American tuner cars are not as popular as they once were. Many people prefer JDM and German-styled cars over American muscle.
American Tuner Cars
It’s not just a myth that American cars have more power and better performance. In fact, we’ve been making powerful sleepers for a while now. How exciting! Today, we’re going to take a look at some of these beasts from America. They’ll give you an energy boost like a can of Red Bull.
2003 – 2005 Dodge Neon SRT-4
Dodge made an affordable, fun car that was meant to be an everyday vehicle for everyone. This cute little sedan had a turbocharged 2.4-liter inline-four engine that gave you the power to customize your car however you wanted.
With that manual transmission and front-wheel drive, you’re going to be doing some sweet burnouts! And if you’re down to save the manuals, get a limited edition shirt from us! And even sweeter is the fact that the power of this SRT-4 is easy and cheap! Yep, easy and cheap.
You can easily get 300 horsepower out of your car by doing a little bit of modification. And if you want to get even more horsepower, you can do some serious modification. I’ve even seen cars that get up to 500 horses. Good luck with that wheel spin, though!
While the Neon was originally sold for about $20,000 new, I found one for about $5,000. The Neon is very reliable. If anything breaks, you can take it to an AutoZone and find parts just like that.
Although you can find powerful engines in many cars today, there is nothing like a naturally-aspirated V8. The Pontiac GTO was a prime example of a car with a powerful V8.
2004 – 2006 Pontiac GTO
The Pontiac GTO is a fire-breathing coupe with a muscle car heart. This sounds absolutely nuts! Now, depending on which model you choose, your GTO will have one of two engines. In 2004, the LS1 V8 gave the vehicle 350 horsepower. However, I recommend getting either a 2005 or 2006 with the LS2 V8. It was a monster with 400 horsepower!
To get really powerful, easy peasy, you can add some engine mods. With a manifold, an exhaust, and a tune, you’ll be up to 500 horsepower. And if you want to get even more power, you can add a supercharger. But if you want to go below 500 horsepower, don’t add the supercharger.
The coolest thing about this value ‘Vette is that you can get it for a good price. I found a 2005 Corvette GTO for $9,000. Getting a Corvette engine-powered coupe for $9,000 definitely sounds like fun.
But if you’re looking for something more practical, then the Focus ST is for you, my friend. It’s not the most practical car in the world, but it’s fun to drive and can be very practical for your everyday use.
2013 – 2018 Ford Focus ST
The Ford Focus ST is a hot hatch that will get you through the week! And if you want a fun, affordable, and practical car that you can also pick up a flatscreen in, the Ford Focus ST is perfect for you! And it’s so easy to tune!
This car is great. It’s fun to drive and easy to control. Really, it’s fast and exciting. You can get it with a 6-speed manual transmission for extra fun. The car pulls really hard without sliding around corners.
Now that you’ve learned about what makes a car fast, let’s talk about how to make it faster. Cobb Tuning sells an intake and exhaust. If you install those, you can get around 50 extra horsepower. But, if you want to go crazy, there are other options. A lot of people upgrade their turbo or even their whole engine. There are lots of options for easily getting more than 400 horsepower..
The most important thing to consider is the price of the hot hatchback. I found a 2014 ST for only $9,000. And you can probably talk that price down even more by using Ideal Car Strategies. The ST is one crazy tuner, but the next car takes it to the next level.
2003 – 2004 Ford Mustang SVT Cobra
Ford Mustang SVT Cobra is one of the most loved American cars ever built, and also one of the easiest to tune and modify. This high-horsepower pony was created by Ford to win races, but enthusiasts take it to the next level with performance upgrades. The other cool thing about this car is how easy it is to modify. It hosts a 4.6-liter supercharged V8, which makes 390 horsepower stock.
In 2003, you could get this much power from a turbocharged four cylinder. Nowadays, you can also get it from a V8 engine like the Hellcat’s, but back then this was really something!
The Terminator Cobra has a large fan base that enjoys modifying it. The Cobra is an immensely powerful sports car, and many fans of the model enjoy adding more power to it.
This car is pretty quick stock. An exhaust, pulley, and intake help the car breathe better and run faster. However, if you want to go fast, you can swap out the supercharger for a bigger and better one. That way you can get 700 horsepower from this horse-snake-Terminator thing.
Cool cars are hard to find. I found one of the best ones of all time, the Cobra. The first Terminator. It’s a convertible, it’s mean looking, and it’s cheap! Buy it now before it’s too late!
If you want a monster, the Dodge Challenger R/T is your pick. It’s a rear-wheel drive V8 American tuner that will give you the muscle car experience that you’re looking for.
2008 – 2019 Dodge Challenger R/T
Dodge’s Challenger R/T comes with a powerful engine and a larger-than-life handling characteristic. It’s a rear-wheel drive monster that can be hard to control without sliding into a wall. But if you can master this beast, then you have a super-lively, attention-grabbing, V8 monster.
The reason this car is on the list is because it has crazy tuning potential, and this V8 doesn’t disappoint. This engine is one of the most restricted from the factory, but luckily, with some help from an intake, exhaust headers, a downpipe and a tune, you can unleash it.
You can make a car go from 0 to 60 mph in 3.5 seconds, but if you want to take corners even faster, you can upgrade to a supercharger kit. That will give you more than 500 horsepower and send your car from 0 to 60 mph in 2.8 seconds.
There are tons of 2010 R/T models for sale. They’re available in every color and year. They’re all the same body design with just minor updates. So, go find one that fits your needs and budget.
Dodge has handed out a cabin upgrade for 2015, which is equipped with some new infotainment systems and dash. You can choose any year, but opt for a rear-wheel drive beast that will let you mod it however you want.
1999 – 2004 Ford SVT Lightning
The Ford SVT Lightning looks so cool, it’s like our boy Brian O’Connor. Also known as Paul Walker! Why not watch our Ideal video on the Skyline Paul owned?
In any case, the new Ford F-150 is a hot new truck. It’s not only fast and exciting to drive, but it’s a tuner’s dream. Ford’s high-end racing division SVT, the same team that brought us the Terminator Cobra, decided to make this regular old truck not only fast and fun to drive, but a tuner’s dream as well.
The 1999 Ford Lightning came with a 5.4-liter supercharged V8 producing about 360 horsepower! That was a pretty great number — especially for 1999!
If you want to get more power out of your engine, you can put on some aftermarket parts. Now, you can just get a new air filter or some spark plugs, which will boost performance slightly. Or, you can get a new set of pistons or an entire new supercharger. I’ve seen cars that have new superchargers making up to 550 horsepower.
This car is not too hard to find if you do some digging. I found a sweet red one for just under $12,000. But you know what’s cooler than driving Brian O’Connor’s truck of choice? It would be driving our ideal car… the Eagle Talon!
1990 – 1994 DSM Eagle Talon
The Eagle Talon is a turbo all-wheel drive car with JDM roots. In 1985, Mitsubishi and Chrysler teamed up to build Diamond Star Motors, which made the Eagle Talon in 1990. What makes it great is that it can be tuned to beat supercars. The three diamonds of Mitsubishi and the pentastar of Chrysler came together to make Diamond Star Motors back in 1985. But, in 1990, they made the Holy Grail of “American” tuners
This car came in front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive. It came with either a naturally-aspirated or turbo Mitsubishi 2.0-liter inline-4. It was fast, and you can really feel that speed when you’re driving an all-wheel drive turbo version. This car was quick enough to get you into trouble, but felt safe at the same time.
However, if you modify the Talon, get a bigger engine, and other little bits and bobs, you’re going to be knocking on 1,000 horsepower’s door. Let me say that again. 1,000 horsepower! From a Chrysler-Mitsubishi mess! That’s right!
I found a 1994 1st generation turbo all-wheel drive Talon for just $2,500. It’s sad that people love to drag these things around. However, I was able to find one at a great price. This is the cheapest American tuner on this list and has the most potential, making it a certified Ideal deal.