It is the Forth of July, American Independence day and it is time to look at the best cars to come from the United States. These are the 10 American cars that defined brands, won championships, outperformed European rivals, and stood the test of time. Only one car per brand. The Shelby Cobra, seen above, did not make the list.
10. Dodge Viper
From 1987 to 1993, Lamborghini was owned by Chrysler. During that time, Lamborghini worked with the Dodge brand on a sports car. The result was Dodge Viper. The Viper is a sports car that has a massive V10 engine in the front. The Viper is only for drivers only. The Viper has no electronic driving aids. It is the closest modern car to the iconic Shelby Cobra. Like the Cobra, the Viper is a sports car with a massive engine in the front and nothing else. Viper production was halted for a year to add required electronic driving aids. The forth generation Viper could go from 0 to 60 mph in 3.4 seconds and reach a top speed of 202 mph, making it the best performing car from the Chrysler Group.
9. Saleen S7
Saleen has a reputation for making high-performing tuned version of Ford Mustangs. But in 2000, Saleen produced the Saleen S7. In 2005, Saleen added two turbochargers to the 7.0L V8 that powered the S7, creating the Saleen S7 Twin Turbo. This hypercar goes from 0 to 60 mph in 2.8 seconds and reaches a top speed of 248 mph. This was the first production American car to outperform the mighty McLaren F1. However, it did not save an American brand like the number 7 entry.
8. Cadillac CTS-V
Cadillac were seen as cars for old folks. To change its image, Cadillac came out with the CTS, a mid-size luxury sedan that originally came with 3.2L V6. engine in 2002. GM decided to put a modified Corvette engine and came out with the CTS-V in 2004. The original CTS-V came with a 5.7L V8 that produced 400 hp. When the second generation came out, Cadillac did a second generation CTS-V, now available as either a four-door sedan, a two-door coupe, or a station wagon. All three are powered by a supercharged 6.2L V8 engine, based on the LS9 engine found in the Chevrolet Corvette, which produces 556 hp and 551 lb-ft of torque. The king of luxury executive sports sedans has been the BMW M3 and BMW M5. The German manufacturers The CTS-V made it on to Car and Drivers 2009 10 Best Cars list. It saved the Cadillac brand and is placed above the mighty S7 Twin Turbo and Dodge Viper.
7. Hennessey Venom GT
The Hennessey Venom GT is an amazing hypercar. The car is based on the Lotus Exige. Hennessey is known for adding performance to already high-performance cars. The Venom GT is powered by modified 6.2L V8 LS9 engine, except the supercharger is replaced with two turbochargers. The result is 1200 hp and 1155 lb-ft of torque. It goes from 0 to 60 mph in 2.5 seconds and has a claimed top speed of 275 hp. The Venom GT lands at the 7 spot because it did not set the automotive industry on fire like the top 6 cars.
6. SSC Ultimate Aero
Shelby Supercars, or SSC for short, was founded in 1999 and debuted its first car in 2006, The Ultimate Aero. The Ultimate Aero was released in 2007. On September 23, 2007 in West Richmond, Washington, the Ultimate Aero achieved an average speed of 257 mph, dethroning the incredible Bugatti Veyron as the world's fastest street-legal production car, until the Bugatti Veyron Super Sport hit 267 mph. That is one amazing debut car. The Ultimate Aero does not have electronic driving aids. It is for the most bold drivers. The Ultimate Aero goes for $654,000. I look forwards to seeing what the SSC Tuatara can do. SSC is one of the few car brands that can go head-to-head with Bugatti.
5. Pontiac GTO
The Pontiac GTO is the grandfather of muscle cars. The original 1964 GTO was an option package for the Pontiac Tempest and was its own separate model line in 1966. The GTO is considered to be the original muscle car. Just imagine what the American automotive industry would be like if Pontiac did not create the GTO. There might not have been the Chevrolet Chevelle, Shelby GT500, Dodge Charger, or Oldsmobile 442. One more thing, John Delorean helped create the Pontiac GTO before creating his own car, the Delorean DMC-12. For being the original muscle car, the GTO sees itself as the fifth best American car.
4. Chevrolet Corvette C6 ZR-1
The Chevrolet Corvette has been the face of the Chevrolet brand since 1953. The Corvette is a grand tourer sports car and there have been six generations of the Corvette. The best performing version of the C6 generation Corvette is the Corvette C6 ZR-1. The 6.2L supercharged engine, the LS9, has been used in the Hennessey Venom GT and is the basis for the LSA engine that is found in the Cadillac CTS-V and Chevrolet Camaro ZL1. The Corvette LS9 engine produces 638 hp and 604 lb-ft of torque. The ZR-1 goes from 0 to 60 mph in 3.3 seconds and reaches a top speed of 205 mph. It is faster than a Lamborghini Gallardo and a Ferrari 458 Italia and is just as fast as a Porsche 997 GT2 RS. While there are cars on the list that outperform this Corvette, the Corvette has been an American icon and has been the face of General Motors. I do not consider the Corvette ZR-1 a muscle car. It can go head-to head with European exotics. This is an exotic grand tourer.
3. Duesenberg Model SJ
Duesenberg was around from 1913 to 1937. People who owned and drove Duesenbergs were movie stars and royalty. Duesenbergs were classy and expensive. The fastest and most powerful of the Duesenbergs were the Model SJ, supercharged versions of the Model J. The Model SJ had a supercharged straight-8 engine that produced 320 hp. The Model SSJ engine produced 400 hp. The Model SJ Duesenberg went from 0 to 60 mph in 8.0 seconds, which was unheard of in the 1930 and could reach speeds between 135 and 140 mph. The Model SJ could outperform the best cars of the pre-WWII era. Duesenbergs are highly sought after by car collectors. A non-running, Model SJ with a missing supercharger still went for over $600,000. A Duesenberg in good condition goes for over $1 million dollars. A Model SJ Speedster went for $4.4 million dollars at an auction in 2007. Even though Dueseberg went defunct in 1937, its cars stood the test of the time and 378 of the 481 Model J and its variants survived.
The Top 2 American cars beat Ferrari and were world champions.
2. Shelby Daytona
The Shelby Cobra's open cockpit affected the car's aerodynamics, limiting the Cobra to a top speed of 157 mph while its rival Ferrari 250 GTO could hit 186 mph. Pete Brock designed a new car with improved aerodynamics. The resulting car was the Shelby Daytona. Powering the Daytona is a 289 cubic inch V8 that produces 390 hp and 341 lb-ft of torque. It goes from 0 to 60 mph in 4.4 seconds and reaches a top speed of 191 mph. The Daytona had very successful racing career. The Daytona won the GT class at 1964 12 Hours of Sebring, 1964 24 Hours on Daytona, 1965 Italian Grand Prix at Monza, 1965 German Grand Prix at Nurburgring, 1965 French Grand Prix at Reims, and 1965 Enna-Pergusa. The Daytona also held 23 land speed records at Bonneville. The Daytona led Shelby to the 1965 World Sportscar Championship,making Shelby the first American car manufacturer to win the championship. There were 6 Daytonas built. The championship clinching Daytona went for $7.25 million at the 2009 Mecum Monterrey Auction. There is still one American car that tops the mighty Daytona. In 2004, Ford and Shelby worked on a prototype, the Ford Shelby GR-1, which bears resemblance to the Shelby Daytona.
1. Ford GT40
The Daytona was dominant in 1965, but the Ford GT40 dominated the competition for 4 years. The Ford GT40 won the 24 Hours on LeMans four years in the road, the only American car to accomplish this feat. The GT40 led Ford to win the 1966 International Championship for Sports Protoypes, 1966 and 1967 International Championships for Sports Cars, and 1968 International Championship for Makes. The GT40 showed the world what American cars can do. It beat Ferrari 4 years in a row and won world championships. For its racing glory, history, and legacy, the Ford GT40 is the greatest American car of all time. Ford produced the Ford GT from 2003 to 2006 to pay homage to the legendary GT40.
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