The sound, the power, yeah, 400-horsepower cars are way more fun! And going zero-to-hero on the cheap is what we’re all about! I mean, you can never have too much power! Okay, well, maybe sometimes.
But if you’ve got the need for the biggest engines, the most horsepower, but you don’t want to empty your life savings, this list is for you! Let’s go!
2011- 2014 Ford Mustang GT (5th Gen)
Starting this list with a bang, I mean, a ‘Stang! The Mustang is the definitive American muscle car icon. Yee haw! And yeah, I know, Camaro, we’ll deal with you in a minute. The Mustang started it all. It’s the muscle car for the masses, like a Volkswagen Beetle with balls! It’s rear-wheel drive, packs a big, loud, powerful V8, and most importantly, sports a cheap price tag.
These are the ingredients that make a Mustang, a Mustang. Now, thankfully, Ford has added some respectable handling and moderately usable fuel economy to that family recipe. And that all really came together perfectly for the 5th Gen Mustang GT. Made from 2011 to 2014, these are the best years to buy a ‘Stang if you want the most power per penny. PPP, I think that’s the new Ideal metric.
Anyway, for four figures, you get 412 ponies packed under the hood, trotting this throaty 5-liter V8 monster up to 60 miles per hour in 4.6 seconds! Just, uh, try and keep your new horse from charging into any crowds if you know what I mean…
These late model Mustangs are just about the perfect car. They’re some of the best looking, best handling, and definitely best sounding pony cars ever made. And we were able to find examples for a steal, a 2011 blue GT for just $8,600 bucks! It may have a few miles on it, but hey, I just say this car has experience.
So, you might be asking, “Is this list just going to be a bunch of dumb American muscle cars? Oh boy. Just you wait! And if you love manual transmissions as much as me, help save them by snagging a shirt!
2010-2012 Jaguar XF Supercharged
Alright, a joke: “Why do Jaguars have heated rear windows? So your hands are warm while you push it into the shop.” Okay, Jaguar’s aren’t known for being the most reliable. You know what they are known for? Great driving experiences, and the big-body Jaguar XF was the pinnacle of driving experience when it landed in 2009.
See, Jaguar was facing some strong competition from ze Germans, and needed to fight back. So, they shoved a 5-liter V8 engine in and then supercharged it, giving the Jaguar XF 420 horses and 413 foot- pounds of torque, and the fight was on, baby! This jungle cat pounces on 60 miles per hour in 5 seconds and crushes a quarter mile in under 14 seconds, which is impressive for a sedan that weighs 4,100 pounds!
And nothing is more badass than driving a Jag. Believe me, I’ve driven this car. It’s probably my favorite car on this list. And it’s one of the cheapest! For example, a black-on-black XF Supercharged with a clean title going for less than $8,000. And I mean, it’s a Jaguar, it should always come in black, right?
2006-2013 Mercedes-Benz S600 AMG
Alright, the Mustang wasn’t your cup of tea, and Britain’s Jag is a bit bland. Well, the schnitzel-heads at AMG have something for you. Could we interest you in a V12? What about, not one, but two turbos? 400 horsepower? Ha! Give me 512. Put all that under the hood of one of Mercedes-Benz’s most beautiful body designs, and you have a German Blitzkrieg for the spare change you can find under your couch.
And if you don’t trust me, that mad lad Hoovie had one for a couple years and loved it. He even compared the cost of ownership to a new Honda Civic, and guess which one was cheaper! That’s right, the Benz! And honestly, what would you rather drive? A gutless little front-wheel drive grocery-getter or the big boy Benz with more cylinders, horsepower, and turbos than just about anything on the road short of a Bugatti.
Now, this is an S-Class Benz, and we’re talking high-mileage and low price. There’s an old adage that there’s nothing more expensive than a cheap Benz. So, buyer beware, but you can find these for around $10,000, like a S600 AMG in decent condition for $9,000! Just, uh, maybe buy two of them so you have something to drive when the other breaks down. And maybe a third one to drive when they’re both dead… But who cares about reliability when you’re roasting rubber in a twin-turbo V12?
2010 – 2015 Camaro SS (5th Gen)
Alright, let’s get back to Muscle Beach, baby! The Chevy Camaro SS is the badass comeback of the Camaro. This is hands down one of the best looking modern muscle car revivals! Chevy commissioned Korean designer Sang Yup Lee to bring the Camaro back to life, and he nailed it. Look at it! It’s a perfect modernization of the classic 1969 Camaro.
And it’s not just a pretty face, at the heart of the SS lies an LS3 V8 with 426 horsepower! And best of all, it comes with a six-speed H-pattern transmission, making the Camaro SS the perfect competition for the Mustang GT from earlier. Both hit 60 in 4.6 seconds, and of course, this is a muscle car. Let’s hear some straight pipes! The Camaro might actually sound better than the Mustang, I can’t lie. You know what, it’s too close for me to decide, you guys tell me what sounds better!
Whatever muscle car you choose, both come in under $10,000, and the Camaro SS may be one of the smarter buys on this list. Unlike the iffy Benz’s and Jag’s, good old American muscle cars actually tend to be pretty reliable and easy to fix.
2012-2014 Hyundai Genesis 5.0 R-Spec
Okay, we’re all familiar with the breakout hit from Hyundai. Hyundai made waves when they released the rear-wheel drive Genesis Coupe. It cemented them as a respectable sports car brand in America. Sadly, Hyundai said that they would not, they could not, put a V8 in the Genesis Coupe, which is a shame because that sounds really fun. But guess what, they made a sedan!
The Hyundai Genesis 5.0 R-Spec packs in a 429 horsepower V8, all driving the rear-wheels, as any proper luxury sedan should, meaning you can roast a pair of Michelins in no time! And not only does it get a snarling V8, it’s got an improved suspension package, fixing one of the most common complaints with the coupe! This unassuming Korean sedan is a competitor to most flagship Germans!
The R-Spec is a total sleeper. I mean, who would assume this thing is going to smoke you at a stop light?Good examples of the R-Spec come in just under $10,000. Just make sure, and I mean make sure, you get a 2013 or newer. 2011 and 2012 models have an oil consumption issue that is catastrophic. Like, burning a quart of oil every thousand miles catastrophic. That’s as bad as Squidd’s Land Rover… So, do yourself a favor and grab a later model R-Spec like a 2013 for just shy of $10,000.
2004 – 2007 Cadillac CTS-V
The first generation Cadillac CTS-V was Cadillac’s first real attempt to move away from building cars just for old people. And if you can get over the dated headlights, this thing is a beast! It’s essentially the closest thing to a four-door Corvette. There’s nothing more intoxicating than feeling that kick in the gut of a screaming, American-made V8 when you dump the throttle. Because 400 ponies come stock in this puppy!
And you will be grinning ear-to-ear everytime you get to stretch the CTS-V’s legs! Plus, if you search far and wide, you can scoop one of these up with a manual transmission. And the fact you can snag one for $10,000 all day is pretty much highway robbery!
Now, the one downside is that they didn’t come with a supercharger like later generations, but remember, boys and girls, a blower is only a phone call away! Now that is the Ideal lifestyle!