When we think of muscle cars, we typically think of American V8 powerhouses. Indeed, the phenomenon of the muscle car seems to be at its most popular in North America. The roaring engines and tire-squealing acceleration of muscle cars are such a key part of North American automotive culture that it would be weird to imagine America without it.
But, a lot of us forget that European manufacturers have created their own take on the muscle car philosophy. There are plenty of sporty European cars out there that have big, noisy engines and love to produce a lot of tire smoke. Perhaps unsurprisingly to some of us, much of them have come out of AMG’s factory in Affalterbach. But, some of them have also come from British and Italian manufacturers. Usually, they have V8s, with some of them even having the same V8s as their American muscle car counterparts. However, one of them has something that’s quite a bit cooler than that!
10 Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG Black Series – $95,300
The Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG is a more than good enough Teutonic muscle car as it is. The Black Series version, though, pushes the C63 to a whole different level. Only 800 Black Series versions of the C63 were ever made. It was the most powerful C-Class Mercedes-Benz had ever made at the time, with a power output of 750 hp from its 6.2 liter naturally aspirated V8 engine.
Examples of the regular C63 AMG can be found fairly easily, and for attainable prices. The C63 Black Series, however, is far from attainable. You’ll be very lucky to find one for sale and, if you do, it’ll be listed for quite a bit of money. One recently sold in the UK for the equivalent of around $95,300. While the regular C63 AMG is a great muscle car, the Black Series version has just that little bit extra that makes it truly special.
9 Jensen Interceptor – $33,200
The Jensen Interceptor is perhaps one of the most iconic (and underrated) British sports cars of all time. This is even though it has more in common with American V8 muscle cars than it does with small, nimble roadsters. A lot of this is because it was powered by an American engine, specifically various big V8s made by Chrysler. You could even get a version with the 7.2 liter High Deck Big Block engine.
You can pick up a Jensen Interceptor on the used market for around $33,200. For a classic British sports car with a legendary reputation, that’s actually not bad bang for your buck. The Interceptor’s classic European sports car looks combined with its American V8 power makes it a brilliant “best of both worlds” car, and arguably one of the best European muscle cars ever made.
8 Mercedes-Benz 300 CE 6.0 AMG ‘Hammer’ – $248,000
While AMG had been tuning Mercedes-Benz cars for a good while before the ‘Hammer’ appeared, this was the car that made the AMG name famous all over the globe. Starting its life as a regular 300 CE, AMG heavily reworked it into a performance monster. This included giving it a 6.0-liter V8 engine that produced 360 hp. The addition of the big V8 made it as fast as, if not faster, than some supercars of the time in a straight line.
Examples of the ‘Hammer’ don’t show up for sale that much. When they do, they go for high prices. A 1992 example sold for around $248,000 back in 2019. That seems like a very steep price for what is essentially a heavily tuned Mercedes. But, what this car is, is the true birth of the era of Affalterbach cranking out crazy muscle cars for Mercedes-Benz. It’s still one of the best European muscle cars ever made, and it’s also easily one of the most important.
7 De Tomaso Longchamp – $48,000
Many people have forgotten about the De Tomaso Longchamp over the years. That shouldn’t be the case, though, as it’s one of the closest things a European manufacturer has made to a proper V8 muscle car. The Longchamp is powered by the same 5.8-liter Cleveland Ford V8 that De Tomaso used in the Pantera sports car. This meant that it had a power output of 335 hp and could get to a top speed of 149 mph.
The De Tomaso Longchamp is a car you might have a bit of difficulty getting hold of. But, if you do, they’re a bit more attainable than some of the cars on this list. A Longchamp that’s in good condition will cost you around $48,000. For that money, you’ll get what’s arguably one of the best (and most interesting) examples of a European muscle car you can find.
6 Mercedes-Benz CLK 63 AMG Black Series – $74,000 To $148,000
The regular Mercedes-Benz CLK 63 AMG is a car that’s got crazy enough performance for what it is. AMG felt like that performance needed to be even crazier, though, and as a result, we got the Black Series version of the car. Only 500 examples of the CLK 63 Black Series were planned to be made, although up to 700 may have been built in the end. It had the same naturally aspirated 6.2-liter V8 engine that was used in the C63 AMG Black Series mentioned earlier. This engine produced 500 hp in the CLK 63.
If you want a CLK 63 Black Series, you’ll be very lucky to find one at all. If you do, you should also be prepared to pay quite a lot of money for it. These cars tend to consistently go over the $100,000 mark, with some reaching almost as high as $150,000.
5 Jaguar F-Type R
The Jaguar F-Type R is one of the closest things you can get to a proper V8 muscle car from a British manufacturer these days. It’s been on sale since 2013, and the latest version of the car features a 567 hp 5.0-liter supercharged V8. Combine that with the F-Type R’s infamously incredible-sounding exhaust note, and what you get is a recipe for a brilliant muscle car with British flair.
The Jaguar F-Type R is the only car on this list that you can still buy today. Its time is limited, however, as Jaguar is planning to electrify its entire model lineup soon. If you want what is very easily one of the best European muscle cars you can get before production stops forever, now might be a good time to get one.
4 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Black Series – $559,000
AMG always turns their cars into serious performance machines when they give them the Black Series treatment, and the Mercedes-Benz SLS is no exception to that. Only 50 Black Series models of the SLS were ever made, and AMG managed to boost the power of its venerable naturally aspirated 6.2-liter V8 to 622 hp for it.
The SLS Black Series is an incredibly rare car and, as a result, you’ll scarcely ever come across one for sale. When you do, it’ll be listed for a pretty crazy price. One sold for around $559,000 back in 2021. It may be very expensive, but the Mercedes-Benz SLS Black Series is one of the best muscle cars to come out of Affalterbach.
3 Aston Martin V8 Vantage Le Mans V600 – $418,400
Aston Martin is usually quite a reserved manufacturer when it comes to its sports cars. The Vantage V600, however, is anything but. This hugely powerful grand tourer is probably the closest the British marque has ever come to producing a full-on muscle car.
As a project by Aston Martin’s Works division, they added two Eaton superchargers to the standard Vantage’s 5.3-liter V8. This gave it a power output of 600 hp, making it the most powerful production car in the world at the time. It could also reach 200 mph, which was a real achievement back in the 1990s. As there aren’t many Vantage V600s around, they don’t pop up for sale that often. When they do, though, they tend to go for big prices. For example, one sold for around $418,400 in 2014. That’s a lot of money. But, if you want a properly crazy and brilliant British muscle car, it might be money well-spent
2 Iso Grifo – $372,000
Much like the De Tomaso Longchamp, the Iso Grifo is often forgotten. The Grifo combined Italian styling by Giorgetto Giugaro with a very American powertrain of a Chevrolet small-block V8 coupled to a four-speed Borg Warner transmission. As a result, it had sophisticated European styling combined with the sound of a proper American muscle car. A great “best of both worlds” solution? Very possibly.
The Iso Grifo is a very valuable proposition these days. A good example will set you back around $372,000. That’s a lot of money, but what it’ll get you is an Italian classic with proper Italian sports car styling and a thumping American V8. That combination makes it not only one of the best European muscle cars ever made, but potentially one of the best European sports cars ever made in general too.
1 Bristol Fighter – $241,000
Barely anybody knows about the Bristol Fighter. That’s likely due to the fact that only a small handful were ever built. It’s also somewhat of a question whether it could be classified as a muscle car, as it has supercar levels of performance. But, that performance comes from the same 8.0-liter V10 engine you got in the Dodge Viper. You could get this engine in either naturally aspirated or turbocharged form, with the turbocharged Fighter T variant having claims of a 240+ mph top speed.
The Bristol Fighter had a starting price of $450,000 brand new. Determining the value of one on the secondhand market is a bit difficult, as they very rarely ever come up for sale. One did go up for sale in the UK a few years ago, with the advertised price of £200,000 (around $241,000). That’s a lot of money, but you’d expect such a rare car to be much more expensive. It may be a V10 instead of a V8, but that V10 definitely provides an experience more akin to a muscle car than a supercar.