The term "muscle car" no longer only applies to American cars.
According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, a muscle car is "an American-made two-door sports car with a powerful engine." The dictionary also mentions that these powerful engines are "designed for high-performance driving." We would tend to agree with this definition, although we feel that the term "muscle car" has expanded over the years to encompass more that it has in the past. Four-door models like the Charger Hellcat can qualify as "muscle cars" and we believe that cars that aren't even American can be categorized as such.
The F12berlinetta has more in common with an American muscle car than Ferrari may want to admit. Like a Dodge Challenger Hellcat, the F12 is a front-engined, RWD grand touring car with over 700 horsepower. Clearly the F12 qualifies as a muscle car in that it's a " two-door sports car with a powerful engine." The only reason why the Ferrari could not qualify as a muscle car is because it's Italian, not American. Still, it's interesting to see that the term muscle car could easily define a car that's very different from what we would imagine.
The Jaguar F-Type has more in common than you might think with a muscle car. Like the Hellcat, the F-Type has a supercharged V8 in the front, with a ton of horsepower. Even though the most powerful versions of the F-Type have moved to AWD, we still think that the British sports car should qualify as a muscle car. Like the Challenger, Mustang, and Camaro, the F-Type is available with a more pedestrian V6. The whole idea of a muscle car is that you take the sportiest offering from the company, and make it even better by sticking the biggest engine in. That is exactly what Jaguar has done recently with models like the F-Type SVR.
When you think about the idea of dropping the biggest engine you have into an ordinary model, the big three muscle cars are not the only cars that come to mind. Even though Carroll Shelby may have kicked off the idea of cramming the biggest engine possible into a small car, the Germans have taken that idea and perfected it in recent history. The Mercedes C-Class Coupe is a very good car, but then the AMG department gives it a twin-turbo 4.0-liter V8 with 503 hp. Cars from the AMG department epitomize the American muscle car spirit of taking a normal car from a manufacturer, and creating something that is race car levels of fast, yet still practical.
The idea of dropping a big engine into a sports coupe did not stop with the Germans. Even the Japanese brands, which were once seen as dull and boring, have now jumped into the performance car game. The Lexus RC-F is Lexus' first real attempt at building a sports coupe that can take on the BMW M3. The RC-F shares a lot in common with an American muscle car. The Lexus has its V8 engine in the front, RWD, two doors, and four seats. By all accounts, the RC-F is a muscle car, it just happens to have Japanese reliability and comfort. If there was one car from Japan that would qualify as a muscle car, it would be the RC-F.
One aspect of muscle cars that people seem to gloss over is that the base versions of the awesome models really aren't very special. You can go rent a V6 Charger or Camaro, and they are both pretty basic and less than thrilling to drive. Like a base model Camaro or Challenger, the base Subaru Impreza is nothing more than an affordable economy car that you could rent when you go on vacation. It's only when you step up to the more powerful WRX or STI model that you start to realize how amazing the car is. Even though the Subaru is a four-door sedan with AWD, the idea of transforming a car that is basic enough to be a rental car into a badass performance car is exactly what a muscle car is all about.