10 American Sports Cars That Will Last You A Lifetime

10 American Sports Cars That Will Last You A Lifetime

The current crop of American sports cars are just about as good as anything the rest of the world can serve up. Brands like Chevrolet, Dodge and Ford are at the top of their game right now, which is an ode to how technically good the engineering behind them is.

While the Europeans may have steamed ahead in previous years, that couldn’t be further from the script these days. You want a track monster? The barely street legal Dodge Viper ACR will do the trick for you. You want an adrenaline rush at a set of lights? The 1,000-hp Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 Exorcist from Hennessey has you covered.

There’s no doubting the number of quality American performance cars out there, but when you throw a few legacy cars in the mix, how many of them can truly be considered as lifelong favorites? Let’s take a look at 10 of the very best American sports cars ever made, and why they’d last you a lifetime.

10 Ford GT (First Generation)

Via: Ford

There are two reasons why the first-gen Ford GT makes an unquestionable appearance on this list. The first is because it is the road-legal embodiment of the GT40, which may just be the most iconic American sports car ever made. The second is due to its incredible performance. It’s weird to think that such an uncivilized car is actually quite … civilized … when it needs to be.

The reason a GT will last you a lifetime is specifically for that reason: it’s a GT car. It’s comfortable and quiet when you’re mile-munching and doing the school run, but its fuel consumption drops to a ridiculous amount when you open the taps up on its 5.4-liter supercharged V8. There are so many reasons why the 2005-2006 Ford GT is special, and deserving of a place on our list.

9 Hennessey Venom F5

Hennessey-Venom_F5-2021 (Gray) - Front
Via: Hennessey

You just cannot ignore what the Hennessey brand’s founder and CEO, John Hennessey, has done for the American car scene. When your company has gone toe-to-toe with the likes of Bugatti and Koenigsegg for the title of the fastest car in the world, you can sleep well knowing your legacy will live long. And the crown jewel in that legacy, as it stands, is the Venom F5.

There’s a strong argument to be had that it deserves to be the new face of hypercar royalty, and given that only 24 ever being built, you’d possess a car that’s as rare as it is ridiculous. The 1,817-hp and 1,193 pounds of torque from its 6.6-liter twin-turbocharged V8 will leave you speechless every single time.

8 Saleen S7

Via: Saleen

The 2000s spawned a number of fantastic cars, competing for records and titles during a new dawn of performance. The Saleen S7 is a collector’s dream, and the reasons for that are simple. Not only is it incredibly rare and wonderfully pretty, but the S7 has a jaw-dropping 248mph top speed estimate.

The S7 has also had a number of big screen appearances, including in the music video for “Candy Shop” by 50 cent, and in Jim Carey’s “Bruce Almighty”. In 2017, a special edition model was actually commissioned to commemorate the S7’s achievements in motorsport, with Bring A Trailer even auctioning one with just 158 miles on the clock.

Related: 10 Best Sports Cars Under $50,000

7 Ford Mustang GT500 (First Generation)

Via: Ford

Even now, nearly 60 years on from its launch, the first-gen Ford Mustang is as coveted as it is desirable. This may be one car on this list that isn’t so much about the performance and driving pleasure, but rather, the character that exudes from every corner of its perfectly woven body.

It’s cool without even trying, and without doubt has one of the most storied careers in Hollywood out of any car ever made. A gray Fastback was used in “Fast and Furious Tokyo Drift”, while Nicholas Cage’s “Gone In 60 Seconds” featured the legendary Roush 427 called Eleanor. Let’s not forget the late, great Ken Block’s 1,400-hp Hoonicorn Ford Mustang. How can a car with that much fame and history not last you a lifetime? We’d opt for a ’67 GT500: a sports car that has enough engine noise to burst your eardrums.

6 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1

Chevrolet Camaro-ZL1-1LE-(White)---Front
Via: Chevrolet

Camaro’s haven’t always been known for being great cars, but the current generation is proving that narrative wrong entirely. The Camaro ZL1 is so special, and definitely among the very best American sports cars ever made. It’s also the perfect metaphor for the new school of American heavyweights: fast, noisy and as good as anything Europe can throw down.

650-hp, 650 pounds of torque and a 0-60mph sprint in under 3.5 seconds makes for an all-action experience, and the fact that you have the option of a six-speed manual, over the standard 10-speed automatic, is music to our ears. Of course, you have the 1,000-hp Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 from Hennessey, called the Exorcist, but for a lifetime run, we think the toned down option would keep you happier.

5 Shelby Cobra

Blue 1966 Shelby Cobra 427 Super Snake on the road
Via: Mecum Auctions

The evergreen legacy of Carroll Shelby, there’s absolutely no way this list is complete without one of the most macho classic cars ever built. Like the first-gen Mustang, the Cobra has an instantly recognizable body. It’s bulbous and taut, but extremely handsome at the same time.

And just like its fellow classic cars, the rumble that emanates from its 4.7-liter Ford V8 is a real crowd pleaser. Sadly, over the years there have been many Shelby Cobra replicas, and some are actually so well-built that the differences are threadbare. It doesn’t in any way diminish the Cobra’s legend, but it does feel like its exclusivity has taken a hit. Still, what a car to run your life with.

Related: 10 Safest Sports Cars With The Best Crash Test Ratings

4 SSC Ultimate Aero

Via: Mecum Auctions

Despite the SSC Tuatara reaching 295mph, which is a ridiculous feat in itself, it shouldn’t be considered as the car that defines the brand. Rather, that accolade has simply got to be reserved for the car that went toe to toe with the Bugatti Veyron and won. The SSC Ultimate Aero may not be the most beautifully sculpted car, but it is undeniably one of America’s most important ones ever.

It has a top speed of 257mph, thanks to a 6.2-liter V8 that was supercharged between the 2004 and 2006 models, and then turbocharged until retirement. The record-breaking speed icon that is the TT variation is the one we’re interested in here, because in its most potent form, it produced 1,287-hp and proved American sports cars could compete with just about anything else the world could throw up.

3 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray ZL-1 (1969)

1969 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray ZL-1 Orange Front Aerial View
Via: RM Sotheby’s

Here’s one to really ruffle your feathers. Did you know the 1969 Chevrolet Corvette ZL-1 is the rarest Vette ever made? Just look at it: the car oozes style and swagger from every section of its flawless body shell, and recaptures the mood of the wonderful decade that was the 60s to a T.

This specific Stingray ZL-1, however, is a one of one. It’s the rarest car Chevrolet has ever made, and was never intended to become a public car, but the future had other ideas. It auctioned for $3.14 million at an RM Sotheby’s event in Arizona earlier this year, and that should tell you all you need to know about why this could be the perfect car to befriend for life.

2 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 (Sixth Generation)

Shelby GT500 - Front
Via: Ford 

We don’t usually like to repeat cars in lists, but an exception can be made for the Ford Mustang Shelby GT500; arguably the best all-round American sports car on sale right now. We say sports car, but you’d be forgiven for thinking it is a supercar in disguise, such is the overall performance provided by the GT500.

It’s a shame that Ford can’t officially sell the Shelby Mustang GT500 in Europe, and rather, us Brits need to go through the minefield of rules and regulations to get one imported. But with a Nürburgring time that’s quicker than a Lamborghini Gallardo Superleggera LP570-4, and a V8 outcry to die for, we think the import route is absolutely worth it.

Related: 10 Best Sports Cars With The Lowest Maintenance Costs

1 Dodge Viper (SR II)

1995 Dodge Viper RT10
Via: Hagerty

Not only is the second-gen Dodge Viper among the most famous sports cars ever made, but it has amassed a huge cult following thanks to its superb engine and intimidating demeanor. Quite simply, it’s one of North America’s most iconic sports cars of all-time, rightfully earning that reputation across five generations before retiring in 2017.

It’s also well-documented that the V10-powered Dodge Viper was a difficult sports car to tame, gaining notoriety for its lack of driver aids, heavy steering and clunky manual gearbox. It very much comes from an era where driving felt like exercise, and that’s why it’s so loved. The icing on the cake is its fantastic design, which is as in-your-face as its exhaust note. We’d happily run one for a lifetime.