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Sleeper Cars Will Sneak up on You
A sleeper car is a car with high performance but an exterior that looks unassuming. Basically, it's a car that looks slow until you race it, and then all you're looking at is its taillights. Here's a list of the top sleeper cars of all time:
10. Buick Grand National
In the mid-1980s, Buick made turbocharged performance versions of their Regals and called them Grand Nationals. Most of them were produced with black paint jobs and black and gray interiors. There were even special performance editions made of the Grand National to boost speeds even more, such as the lightweight WE4 option and the GNX.
The great thing about these cars is that they still look like a mid-1980s Buick and not a sports car. Buick was pressured into ending Grand National production by General Motors because they were outperforming the Corvettes that Chevrolet was making at the time, and they didn't want their company's top sports car to be outdone by a Buick, a car brand mostly associated with elderly drivers.
9. Chevy Nova
The Chevy Nova was a compact car made during the muscle car era of the late 1960s and early 1970s. The Nova SS was the performance variant, and it was one of the smallest muscle cars ever built. Engine options on the Nova SS were V8s and produced 300 horsepower or more. The most powerful Nova was the Yenko Nova, which was a specially outfitted Nova with a 427 cubic inch engine.
8. Subaru Forester 2.5XT
The next time you think about racing a Subaru Forester, make sure it isn't the Forester 2.5XT, which is the performance version of the family-carrying grocery-getter with a turbocharged engine similar to that found in the Impreza WRX STi. These cars are quick, even though they might look boring. Proceed racing them with extreme caution.
7. AMC Hornet SC 360
Starting in 1971, AMC made a muscle car named the AMC Hornet SC 360. This car was powered by a 5.9-liter V8 engine making between 250 and 300 horsepower, depending on options. The only thing that gave this car away as a possible muscle car was the hood scoop. Otherwise, you'd have no way of guessing that it could do a quarter-mile in under 15 seconds and handled amazingly well thanks to its lightweight.
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6. Mercury Marauder
Lasting just two model years, the Mercury Marauder was a high-performance variant of the Mercury Grand Marquis. This car was a muscle sedan, similar in concept to what Chevrolet tried to do in the mid-1990s with the Impala SS. The Marauder had a V8 with dual overhead cams making over 300 horsepower. These cars are most often found in all black, including the grille, which would have been chrome on the Grand Marquis. It might look like it belongs to a government official, but these cars are seriously fast.
5. Plymouth Duster
Dusters went on sale in 1970 and were related to the Plymouth Valiant. Some Dusters were just slow, compact economy cars. Others were built with a V8 engine as large as 5.6 liters. The Duster 340 was a serious muscle car despite its size and will frustrate the hell out of people who soup up their Dodge Chargers with big Hemi engines only to eat the dust of these much cheaper Dusters.
4. Chevrolet Impala SS (7th Generation)
The 7th generation of the Impala was produced from 1994 through 1996. These Impala SSs were muscle sedans designed for people who needed speed and lots of interior space and room in the trunk. These cars were related to the Chevrolet Caprice police package, but with an upgraded LT1 engine. Although the transmissions on the Impala SS were not robust enough to handle all the power from the engine, many owners have since swapped them out for something more performance-oriented.
3. Saab 9-5 Aero
Although it might not look too different from a standard Saab, the Saab 9-5 Aero introduced in 2000 is a sports car with the body of a European compact. Featuring a 230-horsepower turbocharged engine and sport-tuned suspension, these cars are often used as police vehicles in Sweden. Private owners have also found ways to get a lot more horsepower out of the engines, so some of the 9-5 Aeros you find out on the street are a lot faster than the already fast factory models.
2. Ford Taurus SHO
The Ford Taurus SHO came about because Ford had a massive surplus of small but powerful Yamaha engines that they had ordered for a car that was canceled before they could start production. With all these engines sitting around, they figured why not drop them into their most popular passenger car, the Ford Taurus. The result was the Ford Taurus SHO or Super High Output. These cars had well over 200 horsepower and plenty of torque and can outrun many of the sports cars from the same period. The best part is that they look just like the Ford Taurus except for the "SHO" embossed on the rear bumper.
1. Shelby GLHS
The top sleeper car of all time is the Shelby GLHS. The best part about these cars is that they are based on the Dodge Omni, which were compact economy cars that seemed to be everywhere in the 1980s. The Omni was slow and ugly, but the Shelby GLHS added a turbocharged I4 engine and could do a 1/4 mile run in under 15 seconds. These cars could go faster than their speedometers could even indicate, reaching top speeds in the 140s.