Surprises in the American Performance Car Market

 Copyright © 2007-2009 Isaak Carter

Corvette Z06: 198 MPH

Corvette Z06: 198 MPH

When those of us who have a few decades on our bones think about the great American performance car, we generally think back to the heyday of the American muscle car -- the 1960's and 70's. We are thrilled to think of the Oldsmobile 442, the GTO Judge, the Mustang Fastback, and the Pontiac Trans Am. But that was then and this is now.

Today when we contemplate the great American performance vehicle, we tend to think of the mass-produced vehicles that tease us with high- performance, such as the modern Ford Mustang, the 2007 Pontiac Trans Am (which looks like the "bat mobile"), and the Saturn Sky.

The Forbes Top-Ten Fastest American-Made Cars*

When we look beyond the Detroit tease, we discover a whole range of real performance cars being built on American soil. Among these American cars, some of them we will recognize, some we will not. The most amazing thing about the modern-day American performance car is that some of the names that make the list of the top ten fastest cars built in America are names that you may never equate with high-performance or speed.

Fastest American Cars The Average Joe Would Expect To See On The List

On November 22 of 2006, the Forbes website did a review of the ten fastest American cars on wheels.

The fourth fastest American car on the Forbes list was the 198-mph Chevrolet Corvette Z06. The 190-mph Dodge Viper SRT-10 was fifth on the list. The Dodge SRT designation stands for Street Racing Technology.

Dodge scored another top-ten listing with the Dodge 300C SRT8, the Dodge Charger SRT8 and the Dodge Magnum SRT8 models in a dead heat at the number 8 spot on Forbes list, managing 165 to 170 mph.

Four cars tied for the #10 spot on the Forbes List of fastest American-made cars. Three of those cars may come to the average reader as a surprise. We will take a look at those models in just a minute. Of the four cars tied for tenth, only one name is recognizable as a high-performance vehicle and that is the Ford Shelby GT500, which clocked in at 155 mph.

The 155-mph Magic Spell

American automotive manufacturers have what is called a "gentleman's agreement" about the speed that their cars will travel. There is actually a financial consideration behind the 155-mph limit that American auto manufacturers set on their mass-production vehicles.

It is actually easier and cheaper to set the maximum speed of a vehicle to 155 mph, than it is to find tires and other OEM or performance car parts that can be rated to perform well at 155 mph AND 200 mph.

The four cars that are tied for tenth in the Forbes top-ten list will each reach their top speed at the magical 155 mph.

The Surprise Speed Demons

In the #9 spot, Cadillac made waves with their 163 mph Cadillac CTS-V four-door sedan.

Tied for spot #10 at 155 mph, we already mentioned the Ford Shelby GT500. Also tied for tenth were two more Cadillac models: the STS-V four-door sedan, and the XLR-V two-door convertible sports car.

The fourth vehicle to hold the mighty 155 mph top-speed is one that will surprise most people, even more than the Cadillac sedans.

Drum roll, please...

The fourth vehicle that is tied for tenth in Forbes list of the fastest American-made cars is... the Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8! Yes, you read that correctly. A four-door SUV made by Jeep can race along the freeway at 155 mph! How is that for high-performance?

Although the Dodge Ram SRT10 pickup truck did not make the list, the 2004 model of this truck set a manufactured truck world-record speed of 154.6 mph shortly after its debut. The standard rated speed of the 2004-2006 SRT10 was actually 150 mph.

Are Those Cars Really Made In America?

Those cars that we have not yet looked at are the kinds of cars that one might look at and automatically assume to be European-made cars. Many of them look like they were built by the Ferrari design teams, but they are in fact made in America.

The fast American-made automobile is the 273 mph SSC Ultimate Aero TT; it retails for $525,000.

With most state speed limits set at 70 or 75 mph, it may be hard to believe that there is a market for a car that will drive this fast. But, there is an abundance of racetracks around the United States that will let affluent drivers bring their street-legal cars to the track for a few laps.

The second car on the speed list is also the most expensive car on the list. At $555,000, the Saleen S7 Twin Turbo will reach an estimated top speed of 240 to 260 mph.

Models that are a little more reasonable in the price tag department are the Silva Exotic Cars GT1 and GT3. They price at between $170 and $175,000 and can reach a respectable top speed of 206 mph.

At $189,000, the Mosler MT 900S will easily clear 180 mph.

Tied for seventh place at 180 mph, the $89,950 convertible Mullen GT and the $121,000 Panoz Esperante GTLM wraps up the fastest American-made cars top-ten list.

Custom Car Enthusiasts Create Even Stranger High-Performance Cars

The Forbes website was clear when they said that they did not calculate custom cars or kit cars into their line-up. Their point was to address manufacturer models that come of the showroom floor at the highest rated speeds.

Darrell Cox Racing has built the fastest Dodge Neon on the planet. His high performance Dodge Neon will run the quarter in 8.56 seconds at 163 mph!

Although not an American vehicle, one can buy a Mini Cooper kit car that pushes a top speed of 143 mph. Or, one can head over to the car classifieds and find several rebuilt 1972-74 Chevrolet Nova's that hit top speeds in the range of 144 mph.

Another totally custom high-performance car experience from America is the all-electric Tesla Motors Roadster that will do 0-60 in about four seconds, with a top speed of over 130 mph. This car can be driven 250 miles on one charge at about a penny a mile, provided one has just under $100 grand needed to put one into their own garage.

Speed Is Just One Element Of High Performance

High performance is a wide-ranging term that means better top speed, better towing power, better gas mileage, better stopping power, and more. Top performance upgrades are as diverse as the drivers who hit the road.

When it comes to speed, it really does not matter what vehicle model a driver is putting on the road. With the right performance upgrades, any car can have its top speed lifted into the 140 to 200 mph range.

As I learned in college, if a 1972 Ford Maverick pulls up next to you at the stoplight, and it seems to be sitting on drag racing tires, don't take on the challenge for a race. Just put your car in park and let him win by default.


  • About The Author:

    Isaak Carter writes about automobiles and performance systems for Best Performance Auto Parts has assembled together some of the best auto performance packages available on the market today. With great manufactures like Banks Power, Gibson Performance, SLP Performance and many more, you're sure to find the auto performance kits that are right for you. See more at:

    Article Source: thePhantomWriters Article Submission Service March 25, 2009

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