American sports and supercars tend to get a bad rap. They are often criticized for being crude, having poor build quality, lacking refinement, and focusing on straight-line speed over handling. While that may be true of some specific models, it is not true of every supercar America has produced.
Every so often, America produces a supercar that is faster and more outrageous than anything the European establishment can make. Here’s a look at six of the best supercars to come out of America.
Vector W8 – 1989
We cannot discuss American supercars without mentioning the completely wild Vector W8. Produced from 1989 to 1993, Vector Aeromotive Corporation created a wedge-shaped supercar that made Ferraris and Lamborghinis look boring.
The exterior styling was wild, the interior was inspired by a fighter jet, and the W8 was powered by a 6.0-liter Rodeck Racing twin-turbocharged V8 with adjustable boost that could produce between 625 and 1,200 horsepower. However, the entire drivetrain was let down by a GM-sourced three-speed automatic transmission from an ancient FWD Oldsmobile.
The W8 looked outrageous, had a shocking amount of power, and a claimed 0 to 60 mph time of 3.9 seconds with a top speed of 242 mph.
Saleen S7 – 2000
The Saleen name should be familiar to Ford fans. The company got its start modifying and racing Mustangs in the 1980s. Today, the company still tunes Ford cars and trucks for customers.
In 2000, Saleen started production of the S7. The S7 is a mid-engined, hand-built supercar powered by a 7.0-liter V8, in standard form, or available with two turbos in the Twin Turbo model. Power ranges from 550 horsepower to 750 horsepower, giving the S7 epic performance. MotorTrend tested the S7 in 2006 and recorded a 0 to 60 mph time of 3.4 seconds. Saleen claims a top speed of 248 mph.
The S7’s biggest success came in racing. S7s have won in the FIA GT Championship, 24 Hours of Le Mans, British GT Championship, and many others.
SSC Ultimate Aero – 2004
SSC North America built the Ultimate Aero from 2004 to 2013. Several versions of the car have been produced, with the ultimate Ultimate Aero being the twin-turbocharged version. In this spec, the mid-engined supercar produced 1,287 horsepower from a highly-modified Chevrolet LS6 6.3-liter V8.
The performance of the Ultimate Aero was stunning. 0 to 60 mph came in 2.7 seconds and it could reach a top speed of 254 mph. The Ultimate Aero was the fastest car in the world until Bugatti introduced the Veyron Super Sports.
All of this performance and speed came without AWD, without ABS, and without any traction control or driver assistance systems. It took a brave driver to test the limits of the SSC Ultimate Aero.
Ford GT – 2005
The Ford GT debuted in 2005 as an homage to the original, world-beating GT40 race cars of the 1960s. Ford pulled out all the stops in making the GT, enlisting Carroll Shelby to help develop the supercar and Saleen Special Vehicles to build it.
Power came from a supercharged 5.4-liter V8 with 550 horsepower. That propelled the GT from 0 to 60 mph in 3.3 seconds and onward to a top speed of 205 mph. Although the GT was meant to be a tribute car, its performance, handling, and design made it one of the greatest supercars and an all-time classic.
Dodge Viper ACR – 2016
Dodge produced the first Viper in 1991. Made mostly of truck components wrapped in a curvaceous body, it was a striking car that looked incredible, was fast in a straight line, but handled like a dump truck.
Over the years, Dodge and then SRT refined the Viper formula culminating in the Viper ACR of 2016. Powered by an enormous 8.4-liter V10 engine producing 645 horsepower, the Viper ACR (American Club Racing) was meant for just one thing… fast lap times.
The ACR package added a splitter, dive planes, a rear diffuser, and a big rear wing to produce around 2,000 pounds of downforce. The suspension is fully adjustable, and Kumho partnered with Dodge to make special tires for the car. The sum of all of this is a car that can absolutely monster a race track. It is still one of the best street-legal track cars ever.
Chevrolet Corvette C8 Z06 – 2023
No list of American supercars would be complete without at least one Corvette. Chevrolet has steadily evolved the Corvette every year since it was introduced in 1953, and the latest version, the C8 Z06, is the best of the bunch.
The Corvette is now a mid-engine supercar, and in Z06 form comes with a 5.5-liter, DOHC, flat-plane crank V8 producing 670 horsepower. This engine is every bit as sophisticated and technologically advanced as anything on the market right now. Chevrolet claims a 0 to 60 mph time of 2.6 seconds.
Corvettes used to have the reputation of being plastic cars with terrible interiors and barn-door engineering. Today, the C8 Corvette is a world-class supercar with engineering and sophistication that can match anything on the road. When the Z06 debuts later in 2022, expect it to be a world-beater.
American supercars may not have the extreme engineering of Paganis or Bugattis, but they do the job with their own flair. They may not get the praise or recognition that cars from Ferrari or Porsche enjoy, but their performance and the driving experience is worth every penny.