The horsepower wars gave birth to the muscle cars in the 1960s and 1970s. Iconic nameplates such as Mustang, Challenger, and Camaro were birthed out of that period. But, then came the oil embargo of the late 1970s, as well as the environmental restrictions that were enacted by the United States government.
Suddenly, the 300 horsepower Mustang was relegated to around 140 horsepower, 5.0-liter, V8 in 1979. Thankfully, smart engineers and designers have been able to bring high horsepower engines back. So, according to Autobytel, here is a list of five of the most inexpensive 300 horsepower cars today.
First place, the 2020 Ford Mustang
As mentioned before, according to Connor MC over on American Muscle, in 1979, the Mustang could produce a smog restricted 140 horsepower out of a 5.0-liter, V8. Since that time, horsepower output has been steadily rising. For comparison, a new 2020 Ford Mustang can achieve 310 horsepower out of a 2.3-liter turbocharged EcoBoost engine. That model’s price point starts at $26,670 and retains muscle car status with all that horsepower coming out of the smallest engine available for the lineup.
Second place, the 2020 Chevrolet Camaro
The Camaro was available with two V8 options coming out of the oil embargo in 1979. The 305 cubic inch engine offered 130 horsepower, while the 350 cubic inch engine offered 170 horsepower. The new Camaro is a different animal. The 3.6-liter V6 engine achieves 335 horsepower. This muscle car is no longer the “All show and no-go” of days gone by. Instead, it can now haul tail and look sharp. It is available for as little as $27,095.
Third place, the 2020 Dodge Challenger
In 1979, the Dodge Challenger was a shadow of its former self. Gone was the brutal horsepower provided by a V8, replaced by a 2.6-liter, 4-cylinder powerplant that put out a measly 105 horsepower. By contrast, the base engine of the new 2020 Dodge Challenger is a 3.6-liter, V6. It is rated at 305 horses. The price point for the Challenger starts at $27,995.
Fourth place, the 2020 Nissan 370Z
In 1979, Nissan’s Z car was the 280ZX. It was available in 2 and 4 seat configurations with a straight 6-cylinder engine. That engine put out 135 horsepower. The direct descendant of the 280 ZX is today’s 2020 Nissan 370Z. It is powered by a 3.7-liter V6 that generates 332 horsepower. It is priced from $30,090.
Fifth place, the 2020 Toyota Camry
This one is a surprise to the list. The previous selections are all cars that have a history closely associated to the horsepower wars of the decades past. However, this car has never been considered a powerhouse and was not even around in the United States in 1979. Instead, the Toyota Camry was introduced in 1983 and has steadily improved itself over the years, sneaking on to the list covertly almost. The 2020 Toyota Camry model has a 3.5-liter, V6 engine. It chimes in at 301 horsepower in the TRD trim level and at $31,040 and is the first four-door to make the list.
Finding a 300 horsepower new car these days is not difficult. In fact, even the Dodge Caravan mini-van offered a 300 horsepower engine option before the van’s demise. Yeah, a mini-van! So, searching for a 300 horsepower vehicle may not be daunting. Thankfully the list above, from our friends at Autobytel, breaks it down for you from least expensive on up.