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Muscle cars – these are really fast cars but not supercars. They can be of various body styles, such as hot hatches, hot sedans and coupes. Some come from the factory as muscle cars, but others start life as a simple hatchback or run-of-the-mill sedan, and are turned into a muscle car by an ace engine tuner. This is where you will find:
Muscle cars like the Firebird Trans Am WS61 and Chrysler 300C SRT-8
Hot hatches like the Ford Focus ST and Volkswagen Golf GTI
Hot sedans and coupes like the Jaguar XF and BMW 650i
Top tuners like BMW M Center, Hamann and Lingenfelter
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The great thing about these muscle cars is that they can look just like the car of the guy next door, or they can look outrageous. But they have a turn of speed that puts them above others.
Or, you can have a really small car that keeps up with the big boys. Even if you rely on the car maker to tune the engine, you can get some really hot hatches and sedans these days - real muscle cars.
These muscle cars can look rather ordinary - some people like to slip through the traffic unseen. They don't have the handling of a supercar, but they can be a lot of fun.
Hot hatches just don't have the performance or price to put them in the supercar league, and most lack that precision of handling you find in a supercar. These hot hatches are usually enormous fun to drive because you can actually use most if not all of their power quite often. But few make it as true muscle cars.
Ford Focus ST (XR5) and Volkswagen Golf GTI are good hot hatches
Good examples of hot hatches are the Ford Focus ST and Volkswagen Golf GTI. Both these hot hatches handle well.
A sedan or coupe can be a muscle car, and there are plenty about. Typical performance? Well, this varies a lot, but 130-150 mph with 0-60 in 5-7 seconds is what we expect.
In Europe, hot hatches, such as the Focus ST, Golf GTI and Honda Civic Type-R are very popular. Mazda's 3 MPS (Mazdaspeed)also packs real punch, well above its weight.
The downside with most hot hatches is front-wheel drive – the exception being the BMW 130i hot hatch, also available as a smart coupe. This could be turned into a real cracker of a muscle car.
Muscle cars take you to 130-150 mph
The traditional rear-drive sedans make better muscle cars because massive amounts of power can be put onto the road through the fat tires you can get – not the case with front-wheel drive, where 250 bhp is about the maximum. With that amount of power the traction control works so often – reducing the power transmitted – that the object of having the power is defeated. Not so with a true muscle car.
There are as some amazing cars built or modified by the tuners, such as 800 bhp Corvettes and Viper SRT-10s, and the Hamann BMW M3 which is powered by the 500 bhp V-10 from the BMW M5! Amazing performance and individuality.