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The Fastest Cars That Only Look Slow

Updated January 5, 2021 2.3k votes 418 voters 33.4k views22 items

List RulesVote up the cars that pack the most surprising speed

This list is pretty straightforward: it's a look at our top 25 deceptively fast cars. The key word here is "deceptive," meaning that these cars are faster than they look; they're low-key cars that offer a surprise for the unwary. These street sleepers are the vehicles that give sports car owners the night sweats, the wild cards that keep them awake at night, never knowing if one day they'll be embarrassed at a stoplight by something that has no business even keeping up. 

Call them "sleepers." Call them "Q-ships" or "stealth fighters." No matter what name you choose to put on paper, don't ever write these secret agents off as anything other than speed assassins in disguise.

Criteria here is also straightforward. No sports cars, no performance variants with snazzy go-fast body kits, nothing that the casual observer would ever suspect packs serious artillery under the hood. We're limiting this list to cars produced since the 1980s, strictly on the basis that it would be a hundred cars long if we went back to the 1960s. But there have been plenty of serious sleepers unleashed since the Reagan era.

So vote up the most surprisingly fast cars and pick your weapons - assassination time awaits with these deceptively fast cars.
  • Three words and three words only are adequate to describe this SUV. They are: "MURICA... F*** YEAH!" Basically, Chevrolet asked engineer John Lingenfelter how to make the 7.4-liter Suburban pointlessly awesome. He answered by dropping in a 9.9-liter (605-cubic inch) marine engine. That did the job and more. With 550 horsepower and 705 foot-pounds of torque, this ridiculous monstrosity hit 60 mph in 4.6 seconds and ran the quarter in 13.3 seconds. And since you're wondering: 8 miles to the gallon. 'Murica. 
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  • The Syclone pickup and its brother, the Typhoon SUV, might best be seen as GMC's take on the Buick Grand National. They also used a turbocharged V-6 engine, though in this case it was Chevy's own "three-quarter-small-block" 4.3-liter. That engine put out 280 horsepower and laid it to pavement through a Borg-Warner all-wheel-drive system. The result: a phenomenal 4.3 seconds to 60 and 13.6 seconds through the quarter mile. 
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  • It's got a cop engine, cop suspension, and cop brakes. The new Ford Taurus SHO is far and away the fastest and most powerful SHO in the make's history. This "four-door Mustang" turns its 365 twin-turbo horsepower into tire smoke and 13.6 second timeslips. Granted, we could have included any Taurus SHO ever made, since all deserve to be on this list, but the newest one is the fastest, so it gets top billing. 
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  • 4

    1986 Dodge Shelby GLHS

    Carroll Shelby's long been associated with Ford, but in the 1980s he turned his talents to producing some truly insane turbocharged Mopars. His magnum opus was this, a tiny Dodge Omni stuffed with a turbo-intercooled 2.2-liter producing 175 horsepower. The car was actually tuned by Shelby twice. First when it was turned into a GLH model, and then when it went back for the turbo to become an "S" model. The end result was an absolutely crushing (for the time) 6.7-second shot to 60 mph - the same as a contemporary turbo RX-7. The car's name stood for "Goes Like Hell," and turbo versions were "Goes Like Hell S'More." Because Texas. 
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