The old saying of “there’s no replacement for displacement” is something many who hang around drag strips have heard over and over again. Another great saying anyone near an NHRA event might be familiar with is “we’re a lot faster than you think you are.” When it comes to the V8s on this list, they defy the first statement – literally accelerating through that rule as the high-powered exceptions, while spraying rubber all over the V12 set. It just goes to show that as it has been for decades, the V8 engine rules the roost when it comes to horsepower generation.
And while many people equate V12 with supercars or street level fighter jets shaped like cars, having four extra cylinders doesn’t necessarily go along with the “bigger is better” mantra. When it comes down to it, the legacy of the V8 engine was built over generations by thousands of brilliant minds improving on the original.
The first v8 was introduced in 1902 and boasted a whopping 24 horsepower. To date, the most powerful V8 ever built rides inside a Koenigsegg. The insane 5.0-Liter V8 produces an obscene 1,360 horsepower. That’s only one THOUSAND three hundred and thirty-six MORE horses than the original.
20 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1
When Chevrolet introduced the Camaro in 1967, the folks at General Motors had no idea that one day the car with the same name would offer a model with more than twice the 295 horsepower the original model offered.
The 2018 ZL1 delivers 650 horses, all glued to the ground by a suspension system more advanced than anything Chevrolet offered in any prior generation of the Camaro.
Whether you’re on a road course, drag strip, or just out for a Sunday drive, there are very few cars that will give you the gut-tightening, breathtaking experience that you get from putting the ZL1s pedal to the metal.
19 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat
Not to be outdone by their blue bowtie wearing competitors, the folks at Dodge entered the fray with the aptly named Hellcat. While they aren't known for handling the same way as the ZL1 Camaro, this ride can certainly get up and go like a cat out of, well, hell. Don't believe us? Swing by your local Dodge dealer and find out for yourself.
Car and Driver had this to say, “the Challenger is a major salvo in the Horsepower Wars, especially these SRT versions. They have muscle-car metal and seriously awesome engines pumping out huge horsepower, from 485 in the SRT to 797 in the Hellcat Redeye. We clocked a 2015 Challenger Hellcat at 3.6 seconds from zero to 60 mph at our test track. Handling is clumsy—the Challenger specializes in straight-line acceleration—but braking performance is good, and thrills are still easily had in the form of power-induced oversteer.”
18 Ford Mustang GT500
Twin turbo V8 Mustang? More than twice the horsepower of the standard Mustang? Custom black wheels dipped in just enough rubber to hug the road like nobody's business? Yes, please.
If you can manage to get one like this bad boy, complete with the Eleanor inspired grey and black paint scheme, your neighbors will be lining up outside your garage every weekend waiting their turn to go for a ride in the based machine on the block.
Here’s what Road and Track have to say about it. "The GT500 is Ford's answer to the 650-hp Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 and the 707-hp Dodge Challenger Hellcat, so everyone is predicting it'll get a powerful V8. A twin-turbo V8 was rumored as a possibility, but a supercharged mill like the last GT500 seems way more likely.”
17 Corvette Stingray Z06
The new Corvette Stingray Z06 is also in the 600+ horsepower club. Not to mention, it has the most sophisticated suspension of any American production sports car. Very few cars turn heads like the new Z06 and very few people can answer the question "what kind of car do you have?" with "a Stingray." They're particularly menacing in this black on black appearance package. From the front air dam to the rear spoiler, everything about this one says fast.
The folks at ChevyCorvette.com brought this to the table: “When the Z06 rejoined the Corvette lineup in 2015 as the most capable model in the car’s long, storied history, it also joined an elite fraternity of the world’s most capable supercars. It returns for 2018, offering more choices for personalization to complement its world-class levels of performance - including an all-new C7.R Edition.”
16 Ferrari 458 Speciale
Building on the success of the 458 Italia, Ferrari did something special, or Speciale, with their next stallion. While most high powered V-8s are usually at least 5-liters, Ferrari has once again proven they can produce more horses with a smaller engine block than a lot of V-12 offerings. With more than a horse per tenth of a liter, this one not only turns heads, it might just give you whiplash trying to watch it fly by.
Car and Driver took one for a spin and came back grinning from ear to ear: “The Speciale cranks up the crazy with a 4.5-liter V-8 that now makes 597 horsepower at its 9000-rpm peak. (The regular car packs 562 horsepower; both cars make the same 398 lb-ft of torque.) The increased power is made possible by a sky-high 14.0:1 compression ratio, revised combustion chambers, new pistons, shorter intake runners, reshaped intake ports, and higher lift on the exhaust and intake valves, along with a new carbon-fiber manifold and airbox.”
15 Lexus RC F
When you hear "Lexus," most people think luxury and reliability. But the high-end Japanese offspring of Toyota introduced their F Sports line and proved that reliability and high performance are not mutually exclusive.
When you hop into a car that seems like an over-the-top Camry coupe then open it up on the blacktop, you'll see why so many are changing their opinion of just what Lexus has to offer these days.
The folks at MotorTrend fully believe the Lexus RC F belongs on this list of high-powered V-8 rides and so do we. Here’s what they back their belief with: “The Lexus RC F is essentially an indirect successor to the IS F sports sedan, the first vehicle Lexus produced that directly challenged the BMW M3 and Mercedes-AMG C63, and is the third F performance vehicle. Powered by an updated high-revving 5.0-liter V-8 rated at 467 hp and 389 lb-ft of torque, and paired to an eight-speed automatic transmission, the RC F is more powerful than the old IS F."
14 Lexus LC 500
While the F Sport line is getting all the love, Lexus has slyly been sneaking another high-performance offering onto the winding roads of the world through Europe, North America, and Asia. And, maybe that lower profile is by design as the LC 500 appeals to a more niche crowd of folks who are financially well off and looking to combine their love of performance with the finer things in life, while not going after the stereotypical BMW or Mercedes-Benz offerings.
Lexus hasn’t done much to put the Lexus LC 500 on the radar of car lovers, but the writers at The Drive did a pretty in-depth review. Here’s what they concluded: “Who’s this car for? Someone who aspires to an Aston Martin, perhaps, but wants something more reliable and easier to service. Someone who used to buy Corvettes as pleasure cruisers, but now makes more money and doesn’t see the Z06 or ZR1 as appealing. (“It’s got plenty of power—I’d rather spend the money on a better interior!”) Or someone who sees it as an S550 coupe at a discount, or needs more room than a 911 can provide.”
13 Maserati GranTurismo
With a name like “Maserati GranTurismo” you just expect a car to be fast, sleek, and awe-inspiring. If you've spent any time behind the wheel of a street machine offered in the PlayStation game Gran Turismo, this Maserati should get your attention simply from the model name alone. Add in the "Maserati" part, sleek lines, trident logo, and crisp metallic red paint job and you can see why people would want to own one over a V-12 equipped car.
For those in the market for just such a ride, here’s what Car and Driver think: “Maserati’s GranTurismo offers something extraordinary in a high-performance, six-figure coupe or convertible, one that embodies all that is compelling and irresistible about Italian cars. The exterior has curves in all the right places; the interior is lavishly appointed. There is an amazing, 454-hp 4.7-liter V-8 that is good for sub-5.0-second 0-60 runs. The droptop adds weight and lacks the coupe’s stiffness and response, but still looks fabulous.”
12 FERRARI 488 GTB
A V8 Ferrari certainly needs to make this list. I mean, no list of fast cars could possibly be complete without one, right? From Magnum P.I. to Tony Stark and back again, all the cool car aficionados know that no garage is really complete unless there's a Ferrari inside.
While Jay Leno, one of the most famous car collectors on earth, is more of a Lamborghini guy, there's no denying the Ferrari is a staple of any high-performance car collection.
Here’s what TopGear.com has to say about it: “If we’re being terse, it’s a facelifted, turbocharged Ferrari 458, which replaces the lovely Italia after six years on sale. But really, the Ferrari 488 GTB is something much bigger. It’s Ferrari’s first turbo-assisted mid-engined car since the iconic F40, and a sea-change in Ferrari’s future car roadmap. And that bodywork isn’t different for change’s sake – there’s a 50 percent increase in speed-generated downforce, up to 325kg of the stuff (that’s the equivalent of four bloke’s worth of force pushing you down onto the road). Ferrari also claims even faster gear changes and even cleverer adaptive suspension.”
11 CADILLAC CTS-V
While Cadillac would have us all believe that their models are "The Standard of the World," there's no denying the company spent decades with the public image of being a rich old man-mobile. However, over the last twenty years, they've worked hard to shake that image, along with the notion they're less than reliable, and brought quite a bit of sleek, high performing appeal to their line.
You won’t often see a five-star review from Car and Driver. In fact, you rarely see them totally gush over any car as that tends to seem unbalanced and often biased. But, when they got hold of the CTS-V, they couldn’t help themselves: “Now this is our kind of Cadillac: It’s got a supercharged 640-hp 6.2-liter V-8, big Brembo brakes, an eight-speed automatic, and rear-wheel drive. A manual is not offered, but you won’t care when this brute hits 60 mph in 3.6 seconds and 100 mph just 3.9 seconds later. The steering is accurate yet hefty, while the ride is surprisingly civilized thanks to a magnetorheological suspension. Cadillac claims a top speed of 200 mph and we won’t argue. This is a supersedan in every sense.”
10 MCLAREN 675LT
McLaren is also a brand name synonymous with ground level jet fighting speed and performance. While it might not be as widely recognized as Ferrari or Lamborghini, if you mention the name "McLaren" to anyone with even a passing knowledge of high-performance vehicles, their ears are going to perk up. When you start rattling off the specs for the 675LT, they'll keep listening and craving more.
Should you have the good fortune to pull up in one, you'll find yourself beating off would-be passengers with a stick.
Cars.com had the great fortune to drive the 675LT and had this to say: “Inspired by the McLaren F1 GTR ‘Longtail’, the 675LT features striking carbon fibre bodywork that increases downforce by an astonishing 40 percent over any other model in the Super Series."
9 PORSCHE PANAMERA TURBO S
While the idea of the station wagon was replaced with the mini-van as a necessary evil in the driving world, the usefulness of larger sedan-turned-cargo-hauler has never been denied. But, for some with the financial where-with-all to avoid the stigma of riding around in a Honda Odyssey but still in need of more cargo space and people-moving ability, the saving grace comes from a rather unlikely source: Porsche.
With far more true space and rear seat room than just about anything else on this list, the Panamera wins the "coolest suburban soccer mom car" sweepstakes.
In fact, if you're looking for a family sedan with a speed-junky top end, then the Porsche Panamera Turbo S is all you: “Few four-seaters are as quick and refined as the family of Panamera Turbos.” – Car and Driver
8 Koenigsegg Regera
While Porsche might have the soccer mom set covered, the folks at Koenigsegg could care less about bags full of sports equipment, orange slices, and juice boxes. In fact, the Regera might barely have room for an extra pair of cleats. But, the designers weren't looking tome grocery-getting a cool thing. No, they were just aiming to make you the coolest and fastest driver in the 'hood.
From the company that brought us the most powerful V8 ever created (how does 1360-HP grab you?), we’d like to introduce you to the Regera. From TopGear.com: “The other figures he quotes are plain bananas, and the one that truly blows my mind is the 3.2secs it takes to accelerate from 90-155mph. The projections show it will hit 250mph in around 20 seconds, having passed 186mph (300kmh) in around 11 flat. The One:1 currently holds the world record at 11.92, but Christian is confident the Regera will be faster.” We don’t know about you, but that sounds like some serious speed and acceleration.
7 Hennessey Venom
Surely no one could ever make a V-8 powered convertible that has more get-up-and-go than a V-12 fixed roof ride. In fact, if anyone tried to, they might just get laughed off the car show floor when they rolled it out. So instead of debuting your ride at the local car show, you should aim higher....like, say, racing around on blacktop designed for starships, or at least NASA's space shuttle program. I mean, if you can stand shoulder to shoulder with a vehicle that can traverse the continental United States in 12 minutes, you might be on to something.
Ever felt 200+ mph wind through your hair as you fly down the blacktop at insane speeds? Well, if the answer is “no” we recommend taking the world’s fastest convertible for a ride.
6 Ultima GTR
For those who don’t want a mortgage payment to pay for their ultimate V8, we’d like to introduce you to the Ultima GTR. With a slight bend of the ankle, you can mash the accelerator and find yourself in quick control of nearly 1000 horsepower as you grip the blacktop you're hurtling over at insane speeds.
While there aren't too many roads in the United States that give you the opportunity to open up the sheer power of this V-8, there are lots of airports. Now to figure out how you can get cleared for takeoff.
But, before you start calling air traffic control, check out what Jalopnik says you get with this amazing street machine: “You know what else might just scare you? How about launching from a dead stop to over sixty miles an hour in 2.8 seconds? No? You’re good with that? Okay, Superman, how about an 800-bhp small block throbbing viciously just inches from your ass, ready to send you either down the road or into that big oak tree over there, not caring which? Does that give your butt a good and righteous pucker?”
5 Saleen S7
Steve Saleen long ago cemented his place in American automotive history, but when he introduced the Saleen S7 he went next level. Between this and the Ford GT, it's easy to say Ford Motor Company has ties to not one, but two cars that could easily be considered Corvette-Hunters. While we're not sure what Dodge is doing, since the Hellcat is a pony/muscle car and not a sports/supercar, the S7 and GT continue to dominate this category of American made performance well over a decade after they were introduced.
As if that dominance wasn’t enough, Steve Saleen added a twin-turbo version of the S7, just to make sure he stayed out in front of the pack.
4 Zenvo ST1
From a lesser known case-file, we'd like to introduce you to the rare but also rarely caught from behind Zenvo ST-1. Due to the rarity, most people will have to resort to the Forza Motorsport virtual experience when it comes to opening up a Zenvo on the roadway, we can all enjoy checking out what it looks like thanks to the joy of Google Images. That is if one of them slows down enough for a shutterbug to get a snapshot of it.
Since 200+ mph V-8s are strictly an American thing, as evidenced by so many rides on this list, it shouldn’t come as a surprise no matter what country produces one, including Scandinavia, that a V-8 can outrun a V-12.
3 Ford GT SuperCharged V-8
Ford’s answer to all the Zo6, Saleen S7 goodness of the early 21st century came wrapped in a familiar skin when they reintroduced the racing legend Ford GT. To some extent, the Saleen S7 has a cousin still living under the Ford roof. Inspired by the old racer from the 1960s, the modern Ford GT is all about visceral speed, unlike the S7 that feels more akin to a race car.
With the supercharger pulley whining less than a foot from the driver's right ear, it's impossible to forget how much power this car has when you're accelerating through the gears.
Carbuzz raved about it: “Priced at just over $143,000 MSRP at the time of launch, the GT easily went for around $250,000 thanks to high demand. Even Jeremy Clarkson bought one. And yes, we all know about the troubles he experienced with his GT. Now that there’s a new Ford GT (now powered by a twin-turbo V6 and Clarkson-approved), its predecessor should be reevaluated in regards to power, performance and, perhaps most of all, legacy. Compared to the fifth-generation Mustang GT also featured in this video review, the Ford GT has aged beautifully.”
2 McLaren Senna
McLaren’s second entry on this list is nothing to sneeze at. While this image might look like something out of the latest Transformers film, Bumblebee would be hard-pressed to keep up with this human-built, V-8 powered, four-wheeled rocket ship. From the air-devouring front scoop to the massive spoiler designed to pin the rear wheels to the pavement, this ride is where sci-fi and ultimate speed collide.
Check out what Motor1.com wrote about this beast: “The first customer McLaren Senna has been officially presented to its new owner in a ceremony at the firm’s headquarters in Woking. The brand new hypercar, which carries the chassis number 001, was handed over to London businessman David Kyte by McLaren CEO Mike Flewitt along with other executives from the company.
1 Koenigsegg One
1341 horsepower from a V8? Seriously. The average driver often thinks 341 horsepower is a lot. Well, the folks at Koenigsegg aren't impressed with anyone's measly 300 horses. In fact, they've nearly corned the market on 1000+ horsepower cars. While the price tag will prevent most of us from ever driving one outside of a video game, the insane throttle response this thing offers probably makes that a good thing. Nothing like hopping in your car, having a calf spasm that triggers the jump to hyperspace and finding you've shot your expensive supercar right through the neighbor's house.
Sources: Motor1.com, RoadAndTrack.com, CarAndDriver.com