Exotic supercars aren't strictly the realm of imports. Automakers big and small based right here in the United States have created some of the most devastating performance machines ever to roam the Great American Road.
The top tier of exotic supercars typically come from Europe, with Italy, Germany and the UK accounting for the lion's share. Japan, as we recently featured, also occasionally dabbles in the exotica. But America isn't without its own examples, either. Typically focused on muscle cars and hot-rod pickup trucks, each of the Big 3 has produced performance sportscars that can hand their import rivals their hats. And there have been a few independent exotic automakers popping up in these United States as well. Here are five of our favorites.
First on any list of American supercars has to be the Chevrolet Corvette, a model that has long since jumped from sportscar into veritable supercar territory. The outgoing ZR1 ensured that much with its 638-horsepower, 6.2-liter supercharged V8, its 3.4-second 0-60 time...and its $100+k price tag. Now there's a new Corvette upon us. It's called the Stingray, and in base form, it packs a new LT1 V8 with 450 horsepower (more than the outgoing base Vette but significantly less than the ZR1) that's said to give it a 0-60 time of less than four seconds. Just imagine what the next ZR1 will do.
Chrysler got into the supercar game when it launched the first Dodge Viper in 1992. Its V10 engine was one of the first on the market and was developed from the Ram engine by Lamborghini (which made its own V10 for the Gallardo, which in turn bred Audi's). It initially produced 400 hp from 8 liters, but by now makes over 600 from 8.4. More usable than previous Vipers, the new SRT is an American supercar if we've ever seen one. It costs nearly a hundred grand, but for all those zeroes you get a 3.3-second 0-60 time and a top speed in excess of 200 mph. If that's not supercar fast, we don't know what is.
The Mustang may be at the top of the current Ford range, but that wasn't always the case. In the 1960s Ford set out to beat Ferrari at its own game with the GT40 that dominated Le Mans for years. And in 2005, with the GT40 name belonging to someone else, it launched a modern tribute in the Ford GT. The retro exotic packed a 5.4-liter supercharged V8 engine, mounted amidship and driving 550 horsepower to the rear-wheels through a six-speed manual transmission for a 0-60 time as low as 3.2 seconds. It initially retailed for $140k, but buyers often paid more for a supercar that was built to Bugatti standards.
Previously dedicated to tuning, Hennessey Performance Engineering delved into supercar-manufacturer territory in 2010 when it announced the Venom GT. Based on a Lotus Exige but modified to incorporate a twin-turbo 7.0-liter V8, the Venom GT packs over 1,200 hp in a lightweight frame and holds the record for accelerating to 300 km/h. Power is handled by a six-speed built by Ricardo, which also built the transmission for the aforementioned Ford GT and Bugatti Veyron and the engine for the McLaren 12C. And with such epic performance, the Venom GT surely belongs in their company.
Mosler, Vector and Saleen all deserve spots on this list, but the final slot ultimately goes to SSC. Shelby SuperCars is the outfit behind the Ultimate Aero, one of the only vehicles to challenge the Bugatti Veyron for all-out performance superiority. Its GM-based engine has evolved over the years, but ultimately produced over 1,200 horsepower to hit a 256mph top speed that beat the Veyron and prompted Bugatti to build the Super Sport. Now SSC is developing the Tuatara, a 1,300hp exotic penned by former Pininfarina designer Jason Castriota that promises to propel SSC, and America, into the upper reaches of supercardom.