Four Wheels
2012 Ford Mustang Boss 302
(Base price: $40,145)
2012 Ford Mustang Boss 302
In 1982, Ford resurrected its muscle-car franchise — which had been crippled by the downsized (and Pinto-based) Mustang II of the mid- to late 1970s — by bringing back The Boss. Featuring a high-­output, 5.0-liter, 302 V-8 (soon to be equipped with a Holley four-barrel carburetor, just like back in the day) and heavy-duty manual transmission, the 5.0-liter brought the Mustang back from the brink. Some 30 years later, a new Boss is back, and it makes the old Boss seem like the summer intern.

The heart of the package is Ford’s new 5.0-liter, 302 V-8 — a much-massaged and larger displacement version of the 4.6-liter DOHC engine used in 2010 Mustang GTs — that produces 444 hp. For some perspective, that is more than twice the power of the 1982 Boss’ 5.0-­liter V-8.

You also get two more gears (a six-speed stick or a six-speed automatic) and a 0-60 time in the low four-second range. That’s quicker than any classic-era Mustang, even if you pushed it over a cliff. Not even the Super Cobra Jets or Boss 429s of the late ’60s and early ’70s could touch this car’s numbers.

The new Boss is also fuel efficient. Or at least, it can be, if you can keep your foot out of it. On the highway, the 2012 Boss is capable of pulling down 26 mpg, equivalent to the mileage of a V-6 Camry.

Not bad for a machine that is expected to run 12-second quarter miles and hit 160-plus on top.

2011 Dodge Challenger SRT8 392 (Estimated base price: $42,555)
2011 Dodge Challenger SRT8 392
Too much is just about right.

That’s what Dodge muscle cars have always been all about. And muscle car fanatics love ’em for it.

Back in the early 1970s, the Challenger had the biggest of the big blocks — including the famous 440 Magnum V-8 — and the most horsepower, too, in the form of the legendary 426 Street HEMI. This bruiser carried an official 425-hp rating but reportedly put out closer to 500 hp. The biggest engines you could get in crosstown rivals Camaro and Mustang were only 396 cubic inches for the Chevy and 429 cubes for the Ford.

Fast-forward 40 years. The new Challenger is even more audacious than the original — and more muscular too. The top-of-the-line SRT8 is packing a new 6.4-liter version of the famous HEMI V-8, producing a full-disclosure 470 hp — enough for pavement-folding 4.5-second 0-60 times (and very short tire lives).

Order yours in Detonator Yellow or, for that historic touch, Plum Crazy Purple.

It’s just like 1970 again, only scarier … for the competition.