We've gone full circle from the powerful muscle cars of the 60s, through the meeker years of the gas crisis, and back to big horsepower in the 21st century. Today you can buy a Volvo or Subaru with over 300 horsepower -- but they're not cheap. The best way to buy big-time horsepower inexpensively is to go back to the simple muscle cars that started it all.
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The original "pony car," the Mustang is a scaled-down muscle car. With decades of variations, they weren't all high horsepower cars. But the typical Mustang is a mid-sized car with a five-liter V8 crammed in it. While they can be very expensive, they are also plentiful. You can get one inexpensively.
Chevy's Camaro was a response to the Mustang and a part of the "pony car" trend. Like the Mustang, it's a mid-sized car with a big V8. And like the Mustang they can be expensive. But a lot of them were manufactured, so you can find one that won't break the bank.
Pontiac followed the scaled-down trend with the Trans-Am. They had a lot in common with "pony cars": big V8s, mid-sized, high-production runs. Also, like the pony cars, the Trans-Am's size and sensibilities were sympathetic to road racing, not just drag racing.
The Chevy Nova was not a "pony car," though it's slightly smaller than the typical muscle car (Challenger, Charger, Chevelle, GTO). Like every other muscle car, you can get a Nova with a big V8. Unlike many of the muscle cars, the Nova is nondescript. It's less expensive than a GTO because it doesn't look as good as a GTO.
This list has to contain a classic Mopar entry. While not all Pontiac Coronet 440s are cheap, they definitely qualify as high horsepower with a 440-cubic inch, Mopar Hemi V8. To get a cheap one, you'll have to pass on the most desirable years. It may be primer grey. The upholstery isn't going to look great. But, like the rest of these cars, it will go fast. Really fast.
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