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Buy American: 20 Cars We'd Pick Over Imports

Some nations naturally have it better—or more appropriately, they've done so well in some sectors of the automotive industry that we think they were born with an innate talent to build the automotive empire like they have. Look at Japan. It has some of the best-selling regular sedans in the entire world. We trust Toyota, Honda, and Nissan. The first two companies probably fill the needs of the majority of Americans; their roads are saturated with cars produced by these companies.

Look at BMW, Mercedes, and Audi. All three are German manufacturers. They pretty much dominate the luxury and sports category. And while the article is about American sports cars, it would be foolish to deny the dominance of these three companies. Of course, I haven’t forgotten French auto manufacturers, like Bugatti, or Italian ones like Lamborghini and Ferrari. They produce high-end cars.

But that’s not to say America doesn’t have a history of supercars or sports cars, and this list will show that. I included some really old cars because they were good sports cars and beat the imports of their time. Some auto manufacturers—especially of supercars—don’t exist anymore but were successful when they did.

Here we go!

20 2016 Cadillac CTS-V Coupe

via autogespot.com

A high-performance version of the CTS, the CTS-V is built on a pushrod OHV V8 engine. Due to their sedan-like shapes, these might not fit your schema of a sports car, but they are, nonetheless, sports cars—good ones at that, capable of putting to shame some of the imports, such as the Mazda3 for instance and making you realize that perhaps non-American cars aren't always the best. Wanting to fully utilize the surge in the popularity of Cadillacs, GM quickly churned out the V-Series to compete with counterparts, like BMW’s M series and Merc’s AMG lineup.

A six-speed manual is paired in factory setting with the ZR1’s 6.2-liter V8, although a six-speed automatic is optional.

The angulated car is heavier than your standard sports car, but still pumps out 556 HP and 551 lb-ft of torque.

19 2010 Cobalt SS Turbocharged

via modifiedcartrader.com

From 2005-2010, Chevrolet produced the Cobalt SS, which included a naturally aspirated, a supercharged, and a turbocharged version. These were compact sports cars, with the turbocharged one getting a lot of attention, despite all three versions performing significantly above average. 5.5 seconds for going to 60 mph from standstill might seem a lot, especially when you see what some of these other cars have, but rest assured this was a class-leading performance from the turbocharged Cobalt SS. Some of the critics thought this car handled the brutal Nurburgring racing track very well. For a car that cost a little less than $25K, these were impressive feats to achieve. I guess you could say the SS stood for “Super Steal,” rather than "Super Sport"—truly an extraordinary car in its class.

18 2016 Tesla Model S

via youtube.com

The leader of electric cars, Tesla has continually shown why it should be ranked as the top electric automaker in the world. Each year, Tesla provides upgrades to the computer software in the cars, ultimately making the lives of drivers easier. The Model S was only released in 2012, and at first glance, you won’t necessarily look at it and think it’s a sports car, despite the attractive exterior. Oh, but it is. It’s a complete sleeper car, with soul-awakening power. Besides being electrical and earth-friendly, much like any of Tesla's cars, the Model S is also powerful. There's a P90D variant, which is equipped with a “Ludicrous Mode,” which is exactly what it sounds like: absurd. In that mode, you get 1.1 Gs and a 2.8-second 0-60 mph acceleration time.

17 2016 Chevrolet Camaro

via pinterest.com

The car is obtaining the status of a classic car now. Year by year, it becomes better and faster. Built on the effortless GM Alpha platform—which produced the successful Cadillac CTS and the ATS—the Camaro has the right framework to be the car that it is. They keep becoming shorter, narrower, and lower. The large wheels and the low-slung body give an aroma of an animal ready to attack; it’s essentially an eye-catching design that’s hard to not notice and admire. The interior is designed properly. You won’t find yourself feeling like you’re missing anything at all. The best part about this is the price. You can find brand-new ones for $25K, and that, ladies and gentlemen, is a price that’s hard to beat. Try finding an import in the category.

16 2018 Dodge Challenger SXT

via johnlsullivandodgechrysler.com

This one doesn’t seem to be as low-slung as the Camaro, but that doesn’t make it any less of a good car. If anything, it should be praised for its great design. It doesn’t have the curvatures of the normal sports cars that you see on the roads; the novel side curves are a hit on the SXT. While these were seen back in the days—the days of ‘70s—parent company Chrysler brought these back in the game in 2008. I personally like the new ones better than the ones from the older generations. The public also liked these, as the ones from 2008 were pre-sold and sold at a price higher than the MSRP. The recent models mean business and range from mild to wild. The SXT generates 268 lb-ft of torque and 305 horses, which is plenty of power for a sub-$30K price.

15 2010 Rossion Q1

via pinterest.com

When Car and Driver tested it, they called it “stupid fast.” The rights for the Noble M400, on which the Q1 is based, were bought by Rossion Automotive in 2008. A few units were produced in the past, and the company is expected to produce more, though, it doesn’t look like they're churning out anything as of this year.

The Q1 was unique, not only in the way it looked, but also in the sense that you bought the entire car by body parts.

The chassis and the powertrain were sold separately, and the owners had the option of piecing things together or having it done by a professional—seems like a lot of work for the average person, but it was likely just a weekend hustle for the enthusiast. The car produced 500 HP and 500 lb-ft of torque.

14 2016 Ford Shelby Mustang GT350R

via caranddriver.com

If you were into pony cars back in the days, you know where I’m going with this entry. This is a car whose earlier versions were built and molded in our own backyards. It's the car that the parents of millennials identified with. This car looks dangerous from the outset—like you don't want to go messing with it. And it should.

With 500 HP and 400 lb-ft of torque, it has one of the most powerful engines that run production cars.

The exterior is impressive also. The bulging hood that hides the 5.2-liter V8 is intimidating; the color scheme of Mustang just adds the aggressiveness, and the MagneRide suspension system is accommodating—it adapts to the road conditions, meaning, the car does great in racing.

13 2016 Corvette Z06

via windingroad.com

Competing with the Godzilla is the Z06. The beauty of this car lies not in the exterior—which is top-notch, of course, and some might consider it to be even better-looking than those in the million-dollar club—but in that fact that it costs three times less than what supercars with similar capabilities cost. That's the true beauty. The interior is as posh as any of the cars out here with all the high-tech widgets and gadgets.

It has the acceleration of a Ferrari F12berlinetta—3.1 seconds to reach 0-60 mph.

And if you thought you had squeezed all the life out of the pedal and blood out of your heart as you reached the top speed of 185 mph, wait until you use the 1.17 lateral Gs. Then, you'll truly realize the fullest potential of the 650 HP-producing machine.

12 2013 Mosler MT900S

via autogespot.com

You probably aren't familiar with this automaker, as it became defunct in 2013. But before the dissolution, Mosler Automotive used to produce sports and racing cars. It produced several lineups since its foundation in 1985 to termination in 2013. The MT900S was a street-legal car, while the MT900R was—you guessed it—a racing car. You had to transport that car to the tracks. The bottom part of the rear is shaped like a Corvette, although the MT9000S has a wing. The rear windshield is nothing like that seen before—the vent-like structure goes perfectly well with the rest of the car, although I wonder how easy it is to see the behind traffic. Nonetheless, the 530 horses and 515 lb-ft of torque generated by the V8 sitting behind the driver should keep the rear traffic clear.

11 2013 SSC Aero XT

via motorauthority.com

The hanging front of the actual car looks more like it’s meant for the tracks than the road, which may or may not be true. But it did spend a lot of time on the tracks to break records. It might not look that American, but rest assured that it was founded by SSC North America with headquarters in the state of Washington, United States of America. Founder Jerod Shelby wanted the car to be as much of a driver’s car as possible, meaning, there were no electronic driver aids, like a traction control or antilock brakes. All you had was a car that was really fast, but needed exceptional drivers. The comment about it being super fast wasn't meant to be a general remark—the SSC Aero held the record of the fastest production car from 2007 to 2010, remaining unbeaten until the Bugatti Veyron Super Short came along in 2010.

10 1970 Plymouth Superbird

via mecum.com

During its time, one look at the Plymouth Superbird, and you could tell it wasn't your normal car. One look at it now, and you can still say with confidence that it wasn't your average car from back then. I mean, look at the spoilers. The makers of the Superbird wanted to compete in the NASCAR with it for the 1970 season.

The Superbird, adapted from the Plymouth Road Runner, was equipped with a 426 Hemi V8.

While only 135 were produced due to the production cost, these cars were champs. I mean that quite literally—it won eight races in just one year. Notable is the fact that the aerodynamics of these cars weren't the most efficient at low speeds, but once you got above 60 mph, the car turned corners and came on your side.

9 1989 Dodge Daytona

via Wikipedia.org

Built on the Chrysler G platform, the front-wheel-drive Daytona looks sleek. Production of these lasted from 1984 to 1993. The elongated hood in the front of the 1991 Daytona reminds me of the Toyota Celica, although the back is anything but similar to the Celica. It had various engines throughout its lifespan, even making it on Car and Driver's Ten Best List in 1984. The one in 1991 was equipped with DOHC and 4 valves per cylinder, meaning, 224 horses and 217 lb-ft of torque. The beast also had a 0-60 time of 6.3 seconds. In other words, it was a powerful car of its day, capable of beating imports. Of course, the company is American, and even the name was derived from Daytona beach of Florida. Welcome, an American car through and through!

8 1969 AMC AMX

via youtube.com

Standing out of the crowd due to a short wheelbase is the AMC AMX, a GT-style sports car whose production lasted from 1968-1970. There were various engine options available, but I’m a big fan of the one produced in 1969.

The 6.4-liter V8 generated a whopping 340 HP.

The pre-production concept car was perhaps a bit more rocket-like, but once they put the engine in, it drove like a rocket although lost the resemblance to a rocket. The hood is as classic as it gets with the bulges on the sides. The dramatic sloping back reminds you of the fastback look of cars from the '60s. The AMX was what it was, but there was a model called "AMX/3," and that, my friend, was a total boss.

7 2007 Chevrolet Monte Carlo

via conceptcarz.com

Here's another American beauty. Produced by GM, the Monte Carlo was in the game from 1970-1988 and then from 1995-2007, spanning a total of six generations. Of course, there was a change in the design over the years. Cars from the last years of the sixth generation were refreshed. The front of these revamped cars looks good, and while I’m not particularly captivated by the higher back, it had a good set of engine options, making it compelling. The 5.3-liter V8 was powerful, generating 303 HP and 323 lb-ft of torque, and when paired with the 4-speed automatic, it drove insanely and beat imports in this category. Notable is the fact that some of these cars were used for NASCAR in the '70s.

6 2017 Dodge Viper ACR

via reddit.com

The Viper lineup has been in production since 1992, although there was a brief hiatus from 2010-2013. When production resumed in 2014, they had dropped the Dodge aspect, calling it "SRT," which is just Dodge’s in-house tuning division. From 2015 and onward, the Viper proudly attached its heritage to the Viper name.

There are various trim levels with the Viper, but the ACR is the boldest amongst them.

The cost of these beauties isn't that bad at all at a base price of $118K. For that money, you buy a bold design. The look is mean; the engine, powerful; the interior, up-to-date—not sure what else you could ask for in a sports car. It has 645 horses and 600 lb-ft of torque that give it a 3.3-second 0-60 mph time.

5 2005 Saleen S7

via topspeed.com

With the Saleen S7, America saw its first mid-engine production supercar in 2000. The car was a high-performance car, hand-built, with the concept of the entire car being a result of a few people, including Steve Saleen and Phil Frank. The initial years saw the cars producing 550 HP with a top speed of 220 mph. The naturally aspirated V8 engine had a 0-60 time of 3.3 seconds. While that was plenty, in 2005, it was outfitted with a more powerful twin-turbo, which upped the horses to 750. The top speed of the twin-turbo was 248 mph. Much like other supercar manufacturers (or any big automakers, honestly), the Saleen S7 has a racing counterpart called the "S7R." While I'm not particularly blown away by the design of Saleen in 2018, it had the correct configuration for a car built in 2005.

4 2018 Ford GT

via stumpfford.com/blog (2018 model)

Produced in honor of Ford’s GT40, the GT is in its second generation. Production hasn't been continuous, though, with the first-generation cars being produced from 2004-2006 and the second generation spanning from 2016-2020. The first-generation cars were simply great; however, Ford revealed its true potential with the design and production of the second-generation GTs. One word: stunning. From the exterior to the interior to the inside of the hood, everything is just fantastic.

As of now, 250 units of the 647 HP-producing beast are scheduled to be produced annually.

The twin-turbocharged V6 provides plenty of beat-skipping acceleration, and the interior is as posh as possible. Ford reserved this for true Ford fans. John Cena, one of the biggest American-car lovers, has one. It cost a little under $500K.

3 1993 Vector W8

via pinterest.com

This car probably has more buttons than those present in the cockpit of a small jet. Dead serious. There's a whole panel on the left side with switches and flips. It’s got sharp curves and crevices in so many places that it’s hard to generalize the structure of the car. It was more fashionable than the counterpart Lamborghini of its day, which is 1990-1993. The interior resembles a truck-like chassis, and how comfortable the ride is can’t be stated, but I’d imagine most of the cars of this era were similarly built. The powertrain of this car was just magnificent. The W8 produced 625 HP and 650 lb-ft of torque in standard setting. Crank up the boost to 14 lb, and you had a machine generating 1,200 horses! It was truly a supercar—its brand-new cost being $450K. Only 17 units were produced.

2 Hennessey Venom GT

via superyachts.com

Perhaps you’re not familiar with the Venom GT, and that’s okay, as it’s a relatively new company. The Venom GT was produced by the Texas-based company Hennessey Performance Engineering; production lasted from 2011-2017 with 13 units being produced. The car reminds me of the Lotus Exige. Whether it should or not is a different question, but the Venom GT is a modified version of the Lotus Exige.

The twin-turbo LS2 V9 engine broke several records when it came out, including the acceleration record in 2013.

These cars look like cars brought from the future, whether you look from the front, the back, the top, the bottom, afar, or inside the car. It produces an astonishing 1,451 HP and 1,155 lb-ft of torque. But it’s not considered a production car due to the limited units being produced. However, it probably beats any import car imaginable .

1 2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Demon

via leparadisduson.com

The Demon is America’s fastest, most powerful production car ever built, period. No joke. It provides a whopping, whoa, deep breath, another deep breath, 808 horses and 717 lb-ft of torque. Yep, and you can have that increased to 840 HP and 770 lb-ft of torque with the Demon Crate package. The supercharged 6.2-liter V8 is truly that capable. The quarter-mile time is 9.9 seconds. To give you some perspective, an old Jeep Wrangler probably takes a few seconds longer than that to reach 60 mph. Its 0-60 mph time is around 2.4 seconds—not a lot of production cars have this type of speed. While you may be thinking of Bugatti at this moment, let me gently remind you that the price of the 1,000 HP-producing Bugatti is over a million dollars; the SRT Demon costs $87K.

Sources:  autobytel.com

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Buy American: 20 Cars We'd Pick Over Imports