The great thing about classic muscle cars was how honest they were. What you saw was what you got. They were built for speed, but they weren’t trying to be fancy like a Ferrari. Automakers took a blue collar car, dropped in a V8 engine, and added some muscle car parts. That’s all there was to it.


Source | Paulius Malinovskis/Flickr
Muscle cars have come a long way since then—for better or for worse. For one thing, you’ve got traction control to keep your tires from spinning, and you can’t even hang your arm out the window anymore because the doorsills are too high!

But that got us thinking. How do today's muscle cars stack up? We took a look at the 2013 models of the Chevrolet Camaro SS, Dodge Challenger R/T, and the Ford Mustang GT. Here's our (humble) opinion.

#3. 2013 Chevrolet Camaro SS

There’s not much that’s “retro” about this Chevy. Yeah, you can get a four-pack of gauges inside like the old cars had, but from the outside, the 2013 Camaro looks like a Hot Wheels car. The original ‘60s Camaro was beautiful. This one’s a cartoon character.

The power’s still there though. Big time. Wood the throttle and you’ve got 426 horses to play with. The exhaust sounds like it can barely breathe, but you can still find plenty of muscle car parts in 2013. A nice cat-back Flowmaster would do the trick. But you’d still have to crane your neck to see out of this thing. Visibility’s terrible, and the doorsill is at shoulder-height.

#2. 2013 Dodge Challenger R/T

Now we’re talkin’. This thing’s huge, just like Challengers used to be. It sounds great right from the factory; love that V8 burble out the back like old school muscle cars. The ride’s super smooth, unlike the overly stiff Camaro. You can even fit adults in the back, and there’s plenty of room for their stuff in the trunk.

So why isn’t it number one? Just think about the movie Bullitt. Remember how McQueen was in a fastback Mustang, and the guys chasing him were in a Dodge that took up half the road? The new Challenger’s an honest muscle car, that’s for sure, but drivers want something that’s at home in tight corners, too.

  2013 Ford Mustang GT

#1. 2013 Ford Mustang GT

You gotta hear the noises this V8 makes, first of all. They say that Ford did something funny with the intake to make it sound better, and you know what, we could listen to this thing run toward redline all day.

But the best thing about the 2013 Mustang muscle car is that it’s a sports car, too. See, even the sportiest Mustang muscle car from the ‘60s was happiest when the road was straight. But the 2013 model will go around a corner with the best of them. It’s smaller than the other two, so that helps, and the visibility’s better as well.

On the downside, the Mustang’s still got an electronic throttle, electric power steering, and a whole bunch of other unnecessary stuff that gets between the driver and the road. Those are rental car parts, not muscle car parts.

What do you think? Camaro, Mustang, or Challenger? What's your preference? Leave us a comment.

Last updated June 7, 2017

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