There is no denying that in the eyes of many automotive enthusiasts, the 1960’s and early 1970’s represents the peak of the muscle car era here in the United States. With that said, there is an argument to be made for the muscle cars of today, like the Mustang Shelby GT500, Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, and the Dodge Challenger Hellcat Redeye, which are the highest performing and most accessible examples of these V8 powered machines to ever leave their respective factories. Thanks to the Edmunds YouTube Channel, we now can see these American rivals face-off in a head-to-head drag race.
Yes, it’s finally happened.
For this ultimate Muscle car showdown, we have Carlos Lago behind the wheel of the Chevy Camaro ZL1 1LE, Elana Scherr in the Challenger Hellcat Redeye, leaving the Mustang Shelby GT500 wheel-duty to Kurt Niebuhr. All three cars were specced with an automatic transmission, though the 7-speed Tremec unit in the Shelby is a full-blown DCT.
The Camaro ZL1 1LE’s supercharged 6.2L LT4 V8 engine produces *only* 650 horsepower 650 lb.-ft. of torque. The Camaro is also the lightest car in the competition, weighing in at 3892 pounds. It also has the stickiest rubber of the three by way of a set of Goodyear Eagle F1 tires.
The Mustang Shelby GT500 falls right in the middle of the pack in terms of weight and power, thanks to its 4,058 pound curb weight and the 760 horsepower and 625 lb.-ft. of torque on tap from its 5.2L supercharged V8 engine. The Mustang is the newest competitor in the super-muscle car segment, and has a lot to prove against these other two established baddies.
The Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Redeye Widebody is a car that is all about big numbers. The supercharged 6.2L V8 engine has picked up a few bits of Demon hardware, which allows it to produce an eye-watering 797 horsepower and 707 lb.-ft. of torque. While the Challenger is far and away the most powerful of the current crop of American muscle, it also weighs in at a rotund 4,527 pounds, or about as much as a loaded up Ford Edge.
While we recommend watching the whole Edmunds clip, the end result is established early on in the video. The Mustang Shelby GT500 was repeatedly the victor in the 1/4 sprint, in spite of traction issues hampering all three cars at the launch. Niebuhr was able to knock off a best run of 11.3 seconds at 130.7 mph, with the Camaro ZL1 1LE coming in second with a best time of 11.6 seconds at 122.4 mph. The big and brooding Challenger may be the most powerful, but it couldn’t escape its own heft, running an 11.7 second 1/4 mile at 127 mph.