As you probably know, muscle cars are a distinctively American concept. Shoving a V8 engine in a regular two-door or four-door sedan body typically has never been done in Europe to the same extent. That said, over the years there have been some European cars that take the page out of Detroit`s “how-to” manual. Lets get started.
Lotus Carlton/Omega Lotus
Back in the late `80s and early `90s, the largest Vauxhall (or Opel) model was the Carlton (Opel Omega), which was a boring sedan, usually found parked in front of suburban homes and owned by middle-aged people. Then somebody got a brilliant idea and called Lotus for help. The result was the Lotus Carlton/Omega Lotus; one of the coolest cars Vauxhall has built.
Under the hood was 3.6-liter straight-six engine with two turbochargers producing 382 HP. With such firepower, the Carlton was able to achieve 60 mph in 5.1 seconds and reach 176 mph. For 1990s standards, this was as fast as a Lamborghini Diablo. From the outside, the Lotus Carlton looks almost identical as its regular cousins, and unsurprisingly, its stealth appearance made it a favorite with criminals and other shady characters. Sort of like the Audi RS3 and RS6 today. It was produced for just two years, and only 950 cars were made, so these days it’s quite valuable.
BMW F10 M5
Usually, I wouldn’t include the M5 on this list. Ever since its inception with the e28, its always been the nimble and sporty option, not exactly muscle car material. The E60 wasn’t muscle car stuff either, with a finely tuned V10 engine getting the job done, inspired by the F1 cars of the time. In my opinion, that all changed when the F10 M5 was released at the 2011 Frankfurt Motor Show. It is powered by a twin-turbocharged V8 engine, making it the first turbocharged M5 model and also the first M5 to use a dual-clutch transmission. Crucially, a traditional 6-speed manual was also available in the United States
Generating a power output of 553 hp from factory, straight to the rear wheels, the F10 is a monster. Whilst its pretty heavy and bulky, the V8 engine and rear wheel drive makes it the king of straight line runs once it gets going, very muscle car like. If that’s not enough power, the S53 engine is easily tunable, with many hitting 700 horsepower. It’s a bit of a bargain too these days. In the UK, prices have plummeted to around 20k!
Jaguar XFR / XFRS
Most XF models are driven by mid-level executives, usually powered by 2 and 3-liter diesels. The XFRS however is powered by a 542 hp supercharged V8, meaning power is up by 39 hp over the regular XFR, which is already a very quick car! Introduced in 2013 and sold until 2015, the Jaguar XFR was pitted as a rival for the BMW M5 and although less common, it certainly delivered. You can only get the XKRS in rear wheel drive, so you’ve got to be pretty careful as its got 680Nm of torque.
Whilst the XFR-S is only 10% faster than the XFR to 0-62mph, 4.6 seconds by the way, it tops out at whopping 186mph making it the quickest saloon car ever released by Jaguar. Hows that for bragging rights down the pub? Whilst its character might be a little different from some muscle cars, its lazy V8 noise, rear wheel drive and unassuming body does make you think of mustangs and Camaros.
Mercedes C63 AMG
Rumors are circling the car world that the next generation C-Class AMG model will be getting a 2.0-liter turbo four-cylinder with a hybrid. If this turns out to be accurate, it will be the sad end of a glorious era when C-Class sedans could be ordered with one of the best engines Mercedes has ever made – a 6.2-liter V8, code name the M156. Produced from 2008 till 2014, the Mercedes C63 AMG was a benchmark performance sedan of the time, packing the largest displacement engine amongst its competitors.
With 457 HP on tap, the C63 AMG was a proper muscle car dressed as an ordinary sedan. However, there was no doubt what the true nature of this beast was once you pressed the accelerator pedal. 0 to 60 mph was possible in just 3.9 seconds, and its top speed was over 180 mph.
Before all those crazy AMG sedans and super fast S-Class models, there was a muscle car like Mercedes with V8 power with an interesting Porsche connection called the 500E. Based on the old W124 chassis, the 500E was the top of the line version of the series, equipped with a 5.0-liter V8 engine putting out 326 horsepower. Introduced in 1990, the 500E was almost indistinguishable from its lesser cousins due to the fact it shared largely the same design, however, due to its highly specialized drive train layout, Mercedes called upon their Stuttgart neighbors from across the street, Porsche, to help with assembly.
At 6 seconds to 60 mph and an electronically limited top speed of 160 mph, its not the quickest these days, but neither are some of the older American muscle cars. That said, its rear wheel drive nature, rumbling V8 and understated appearance suggest that it is indeed, a European muscle car.
So there you are. Which other cars should I have included? Let me know in the comments.