American muscle or Japanese sports car is a tough choice for anyone to make, both have their merits and their negatives.
Mention muscle cars to anyone, and they will instantly think of big powerful American V8 engines, although in reality by the early 1970s, many muscle cars were not that powerful or fast. Compounding things further, Japanese carmakers by the early 1960s had started producing cheaper, faster, and more reliable sports cars for the US mark, Datsun in particular scoring huge successes with their 240Z model.
Taking the tough choice a stage further, both have their huge following of modifiers, pretty much anyone can tune their car these days returning gearheads to the same question, modified Japanese classic car or modded muscle?
10 1972 Datsun 240Z – Looks Better Than Any Muscle Car
Already well recognized as one of the finest sports cars of the early 1970s, Datsun 240Z’s remain popular with gearheads even today, many finding their way into the hands of modders. Engine swaps are common among 240Z owners, this one having the L28E engine dropped in from its bigger 280Z brother, complete with triple carbs to tops things off.
Stock 240Z’s are good-looking cars to begin with, this one sports bigger wheels and flared arches giving a more purposeful stance.
9 1970 Corvette C3 – We’d Rather Own This
Coming from the same era as the 240Z, this C3 Corvette has been given the full works, from the engine to racing body kit, we’d rather take the Vette. Starting with the oily bits, a modern crate LS motor and 6-speed manual take care of the performance side, with modern coil-over keeping the power in check.
Externally, it’s hard to ignore wider arches, customs skirts and, a rear wing that wouldn’t look out of place on an IndyCar. Purists look away now, the basis for this conversion was a matching numbers car.
8 1968 Toyota 2000GT Shelby – Looks Better Than Any Muscle Car
If ever there was a single car to prove Japanese carmakers could build desirable sports cars, the limited edition 2000GT is surely it. Toyota completed just 351 examples, making these very rare, even rarer still are the Shelby modified models for the 1968 SCCA racing season. Retaining its original bodyshell stripped of all unnecessary weight, modifications restricted to improved suspension for track purposes.
It wouldn’t be a Shelby edition without more power, boasting 200hp from improved aluminum heads, a handy 50hp increase over the original. In total just three SCCA spec cars were built, one intended to be a spare.
7 1968 Ford Mustang Fastback We’d Rather Own This
One of the most popular muscle cars ever, Ford’s iconic Mustang Fastback takes some beating when it comes to desirability. Make no mistake this is no ordinary Mustang, from its custom Art Morrison Max-G frame to its eye-catching body modifications sure to draw admiring looks.
Rest assured this isn’t just a show car it has plenty of power too, boasting a Shelby 427 bored out to 490cu-in topped with Edelbrock aluminum heads, combined with NoS raising power output to 954hp. Definitely, one Mustang that is hard to resist.
6 Acura NSX “Rocket Bunny” – Looks Better Than Any Muscle Car
Original NSX’s were something of an enigma, supercar performance and handling with everyday usability was something unheard of before. If anything, visually, Honda played it safe, something the wide-body kit rectifies and then some, resembling GT racers from the 90s.
Keen-eyed gearheads will notice rear visibility has taken a hit in the process, the once-clear line of sight interrupted by GruppeM’s supercharger boosting output to 316hp.
5 1997 Callaway Corvette C12 – We’d Rather Own This
All carmakers need to pay more attention to third-party tuners. Callaway’s C12 has, arguably, a greater street presence than the original design. With so much attention to detail surely not just a road car project Callaway intends their C12 to be complemented with GT class regulations for the famous Le Mans event.
Any modified Corvette from Callaway is sure to have more performance, and the C12 doesn’t disappoint with the stock 5-7 liter motor receiving some serious attention lifting output to 440hp.
4 1972 C10 Skyline – Looks Better Than Any Muscle Car
Original Skylines look nothing like the modern street racer everyone associated with the Fast and the Furious movie franchise. Early C10 models are boxy designed with weak 1.5-liter engines, this one though hides a secret. Sporting a larger 3.2-liter R31 Skyline takes care of any performance deficit, all kept in check with modern coilover based suspension.
Sympathetic updates have kept this Skyline authentic, its owner has resisted the urge to bolt on unnecessary wings and skirts preferring to keep the overall appearance subtle.
3 1970 Rampage Camaro – We’d Rather Own This
Second-generation Camaros never seem to attract as much attention as the previous model, something Roadster Shop is hoping to remedy with their Rampage package. Rest assured this is no simple bolt-on kit, Roadster Shop performing a full ground-up re-build using a custom chassis. In-house suspension components give this Camaro a proper racing set-up, perfectly suited to any track application.
Looking good doesn’t count for a thing without something under the hood to back it up, Camaro’s are muscle cars after all. Power comes courtesy of a Thompson Racing Engines prepared LS7 427cu-in motor producing 750hp without resorting to forced induction.
2 Mazda RX7 (FD) – Looks Better Than Any Muscle Car
Something about Japanese widebody sports cars appeals to younger gearheads, a fact not lost on Mazda with the arrival of the FD RX7. Not without their issues relating to poorly maintained rotary engines, they are at least immensely tunable with aftermarket turbo kits providing cray levels of power.
Age is going to be the biggest problem with any modified RX7, not the age of the car but rather the owner’s age, JDM cars do attract a younger crowd.
1 2005 Ford Mustang Saleen S281 – We’d Rather Own This
One of the truly great car designs of all time, proof of just how good they are, anyone can drive a modified Mustang without attracting negative attention. Everyone has heard of Shelby Mustangs, but few people are aware of Saleens S281 models from 2005, offering up to 550hp. Even without Saleen racing stripes, S281s are easily identifiable by their rear diffuser design unique to the brand.
Mustangs never go out of fashion, they were the original affordable performance car with huge sales figures, even more reasons to pick a rare Saleen model.
NEXT: 10 Modified Classic European Sports Cars That Are Actually Stunning
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