I’ll start by explaining that classic status (as defined by insurance companies) are vehicles built in 1999 or older.

In other words, 25 years or older is the cutoff point for classic cars.

The first one is the 1991 Firebird SLP Firehawk.

I’ll admit I’ve never heard of the SLP Firehawk–but that’s because I lived in a conventional muscle car bubble back in the 90s. These were brute force cars with a Corvette 6-speed ZF manual transmission and an L98 350 V8 with ported heads. There were a few other mods throughout the engine that gave the Firehawk an output of 360 horsepower with a 13-second quarter mile 106 mph and a 4.7 0-60 time. There were only 25 Firehawks built over two years—maybe that’s why I never heard about these Pontiac monsters.

The decade ended with the 1999 Corvette and that’s the second 90s muscle car.

The ’99 Vette was another punch-you-in-the-face street machine because its 350 small-block churned out 345 horsepower. This Vette could do a 4.8 second 0-60 mph time and run a ¼ mile of 13.2 and 110 miles per hour and a 169-mph top speed. That’s not just muscle car territory—it’s supercar territory.

The third example? Ford had a few muscle car cards up its sleeve in the 1990s–the 1995 Mustang SVT Cobra was a solid contender.

This ‘stang came with a 351 cubic inch (Ford Lightning) V-8 that pumped out 300 horsepower. The hood had a power bulge to handle the taller engine. The power was real because the SVT Cobra was good for a 0-60 time of 5.4 seconds, a ¼ mile time of 14 seconds at 99 miles per hour, and a top speed of 151 mph. Any one of those numbers could get you a court date—that’s how real muscle cars run.   

Chrysler stepped into the 90s muscle car wars with the 1994 Viper R/T.

This was one of the boldest moves of the decade because the ‘94 Viper R/T was basically a newer from the legendary 427 Cobra. The ’94 Viper was loud, it was crude, and it was definitely a straight-ahead performer—it even had heat warning labels on the sills to tell you to watch out for the hot side exhausts. The Viper’s 400-horse (at rear-wheels), 8-liter V-10 with a T-56 6-speed manual pushed the car to a 0-60 time of 4.3 seconds and a top speed of 170 miles per hour. That’s why these cars were the at the apex of 90s muscle cars.       

The last car is the 1996 Impala SS.

The Impala’s performance wasn’t as dramatic as the other cars on this list, but that didn’t mean the ’96 Impala SS wasn’t dramatic in its own way. They were powered by the legendary LT1 small block Chevy—it pumped out 260 horsepower. The Impala SS could crack 150 miles per hour with ease because it was basically a full-sized Chevy four-door sedan with a police handling package. They didn’t look like a typical muscle car, but the Impala SS had all the numbers to earn the title.

By: Jerry Sutherland

Jerry Sutherland is a veteran automotive writer with a primary focus on the collector car hobby. His work has been published in many outlets and publications, including the National Post, Calgary Herald, Edmonton Journal, Ottawa Citizen, Montreal Gazette, Saskatoon StarPhoenix, Regina Leader-Post,  Vancouver Sun and The Truth About Cars. He is also a regular contributor to Auto Roundup Publications.

Please re-post this if you like this article.