What criteria are muscle cars rated on? Power, speed, handling and, of course, looks. What about pricing? Most reviews and ratings of muscle cars do not factor in the cost of purchase and ownership. Muscle-car owners who are not billionaires know that high-performance automobiles have a much higher maintenance cost than run of the mill vehicles. You can check the price of the parts in one of the leading online retailers of performance auto parts for muscle cars, such as Lightning Force Performance. This is why we took a break from the usual ‘wish list’ ratings that consider cars only millionaires can afford to own and operate. Our list, instead, comprises of those muscle cars that are actually on the streets and in garages in the thousands.
1. 1999-04 Ford Lightning
The second gen SVT Lightning provokes extreme reactions. Whether it evokes hate or love, it cannot be ignored. Some are wondering whether the idea of a high-performance truck is cool or dumber than selling fridges to Eskimos. Regardless of your take, the 240 hp 5.8 point liter engine is true to the SVT tradition of sticking a large engine in a small car for predictable results: extreme performance. For instance, the F-150 gets to 60 mph in under six seconds when laboring under 1000 pounds.
On the other hand, trucks are naturally slow. They weigh more than comparable sedans and have a higher center of gravity. In order to achieve extreme performance, the SVT lightning has extreme consumption, which makes it expensive to run. For counterbalance, the model’s performance auto parts are affordable. When shopping for one, there are a few issues you should keep in mind. The 1999 model had a leaky intercooler, but this was fixed in the 2001 model. The 2001 model had cylinder head issues that were fixed in the 2003 model, which is the best buy in the series.
2. 2003-04 SVT Cobra
While the street-legal racing version of the SVT Cobra is the undisputed king of Detroit muscle cars, the top of the line debut model of the SVT team is one of the best performance autos ever built. The 2003-04 Cobra, the last ever built, set the bar for the entire series and muscle cars in general. The 2003 model has a superb chassis that made it the best handling Cobra ever made. It also shared superchargers with F-150 Lightning that boosted its output an incredible 390 hp. The end result is a head-turning car that goes 0-50 mph in 5.3 seconds and handles like a dream.
Performance comes at a cost. As such, the Cobra is not cheap to run and can never be popular with environmentalists. However, it’s parts are widely available at affordable prices. Another con on the car is that every time the engine is pushed hard, the adrenaline, rash-causing roar from the exhaust is accompanied by an irritating whine from the supercharger.
3. 2007-14 Shelby Cobra GT500
In the early 2000’s, Ford broke the hearts of many a performance car lover when they dissolved the SVT team and integrated them into the mainstream. The team had just completed a brand new design of the SVT Mustang Cobra, which ford licensed to Carroll Shelby in 2006. The SVT design was built as the 2007 Ford Shelby GT500, which wooed the public with its classic looks and best-of-class performance. The vehicle is a breeze to handle and its maintenance costs are not unmanageable.