Under the Radar: A Few Dangerously Discreet Muscle Cars

2016-Cadillac-ATS-V-2Muscle cars are a number of things. Discreet typically isn’t one of them. With bold exteriors, churning engines and fat tires, when you pull up next to a ’69 Yenko Camaro, it makes itself well known. Not crazy about the attention? Thanks to a few special models, you can now roast high-end sports cars at the lights and fly under the radar at the same time. From ballistic sedans to a hatch you never saw coming, here are a few of our favorite stealth fighters:

Chevrolet SS

This is a fairly unpopular Chevy model and for the life of us we can’t understand why. In essence, this flagship is the best of all worlds: mid-size sedan body, attractive but discreet styling and GM’s outstanding magnetic ride control for sharp handling. Oh and then there’s the engine: a 6.2L V8 putting 415 ponies to the back rubber. In case that wasn’t quite enough, it can also be ordered with a six-speed manual gearbox. That’s good for 0-60 in 4.6 seconds.

With those stats, you’d expect a $60k+ price tag. Not the case. The SS can be had starting at $46,740, which is substantially less than German rivals. Why can’t Chevy sell any of them? It could be the overly-discreet styling or higher-than-usual price for a Bow Tie sedan. Whatever the reason, if you’re looking for an epic sedan around $40k, it’s hard to recommend anything else. For the ultimate sleeper, take a look at the HPE600 below, John Hennessey’s take on the SS.


Cadillac ATS-V

Though it might not be the first name in muscle car folklore, Caddy has been making some hellishly fast sedans. The latest edition, the ATS-V, delivers true supercar performance in a solid daily driver package. Twin-turbos help the V6 push out 464 hp via an eight speed transmission, which adds up to a 0-60 time of 3.9 seconds and a top speed on the exciting side of 185 mph. Chassis setup is equally mind-blowing, delivering razor sharp handling without compromising ride quality. No wonder Ferrari borrows GM’s magnetic ride technology.

Unfortunately, not all is well is V-land. The interior is a nice place to spend time, but at $61k, it feels a little mismatched compared to the M3 or C63 AMG. Also, while the M3 is a few thousand more base, it’s track ready from the factory. The Caddy, on the other hand, isn’t quite as much fun without the eye-watering $6,195 track package.

Has GM’s luxury brand built an M3-rival? Sure. True M-beater? Not quite yet. However, if you’d prefer your ponies to be American, this likely is the best domestic all-rounder for the money. Is it worth the premium over the SS? Probably. Taking over the M3 or C63? We’ll leave that one up to you (i.e. great excuse for a test drive).


Fiat 500 Abarth

How’s this for a wildcard? A small Fiat is about as far away as one can get from a traditional muscle car, which is what makes the Abarth an absolute blast. Thanks to a surprisingly aggressive 1.4L turbo four, the mental 500 scamps to 60 mph in 6.9 seconds. That’s nearly identical to a Fiesta ST and just tenths off of the Focus ST. Plus, while we urge some caution, the block holds up nicely as the boost is cranked up. We know of Abarth drivers running up to 30 PSI without issue on bone stock engines. Not exactly recommended but possible (and outrageously quick).

Best part: the angriest 500 ever can be yours for $28,645. Definitely pricey for a tiny three-door but fairly reasonable given the performance. Plus, after some mild bolt-ons and a good tune, it’s hard to think of something more fun than torching substantially higher horsepower machines in a micro Fiat. If you haven’t heard the Abarth’s soundtrack before, take a listen here:


Dodge Charger Hellcat

There was literally zero chance of this missing the list. You know all of the stats: 707 hp, 650 lb-ft of torque, 0-60 in 3.7 seconds and a 200 mph top speed. While it packs the same performance as the Challenger variant, the Charger is even more discreet. Plus, thanks to a lower drag coefficient, can cross the double century mark on the speedo. For a truly sinister appearance, we recommend picking one up in dark grey or black. Extra credit given for “Bad Kitty” license plates.

Unlike the others on this list, the Charger Hellcat doesn’t have any natural competition. To have 700+ horsepower in a factory machine, the next closest options are well into the six-figure range. Best of all, unless you seriously know your Chargers, it’s almost impossible to tell the difference between an SRT and Hellcat. That is, until one disappears in wide smiles and immense tire smoke at the lights.


Which of these 1/4-mile missiles would you take home? Let us know on our Facebook and Twitter pages!


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