3 factory-made American sleeper cars


Until fairly recently, most American economy cars wouldn’t be anyone’s first choice for cheap, reliable transportation. An average econobox made in the 1980s used to move bags of potting soil around until the engine block cracked and then it was relegated to a fate of being pushed into the quarry where teenagers would, for the rest of eternity, shoot at it with pellet guns. The lineup of budget-minded American cars from the mid-1970s until the late ‘90s is mostly a depressing trip back in time, but when it comes to a few of the performance variants, some diamonds in the rough exist. These factory-bred sleepers were familiar enough that they didn’t draw unwanted attention, but capable enough to actually hold a candle to purpose-built sports cars. Here are three bargain models that had the right idea.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://www.hagerty.com/articles-videos/articles/2018/08/10/factory-made-american-sleeper-cars


This is my 3rd Cosworth, bought the first one used in 1977 and will attest to the fact it did out perform my friends Mustang II King Cobra! This time i bought a rare 1976 Orange Cosworth instead of the Black and Gold version20180604_203952|690x388


If you should go back a few decades, the 57 Rambler Rebel would make the list. If it only had two doors instead of four it would probably be heralded as the first muscle car… mid size car with big car engine. At the 57 Daytona Beach new car into show only the fuelie Corvette was quicker!


I owned a 1987 Charger GLHS, which i believe was a little heavier than the Omni, but still quite fast for it’s day. I bought it in 1991 with 11K miles for $6500 and sold it 15 years later with 90K miles for $6000. Absolutely the best value from any vehicle I’ve every owned. It knocked down 30 mpg and ran right with Mustangs, Corvettes, Camaros and Firebirds of the day. It had the best 2nd gear, though you did need to pull the wheel down when shifting due to the torque steer. My wife liked the car because it was comfortable and had AC. Most parts were easy to find and cheap, though the GLHS specific parts are pricey today. I always loved the look of the Shelby Chargers, and the Charger GLHS is the ultimate Shelby Charger.