Ford, General Motors and Chrysler. When asked to name the best American cars, most gearboxes start with those from these three companies. We don’t blame them, as the three companies have built icons such as the Ford Mustang, Chevy Corvette and Dodge Challenger, to name a few.
However, Detroit’s Big Three aren’t the only American companies building great cars. Over the past three decades, we’ve seen many great American cars that, despite being just as good or even better than those built by giant automakers, have largely flown under the radar. This article examines ten of the best American cars that most gearboxes don’t even know about.
10 Saleen S7
Saleen Automotive has been quietly building cars for over two decades. The company’s first fully patented car – the S7 – debuted in the early 2000s and quickly showed everyone that Saleen meant it.
The S7 is a hand-built mid-engine supercar that originally featured a 7.0-liter all-aluminum V8 with 550 horsepower on tap. In 2009, Saleen introduced the S7 Twin Turbo with an increased power of 750 hp. With a top speed of 248 mph, the S7 Twin Turbo was among the fastest cars of the 2000s.
9 SSC Ultimate Aero
SSC North America is a Washington-based automaker founded in 1998. SSC made headlines about a year ago when its latest supercar — the awesome Tuatara – controversially broke the speed record for production cars† Most gearboxes thought the Tuatara was SSC’s first model, but they were wrong, because the Ultimate Aero came before it.
Introduced in the 2000s, the Ultimate Aero is yet another SSC supercar built to break the speed record for production cars. The Ultimate Aero was a huge success, as its top speed of 254 mph managed to beat the Bugatti Veyron’s world record.
8 Vector W8
When Vector Motors Corporation was founded in the 1970s, not many people noticed. Less than two decades later, it was one of the most exciting American automakers thanks to one vehicle: the W8.
The W8 debuted in 1991 and immediately impressed everyone with its Lamborghini rival wedge-shaped design and 625 horsepower twin-turbo V8. Only 17 W8s were built, making it one of the rarest American cars ever.
7 Lucra LC470
When American entrepreneur Luke Richards founded Lucra, he wanted to build a fantastic sports car that combines American strength with European agility and styling. The LC470 shows that the company’s objectives have been achieved.
The LC470 has it all. First, it is one of the most beautiful roadsters ever. The LC470 is fast too, thanks to a 7.0-liter V8 that pumps out 505 horsepower.
6 Falcon F7
Jeff Lemke is an American car designer who has always dreamed of starting his own car manufacturer. In 2009, Lemke founded Falcon Motorsports with one main goal; to build high-performance supercars that can compete with European options.
Falcon’s first car was the F7, and it did not disappoint. This car is clearly built for speed, as it is powered by a Lingenfelter-built twin-turbocharged V8 engine that produces an insane 1,100 horsepower.
5 Mosler MT900
Many people didn’t even notice that Mosler Automotive went bankrupt in 2013, even though the company was founded way back in 1985. the MT900.
The MT900 is an ultralight supercar produced in limited numbers from 2001 to 2011. The MT900 used a carbon fiber chassis and was fitted with a 350hp V8 engine, enabling it to go from 0 to 60 in 3.5 seconds and could reach a top speed of 150 km/h.
4 Panoz Esperante GTR-1
Panoz is a small American automaker based in Georgia with years of experience building race cars. In the 90s, Panoz decided to build a race car to race with the FIA GT1 Championshipresulting in the Esperante GTR-1.
The Esperante GTR-1 was pitted against the likes of the Mercedes-Benz CLK GTR and Porsche 911 GT1, so Panoz outfitted it with a mighty 6.0-litre Ford V8 engine with 600 horsepower on tap.
3 Equus BASS770
The Bass770 is a handcrafted luxury muscle car built by Equus Automotive since 2013. Costing a whopping $634,000, the Bass770 is one of the most expensive muscle cars ever made.
This price tag sounds insane, but many would argue it’s worth it. First, the Bass770 has a true muscle car look, as the design is inspired by classic muscle cars from the 60s and 70s. Aluminum and carbon fiber are used extensively to keep weight down, while a 640-horsepower LS9 supercharged V8 produces enough power to give the Bass770 a top speed of over 200 mph.
2 Rezvani Beast Alpha
We’ve featured a few cars built by Rezvani in the past, but most of them have one thing in common: they’re custom off-roaders. However, Rezvani’s first production vehicle was not an all-terrain vehicle – it was a fantastic sports car known as the Beast Alfa.
The Beast Alfa used the substructure of the Ariel Atom, but had a more conventional body that looked great. Powered by a Cosworth-tuned 2.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine that produces 500 horsepower, the Beast Alfa is insanely fast.
1 Rossion Q1
In 2007, Florida-based Rossion Automotive bought the rights to the chassis of the Noble M400. Rossion immediately started work on a sports car to use the chassis of the M400, and in 2008 they introduced the Q1.
The Q1 turned out to be great. First, it looked better and was more luxurious than the M400. The Q1 also had the power to match, thanks to a Ford Duratec Biturbo V6 with 508 horsepower on tap.