Some would say that having a powerful vehicle is pointless in this day and age. We know better. Last week I asked you horsepower freaks to find the cars on eBay with the most power under the hood, on a budget of $10,000. Here are the ten most popular choices you suggested. You may now cancel your plans for the rest of the day.
10. 2002 Chevrolet Suburban w/Supercharged 496 ci V8
While these engorged odes to masculinity (or lack thereof) have a reputation for being little more than Viagra in car form, they can be quite insane performance bargains. This '02 Suburban has a 496 cubic inch V8, which equates to 8.1 liters of earth-moving fury. While that may be enough for some mere mortals, the smart ones know that the real fun comes when you add a Whipple supercharger onto the big block engine, producing 550 horsepower, with a cartoonish 700 ft-lbs of torque. It could literally pull your house out of its foundation and get the kids to school on time. And on this budget, you'd have change left over, perhaps for an Ed Hardy air freshener.
(Suggested by BigNSlow)
9. 1977 Monte Carlo w/496 ci V8
The '70s was the decade of neutered muscle cars, after emissions all but sapped away every pony from the still-huge engines that were in production. This Monte Carlo is what would've happened if the power-crazed 60s were allowed to continue unchallenged. This 496 ci V8, by the seller's account, has 700 horsepower, which may be possible with the right tune, but even if he's off by a few hundred horsepower, it still makes for a crazy fast car that'll blend in like an old man at the supermarket, because that's what everyone will assume you are.
(Suggested by hexagonist)
8. 1993 BMW 850Ci
Back in the early '90s, BMW actually was in the business of making sleek 2-door grand tourers that resembled aerodynamic sports cars. Imagine that. They also went as far as to put their largest and most powerful V12s into these cars, dubbing them the 8-series, the highest in their numbered hierarchy at the time. The 322 horsepower V12 was also a detuned not-so-distant cousin to the world-beater in the Mclaren F1, so there's plenty of potential in that powerplant yet.
(Suggested by Doctor-G-and-the-wagen)
7. 1969 Buick Skylark Sportwagon
No one expects this light blue station wagon with faux wood accents from the '60s to be fast. And it isn't. But it can be one hell of a sleeper powerhouse if done right. I'll let jhota42 explain:
1969 Buick with a "rebuilt 455." Assuming a stock rebuild, that's 510 lb-ft of torque and 350 horsepower. Buy-it-now just under $5k. You can add a lot of horsepower for $5k. May not last too long afterwards, but still.
(Suggested by jhota42)
6. 1993 Mercedes-Benz 600SEC
Future classics that are due to appreciate are all about nostalgia and quirk. This fully-loaded V12 Mercedes is the first S-Class coupe to ever include a V12 engine, and while it wasn't the last, it carried the flagship nearly the entire decade with its forward thinking features and immense, nearly 400 horsepower figure. This immaculate example has 45,000 miles and likely previously owned by the right kind of Mercedes buyer - the one that doesn't treat a mandatory service as a vague suggestion. I'm not sure you can get more German reliability than this, for this, or any price.
(Suggested by hexagonist)
5. 2004 Mercedes-Benz S55 AMG
The W220 Mercedes-Benz is a hell of a performance bargain. Especially when it has a 5.4 liter supercharged V8 producing a bit under 500 horsepower, bone stock. In a car that massages your butt. The good thing for the cost conscious consumer is that you can find great taken care-of examples in the market for a steal, just like this amazing white one for a few bucks under budget. It's the ultimate car for when compromise isn't your strong suit.
(Suggested by San Francisco Kid)
4. 1999 Pontiac Trans Am, w/Nitrous Oxide
A modern American muscle car is the embodiment of power per dollar. It's a cheaply constructed chassis with an enormous engine that was built on the history of moonshine runners, NASCAR, drag racing, and monster truck rallies. This Trans Am is one of the best examples of the "Fuck Yeah" trademark American car culture so eloquently represents. It takes an already huge 5.7 liter V8 and injects its cylinders with even more combustible material via the enormous nitrous shot, with a purge located right outside its huge nostril-looking ram-air scoops. Doing a donut in a car like this should be a freaking constitutional right.
3. 1970 Chevrolet Impala Wagon w/Supercharged 509 ci V8
This one is over budget, but at this power level, who cares? Save up. It's a wagon that can haul anything you need, with a -wait for it- 818 horsepower engine under the insanely robust hood. And it doesn't have to end there, I'll let hexagonist explain:
Here's an 818 horsepower Chevy Impala that's not just a beast, it's a wagon. And if we're allowing N2O as part of the calculations, it comes with a setup that will add another 200 horses to the total, bringing it to 1,018 horsepower at a current price of $6,200 with one day left on the bidding.
(Suggested by hexagonist)
2. 1972 Peterbilt 359
By a large margin, the most powerful vehicles on the road are the tractors that pull ten-thousand pound trailers across the continent. They're built for longevity, durability, and efficiency. This Peterbilt, while slightly over budget and under its reserve, would likely sell for not much higher than its current bid. For the price of a Nissan Versa, you get a truck that has 15 speeds, 450 horsepower, 1500 ft-lbs of torque, and a manual transmission in case you live in a hilly area. Not the most practical, but you can't re-enact the chase scene of Terminator 2 in a Chevy Cobalt, now can you? It can also haul the rest of the cars on this list at the same time.
(Suggested by atfsgeoff)
1. 1990 Ford Mustang LX, Supercharged
The Fox Body - the ubiquitous horsepower machine that gulps fuel and craps out tire smoke. There aren't many cars that can do so much for so little. This LX model has a 347 ci V8 with a supercharger, producing 509 horsepower at the rear wheels, which means that it's likely putting out close to 600 crank horsepower. It's under budget, easy to maintain, and will outrun anything in a 100-mile radius. It's nearly perfect, and for the price, it's better than perfect.
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Tavarish is the founder of APiDA Online and writes about buying and selling cool cars on the internet. He owns the world's cheapest Mercedes S-Class, a graffiti-bombed Lexus, and he's the only Jalopnik author that has never driven a Miata. He also has a real name that he didn't feel was journalist-y enough so he used a pen name and this was the best he could do.