2005 Chevy SSR (MSRP $43,180):
It's a little weird that the best muscle car you can buy happens to be a truck -- but there's just no getting around it: Chevy's 390-hp SSR "super Sport" retractable hardtop pick-up is closest in configuration (beefy full-frame chassis, huge 6-liter V-8 engine, rear wheel drive) road feel (heavy; brutally powerful) and sheer outrageousness to a '60s-era big-block mauler of any new vehicle available today.
That's not how Chevy markets the '40s-themed, retro-styled SSR, of course -- but take a turn behind the wheel and see for yourself. Under the hood lies a blunderbuss of an engine, massive and gleefully overpowered -- with nearly 400 easy horsepower on tap and so much torque (405-lbs.-ft.) that heroic power slides from the curb and tire-barking 1-2 upshifts as you screech out of the Mickey Dee's parking lot are as easy as stomping on the gas pedal. Even with humungous 20-inch rear wheels and 40-Series Goodyear tires -- eons removed from an original muscle car's tenuous F60 bias-plys on 14-inch steelies -- it's still a simple matter of putting your left foot on the brake for just a moment while simultaneously standing on the accelerator and holding the engine against the converter, letting the revs build. In a moment, the huge V-8 overpowers the brakes, the tires break loose -- and off you go in an eye-watering haze of blue-white smoke and smoldering rubber.
The '05 SSR is capable of sizzling 5.4 second 0-60 times -- impressive by any standard but even more so when you reflect on the Pro Bowl linesman 5,000-lb. curb weight of this vehicle. It's roughly 1,500-lbs. heavier than a new Corvette yet it's still quicker than just about anything short of one. It will stay hard on the bumper of a Neon SRT-4 -- and is only 3-4 tenths of a second behind an '05 Mustang GT!