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.
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.
Best American Supercars - 02 - 2013 Chevrolet Corvette ZR1
The 2013 Chevrolet Corvette ZR1 is the most potent version of America's popular sports car ever devised. In addition to an adaptive suspension system, a unique multi-stage traction control system, and a heavy dose of carbon fiber, the Chevrolet Corvette ZR1 is gifted with a supercharged 6.2-liter V-8 engine that has been tuned to provide 638 horsepower and 604 lb-ft of torque. This allows the coupe to sprint to 60-mph in a traction-limited 3.8 seconds on its way to a top speed that, like the Shelby GT500, reaches past the 200-mph barrier.
Best American Supercars - 03 - 2013 Dodge Challenger SRT8 392
The 2013 Dodge Challenger SRT8 392 isn't quite as rapid as some of the other vehicles on this list, but it is the fastest vehicle manufactured under the Dodge banner. The Dodge Challenger SRT8 392 takes the already-competent Challenger platform and infuses it with even more Hemi-engined goodness by way of a 6.4-liter, eight-cylinder mill that grinds out 470 horsepower and 470 lb-ft of torque. Adding the Track Pak's six-speed manual transmission is a great complement to the vehicle's big brakes, stiff suspension system, and upgraded steering (that eliminates electric assist for better feel), and the Challenger SRT8 reaches 60-mph from a standing start in a tick under 4.5 seconds.
Best American Supercars - 04 - 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.
Best American Supercars - 05 - 2013 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1
The 2013 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 matches the Challenger SRT8 392 in terms of acceleration to 60-mph. 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.
Best American Supercars - 06 - 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.
Best American Supercars - 07 - 2013 SRT Viper GTS
The 2013 SRT Viper GTS marks a return to form under a new name for one of America's sports car icons. The SRT Viper 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 640 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 just 3.7 seconds.
Best American Supercars - 08 - 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.
Best American Supercars - 09 - 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. Comfortable on the highway as well as the track, the Roisson Q1 sprints to 60-mph in a cheetah-like 3.2 seconds thanks to its 450 horsepower, twin-turbo 3.0-liter V-6 engine. 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.
Best American Supercars - 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.