In the Headlights – Best of Stateside {{favouriteCount}} Quantity of Likes

18 Sep 2017

A bald eagle soars majestically overhead, while a hillbilly does burnouts in his V8 powered pickup truck while swigging a Bud Light and firing various automatic weapons off into the sky while singing America the Brave. That’s what we’re talking about here – the good old U.S. of A. This week we’re celebrating the very best of the American automotive landscape with four cars chosen by Clive Sutton – the best-known importer of US vehicles in the country. But what are these ve-hicles of those glorious United States? Read on….

As mentioned, there’s not a lot more American than a pickup truck. So we’ve got two to choose from, the brand new Ford F150 Raptor and a seriously cool classic Resto-Mod. The Raptor is designed to be a seriously capable off-road desert running 4x4, with expensive shocks and dampers, big wheels and tyres and lots of clever trickery to help out. This 2017 Raptor is a victim of downsizing though, with the old V8 replaced with a 3.5 litre Ecoboost twin turbo V6 – but power is up to 450bhp so no need worry about the performance. Outright performance isn’t the main remit of our other pickup though, it’s about driving around looking incredibly cool with the V8 burble in the background. Take a classic car and replace the old tech engine, gearbox, electrics and interior with more modern versions but keep the outside looking the same. Think the Singer Porsche 911 but on a (much) lower budget. The engine of choice is usually the venerable Chevy LS V8, then you retrim the interior, add new electrical bits and stick some American Racing 5-spoke alloys and you’ve got one sweet looking restomod. They’re effortlessly cool and will stand out wherever they go – usually thanks to the straight-through exhaust system!

Next up we have two examples of the other American driving icon – the muscle car. But these aren’t big, heavy lumps of Detroit iron that shudder and crash at first sight of a bend – oh no – these are designed to attack the Nürburgring and win. The Shelby GT350 and the Camaro ZL1 1LE approach the idea of beating the 911 GT3 in slightly different ways – the GT350 goes for a high revving V8, deft precision and barking exhaust, while the Camaro essentially points a massive shotgun at the GT3’s face and pulls the trigger with a 20lb buckshot of horsepower and aero wings. Which is better? Who knows, but I know I’d love to try both. The Camaro has to be the most aggressive looking cars ever made - a mass of gaping intakes, grilles, winglets and sheer anger with an enormous 6.2 litre supercharged V8 pushing out 650hp. Yes it’s a bit weighty, but that power more than makes up for it and those winglets, splitter and enormous rear wing produce proper downforce at usable speeds. With the Shelby you have to recalibrate your mind a little – the Mustang is a big old beast but somehow the GT350 makes it feel like you’re throwing a Lotus Elise around. Add in the fact that your ears are being assaulted by what sounds like an angrier Ferrari 458 engine as it revs to 8250rpm and you’ll be convinced you’re in something decidedly un-American. But it is American – a proper Mustang tuned by one of the best companies in the world. Awesome.

So that’s our four cars – go grab a beer, shoot some groundhogs, like the BBQ and wave that Star Spangled Banner around like there’s no tomorrow. Oh, and get some tickets here!