1 2003 Ford Mustang Mach 1
If your mind is dancing with images of a classic 1969 fastback—stop. This is not that sports car. But this generation of pony did deliver brilliant acceleration back in the early 2000s (0 to 60 mph in a scant 5.3 seconds). It also offered good grip when cornering hard, but the ride and handling were anything but sophisticated. How does it compare with the GT, which you can get for a couple grand less? The Mach 1’s V-8 produces about 40 more ponies, it’s about a half-inch lower and is equipped with a sportier suspension; and don’t forget that slick-looking shaker hood.
6 2000 Honda S2000
When tasked with building this car, Honda engineers were told to give it superior handling, crisp shifting, incredible braking ability, and killer looks. They nailed it. The key to the S2000 is its 2.0-liter four-cylinder that revved to an amazing 9000 rpm and pumped out 240 hp—a specific output that’s still impressive today. Honda also mounted the engine behind the front axle, technically making the car a front-midengine and helping it turn on a dime. In the years since its introduction, Honda has yet to build a car as exciting.
9 2002 Subaru Impreza WRX sedan
The Subaru Impreza sedan originally rolled out in 1992 for the Asia–Pacific and European markets. The rest of the world got the WRX performance variant in 1994, the same year that the regular Impreza came out in the United States. After winning a host of international autocross and rally championships with the little pocket rocket, plus widespread fame through the Gran Turismo video game series, Subaru decided to bring the WRX model to the U.S. market in 2001. Right off the boat, it blew away the press and consumers with its impressive speed combined with a freakish ability to hold the road in the most punishing conditions.The 2002 is powered by a 227-hp 2.0-liter turbocharged flat-four, capable of accelerating the ho-hum looking vehicle to 60 mph in less than 6 seconds and on to a top speed of 145 mph. The all-wheel-drive system was forgiving, the steering sharp and precise.