There’s a reason Americans have loved muscle cars for over half a century. They are affordable, look great and are exciting to drive. Some muscle cars can even compete with sports cars, thanks to big-block V8s that deliver tons of power. In fact, most of the best performing cars ever manufactured in the United States are muscle cars.
However, one thing that sets muscle cars apart from sports cars is how well they are tuned for linear speeds. The classic muscle car formula includes a lightweight chassis, a powerful V8 engine and rear-wheel drive, all of which give them an edge in drag racing.
Like most cars, muscle cars depreciate over time, allowing us to buy beasts that are fast even by today’s sports car standards for only about $25,000. Of course, car enthusiasts have to last ten to fifteen years to get their hands on a reasonably priced used car with 400 horsepower or more, but the wait is worth it!
Let’s take a look at the fastest muscle cars you can buy for drag racing for under $25,000.
10 2004-2006 Pontiac GTO
Featuring “the classic 350 cubic-inch GM small-block”, the 2004 GTO is powered by a 5.7-liter V7, while the larger 6.0-liter LS2 engine powers the 2005 and 2006 GTOs. This increased power to 400 horsepower and 365 pound-feet of torque, up from 350 horsepower and 365 lb. of torque in the 5.7-liter version.
The GTO’s 0-60 time was reduced from an estimated 5.3 seconds to just 4.7 seconds with a new and improved V8 under the hood. The quarter mile time dropped from 13.8 seconds to 13 seconds flat, making this the fastest GTO Pontiac ever made (officially) and marketed to the general public. It was also the fastest, with a maximum speed of 180 miles per hour. A used 2004 GTO is available for $19,895†
9 2014 Dodge Charger SRT8
The Dodge Charger was a formidable two-door muscle car in the 1960s. In 1975, however, Dodge converted the Charger into a slow coupé with frugal car power under the hood. Then it went sideways, the model made a break from 1987 to 2006. And while the new version has four doors, don’t let the look of the Charger fool you. It’s real American muscle again.
While some avid car enthusiasts still couldn’t wrap their heads around a four-door Charger, they eventually accepted the change because of the sportier finish. Having a new 2014 Charger SRT8 for under $20,000 takes a lot of time and energy, but you can get a excellent used for $12,910 – $15,993 from a private seller. The 6.4L V8 generates 470 horsepower, enough to arouse admiration.
8 2012 Chevrolet Camaro SS
Another classic car is the Camaro. The Camaro is the only car that can withstand the Mustang in terms of popularity and importance in muscle car circles, after being head-to-toe for nearly fifty years. The Camaro is a highly desirable muscle car with equally stunning styling and performance.
The 2012 Camaro SS is one of the most powerful Camaros ever built. The 6.2L V8 produces 426 horsepower, that’s insane power for a relatively modern car that costs about $19,999 or less† It is uncertain whether the Camaro’s pricing will continue to fall.
7 2010-2011 Ford Mustang GT
The Ford Mustang is the original pony car and is credited with ushering in the muscle car era. It has been an exciting admirer for more than five decades. Highlights include powerful V8 engines, fantastic value for money and the confidence that you enjoy the most refined muscle car on the market.
For a used 5.0-liter V8-powered Mustang that produces 412 horsepower, the price starts from as low as $18,000 for a 2010 model and up.
6 2013 Ford Mustang V6
The updated 2013 Ford Mustang V6 is not a light car, weighing in at 3,511 pounds. But despite its size, it can move, turn and stop faster than most competitors. Look at the Mustang’s performance figures: 0-60 mph in 5.3 seconds, quarter mile in 13.9 seconds at 100.1 mph, lateral acceleration of 0.95 g, eight in 25.4 seconds and 60-0 in 110 foot.
The Mustang’s 3.7-liter, 24-valve V6 produces 305 horsepower and 280 lb-ft of torque. It is a 13 second car with a top speed of 100 mph you can own for less than $20,000†
5 1995 Ford Mustang SVT Cobra
Ford and many other domestic automakers have taken a long time to recover from the muscle car crisis of the 1970s. The Mustangs were quite disappointing in the early 2000s, but not as bad as the Mustang II. In the 1990s, the Mustang Cobra fulfilled the dreams of muscle car enthusiasts with big pockets.
The same 5.0-liter V8 powers the Cobra as the GT; however, unlike the GT’s 215 horsepower, the Cobra’s engine delivers 240 horsepower, which was good for the time and provides a solid foundation for further customization. Unfortunately, despite being one of the cool Mustangs of the time, a 1995 SVT Cobra costs in fairly good condition with low annual mileage. you about $15,000 to $19,000†
4 2002 Pontiac Trans Am
During the last few decades, Pontiac produced some really awful vehicles. However, the company did produce some of the best muscle vehicles ever. Pontiac recognized what a muscle car should be, from the GTO to the Firebird.
This outrageous Trans Am WS6 is one of Pontiac’s fastest cars. The Trans Am is a classic American powerhouse, powered by a 427 5.7-liter V8 with 310 horsepower and available in good condition for under $12,000† Plus, potential buyers have about $11,000 left to rebuild this fantastic vehicle into a true beast.
3 2010-2011 Chevrolet Camaro
From a powerful base V6 engine with hard-charging V8 to its athletic handling, excellent fuel economy, good reliability and attractive styling, the 2010 Camaro has it all.
The rear seats are cramped and rear visibility is poor. How much will all this awesomeness bring you back? It may not be easy to find a V8 Camaro for just under $20,000, but prices for the LS and LT models range between $15,000 and $19,999†
2 2009 Dodge Challenger SRT8
When the Dodge Challenger was first released, it was a true beast. Unfortunately, the Challenger was a letdown from the 1970s until it was withdrawn from the market. In the 80s it looked like a cheap Toyota Corolla. Understandably, Dodge decided at the time to stop producing these cars.
When Dodge reintroduced the Challenger in 2008, the car came with classic design cues and plenty of power, making it an instant hit. Powered by the acclaimed 6.1-litre V8 that produces 425 horsepower, the SRT8 is nothing like the Challengers of the 1980s. Expect a Challenger SRT8 in good condition for about $24,000†
1 1964 Pontiac GT
The Pontiac GTO is widely regarded as the car that officially ushered in the muscle car era in the 1960s. It was the first true high-performance mass-market model to use a tuned 389-cubic-inch 6.4-liter V8 engine in place of the Tempest’s 140 horsepower powerplant. When it debuted, magazines pitted the GTO against its predecessor, the Ferrari 250 GTO, to see just how much it could do.
You can own one for as little as $22,000, including options† Not bad for a car that could accelerate from 0 to 60mph in 5.7 seconds, which is incredible performance for the time and price.