Sports cars don’t represent performance alone but also agility, luxury, speed, and societal status. Global markets rely heavily on sports car brands to feed the rising hunger among young and aged drivers.
Consequently, American sports car brands are among the best brands on sale globally. What does a sports car have that makes it unique?
This question sometimes perplexes those who would prefer more practical cars. Sports cars don’t have the space to accommodate more people and luggage. However, they continue to thrill many people worldwide.
Many people point to the design as the most attractive aspect of a sports car. These sports cars sometimes have incredible designs and more power than the average passenger car. Nevertheless, they are nowhere near supercar brands in speed and performance.
Take a brief look at the 1966 Lamborghini Miura, and you will still have an appealing feature despite having outdated design elements.
You can say the same thing about other car brands like the Ford Mustang that gripped the world during its release.
The first thing that stands out in a sports car design is the driving experience. Everything from the engine to the handling works together to give a pleasurable experience.
As a result, you literarily fly through the clouds once you put your foot on the gas pedal. In the past, American sports car brands have been known for raw power and loud sounding engines.
They did not particularly mind the aerodynamic silhouette that other global sports car brands carried. However, we are seeing some improvements in this aspect in recent times.
Hop into the train as we explore the best American sports car brands, outlining their best features. Indeed, it is going to be a thrilling ride.
Table of Contents
- 1. Ford Mustang
- 2. Dodge Viper
- 3. Chevrolet Corvette
- 4. Chevrolet Camaro
- 5. Saleen S7
- 6. Tesla Roadster
- 7. Vector W8
- 8. Dodge Viper
- 9. Panoz Esperante GT
- 10. VLF Force 1
- 11. Mosler MT900
1. Ford Mustang
Ford has continued to roll out Mustangs from its factories since 1964. The Mustang is the longest-produced Ford car in continuous production and became the fifth-best selling Ford car nameplate in its sixth generation.
The Mustang shares a similar name with the pony car automobile segment. Ford developed it as a highly advanced line of sporty coupes and convertibles, building from existing model lines. Initially, it had a long hood and short deck proportion as its distinguishing feature.
From 1965 to 2004, the Mustang had similar chassis to other Ford model lines, having a rear-wheel-drive design throughout its production. A brief look from 1965 to 1973 would reveal that Ford built the Mustang out of the Ford Pinto. After that, they turned to the Fox platform chassis.
Relief came when Ford produced two generations of the Mustang with distinct platforms from 2005. Barely a year ago, Ford brought back the Mach 1 after a protracted 17-year absence. Nevertheless, the new Mach 1 uses the current 5.0L engine with GT350 parts.
Fans will love the new Mustang Mach 1 as Ford increased its power to four hundred and eighty break horsepower at 7,000 rpm and 420 Ib.ft of torque. It comes coupled with the lightweight Tremec six-speed manual transmission, the same as the GT350.
Finally, the Mustang is the choice if you need a car that blends performance with raw power.
2. Dodge Viper
In 2021, Dodge Challenger climbed to the top spot as the best-selling sports car, slightly outselling the Ford Mustang. Also, the increase of 15.1 percent in sales compared to 202 shows an improved acceptability rating.
There must be something special about this sports car brand. It is not surprising that the Dodge challenger has an unchallenged spot among American sports car brands.
The brand has been around since the 1970s, driving sports car enthusiasts on the American race tracks. Notwithstanding, it found extensive use in the drag racing segment.
The initial first-generation Challenger had the platform of the Chrysler E, sharing body styles with the Plymouth Barracuda. It rolled out the production line between 1970 and 1974, and the second generation had a different design.
Dodge built the second generation using the badge-engineered Mitsubishi Galant Lambda, a coupe version of the compact model. However, Dodge did not introduce the third generation until early 2008, and it rivaled the fifth-generation Mustang and the Chevrolet Camaro.
Dodge went ahead to add Gold Rush on the T/A 392, T/A, SRT Hellcat, and the SRT Hellcat Redeye models. Also, the T/A 292 and the R/T Scat Pack Shaker boast a wide-body option. You can grab the 20-inch wheels and tires on any standard variant of the GT AWD model.
3. Chevrolet Corvette
Widely touted as one of the American supercar brands, this sports car has survived decades. The two-passenger luxury sports car has been around for 60 years, having eight design generations. Also, from 1953 to 2019, it came with a front-engine replaced by a mid-engine.
Colloquially known as the Vette, this American sports car brand climbed into the supercar segment when it adopted the mid-engine design. All the generations from the C1 to C8 have served as Chevrolet’s Halo vehicle, having insane performance.
The Chevrolet Corvette can come with fiberglass or composite for the distinctive bodywork, which has made it famous among American sports car brands. The Automotive News wrote that the Corvette became synonymous with adventure and freedom.
Ultimately, the Corvette has become the most successful concept car in history and the most widely celebrated sports car.
The C8, the eight-generation Corvette, comes with a naturally aspirated 6.2-liter V8 engine called the LT2. About 495 horsepower spins out from this engine with 47 Ib.ft of torque. However, the C8 is the first Corvette without a traditional manual transmission.
Another notable innovation in the new generation Corvette is that the convertible variant is the first to offer a retractable hard-top. In addition, 2023 will see the debut of the Corvette C8 Z06, which features 670 horsepower from an innovative double overhead cam flat-plane crank V8.
4. Chevrolet Camaro
The Chevrolet Camaro is another car with popularity among American sports car brands. This mid-size automobile first rolled out on September 29, 1966, for the 1967 model year, and its primary purpose was to rival the widely celebrated Ford Mustang.
The initial Camaro’s shared its platform with the Firebird that rolled out of the production facility of Chevy’s sister division Pontiac. It continued to gladden the hearts of sports car enthusiasts until production ended in 2002.
Nevertheless, Chevrolet revived the nameplate with a concept car that evolved into the 5th generation Camaro. Production began on March 16, 2009, with Chevrolet selling over 5 million Camaros.
The 6th generation Camaro rolled in at the Belle Isle Park in Detroit on May 16, 2015. It came with LT and SS models from the GM Alpha platform at Lansing Grand River Assembly, Michigan. Also, the launch had the previous generation models on display to celebrate the vehicle’s upcoming 50th birthday.
Cadillac ATS uses the Alpha platform as well. Chevrolet managed to reduce the weight of the 2016 Camaro by 200 Ib compared to the predecessor. In addition, the sixth generation has over 70% unique architectural components not shared by any other GM product.
The ZL1 1LE package rolled in for the Camaro in the 2018 model year. Subsequently, it bested the ZL1 Camaro around the General Motors’ Milford Road course by three seconds faster. New and improved aerodynamics with a racing-inspired adjustable suspension aided in its performance.
In addition, the ZL1 1Le comes with forged aluminum wheels that are forged and paired with Goodyear Eagle F1 supercar 3R tires.
5. Saleen S7
Saleen S7 became America’s sixth mid-engine production sports car after being the first fully proprietary car made by Saleen. It followed the likes of Pontiac Fiero, Consulier GTP, Mosler Raptor, Vector W8, and M12 with its mid-engine design.
The S7 had its first appearance at the August 19, 2001, Monterey Historic Races. Moreover, the all-aluminum engine prides itself as a proprietary unit developed in-house.
It shares similar architecture with the Ford’s 351 Windsor small-block engine, albeit with Cleveland-style canted valve heads.
This hand-built high-performance American sports car brand has its entire carbon-fiber body. It literarily flies with the scoops, spoilers, and other aerodynamic designs incorporated to create a split channel airflow.
The Saleen S7 creates its downforce at 160 miles per hour. Furthermore, it has a lush leather interior with aluminum accents throughout the cabin. You will have the freedom to store your luggage in two trunks because of the mid-engine design.
Other features include a rear-view camera, an LCD monitor, and a quick-release steering wheel. The seats are fixed, but Saleen positioned the driver’s seat towards the center to improve visibility and weight distribution.
Those looking for a quick-accelerating sports car will be happy that the Saleen S7 goes from 0 to 60 in 2.8 seconds, an impressive record among American sports car brands. With a top speed of 240 miles per hour, this car can reach a quarter-mile in 11.35 seconds.
Indeed, we can still do more with a naturally aspirated engine, as shown in the Saleen S7.
6. Tesla Roadster
As much as ignition engines dominate this list of American sports car brands, getting a throwback to the all-electric Tesla roadster is fun. This car had features light years ahead of its gas-powered counterparts.
The Tesla Roadster hit 60 miles per hour in less than 4.5 seconds, running on only electric power. The presence of electric motors gives you an instant lunge when you step on the accelerator pedal.
Notwithstanding, the Tesla Roadster shares many design similarities with the British Lotus Elise. Elon Musk began teasing people about the new Roadster in 2011, although production has once again been delayed till 2022.
In June 2018, Elon Musk announced a potential SpaceX option package for the upcoming Roadster. The package would add ten cold gas thrusters to improve the car’s maneuverability. An electric pump will recharge an air tank providing compressed air.
The Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy rockets have seen the use of these air tanks based on composite overwrapped pressure vessels (COPV). The thrusters will improve cornering, top speed, acceleration, and braking, and the working pressure will be ten thousand pounds per square inch.
7. Vector W8
If you don’t mind an old spice, check out this sports car American automobile manufacturer Vector Aeromotive Corporation offered between 1089 to 1993. The company founder and chief designer Gerald Wiegert designed the car, but Vector’s head of engineering made some refinements.
Vector W2, demonstrated throughout the 1980s, served as the prototype for the W8 that went into production. Also, the company claimed that the car could accelerate from zero to sixty miles per hour in 3.9 seconds.
Vector maid claims that the W8 could attain a top speed of 242 miles per hour since the W2 hit that number during testing at the Bonneville Salt Flats. The W8 design had slight changes to the body during production, resulting in a different look from the initial car.
These changes included a lower front fascia and air splitter, eliminating some grills, adjusting the front grill, and changing the rear wing. After the top speed testing, Vector removed the removable glass roof because of buffeting at extreme speeds.
This American sports car brand made seventeen production vehicles and two pre-production ones before going into receivership in 1993.
8. Dodge Viper
The Dodge Viper is an American sports car that has enjoyed a thrilling run from 1992 to 2017 despite a brief break in 2007. Dodge is a division of the American car manufacturer FCA US LLC. 1991 saw the first two-seat sports car production at the New Mack Assembly plant.
The Dodge Viper has a top speed ranging from one hundred and sixty miles per hour to two hundred miles per hour. Also, the time it takes to accelerate from 0 – 60 mph varies between 3.5 seconds and 4.5 seconds.
Ralph Gilles announced that the next-generation Viper would debut at the New York Auto Show in April 2012. Dodge unveiled the 2013 SRT Viper at the show with an exciting specifications sheet to keep his promise.
The new Viper had the following specs:
- An all-aluminum 8.4-liter V10 engine, giving 640 horsepower and 600 Ib.ft of torque at 6,150 rpm.
- A Tremec TR6060 6-speed manual transmission with a drive ratio of 3.55, resulting in a 50% improvement in torsional stiffness over the previous model.
- Several safety features include traction control, electronic stability control, carbon fiber/aluminum skin, and a 4-channel anti-lock brake system. Also included were 4-piston Brembo brakes with fixed aluminum calipers and Pirelli P Zero tires.
- 20 mm lower seating position, Uconnect RA3 or RA4 Access in-vehicle connectivity system with optional SiriusXM Travel Link and a 7-inch full-color customizable instrument cluster.
- LED turn signals, Bi-xenon projector headlamps with white light-emitting diode (LED) daytime running lamps, and LED taillamps integrating stop-and-turn illumination and snakeskin texture lens.
Despite having impressive stats, Chrysler had to discontinue the Viper because of difficulty complying with the FMVSS 226 safety regulation, which requires side curtain airbags.
9. Panoz Esperante GT
The 2000 Panoz Esperante had high hopes of getting a big chunk of the U.S. sports cars segment, but it did not. It had the same mechanical underpinnings that defined the Ford Mustang and several other components.
Surprisingly, this American carmaker did a good job on the design with a slow start and an extended learning curve. The Esperante GT arrived in the consumer market in 2000, providing an unparalleled roadster experience, and this feature stood out among American sports car brands.
The company’s founder, Dan Panoz, was not afraid of using racing solutions for his street-legal vehicle. An aluminum body and subframes ensured the car weighed less than other competitors despite having a V8 engine.
Panoz Esperante featured an aerodynamically shaped bodywork with tear-shaped headlights and a power dome on the hood. It stood out with its all-aluminum hard-top in addition to the standard ragtop. Also, the four-round taillights were proprietary and original.
Panoz had an ambition for the Esperante as it took inspiration from the iconic BMW Z8 with a center-mounted instrument panel. This setup resembled the aged Ford Mustang. In addition, Esperante came with high-bolstered bucket seats to provide great side support for both occupants.
You will find more Ford Mustang components when you look under the bodywork. It wasn’t only the engine and gearbox Esperante took from the Mustang; and the Independent rear suspension and the four-wheel anti-lock brake system came from the Mustang.
10. VLF Force 1
The VLF Force 1 is the American sports car from the recently formed manufacturer VFL Automotive. This car has its foundations in the Dodge Viper, with automobile designer Henrik Fisker in the lead role.
Interestingly, VFL formed partnerships with American racing driver and Viper enthusiast Ben Keating during the building of Force 1. This way, the company leveraged his experience in developing the car’s engine.
VFL unveiled the Force 1 V10 at the 2016 Detroit Auto Show to much fanfare. Subsequently, the company decided on the 50 vehicles mark for the sports car model.
The Force 1 V10 uses an 8.4-liter V10 engine like its counterpart from the American sports car brand, Dodge Viper. This engine sends out an immense power of 640 hp and 600 Ib.ft of torque. However, VFL ramped up the power in Force 1, giving it 745 hp and 638 Ib.ft of torque.
The above adjustments enabled Force 1 to hit a top speed of 218 miles per hour and go from 0 – 60 mph in 3. seconds. Force 1’s engine has its center of mass behind the front axle but sits between the cabin and the front axle. As a result, the vehicle’s handling got better.
Henrik Fisker, the chief exterior designer of Force 1’s exterior, is famous for his work on the BMW Z8 and the Aston Martin DB9. Indeed, you can find many similarities between Force 1 and other American sports car brands.
The Force 1 has an elongated hood, a carbon-fiber body, a long tapered rear section, and protruding wheels. Six functional intake and outlet vents feature at the sharp-angled front side. However, the rear of the car has only one large outlet vent.
You can find ultra-thin lights at both the front and the rear.
11. Mosler MT900
Mosler Automotive produced the Mosler MT900 sports car in the United States and the United Kingdom. Subsequently, it made three sub-models with the MT900R as the racing version.
In 2005, Mosler updated the original car to the MT900s with the MT900s Photon offered as a performance package. Nevertheless, the MT900 finished its production run as the MT900s in 2011 after nearly a decade.
Officially, Mosler has completed the production of 35 road variants and fifty racing versions. The company made the MT900 with a carbon-fiber chassis, and an LS6 V8 engine mounted amidships. Consequently, the MT900 had a rear-wheel-drive system.
About 350 hp and 350 Ib.ft of torque came from the LS6 V8 engine, paired with a ZF transaxle from Porsche. However, Mosler chose to mount the transaxle upside down to give room to the engine in front of the rear axle.
The exterior will reveal a design solely made for aerodynamics to keep the drag coefficient at 0.25. After several changes, the MT900 metamorphosed into the MT900s with 435 hp from the Corvette Z06 derived LS6 V8 engine.
An early prototype MT900s reached 60 miles per hour from zero in 3.5 seconds despite gaining an extra 177kg in weight.
In early 2006, Car and Driver tested a newer edition with 600 hp, accelerating from 0 to 60 miles per hour in 3.1 seconds.
Sports cars continue to break the boundaries of speed and agility, and they perfectly balance your average passenger car and the brilliant and roaring supercars. Furthermore, sports cars have seen extensive usage in track racing.
People who buy sports cars usually do so for their appealing looks and speed. They can speed through the city as long as the traffic is clear. Also, you can use them on the track to have a little bit of fun with other track enthusiasts.
American sports car brands have distinct body designs from their global counterparts. It may be hard to find the sleek curves present in other sports cars on the American models. Nevertheless, the American sports cars have a unique shape that speaks of their proud heritage.
If I were to pick my favorite American sports car, I’d go for the Ford Mustang because of its rich history. This vehicle has attained legendary status among American sports car brands.
Let me know your choice for the best American sports car brand in the comments. In addition, please share this with your friends and fellow sports car enthusiasts.