We live in a wonderful world where pony power is cheap and plentiful. In the 90s, it was possible for you to choose between an entire world of domestic horsepower: the beloved Cobra and Saleen variants rocked; Chevrolet had the Camaro and the track-oriented SS; Pontiac had the Trans-Am and Firebird.
Here’s a quick video of a Cobra dominating a Camaro SS:
Of course, it goes without saying that the Mustang Cobra is a better vehicle than all of the others mentioned above.
1. Mustang Cobras were affordable then and they’re even more affordable now
A 2003/2004 Mustang Cobra, in good condition, averages around $17,000. This is the only Mustang to come with independent rear suspension (aside from the upcoming 2015 model year). It also comes with a 390 horsepower supercharged 4.6L V8 and a 0-60 time of under five seconds (4.5 seconds at sea level).
There is no other car you can find that will rocket you across the quarter mile in 12 seconds for $17,000 – period. Combined with the fact that the engine itself is fairly reliable and inexpensive to service/repair, and you have a value proposition that Chevrolet just couldn’t touch – maybe that’s why they stopped selling the Camaro for so long?
2. The look of the Cobra has always been more aggressive
You’re buying a muscle car, not an electric shaver, so why drive an oblong hatchback-looking thing? Near the end of its life, the Camaro looked less like a muscle car and more like a giant suppository (which is cool if you’re sick and need some relief, but maybe not so cool for cruising down main street in).
The Cobra has a few appearance changes that differentiate it from the standard GT, but next to a Camaro, the Cobra would be considered a supercar. Hard lines, air vents, and a badass front grill/intake really get the “this car is stupid fast” message across. The Camaro? You would be forgiven for mistaking it for a Dodge Intrepid.
3. Ford has always led the muscle-car race with respect to design and innovation
If you notice that more people, magazines, blogs, car shows, and even YouTube comments reference the Mustang (good or bad) as opposed to the Camaro, you wouldn’t be wrong. The Mustang, and the Mustang Cobra in particular, have constantly set the bar for muscle car performance.
The 2002 Camaro SS sported 310 horsepower – a respectable figure even by today’s standards. The 2001 Mustang Cobra rolled with 320 horsepower, and in 2003 Ford upped their game even further by strapping a supercharger on that bad boy, bringing the total to a very healthy 390 horsepower.
This trend of Ford upping the performance ante continues today, with Chevrolet releasing the updated Camaro after Ford’s retro-Mustang of 2005 took the world by storm. Chevrolet has also released the Camaro ZL1 and Z28 as a response to the Mustang Boss 302 and Mustang Shelby GT500.
Do you want the performance benchmark or some half-baked attempt to keep up? Exactly, we thought so.