Fall 2009 Auto Guide
Today's muscle cars ripe for collectors

A bona fide automobile enthusiast can't look at the current state of the American automobile industry with anything but trepidation.

Two of the Big Three fighting off creditors, erratic oil prices, and an administration committed to public roads devoid of any vehicle that's not a hybrid, clean diesel or four-cylinder could well change the face of domestic auto making. Whether current market and political pressures will ultimately succeed in eliminating powerful American pickups, SUVs and V-8-powered cars from showrooms and roadways entirely or just significantly shrink their number, enthusiasts could soon find their high-horsepower American vehicles of choice relegated to car museums and collectors' garages.

The disappearance of the V-8 is unlikely, says Ken Gross, who was director of the Petersen Museum, a world-class automotive collection in Los Angeles. But he lists a few V-8-powered American automobiles enthusiasts might consider purchasing while the selection is still relatively substantial.

"I think the obvious choices are the newest Mustangs, Camaros and Challengers," he says, "especially those with special upgrade packages, limited editions, Shelby, Hurst, and so forth; but unless there's a total prohibition of V-8-engine models, I don't look for those nameplates to increase in value for many years."

He also mentioned the Dodge Magnum as a "sleeper." Dodge already has discontinued the Magnum but a few are still available on Dodge dealer lots. "High-powered Corvettes will always retain value over time," he added. "Especially extraordinary cars like the current ZR1."

There are others such as the Dodge Viper that could have made this list, but here are Gross' suggestions plus a couple of more we think are priced right and too good to pass up:

7 hot V-8s collectors will be eyeing
We're not predicting the extinction of the American V-8, but if you think they may fade into the sunset and if you have deep pockets, you may consider these as collectors' items today.
1.2010 Shelby GT5005.2008 Dodge Magnum SRT8
2.2009 Pontiac G8 GXP6.2009 Cadillac CTS-V
3.2009 Dodge Challenger SRT87.2010 Chevrolet Camaro SS
4.2010 Chevrolet Corvette ZR1  

2010 Shelby GT500 -- Ford's Special Vehicle Team, or SVT, worked its voodoo to produce a Mustang capable of sprinting from a standstill to 60 miles per hour in just over four seconds. It uses a 5.4-liter V-8 to generate 540 horsepower and 510 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed manual transmission hustles engine output to the rear wheels.
Base price: coupe $47,175; convertible $52,175.

2009 Pontiac G8 GXP -- With Pontiac going the way of Oldsmobile, the G8 GXP is already an endangered species. GM ran a fire sale on Pontiacs for the first few days of July, and we can probably expect additional discounts. The GXP can gallop from zero to 60 miles per hour in just over five seconds using a version of the Corvette's 6.2-liter V-8. In the GXP, that power plant delivers 402 horsepower and 402 pound-feet of torque. Transmission is either a six-speed automatic or a six-speed manual.
Base price: a very reasonable $40,060 before incentives.

2009 Dodge Challenger SRT8 -- Because it looks as though the 2010 Challenger SRT10 is on the back burner for a while, the SRT8 remains at the top of the Challenger performance heap. An everyday driver, it packs a 425-horsepower 6.1-liter V-8 that also develops 420 pound-feet of torque. It uses either a five-speed automatic or a six-speed manual transmission to turn the rear wheels, which it can do with enthusiasm sufficient to reach 60 miles per hour from a standstill in about five seconds.
Base price: $42,645.

2010 Chevrolet Corvette ZR1 -- An exercise in "What if?" the Corvette ZR1 is the product of engineers and product planners run amok. It's roughly akin to what would happen if you let 10-year-olds loose in a fireworks store. Powered by a supercharged 6.2-liter V-8, the ZR1 churns out 638 horsepower and 604 pound-feet of torque funneled to the rear wheels through a six-speed manual transmission. It screams to 60 miles per hour from a stop in just over three seconds.
Base price: $108,625.

2008 Dodge Magnum SRT8 -- The only wagon of this group, the Magnum SRT8 went out of production at the end of 2008. Under the hood is a 425-horsepower 6.1-liter V-8 that also generates 420 pound-feet of peak torque. It ushers engine production to the rear wheels via a five-speed automatic transmission. Like the Challenger SRT8, it gets to 60 miles per hour in about five seconds.
Base price: $38,805 but hard to find on a dealer's lot.

2009 Cadillac CTS-V -- Cram the Corvette ZR1's supercharged 6.2-liter V-8 into the engine bay of the already-fun-to-drive Cadillac CTS decked out with a number of extra bells and whistles, and you have an iron missile that will launch from a standstill to 60 miles per hour in under four seconds. Its 556 horsepower and 551 pound-feet of torque deliver hair-on-fire acceleration wrapped in a handsome, taut-handling package. A real BMW M5 slayer.
Base price: $60,700.

2010 Chevrolet Camaro SS -- An icon of the muscle-car era, the widely anticipated, reborn Camaro finally arrived in showrooms this spring. With the less-pricey V-6 Camaro able to make the zero-to-60 leap in six seconds, the V-8 powered SS might seem superfluous; however, the 426-horsepower 6.2-liter V-8 with its 420 pound-feet of torque trims a second or more from the V-6's zero-to-60 time. Either a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic feeds engine output to the rear wheels. You can harness all this wow for a remarkably low price.
Base price: a remarkably low $31,040.



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