Me personally, I like my old classic muscle cars even although I’m a fan of all types. Mid to late ‘60s machines are some of the coolest things out there short of a full-blown racecar. But even as my bias stands, the level of automotive technology that’s developed and packed into cars and aftermarket modifications today is staggering. So much performance is at your fingertips no matter what you drive. Online parts houses put hundreds of thousands of parts a click away from being ‘yours’ and there are many awesome sub-cultures of car enthusiasts from the weird Subaru folks to the crazy little street-racer rice rocket boys. When people got bored with those, we started getting big into rat rods as chrome got played out; sleepers came when we got tired of looking at idiots trying to look as fast as they could with nothing but a cold air intake and stupid glass pack.
Whether these cars look fast or not is beside the point, for each of them will most likely fry your feelings up like an earthworm on an asphalt parking lot in August. The day of high-efficiency horsepower is upon us with the prevalence of turbocharging and boosted induction systems. Big power doesn’t have to mean big motor anymore, and even though more cubes will always sound better as it resonates through your chest, you could almost be sitting at a light next to four-digit horsepower and not even know it.
20 Hellcat Prius
Of all the cars out there, the Prius is probably my number one hated car, not so much for the car but the people driving them. I find myself performing completely unnecessary maneuvers just to inconvenience their travel, but if there’s one that I’d gladly give a lane to it’s this one. The Hellcat-propelled hybrid has undergone a slight modification to its driveline, and the once-economic 110hp tree-saver was replaced with a fire-breathing 6.2L hemi and a 4.5L supercharger. The old Hellcat powerplant crams over 800hp in the most unassuming body style you can imagine and the Tremec T56 six-speed brings loads of fun back into driving.
19 Boba Golf
Boba Motoring’s 1,100hp Golf is almost too tame looking; you have to peer at it with a trained eye to catch the subtle visual clues this is not your average, everyday hatchback.
In fact, it’s not your average, everyday anything; it’s a 175mph, eight-second car that uses a 4motion all-wheel drive system to claw its way down the road.
The power comes from Volkswagen’s 2.0L, 16-valve ABF motor and runs 58psi of boost from a Garrett GTX4202R. If this seems too good to be true, it’s actually not Boba’s first 1,000-plus horsepower MK2 build, and likely not the last either.
18 Minivan Muscle
Late for school? Never again! Soccer practice ended early? Be there in a flash. Like a literal flash! Builder Bisi Ezerioha and his Bisimoto have been customizing cars for years, and some of his builds are starting to gain some serious attention.
How could they not though he built a strip rocket out of a minivan! Since we already found a powerful Prius, it’s only fitting that we throw a minivan in for good taste.
Bisi likes to prove that any car can be fun, and the beefed-up J35 motor was packed with more high-performance goodies than a Jeg’s catalog including a Turbonetics forced induction system and, fittingly, a Godzilla blow-off valve.
17 Toyota Supra
The legendary Supra; a nameplate so iconic you’ve heard it even if have little interest in the tuner community. To those deeply rooted within – it’s a benchmark to strive for and a rice king of an institution. The long production life of the Supra was a testament to its road-worthiness; the sheer adaptability it exhibited in high-power applications made it more than just a pretty face on the road. This Vancouver based black beauty has reached the magical 1,000hp mark with a laundry list of modifications from a T-72 turbocharger and HKS cams to custom intake and exhaust systems that breath better than a wind tunnel. The interior is fitted with custom racing peripherals like a roll cage and race seats and belts because, you know, it’s a little stupid to drive around with 1,000hp and a standard, three-point harness.
16 CTS - (Super) V
Cadillac has run the V line now for over a decade with much success. They didn’t sell a million, but a luxury sports car isn’t typically supposed to sell a million. It’s supposed to be luxurious and fast, two things that a premium is charged for; double that up into one package and an $86,000 price tag isn’t asking an arm and a leg really.
You’ll need more than just $86,000 if you want to break into the triple-digit horsepower territory however, but it is very possible.
The supercharged 7.0L LSX engine leaves a lot of room for massive power upgrades from the already-impressive 640hp factory rating. This is a 3.7 second 0-60 car off the assembly line, so imagine what an extra 300hp will do?
15 Vicious Mustang
This million-dollar Mustang boasts high horsepower numbers at an extremely high premium, but no one ever told you this was a place for horsepower on a budget. Timeless Kustoms has pushed it to the limit to make a crazy looking Mustang that admittedly takes a moment to get used to; I had to give it a solid few minutes of deep scrutiny before I could say that I liked it. The more you look at it however, the more you like it – especially when you know why it’s special. Twin-turbos and a supercharger for good measure mean there’s no shortage of power while carbon ceramic disks and independent suspension mean there’s adequate engineering to handle the four-digit power.
14 AMS Madness
If there was all of a sudden a time limit on getting to heaven once you died, your best bet for salvation is probably going to be the comfort of the AMS Madness; aka World’s Fastest Hearse. Redefining the "live fast, die young" philosophy, AMS Performance wanted to outdo the living by dropping 0-100mph times quicker than many would consider quick to just 60mph. THAT time is a just 2.26 seconds! Another 2.63 seconds (4.83) will land you at the 100mph mark well on your way to nine-second quarter miles at over 160mph. How does it do it? Twin 64mm turbos mounted inline with the baddest 370cid you’ve ever seen is how.
13 Mean Mustang
Mustangs have had their glory day, and now are forced to share the fame and accolades with a handful of other cars that are starting to take advantage of gobs of highly efficient horsepower at dirt-cheap prices.
So, if you’re a Mustang guy, you need a little extra edge these days to cause a scene with a ‘Stang.
Travis, seemingly aware of this, decided to go big and aim to build a magazine-quality, 1,000hp machine that looks almost stock inside and out. Oh, and it can run quarters in about nine seconds too. Twin Precision 62mm turbos are tucked away, lying in wait for power on demand while the rest of the Mustang is surprisingly gentle on the street.
12 ’67 SS Nova
Not much introduction is needed for a Nova; even your grandma has owned one and they range from grocery bag transports with the factory inline all the way up to sub-nine-second Pro-Street cars. This particular beauty can drive itself to events on public roadways, hand your behind to you in an urn after it burns you so bad you can’t sit down, and finally, drive itself back home under the same power that it toasted you with. Power comes from a superhot small block 401 packed with Eagle and Scat rotating internals topped with Diamond pistons, high-flow intake and heads and a pair of twin 64mm turbos that are just waiting to spool up. Zero percent inconspicuous but 100% streetable; there’s nowhere this thing can’t go to find you – and nowhere to hide once it does.
11 R-35 Nissan GT-R
This GR-R is sleek, it’s black, it’s fast – and you can drive it anywhere! Usually, performance tends to lead to a compromise between itself and sheer economics. Seldom does a skillful build have the luxury of gracefully mixing both extremes into one hard-hitting package; this GT-R is a fine example of one that has.
The internals of the engine had to be re-thought to accommodate horsepower number in excess of about 650 reliably along with a list of other work-order items.
In the end, the VR38 powerplant is nicely paired with a set of Forced Performance HTA3585R turbochargers that crank out near double the factory power ratings, as if 565hp wasn’t already good enough.
10 Finland Finisher
When three dope concepts are combined into one singular build, nicknames such as Death’s Own and Devil’s Tow Truck are inevitably associated with a truck that leaves you with few other naming options. The old Chevy made its way to Finland and between its final roll off the assembly line and today, it picked up a few extra parts. Not only are extra axles and booms cool, it has a nasty blown motor that you can hear whine above the rumble of the big block exhaust notes that reverberate inside of your chest. This machine, Devil’s chariot or not, has enough power to break the wide-rubbered traction on both axles at the drop of a pedal. Say what you will about Satan; dude’s got some taste though.
9 Inline M5
Calculating the math on a 1,000hp BMW M5 equipped with the legendary inline six would, by extension, mean there are about eight Toyota Prius’ under the hood; each cylinder makes more power than an entire Prius!
That’s right tree-huggers, at 177hp per cylinder, this bad boy puts the hole back in the ozone layer like it’s going out of style.
The Precision turbocharger puts over 820ft/lbs to the wheels and the tri-pack clutch inside the six-speed complements the 3.61:1 rear gearing for a street machine infinitely meaner than it looks. It’s even inconspicuous enough to fly under police radar (almost). If it does happen to attract their attention, what are they going to do, catch you??? Nah.
8 Hennessy Demon
Hennessy should be on your radar by now if you’re a fan of badassery at its ultimate finest. Even though we as mere peasants may not be able to fathom stomaching the premier price tag; owning a Hennessy Performance-built machine will bump you up a few gaping leaps on the social ladder – for good reason too. If the Demon isn’t rad enough, Hennessy decided that high triple-digit horsepower ratings were for the birds. The engine mapping on the race-spec ECU was modified and a few bolt-on upgrades to the engine pulleys and exhaust system for an alleged 1,056hp. The most astonishing part of this Demon is Hennessy’s claim of a 1.93 0-62mph time. Although it may be far-fetched, the idea of an 800hp production car, at one time, also seemed just as wild.
7 Wild Willys
This Jeep has such a short wheel base that the high horsepower figures have no problem pointing the nose skyward provided the rear wheels are able to bite into the road.
The 1,600hp 427cid LS3 is a tight fit into the small engine bay but the Willys was never intended for such blasphemy and modifications were perfected over a four year period to bring the Jeep to what it is you see today.
If you can drive it softly, the motor still purrs like a dragon but it’s still subtle enough to hide most of its performance until you put the hammer down and give the Porsche 911 that just challenged you a good look at 2nd place.
6 Jammin’ Javelin
It looks like a Camaro. Heck, it looks like a Firebird too for that matter. It looks like any old classic muscle car of the late ‘60s. The era of muscle cars went out with a monstrous bang and left with us inspiration that resurfaced decades later in the next horsepower boom. This off-brand looking Javelin never got the notoriety it deserved, but competing for attention amongst Camaros can be like the runt of the litter fighting for food. This particular Malibu-based AMC Javelin AMX is known by a different name: Defiant. A Wegner Motorsports 6.2L Hellcat hemi sucks air from the Whipple 4.5L supercharger for 10 liters of defiance that will question everything you think you know.
5 Desert GT-R
The unique circumstances surrounding this particular build make it somewhat special. The car was to hit the 1,000hp mark and be a strip car that could drive hundreds of reliable miles to and from the racetrack.
When you’re brave enough to build a daily driver into your racecar, you had better be focusing on durability and have some sick days saved up.
The reliable factor played a major role in the build, and giving each component a risk factor helped assess the best course of action, which happened to be a fully-built race motor when all was said and done. All in all, around 2,000 parts were removed from the stock GT-R to make room for the shiny new ones that would transform this tuned tuner into a super-tuner.
4 Subaru Love
The Subaru is a phenomenon akin to the Volkswagen in terms of its cult-like following; people love their Subarus. Rightfully so, they are dangerous machines on the track and in the dirt when placed in the right hands. The all-wheel drive setup is perfect for maximum-grip launches as well as clawing around gravel hairpin corners and the water-cooled H-4 is a proven design when built up appropriately. Its nine-second cars like this that make fanboys out of poor college kids who try to emulate the high-performance versions of their bone-stock STI. There is only one Subaru however, that can spin all four wheels 200’ down the track as it fights for grip – and it’s not yours.
3 Ringbrothers' Recoil Chevelle
The name Ringbrothers may or may not be familiar to you, but spend enough time sifting through the vast expanse of the interwebs and you’ll eventually come across some of their work.
Their custom work fuses horsepower with styling in a blend of perfection that solidifies the relevancy of nostalgic muscle.
There’s just something about it that tuners can’t touch. As cute as your Evo may be, the word "mean" doesn’t have the same effect as it does when describing a ’66 like this. The supercharged 416cid LS3 will rattle your fragile little insides when standing close to it and 4.10 gearing in the rear make sure the 345s get put to good use.
2 Hennessy Exorcist Camaro ZL1
The road to horsepower hill is non-linier; there are a million ways to Rome and however you get there is secondary to getting there in the first place. One of the more prestigious routes runs through the Hennessey Performance shop, a company that turns out post-production custom cars for high-dollar customers who want the baddest of the bad – like a 6X6 Ford Raptor unlike anything you’ve ever seen. With a reputation for top-notch builds, when they get their hands on a Camaro ZL1 you know it’s going to be something extraordinary. How they got there is another very interesting story, but the destination is a $120,000 sports car that pumps 1,000hp from the 6.2L LT4 engine and a 2.9L supercharger good for 217mph.
Although the horsepower rating falls shy of the 1,000hp mark by about 100 ponies, any behemoth motorhome that can run a 0-50mph (yes 50mph) in 3.2 seconds is worthy of a gander if you like speed and power.
The ’72 beater has been given a new breath of life and, finally, some respect.
All the horsepower in the world won’t fix ugly but a Wegner Motorsports LS 408 with ported heads and Magnuson supercharger is more than compensating for any lackluster looks that may be leftover. Another compensator; the interior of this bad boy features twin flat screens, a bar, pizza oven, BBQ, popcorn machine and even a clear panel over the engine so you can watch it purr.
Sources: chevyhardcore.com, d3groupinc.com, cadillac.com, hennessyperformance.com, motortrend.com, silodrome.com, hotrod.com, engineswapdepot.com, superchevy.com, dsportmagazine.com, thedrive.com.