Automakers aren’t holding their horses

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Remember Tom Cruise’s iconic quote from Top Gun, “I feel the need…the need for speed?” That really sums up the way a lot of people feel about their cars.

While fuel economy has been getting a lot of attention, it’s not what motivates every driver.  Even people who drive prim and proper gas sippers in their real lives may dream about slipping behind the wheel of a sexy, throaty high-performance ride. Are you someone who feels the need for speed? Automakers are ready and willing to indulge your passion.

TotalCarScore.com’s list of the “10 Fastest Cars of 2013” includes three Ferraris, two Lamborghinis, a Bentley and a McLaren. European nameplates may still dominate, but American manufacturers are reasserting themselves, claiming back cred they lost when muscle cars lost consumer focus to high-efficiency machines. On this list, the Chevrolet Corvette ZR1 comes in at sixth place in a three-way tie, and the SRT Viper takes fifth place.

None of these cars is designed for people who are looking for the best fuel economy, although they are easier on the environment today than they were 20 years ago. They’re about going fast and handling well – and costing a lot of money. The Bugatti Veyron Super Sport can go 268 mph, but it costs $2.4 million. American automotive technology clearly has some bragging rights and it’s quite a bit less expensive. The Corvette does a smoking 205 mph for $111,600; the Viper clocks in at 206 mph and has a price tag that starts at about $100,000

The Corvette ZR1 was this year’s Indianapolis 500 Pace Car. Wired.com said, “Supercars exist to provide insanity. And few mass-produced, warrantied machines are more insane than this.” It has a 6.2-liter LS9 V-8 producing 638 hp that Chevrolet says will go 205 mph.

Chevy’s Camaro ZL1 costs about half as much as the ‘Vette, about $54,000, and it recently was dubbed, “the most race-track-ready Camaro ever.” It can do 60 mph in 3.9 seconds and has a top speed of 184 mph with its 580 horsepower, 6.2-liter supercharged V8 engine.

MotorWeek.com named the Mustang Boss 302 its 2012 “Best of the Year” Drivers’ Choice Award. Sporting a 444 hp, 5.0-liter twin-cam V8, the Boss is, “…the best example this year of a car where all aspects of engineering come together.” You can have it for $41,000. More powerful still, the Shelby GT500 has 662 hp, 5.8-liter V-8 engine and all Ford will say is that its top speed exceeds 200 mph, making it the most powerful muscle car on the market. It’s priced just under $50,000.

The SRT Viper has shed the Dodge name. After a two-year production hiatus, it made its debut at the 2012 New York Auto Show with a V-10 engine that develops 640 hp, about 10 hp more than the old Viper, but it’s shed some weight, which allowed it to pick up speed.

Car & Driver calls the Dodge Charger SRT8 Super Bee, “a modern interpretation of those uninhibited pavement scorchers of yesteryear.” Both it and the Challenger SRT8 Yellow Jacket have 470 hp, 6.4-liter V-8s that can set any performance car enthusiast’s hair on fire. Both cars are in the low-to-mid $40k range.

Are you surprised to see Cadillac on these lists? The CTS-V won About.com’s Readers’ Choice Award for Best Performance Car and was named one of Car & Driver’s 10 Best Cars of 2012: “The Ace, King and Queen of the American Fleet,” with a 556 hp supercharged, intercooled V-8 engine that can do 0-60 in 4.3 seconds, all for about $65,000.

Of course, if your objective is speed with a German, Japanese or Korean accent, there are plenty of choices, too. But that’s another column. Stay tuned.

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About timwjackson

Working every day for a better Colorado.
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