Once upon a time, the fastest muscle cars only had to be quick in a straight line. These days, almost every member of the muscle car family can do a decent job in the turns. Sure, this class of vehicle might not be the most agile on the market, and weight might in some cases make it harder to cut them through the corners than it otherwise should be, but modern muscle features handling dynamics that are light-years ahead of the automobiles that gave birth to the segment.
Let's take a quick look at 10 of the fastest muscle cars currently available by examining their absolute top trim levels.
The 2013 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 is the very first factory Mustang to break the 200 mile per hour top speed barrier. The Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 also boasts the world's most powerful production V-8 engine, a supercharged 5.8-liter mill that generates 662 horses and 631 lb-ft of twist. A six-speed manual transmission is the only available gearbox for this rear-wheel drive monster, but the Shelby GT500 does come with standard launch control in order to help prevent roasting the tires during its sprint to 60-mph. This particular achievement takes just 3.5 seconds, with the quarter mile disappearing just a few ticks under 12 seconds.
Fastest Muscle Cars - 02 - 2013 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1
The 2013 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 can be thought of as the direct Bowtie-wearing response to the Shelby GT500. The ultimate Chevrolet Camaro features a supercharger-equipped eight-cylinder engine of its own, a 6.2-liter unit that churns out a very healthy 580 horsepower and 556 lb-ft of torque. While not quite up to the Ford's level in terms of output, performance-wise the Camaro ZL1 can hang close to the Mustang when the pedal is mashed to the floor: 60-mph arrives from a standing start in 3.9 seconds, but top speed is limited to 184-mph. Transmission choices for the Camaro include a six-speed manual and a six-speed automatic.
Fastest Muscle Cars - 03 - 2012 Dodge Challenger SRT8 392
The 2012 Dodge Challenger SRT8 392 might not be in quite the same class on paper as its domestic competitors, but it is still one of the fastest muscle cars around. The Dodge Challenger SRT 392 (which comes with a complimentary driver training course) is built around a 6.4-liter Hemi V-8 engine that develops 470 horsepower and 470 lb-ft of torque. Helping to corral this prodigious production is a standard five-speed automatic transmission, although a six-speed manual is also available for those who prefer to row their own gears. The Challenger SRT8 392 can hit 60-mph in 4.5 seconds.
Fastest Muscle Cars - 04 - 2012 Hyundai Genesis 5.0 R-Spec
Seeing a vehicle like the 2012 Hyundai Genesis 5.0 R-Spec on a list of the fastest muscle cars might surprise more than a few people. A look at the spec sheet, however, reveals that the Hyundai Genesis 5.0 R-Spec goes a bit above and beyond what most would expect from a full-size premium sedan in the power department. The 5.0 R-Spec - as its name suggests - features a 5.0-liter V-8 engine, one which has been tuned to provide 429 horsepower and 376 lb-ft of torque. An eight-speed automatic transmission is included free of charge with the performance-oriented Genesis trim level, and the rear-wheel drive sedan turns in a 0-60-mph time of 5.3 seconds.
Fastest Muscle Cars - 05 - 2013 Ford Taurus SHO
The 2013 Ford Taurus SHO has been blessed with the most powerful edition of the brand's vaunted EcoBoost drivetrain. Although EcoBoost technology has been lauded for its ability to post respectable fuel mileage figures, in the Ford Taurus SHO most buyers are more interested in its eyebrow-raising horsepower. The 3.5-liter V-6 found under the hood of the Taurus SHO makes use of twin turbochargers in order to generate 365 ponies and 350 lb-ft of torque. The ace in the hole for the full-size sedan is its standard all-wheel drive system, which dramatically improves its launching ability and plays a large role in its 0-60-mph time of 5.8 seconds. A six-speed automatic transmission with steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters is the only transmission available with the Ford Taurus SHO.
Fastest Muscle Cars - 06 - 2013 Chrysler 300 SRT8
The 2013 Chrysler 300 SRT8 is another full-size sedan that manages to perform far past what its hefty curb weight would suggest thanks to the engineering of its muscular drivetrain. The Chrysler 300 SRT8's 6.4-liter, eight-cylinder engine is attached to a five-speed automatic transmission. The gearbox is strong enough to feed all 470 horsepower and 470 lb-ft of torque to the rear wheels without breaking a sweat, which in turn allows the SRT8 to reach 60-mph in an extremely rapid 4.7 seconds - numbers that wouldn't have looked out of place alongside the exotic sports cars of just ten years ago.
Fastest Muscle Cars - 07 - 2012 Jaguar XJ SuperSport
The 2012 Jaguar XJ SuperSport shows that ultra-luxury brands aren't afraid to get their hands dirty and build some of the fastest muscle cars out there. The Jaguar XJ SuperSport features a ridiculous 510 horsepower, 5.0-liter V-8 engine that has been supercharged to provide an equally out-there 461 lb-ft of torque. A six-speed automatic transmission is on hand to manage the SuperSport's power production, and when all of those ponies are dumped to the rear wheels the Jaguar leaps to 60-mph in 4.7 seconds, which is an exceptional accomplishment for such a large, comfort-oriented car.
Fastest Muscle Cars - 08 - 2012 Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG
The 2012 Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG offers Euro-luxury fans with the chance to sample a Teutonic take on the muscle car concept. The Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG sedan features a brand new engine for the 2012 model year, a 5.5-liter V-8 that provides twin-turbo power in the range of 518 horses and 516 lb-ft of torque. A seven-speed automatic transmission (with manual shift control, of course), comes standard with the E63 AMG, and buyers can opt for the AMG Performance Package if they want to boost output to an outrageous 550 ponies and 590 lb-ft of twist. 60-mph arrives in a scant 4.2 seconds for the sedan - even with out the AMG Performance Package - making the E63 one of the fastest muscle cars on any continent.
Fastest Muscle Cars - 09 - 2012 Cadillac CTS-V Sport Wagon
The 2012 Cadillac CTS-V Sport Wagon is perhaps one of the finest examples of genre-bending on the modern muscle car scene. Not many expect a family hauler to be fast, but the Cadillac CTS-V Sport Wagon far surpasses the wildest dreams of even hardcore speed junkies thanks to its supercharged 6.2-liter V-8 engine. With 556 horsepower and 551 lb-ft of torque on tap, there's plenty of excitement to be had behind the wheel of this particular wagon, especially for those who opt for its available six-speed manual transmission over the six-speed automatic. Accelerating to 60-mph from a standing start takes just 4.7 seconds, which places the CTS-V Sport Wagon in elite company.
Fastest Muscle Cars - 10 - 2012 Dodge Charger SRT8
The 2012 Dodge Charger SRT8 is the last entry on our list of the fastest muscle cars, and the final member of the Street and Racing Technology family to be included in this discussion. The Dodge Charger SRT8 offers full-size accommodations and a healthy degree of comfort, paired with an unmistakable attitude that sets lesser automobiles quaking at stop lights. The Charger SRT8 derives much of its menace from the 6.4-liter, 470 horsepower V-8 engine that has been wedged between its front fenders. Also capable of generating 470 lb-ft of torque, this motor, and the five-speed automatic transmission that come with it, assist the sedan in reaching 60-mph in an extremely fast 4.6 seconds.