Because good ol' American engineering is tried and trusted.
Supercars represent the pinnacle of motoring performance – advanced in every way to offer acceleration, speed, and handling beyond what any standard sports car or performance car can offer. But often, small-time manufacturers don’t have the deep pockets or technological base to develop everything on their own, from scratch. Engines are often the component that requires a shortcut – developing a new engine takes immense finances and technological development – and when this happens, it’s not at all uncommon for young supercar manufacturers to approach established automotive manufacturers for their engines. They don’t always remain in stock form, and are often fettled with and equipped with boost to increase outputs. But there are several supercar examples that all have one thing in common: American Muscle.
British manufacturer, AC Cars, produced a small volume sports car dubbed the AC Ace. Carroll Shelby – who needs no introduction – wrote to them in 1961 asking if they could build him a car modified to accept a V8 engine. AC agreed on the provision a suitable engine could be sourced. Shelby approached Chevrolet for an engine; however, they declined as they didn’t want a Chevy-powered rival to the Corvette. Ford, on the other hand, wanted to be the driving force behind a Corvette rival and supplied a newly developed engine – the Windsor 221 small block V8. It initially supplied just two engines, but that was enough to spark a success story of Ford-powered Cobras that would go down as cult classics for years to come. Strictly speaking, the Cobra is a sports car but the performance it offered warrants a place on this list.
For its second production model, Italian brand De Tomaso supposedly approached Carroll Shelby intent on making the Cobra’s successor be an Italian-built sports car from De Tomaso. But a deal was never signed, and Shelby ended up working on Ford’s GT racing program that spawned the GT40. So De Tomaso proceeded without Shelby’s help, and its next road-going car bore the name ‘Mangusta’ – Italian for Mongoose, a creature known for killing and eating cobras.
The Mangusta was powered by a 4.7-liter Ford HiPo V8 generating 306 horsepower, though North American iterations got the larger 5.0-liter V8, albeit with less power at just 221 hp. Rumor has it that the first engines had even come from Shelby himself. Interestingly, there was one car built with a Chevrolet engine for GM’s then Vice President, Bill Mitchell.
TVR is the British sports car manufacturer specializing in a touch of the insane, known for some strange styling, and most of all cut-throat driving dynamics, with cars known to be killer when pushed beyond their limits. For the longest time, TVR was on the verge of dying forever, until in recent years when resurgence was sparked. The first new product from the brand in 12 years, the Griffith, is the second model from TVR to bear the same name.
The new Griffith features a unique iStream carbon fiber chassis – designed by Gordon Murray – with an aluminum and carbon body. Driving the rear wheels through a 6-speed gearbox is the muscle though – literally – as the Griffith is powered by a 5.0-liter Ford Coyote V8 from the Mustang. However, it’s been fettled by Cosworth to deliver 500 hp, which TVR claims will send the Griffith from 0-60 mph in around 4 seconds, and on to a top speed of 200 mph.
Danish supercar manufacturer, Zenvo, might be famous for its ST1 catching alight, or for its crazy active rear spoiler on the TSR-S, but every manufacturer starts works through its quirks eventually. It was in the same ST1 that had a penchant for catching fire, though, that Zenvo had to use muscle-car power. To generate the claimed 1,089 hp driving the ST1 to 233 mph, Zenvo equipped a twincharged (Supercharger + Turbocharger) Chevrolet LS7 V8 engine, the same engine that was fitted – in base format – to the Chevrolet Camaro.
Founded in 2012, SIN Cars is a sports car manufacturer from Bulgaria, founded by engineer and racing driver, Rosen Daskalov. In 2015, the company started production of its first road car, the R1. It features an FIA-approved tube frame chassis, carbon fiber body, and an active rear spoiler, and weighed in at 2,755lbs. Power came from a choice of one of three muscle-car engines; a 6.2-liter Chevy LS3 V8, a 7.0-liter LS7 V8, and a supercharged 6.2-liter Chevy LS9 – the latter generating 650 hp and enabling a 0-60 mph sprint of fewer than 3 seconds.
Monteverdi started as a supercar manufacturer after a fight with Ferrari led to Peter Monteverdi’s dealings of Ferrari in Switzerland to come to an end. The first products he produced went under the series name of the Monteverdi High Speed – all powered by some variation of Chrysler's V8. But the successor to the high speed was going to be something proper. The Monteverdi Hai 450 was intended to rival the established Italian hierarchy and debuted in 1970 with a 2nd generation 7.0-liter Chrysler Hemi V8 producing 450 hp. Two prototypes were developed, with a production run of 49 units planned. Sadly, the production run never actually materialized, though an additional 2 replicas were built by Monteverdi in the 1990s.
There was a time when Koenigsegg wasn’t the hypercar powerhouse of the world it is today. With that said Christian von Koenigsegg still produced immensely capable vehicles – though their power was derived from engines sourced from other manufacturers. For the Koenigsegg CCR, power came from a Ford-sourced 4.7-liter modular V8, equipped with twin Rotrex Superchargers to produce 806 hp and 680 lb-ft of torque. The Ford engine worked a treat, with 0-62 mph taking just 3.2 seconds, and with a theoretical top speed of more than 245 mph.
Founded in the 1960s by former Alfa Romeo and Ferrari engineer, Giotto Bizzarrini, the company of the same name built a small number of road and race cars before going defunct in 1969. The Strada – also sold as the 5300GT – was a 2-seater coupe and roadster renowned for being extremely low and for being the brand’s most successful model. But while design and engineering techniques for the 5300 GT were copied from Italian supercar marques where Giotto had worked, the engine itself was borrowed from Chevrolet. The Chevy 327, 5.4-liter V8 engine developed up to 385 hp in street trim, and up to 400 hp in racing guise.
You didn’t think we’d forget about Hennessey, did ya? Well the Venom GT might have started life as a Lotus Elise, but John Hennessey had other plans, taking the aluminum tub chassis, lengthening it, reworking the body and suspension, and dropping in a 7.0-liter twin-turbocharged GM LSX V8 worth up to 1,200 hp in its most powerful setup. The Venom GT was built with a singular purpose – to beat the Bugatti Veyron’s top speed; something it did by going 270.49mph. But since less than 30 were built, Guinness never gave it an official world record for the fastest production car. Still, it took American ingenuity to show that Bugatti could be beaten.
From one Bugatti-beater to the next… Formerly known as Shelby SuperCars, SSC manufactured the Aero from 2006 to 2013. The rear-mid engined supercar went through several iterations, culminating in the Ultimate Aero TT – which held the Guinness World Record for the fastest production road car from 2007 to 2010 with a 256.18 mph top speed. All iterations of the SSC Aero were powered by V8 engines sourced from the Chevrolet Corvette C5R, ranging in displacement from 6.3-liter to 6.9-liters, with either superchargers or turbochargers equipped. The record-breaking Ultimate Aero TT used a twin-turbocharged 6.4-liter version developing 1,183hp.