With the 2013 Dodge Dart set to debut in Q3 of this year, we are reminded of an old friend who hasn’t been around in a while: the American Sleeper. Let’s face it: Summer is here, and we all want to put a little pep in our vehicular step. While the Dart R/T may be out of the price range for someone just looking for a little summer fun, there are plenty of old sleepers still lurking out there and ready to burn some rubber.
Disclaimer: The sweet Eagle Talons of the early ‘90s were left off this list because they looked pretty sporty and don’t technically fall into the sleeper category. Those Mustang 5.0s, too. Why? Well, despite being pretty boxy and ugly, they are, after all, Mustangs!
Dodge Spirit R/T (1991-1992): This Spirit might define the term “sleeper.” Boasting a 2.2-liter, 224-hp engine and a very unassuming body, the Spirit is sure to make a fool out of anyone who believes it to be a pizza-delivery vehicle.
Ford Taurus SHO (1989-1995): The proverbial odd couple. Take a Yamaha engine meant for a car that never saw the light of day and drop it in a Taurus. The result? A “regular” looking 4-door that pumps out 220+ hp and is sure to turn heads when the light turns green. While the third generation that appeared from 1996-‘99 maintained the power, the 5-speed manual transmission was booted, dropping the fun factor ever so slightly.
Chevrolet Impala SS (1994-1996): To the car enthusiast, this is one big ride that will never go unnoticed. To the average person, this one can easily be mistaken for a little-old-lady mobile. Despite coming only with a 4-speed automatic, the Impala SS’s Corvette-inspired 5.7-liter V8 is just plain beastly.
Mercury Marauder (2003-2004): It’s okay, we’ve all done it. You’re driving on the highway, and your heart jumps when you see a blacked-out police cruiser gaining speed behind you. You shift over to the right lane just in time for this thing to blow by you, and right as it passes, you see “Marauder” branded into the rear bumper. Yeah, a 4.6-liter V8 with 302 hp will do that to you.
Dodge Neon SRT-4 (2003-2005): The hood scoop gives it away, but much like the regular Taurus and the SHO, the standard Neon can seriously throw off skeptics on the SRT-4. With a 2.4-liter turbocharged 204-hp engine, this thing goes from Neon to “Hold on!” faster than you can say Dodge.
Let us know what you think. Which one of these is your favorite? What did we miss? We want the sleepiest of the sleepers from the ‘90s and 2000s.