What’s a muscle car, by definition? Well, think of them as uber-expensive guided missiles on wheels, targeted to chew up the road rather than decimate anything. Muscle cars have been the typical Murican dream of many, and have dominated the domestic market when it comes to sedans.
Most muscle cars come fitted with V8s today, are rear-wheel drive, and get you from point A to B at warp speeds, or thereabouts. But, will all of them get you there safely without any mishaps, hassles or hiccups? Maybe, maybe not, for not all the powerful cars are good or reliable. In the name of all that is good and powerful, here go the 10 most reliable muscle cars around.
10 Ford Mustang
While the Mustang is nearly synonymous with muscle cars, it wasn’t the first muscle car on the market. The Oldsmobile Rocket, Chrysler C-300, and the Rambler Rebel were the first muscle cars on the scene with the Mustang sauntering in, in 1965. The fifth and current generation seems to have put all the muscle and heart into making a beautiful, fast and safe car.
The 2.3-liter Ecoboost engine churns out 310 horsepower and 350 ft-lb torque, while the 5.0-liter V8 workhorse takes these figures to 460 and 420. With a ten-speed AT Ford 10R80, the Mustang is cantering faster and safer than ever.
9 Chevrolet Camaro
While the Camaro was always an amazing car, being Bumblebee has certainly immortalized it. Introduced in 1966, about the same time as the Mustang—the Camaro and Mustang have always gone head to head.
When it was being released and the “Camaro” name came into being, media quizzed Chevrolet about the meaning of the marque. They were told, deadpan, that the Camaro was “a small, vicious animal that ate Mustangs."
But, needless to say, the Camaro is as good as it gets when it comes to muscle cars that are as fast as they are safe. A 6.2-liter V8 powerplant can churn out 650 horsepower, and the Camaro looks good while it makes this effort.
8 Cadillac CTS
The Cadillac CTS is all muscle, but with a luxurious edge. The refinements do not take away the fact that at heart the Caddy CTS is pure muscle with a 2.0-liter turbocharged motor whipping up 268 horsepower and 295 ft-lb torque. It handles corners beautifully and is a perfect balance of beauty, brains, and brawns.
The top model is the CTS-V that comes fitted with a 6.2-liter V8 engine raring to go, and go it does at 640 horsepower and 630 ft-lb torque. A 0-60mph sprint is a mind-boggling 3.6 seconds and Brembo brakes that take you 60-0mph as quickly and easily as well.
7 Kia Stinger
So, let’s forget the domestic muscle car market for a moment and go towards Asia, namely South Korea. There, you've got the Kia, rather, the Kia Stinger, which may not be 'Murican, but is still as muscular as they get.
The exterior exudes burliness, with the base model carrying a turbocharged four-cylinder motor that revs out 255 horsepower and 260 ft-lb torque. The Stinger GT takes this to the next level with a twin-turbo V6 mill that jets out 365 horsepower and 376 lb-ft torque.
Now, compared to the other muscled beauties on this list, the Stinger GT is a slow 0-60mph sprint of 4.8 seconds. What it lacks in acceleration, it makes up in the economy department and sheer Kia reliability.
6 Chevrolet SS
The SS lasted just three years in the domestic market and was a rebadged Holden Commodore. 2017 was its last year of production with the Commodore production coming to an end in Australia, and plans for revival have been shelved, at least for now.
The 6.2-liter LS3 engine managed a decent output of 408 horsepower and 420 ft-lb torque with base model featuring lower configurations. Surprisingly, the Chevy SS of 2017 got better reliability ratings than the Camaro of the same year. With production ending in 2017, now you can get one only at the used lot, but the SS is worth a look-see before you settle for a brand new model.
5 Dodge Challenger
Honestly speaking, the Challenger marque was used three times by Dodge, and all three times it made for different cars. The first Dodge Challenger was a pure muscle that came in nine power-engine combinations. The topmost model came loaded with a Hemi V8 unit that threw out 425 horsepower.
The second generation was a rebadged compact Mitsubishi that lasted till 1984. It was way later in 2008 when the newly muscular third-generation Dodge Challenger hit the roads. The current 2019 model puts out a massive 707 horsepower with its Hemi V8 engine. The styling is reminiscent of the original Dodge Challenger, and going back to its roots did the Challenger good. Reliability is its middle name.
4 Equus Bass 770
Looking for a car that’s not production on this list? Try the hand-built, handcrafted Equus Bass 770 from Equus, a luxury car manufacturer that prides itself on not having assembly lines. It makes bespoke cars, and the Bass—pronounced "base," like the musical instrument—770 is its way of honoring all that was Mustang, Camaro, and Charger in the 70s.
The engine is Corvette’s ZR1—a 6.2-liter V8 beast that jets out 640 horsepower and 605 ft-lb torque. These are limited edition cars, and the company planned to make just 250 of these, as of 2015. The number may have increased but even so, this is one car you may not see everywhere.
3 Chevrolet Corvette Z06
Vette fans will probably say that the Corvette is actually a sports car in the guise of a muscle car. They may be right but, the Z06 is as muscle as it gets with a supercharged 6.2-liter V8 powerhouse that churns a cool 650 each of horsepower and torque.
The jury is still out on whether it drives more like a sports car or looks more like a muscle car, but the fact remains that this is one very reliable, very zippy, and super cool set of wheels to have and drive.
Corners are smooth, and the steering is super accurate. All these features, coupled with great looks, make the Z06 a much-favored car on any top 10 muscle car list.
2 Dodge Charger
With the Challenger around, the Charger cannot be far behind. This car may look and feel different, but, performance-wise, the Charger is the same 707-horsepower beast as the Challenger in the high-performance models.
The standard V6 motor is super powerful in its own right as well, with an output of 470 horsepower. Reliability ratings-wise, the Charger falls short of the Challenger but even so, it has to be one of the safest and most reliable muscle cars to own on this side of the world. After all, this was also one of the very important cars in Bullitt, second only to the Ford Mustang so known as the Bullitt Mustang today.
1 Pontiac GTO
The Pontiac GTO was as muscle as one could get in the 60s, and it seemed to carry a lot more class along with it too. The big front end was amazingly sleek, and a little menacing at the same time. You looked at the Pontiac GTO, and you knew this was one mean lean machine.
It lasted for a decade until 1974 when the oil crisis forced it to retire. 2004 saw a revival but by 2006, the GTO had packed up its bags and left simply because this rebadged Holden Monaro could not live up to the lofty expectations of the original muscle GTO. For anyone looking for a classic muscle car of the 60s/70s, this is the Holy Grail.