When we think of muscle cars, classics like the Pontiac GTO, Ford Mustang and Dodge Charger spring to mind. These veteran marques evoke memories of screeching tires on asphalt, gunning motors and yawning air intakes. However, today there’s a new breed of muscle car that may not have the flamboyance of years gone by, but there’s more power than you ever dreamed of under the hood.

If you’re looking for something that harks back to the halcyon days of muscle cars, why not check out the new Ford Mustang. The V-6 version of this delivers 305 hp and 280 lb.ft. of torque. Step up to the Shelby GT500, and you’ll get a supercharged 5.8 L V-8 that gives no less than 662 hp and 631 lb.ft. of torque. Compare that to a 1968 Shelby Cobra GT500 and you’ll be astonished – the original only had 335 hp and 440 lb.ft. of torque. The new Shelby blows by the competition with a 0 to 60 time of 3.5 seconds. That’s a full two seconds faster than the 1968 model. Don’t let anyone tell you that muscle cars are a thing of the past.

The competition over GM at isn’t about to be left in the dust either – the Chevy Camaro is back. The Camaro first went into production in 1966, but it looked like it was the end of the line when production stopped in 2002. However, Chevy revived the Camaro in 2010 and it’s going stronger than ever now. The top end Camaro ZL1 has a very respectable 580 hp 6.2 L engine, and is the most powerful Camaro ever made. This will get you from 0 to 60 in 3.9 seconds, so it’s a little slower than a new Shelby, but it’s in the ballpark. The list price of a Camaro ZL1 starts at around $55,000, but if you look at someone like TRUE Car on Facebook, you’ll probably be able to get a much better deal.

Next on the list is an invader from Europe. It’s a big departure from a ‘Cuda, but the BMW M3 has truly savage power. Even more surprising, it gets this power without superchargers – all the juice comes from a superbly tuned V8 under the hood. This is a car that looks like it could take your family on a picnic, but it can do 0 to 60 in a blistering 3.9 seconds and has a top speed of 155 mph. Just to be clear, that top speed is electronically limited – if someone uncorked this baby it would do 203 mph.

Finally, if we talk about BMW, we’ve got to talk about Mercedes as well. The boys at AMG know how to crank up a production Mercedes and turn it into a rocket. Their top of the range model features a 6L V12 engine that delivers 630 hp and 737 lb.ft. of torque. It will get you from 0 to 60 in about 4.2 seconds, which is pretty amazing when you remember that this is one heavy, heavy car.

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