What is the best year ever for cars and why?

We put that question to the performance-minded people on Summit Racing’s Facebook page. Using their answers as a foundation, we’ve compiled a list of the Top 8 years in automotive hot rodding and performance history. Why? Because it’s fun to make lists. And it’s even more fun to attempt the impossible–like narrowing 100-plus years of automobiles down to the eight best. 

We’ll unveil the list over the next week or so. In order the make the list, a given year must have been nominated at least once by the readers. 


Image/GM Corporate Newsroom

2014 (and Beyond): Modern Muscle Wars

Why is 2014 the sixth-best model year in hot rodding history?

Because 2015 and 2016 don’t yet qualify—at least that’s what some of our readers feel. We’ll let them explain:

2014. In an era where the AVERAGE car can do 16-something in the quarter mile while getting 30 miles to the gallon, where consumers are offended if a car is not absolutely perfect at 100,000 miles, when muscle cars offer 700 horsepower with a warranty and a free track day, it’s the best it’s ever been…” –Curtis B.

2014/15. The HP War is getting out of control…and it’s GLORIOUS.” –Andre D.

I’m gonna say 2015 or 2016. Cars are getting smaller and horsepower is through the roof with direct injection engines. 2015 Mustang is awesome. Can’t wait until the 2016 Camaro comes out. I hope they build more rear wheel drive cars with common platforms.” –Chris M.

“Right now! Virtually everything can be had with 200+ horsepower. Performance cars that have less than 400 horsepower don’t even raise an eyebrow, 500+ horsepower is actually daily driver material, the average minivan will out handle any classic muscle-car.” –Todd B.

While many will point to the traditional hot rods of the 1950s, 60s, and 70s as better looking, it’s hard to argue the fact that technology has taken performance to new places in 2014. Following the gas crisis, increased regulations, and resulting death of the original muscle car era in the mid-1970s, there is a new muscle car war raging. We’ve been forced to develop more-efficient, reliable performance engines, and the result is 700-horsepower street engines that get 22 miles-per-gallon.

“Today is the golden age of automotive power,” proclaims Edmunds.com.

And we haven’t even touched on improvements in suspension and braking systems.

Here are a few examples of why 2014 fits into the list:

  • The Ford Mustang S197 platform helped re-ignite the muscle car wars in 2005 and 2014 is the last year for the popular modern Mustang body style—not to mention the 50th anniversary of America’s first pony car. The GT’s 5.0L Coyote motor offers 420 horsepower in a reasonably priced package—just like muscle cars were intended to do.
  • 2014 Mustang Shelby GT500:  Packing a 662-horsepower V8, the GT500 boasts the most powerful production eight-cylinder engine (until the Hellcat debuts) to date.
  • 2014 Dodge Challenger: The retro-looking Challenger took performance to new heights in 2014 with the unveiling of the 707-horsepower Hellcat engine for 2015 SRT8 versions. Even with the Hellcat designated for 2015, the retro Challenger has escalated the muscle car battles in 2014 with its HEMI-powered, 470-horse SRT8 392
  • C7 Corvette: The seventh generation of America’s favorite sports car hit the roadways with GM’s new 450-horse 6.2L LT1 engine, and the Stingray Z51 is the top performance level.
  • Camaro ZL1: The ZL1 spits out 580 horsepower, making it the most powerful of all production Camaros—and it gets somewhat overshadowed by the Hellcat development. That’s 2014!
  • 2014 Charger Super Bee SRT8: The powerful sedan proves you can get luxury and power without compromise
  • Camaro Z/28: The Z/28 returned with the most powerful naturally aspirated small-block V8 ever—an LS7 engine that churns out 505 horsepower.

And those are just today’s vehicles.

With the proliferation of aftermarket parts and engine swap kits, you’ll see more and more of 2014’s engine technology stuffed under the hoods of some of yesterday’s most desirable muscle cars. As reader Russell M. said:

“Now! New technology gives us more horsepower and efficiency and you can build brand new 60’s Camaro, Mustang, and many others.”

Between old iron, today’s more-powerful hot rods, and all the new engine and suspension technology available, 2014 is a great time to be a hot rodder.

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Author: David Fuller

David Fuller is OnAllCylinders' managing editor. During his 20-year career in the auto industry, he has covered a variety of races, shows, and industry events and has authored articles for multiple magazines. He has also partnered with mainstream and trade publications on a wide range of editorial projects. In 2012, he helped establish OnAllCylinders, where he enjoys covering all facets of hot rodding and racing.