Supercars represent the apex of a brand's performance engineering, and these automobiles are designed to sell in limited numbers but attract maximum attention on the world stage. Although Europe has long been home to some of the most noteworthy supercar manufacturers - such as Ferrari and Lamborghini - America is no stranger to ultimate road legal performance stars, with not only major car companies producing fantastic rides but a number of homegrown, boutique brands also contributing to the landscape. Some of these names will be familiar, but others are usually only found at local track days, car shows, and deep in the glossy pages of publications like Grassroots Motorsports and The DuPont Registry. Let's take a look at 10 of the best American supercars.
1) 2014 Shelby GT500
The 2014 Shelby GT500 is based on the Ford Mustang muscle car, but the two-door coupe's platform has been tweaked and massaged to the point where it shares little with the garden-variety GT model. The Shelby GT500 is perhaps the most affordable way to hit a top speed in excess of 200 mph as the vehicle is motivated by a 662-horsepower, 5.8-liter supercharged engine that also grinds out 631 lb-ft of torque. A six-speed manual transmission is standard with the GT500, which also comes with a host of suspension and aero upgrades over the Mustang, and Brembo brakes and a launch control system round out the list of goodies included with the car. The Shelby GT500 disappeared for the 2015 model year, but is scheduled to return for 2016.
2) 2015 Chevrolet Corvette Z06
The 2015 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 is the most potent version of America's popular sports car ever devised. It features a seven-speed manual or eight-speed automatic transmission to manage the power from its supercharged 6.2-liter V-8 engine that has been tuned to provide 650 horsepower and 650 lb-ft of torque. This allows the coupe to sprint to 60 mph in less than 3 seconds.
3) 2015 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat
The 2015 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat, one of the fastest American muscle cars, is built around a supercharged 6.2-liter Hemi V-8 engine that develops 707 horsepower and 650 lb-ft of torque. The latest and best Challenger is assisted by a new eight-speed automatic transmission, although a six-speed manual is also available for more traditional customers. It takes only three seconds for this Hemi monster to hit 60 mph from a standstill.
4) Hennessey Venom GT
The Hennessey Venom GT is the brainchild of longtime tuner John Hennessey, and it follows the tried-and-true concept of stuffing a huge engine in a tiny, lightweight automobile in order to push the limits of automotive performance. The Hennessey Venom GT is based around the shell of a Lotus Exige, which has been enhanced through the introduction of a twin-turbo 6.2-liter V-8 engine that produces 1,244 horsepower and 852 lb-ft of torque. Factoring in the Venom GT's sub-3,000 lb curb weight makes it easy to see why this model has the ability to reach 200 mph in a staggering 14.51 seconds, making it one of - if not the - fastest production cars in the world.
5) 2015 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1
The 2015 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 represents the ultimate expression of muscle car capability from General Motors. Like its Shelby GT500 rival, the Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 features a beast of a supercharged V-8, a 6.2-liter unit that offers up 580 horsepower and 556 lb-ft of torque, and it is capable of accelerating to 60 mph in 3.9 seconds. Transmission choices include a six-speed auto and a six-speed manual, and the ZL1 also gains selectable stability control, magnetically-controlled shock absorbers, Brembo brakes, and carbon fiber body accents that help keep the car planted at high speeds.
6) SSC Ultimate Aero
The SSC Ultimate Aero is the product of the company that was once-upon-a-time called Shelby SuperCars. Until the Bugatti Veyron came along, the SSC Ultimate Aero was the fastest production car money could buy, which gives you an idea of just how potent a package it has to offer. The Ultimate Aero explodes to 60 mph in just 2.78 seconds, and it features a top speed of almost 260 mph. Exotic looks are part and parcel of the SSC's aerodynamics, and the car's 6.3-liter V-8 engine can be counted on to produce 1287 horsepower and 1112 lb-ft of torque thanks to the efforts of a twin-turbo setup.
7) 2015 Dodge Viper SRT GTS
For a short time, the Viper dropped the Dodge badge and wore just the SRT name, helping promote Dodge’s in-house tuning division. But the Viper recently reclaimed its heritage, and the 2015 Dodge Viper SRT GTS is back in full form. The Viper SRT GTS is the highest-spec trim level for the two-seat coupe, and it comes with an adjustable suspension system as well as an advanced electronic stability control system and the availability of two-piece brake rotors. Track-ready rubber direct from the factory can be ordered to better harness the Viper's 645 horsepower and 600 lb-ft of torque, output that is delivered by an 8.4-liter V-10 engine. A six-speed manual transmission handles the gear shifting duties for the Viper GTS, which can hit 60 mph in the low 3-second range.
8) Mosler MT900s
The Mosler MT900s is one of the best kept secrets in the paddock at your local track day. Weighing in at just 2,275 lbs and sporting a 7.0-liter V-8 engine mounted behind the driver, the Mosler MT900s is one scary thrill ride that features phenomenal handling on top of its outstanding acceleration. The MT900s offers up 530 horses and 515 lb-ft of twist from its LS7 motor, and a six-speed manual transmission sends that output to the rear wheels via a 3.44:1 final drive ratio. Six-piston front and four-piston rear brakes are also on hand to haul the Mosler down from triple-digit speeds. Although the last Mosler MT900s was produced in 2011, these cars are still prized for their road capabilities.
9) Roisson Q1
Like the Mosler, the Roisson Q1 is another barely-street-legal American supercar, only this one shares some heritage with the British Noble M12 in terms of body structure and platform. The Roisson Q1 is available in street-specific and track-specific configurations, with the track version pushing out 50 more horsepower from its turbocharged 3.0-liter V-6 engine. 500 horsepower and 500 lb-ft of torque get the Q1 to 60 from a stop in just about 3 seconds. A six-speed manual transmission and a curb weigh just a couple of hundred pounds heavier than the Mosler help the Roisson feel like a complete beast when its full power is unleashed, and its ability to pull over 1 g on the skid pad indicate that its suspension and tire setup provide outstanding grip.
10) SSC Tuatara
The SSC Tuatara represents the next-generation evolution of the SSC Ultimate Aero, and although it has so far only been seen in prototype form, its builder hopes that it will snatch the title of the world's fastest car once it officially hits the streets. The SSC Tuatara will feature a similar weight to the Ultimate Aero but it will offer up 1,350 horsepower and just over 1,000 lb-ft of torque from a 7.0-liter engine in an bid to reach a top speed of over 275 mph. The Tuatara is also projected to hit 60 mph in 2.5 seconds, which would make it almost as quick as many of the race-bred Formula cars that ply the world's circuits. Transmission choices for the SSC coupe will include a seven-speed manual and a seven-speed automated manual. SSC hopes to begin delivery of the Tuatara in late 2015.