the head of Pontiac John DeLorean after a TV comedy skit, was a killer right off the factory floor with a 360 horse Ram Air III engine. There was also a 370 horsepower model if you needed that extra little kick. And a grand total of five convertibles were made in 1969 — they cost just a few bucks nowadays. Some of the big shots at Pontiac had wanted to tone down this car, but DeLorean, to his credit, went big.
8. 1970 Plymouth GTX 440 Six Pack
Another from a long line of Plymouth muscle cars that were around for a year or two and then morphed into something completely different, the GTX of 1970 was designed to not only be fast as hell but also look good doing it. It was almost like Plymouth wanted people to think they were watching a fancy sedan sedately blow by them, which this car surely could with its 440 inch V8 engine that clocked in at 375 horsepower. That is fast, fast, fast for any car, no matter how it looks. This “gentlemanly” beast looked like a muscle car at the end of the day, though, and would still be a chick magnet these days with its cool “Power Bulge” hood and center racing stripe. This 1970 version even had a convertible model if you really wanted to go all out for your lady.
7. 1978 Pontiac Firebird Trans-Am
If you remember the infamous Smokey and the Bandit movie (with that ‘70s stud Burt Reynolds), then you’ll remember this car. The Pontiac Firebird Trans-Am was the muscle car of the late ‘70s, no more so than the 1978 model. At a time when American automakers were just starting to think about “going small’ and gas prices were just starting to go crazy, Pontiac went in the other direction, adding 20 horsepower to the 200 horsepower 1977 model. I know, I know… that’s not that much, but it seemed a lot in 1978. But really, everybody but everybody got the Firebird because it looked so damn good. First of all, it had a damn Firebird actually etched on the hood. Second, it had cool wide rims and tires and a modern “sleek” look. And finally, it had the removable T-Top, which was perhaps even cooler than an actual convertible. This ride was stylish.
6. 2017 Chevy SS
Chevy has always been big in the muscle car world but not necessarily for the SS. In fact, there are two other Chevy models on this list that I bet you can think of without breaking a sweat that are much better known for their speed and power. Still, the SS is a great modern option… if you have the cash. It’s actually a four-door sedan, which seems like a very odd choice for a car on a list like this, but check this out: the SS has an incredible 6.2 V8 engine that pumps out 415 horses. That’s a helluva lot of horsepower for any car! In addition to the jaw-dropping speed, the SS is also a “luxury” muscle car with a built-in in “infotainment” system, which basically means it has a Bose stereo system and its own Wi-Fi hotspot. Still, it’s the 415 horsepower and zero to 60 in under five seconds that cause this beauty to come in at roughly $46,000.
5. 2017 Tesla Model S
Tesla, a muscle car? No way. But that’s how some people are viewing this powerful beast (Thrillist). Tesla is the brainchild of entrepreneur Elon Musk, who’s also on to bigger and better things in the aerospace industry as founder of SpaceX. Musk obviously believes in speed for his novel approach to electric cars (that’s right, this baby is gasless), which has led to the S P100D model that can go from zero to 60 in an utterly incredible 2.4 seconds. You read that right. And those are the specs for a sedan. This all-original Tesla machine is kind of veering away from muscle car territory and into Ferrari, Porsche, and Lamborghini territory with numbers like that. And don’t worry; your base five-passenger model is a steal at only $68,000. Of course, if you want to get fancy, you can upgrade to the seven-seater (WTF???) with all the trimmings for a mere $163K.
4. 1987 Buick GNX
There are still plenty of these guys cruising the local auto shows around the country, probably because Buick’s GNX was such an aberration for its time. 1987 was a time in the auto industry when the Detroit automakers were really, really struggling not only with hordes of cheap, fuel efficient Japanese compacts and subcompacts but also with the influx of high performance sedans from Europe (you know — BMW, Audi, Mercedes, Volvo, Saab, and the like). So most of the American manufacturers were kind of caught betwixt and between and forgot about speed. But not Buick. Buick just turned the Grand National model into a muscle car, the GNX. This puppy had 276 horses to go with its turbocharged V6 and had serious speed because of that even if its looks were, shall we say, singular. In fact, it tested out at zero to 60 in 4.6 seconds, a very respectable speed even today. Plus, you won’t mistake it for anything else once you’ve seen it once.
3. 2017 Dodge Charger
Another perpetual classic in the Dodge stable is, of course, the Challenger. Now overall, the base Charger isn’t quite in the class of the Challenger, but it’s no slouch. It, too, comes in a standard base package that’s pretty impressive — especially for a sedan. That package is a 292 horse V6 (not too shabby!) four-door that comes in at around $27,000. It’s a much larger option for that muscle-car-loving lady you’d like to impress. Hopefully, the car fits more baggage than she brings with her, if you know what I mean. Now, if you want to go crazy, the Charger also has a $75K Hellcat model that tops out at 204mph and goes zero to 60 in 3.4 seconds. If that’s too pricey (or fast) for your taste, just “settle” for the 370hp V8 model. Just be warned — none of the Chargers do well in crash tests, which kind of sucks for a car you’ll want to push fast.
2. 1984 Chevy Corvette
Perhaps, if you’re a true sports car aficionado, you’ll say that the 1968 Corvette Stingray was the greatest car ever. And you wouldn’t be far off from the truth. However, let’s take a look at the 1984 Corvette simply because of what happened with the model. Corvette was a well-known muscle car by the mid-‘80s, but it was also failing. It was a little underpowered and a little too retro. Then, in 1982, Chevy decided to junk the original Corvette design and go with something new. The only problem was the 1983 model prototypes were all rejected by Chevy — no one really knows why to this day. There’s only one existing 1983 corvette in the world, and it sits in a museum. People thought one of the all-time great muscle car models might be dead. But Chevy got their act together and put out a 205 horsepower V8 corvette in 1984. So, even though this particular Corvette might be a little under-powered and a little unloved, it’s really important in the history of muscle cars that Chevy got back in the game and went on to greater and greater successes with their flagship sportster. So yeah, I’ll take one if anyone’s giving them away…
1. 2017 Ford Mustang
To finish off our list, there can be no better choice than the greatest muscle car of all-time: the ever-popular and iconic Ford Mustang. If you wanna be just like Steve McQueen or Paul Newman, and really, who doesn’t (well apart from the fact that both of them are dead, but you get my drift), then even the brand new 2017 Mustang models will suit you just fine. That’s not to say a classic Mustang, hard-top or rag-top, won’t also impress any lady of your choice, but why not spring for a brand new classic if you can? The factory model is only $25K, but who are we kidding? A true aficionado needs to get the 526 horsepower V8 Shelby GT350. You read that right — 528 horses are under this baby’s hood. The Mustang does seat four (uncomfortably), but who cares about that? Just drop a cool $54,000, and you’ll soon be rolling down that endless highway at top speed with your favorite lady on your arm.