Best Muscle Cars

Can An Import Be a Muscle Car?

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By Dave Ashton

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We human beings love our categories and quite rightly so. They can seem restrictive, but they are also an easy way to identify groups of things. There will always be lots of debate over whether one thing has all the attributes to be in one category or another, but when it comes to muscle cars and pony cars, there are a few guidelines that allow you to join the club.

We want to be a muscle car
Today’s muscle cars are only a small slice of the whole automotive landscape. However, many other vehicles like to take on the label. It’s ironic really, as a full-blown American muscle car can have its detractors saying the huge displacement, huge weight and up until recently, things like an active rear axle are just clinging on to the ideals of the past. However, other cars still want the label of being a muscle cars.

Case in point with an article over at hotcars.com. The Title of the post is, ’25 Imports That Are Basically Muscle Cars.’ The post starts with quoting the Merriam-Webster online dictionary with the definition of a muscle car being, ‘any of a group of American-made 2-door sports coupes with powerful engines designed for high-performance driving.’ The definition is almost there, just missing out the words ‘V8’ and the article points out that the term is a little dated.

True, Muscle cars don’t have to be purely American to qualify, Australia being the next in line, but after that the term is stretched a bit. The article lists 25 imports vehicles starting with a 1998 Subaru Impreza and finishes at number one with a 2001 Caterham Levante. Surprisingly, there are others in there like a Toyota Supra, Mercedes, Aston Martin Vantage, even a 2018 Honda Civic type R. A Civic, sorry……no matter how good, just gets facepalmed by the muscle car community.


All of these vehicles come under the performance category and are outstanding in their own right, but are simply not muscle cars. Some have V8’s, some have only two doors, but it’s not the same. Although modern muscle cars now have the latest in handling performance, they still have a healthy dose of ‘raw’ fun and distinctive sound and design. The 2018 Astin Martin Vantage is one mighty beast of a car, but not a muscle car. It’s almost too refined to join the club. Astin Martins dine on fillet steak and champagne while a muscle car enjoys a quarter pounder burger, fries and beer. The same amount of beef and nutrition, just in two distinct packages.

Traditionally, the muscle car should also be accessible to the average guy pricewise. Dollars per horsepower is the name of the game. You can pick up a Dodge Challenger SRT 392 RWD for $49,495 with 485HP or a Hellcat for $65,495
with 707HP. Big displacement, as it is the way of things and supercar levels of horsepower for the same price as a luxury model from any other brand. Oh and rear wheel drive only thank you. Maybe muscle cars are a bit like blues music. It originated in America with a distinctive swing and feel, but the rest of the world has given just as good a contribution and as long as you stick to the original template, you can join the club.

If you want to stick to strict terminology, then imports can’t be muscle cars unless its Australian. On the other hand, if people want to label other vehicles as muscle cars, then it can be seen as a homage to the original breed and spreading the word even more, which isn’t a bad thing. Muscle cars, love them or hate them, it seems everyone wants to be one.

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