Not surprisingly, in these frugal times, sales of economical and practical cars are up. But, surprisingly, another auto segment is faring well – muscle cars.
Automakers seem to be tight-lipped on how many of each trim level it sells of each model, but we have the overall sales, for some perspective on how the Chevrolet Camaro, Dodge Challenger, and Ford Mustang stacked up.
First Place: Chevrolet Camaro, SS – 88,249 Units Sold Sales of Chevrolet’s reborn Camaro continue to climb. In 2011, 88,249 Camaros found homes – that’s an increase of 8.5 percent from 2010. Base models are powered by a 3.6-liter DOHC V-6 that received a mild, eight horsepower bump for 2011, now at 312; torque comes in at 278 lb-ft – 10 more than Dodge's Challenger. The Camaro V-6 is even rated up to 29 mpg highway.
The Camaro SS is the enthusiast's option, with a 6.2-liter V-8 making 400 horsepower for automatic equipped cars or 426 horsepower for manual transmission cars. Torque comes in at 410 lb-ft or 420 lb-ft respectively. Both the automatic and the manual come with six speeds.
With Camaro sales currently climbing and the arrival of the new 580-horsepower Camaro ZL1 next spring, the sales momentum should continue. The ZL1 will start at $54,995.
Second Place: Ford Mustang, GT, BOSS 302, Shelby GT500 – 70,438 Units Sold Ford was the only domestic muscle car to take a sales hit in 2011 – which is a shame because it tends to be most staffers’ favorite regardless of trim level and was named a 2012 All Star. Nonetheless, Ford moved 70,438 ‘Stangs in 2011, which represents a decrease of 4.4 percent compared to 2010.
The base Mustang is powered by a 305-horsepower 3.7-liter DOHC V-6, on par with the Challenger’s V-6but down seven horses compared to the Camaro. However, Ford does boast up to 31 mpg highway for its V-6 “hustle” car.
It’s surprising that Mustang sales are down since Ford offers the most V-8 power choices of the bunch. Ford equips the Mustang with three V-8 engine options: the 412-horsepower 5.0 DOHC V-8 in the GT; the 444-horsepower 5.0 DOHC V-8 in the Boss 302; and the supercharged 5.4-liter DOHC V-8 in the Shelby GT500 that churns out 550 horsepower. Ford tried to steal GM’s thunder at the Los Angeles Motor Show in November, when the Dearborn automaker announced the 2013 Shelby GT500 would have 70 more horsepower than the Camaro ZL1 – for a total of 650 horsepower.
It will be interesting to see if Ford’s new halo Mustang will be able to reverse the downward trend – even if it just pulls in more buyers for lower trim levels.
Third Place: Dodge Challenger SE, R/T, SRT8 – 39,534 Units Sold In 2011, Dodge sold 39,534 Challengers – an increase of seven percent. Although Chrysler didn’t provide us with a break-down of sales by engine displacement or trim level, the new-for-2011 Pentastar 3.6-liter V-6 no doubt aided in the sales growth. The new base engine puts out 305 horsepower and 268 lb-ft of torque – a 55 horsepower and 18 lb-ft of torque improvement over the outgoing 3.5-liter SOHC V-6, though it is still mated to an outdated five-speed automatic.
But don’t forget about the 375-horsepower 5.7-liter Hemi V-8 in the R/T or the 470-horsepower 392 cubic inch Hemi V-8, which surely attracted customers as well. Both V-8s feature cylinder deactivation that switches to four-cylinder operation under cruise for increased fuel economy and jump to life with a V-8 growl under load.
Unfortunately, no convertible option is available for the Challenger, which may help keep its overall sales from reaching those of the Camaro and Mustang.