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Head to head: Mustang vs. Camaro for horsepower dominance

February 11, 2013 12:00:00 AM PST
Buckle up: We're taking you for a ride in some of the hottest cars on the market. Two new high-power models are facing off in the "horsepower wars," offering plenty of get-up-and-go.

In this corner: the Chevrolet Camaro ZL1. Its supercharged V-8 engine pounds out 580 horsepower.

And in this corner: the Ford Mustang Shelby GT500. It too has eight cylinders and a supercharger, making 662 horsepower.

This is the latest round in the modern version of the muscle car wars of the late 1960s, often referred to as "the good old days."

The Camaro ZL1 in particular is a direct tribute to a very rare Camaro option in 1969: the aluminum ZL1 engine. It was conservatively rated at 430 horsepower -- though the rating system is different today. In any measurement, new beats old.

And in this round of the numbers game, Ford beats Chevy. If the Camaro's number is staggering, the Mustang's is "staggering-plus."

But these modern muscle cars aren't just about lots of power -- they have the chassis, suspension and brakes to handle that power. Even aerodynamics are taken into account.

Oh, and they have creature comforts to make them everyday cars if you choose.

So where the heck are you going to use a car with 580 horsepower, let alone with 662? Well how about a race track? Don't laugh: You, me, anyone can go out to a track and exercise a car at high speed, without risking your driver's license.

Willow Springs Raceway north of Lancaster is one such place.

You don't need to be a car company or a racing pro to hit the track. Bring a helmet, pay a fee, and you can put on some speed. Though first-timers should probably take a lesson or two.

These muscle cars are no small financial commitment, and obviously taking them to a track for weekend fun is a bit of a time commitment.

But during the week, you can brag to your friends how much tire-melting horsepower your everyday car has. Both the Camaro and the mustang have more than ever before: The good "new" days for performance.


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