A Racer’s Perspective V: Muscle

This is a great class for car nuts!  These cars are throwback (for the most part).  Most of them are damn quick in the acceleration department.  Most of them can’t corner or brake.  All of them are loud, big displacement vehicles, so get that four-banger shit outta here.   

Let’s start with the big one pictured above: the Vapid Slamvan.   The customization options are pretty thorough here, you can even chop the top.  I recall my first moments with this vehicle very well.  My expectations were not just met, they were exceeded.  I assumed it would be loud, maybe have good acceleration, and brake like a freight train.  For its size, this vehicle REALLY gets moving quickly.  And the thunderous V8 roar might be one of the best sounding vehicles in GTA.  Having started driving this car in the snow, I can tell you powersliding and cookies are about as easy as any vehicle in the game.  One of the greater joys of GTA is driving this car at full throttle down a long straight away!

…and then there’s a curve…

Driving in the snow, I assumed almost nothing would happen when I applied the brakes, and nothing really did.  I assumed nothing would happen when I tried to turn the wheel, and really, nothing did.  I was okay with this in the snow, and honestly, I was having fun doing doughnuts in the thing anyway.  Problem is, these patterns do not change much in the dry.

A lesson in terminology: oversteer and understeer.  Oversteer is basically when the rear wheels loose traction before the fronts do.  Drifting, for instance, is basically controlling a car while it has achieved oversteer.  Understeer is the opposite, the front wheels loose traction first.  Have you ever came into a corner, turned the wheel, and felt like your car was NOT turning?  That is understeer.

The Slamvan has BOTH in a lot of capacities.  Torque is huge with this car, so doing a doughnut is no problem (oversteer).  But it also is heavy, so braking has to be done VERY early, and even when you do it, turn in is difficult.  Often you will find yourself sliding to the outside and not the stylish drift kind of slide.  Sometimes I get frustrated trying to race it, but one burnout later, I remember why this car is so special.  It is good for noise, intimidation, and snowball fights.

Vapid seems to make not only the largest car in the class, but the smallest.  The Vapid Hotknife also appeared in San Andreas (pictured below thanks to asbachkrieg).  This car is available to players who have the Collector’s Edition of GTA V.  CLEARLY an 1920s/30s Hot Rod (Model A perhaps?) this thing looks and sounds the part.  I openly admit, I have this for sentimental reasons mostly, it is not really that fast (for the class anyway).  You can win races with it if you work hard for it, but ultimately in its fully tuned state, it will be slower than some of the other fully tuned muscle cars.  STYLE tho.  Come on.  I can’t think  of another car in the game that has more prominent flames (without the car itself being on fire anyway).

Vinewood Hills

Continuing our conversation about Vapids, have a look at the Vapid Dominator.  This is a very popular car (seen below), as I have seen it in many races.  I admit I have a small problem with this vehicle, and it has nothing to do with it’s style or performance.  It is very quick, and easily keeps up with almost any car in the Muscle car class when it is fully tuned.  There is even a stock car version of this in single player with livery.  The problem I have with this car, honestly, has to do with the fact that it is in the Muscle Car class.  The car obviously has been heavily inspired by the newer Mustangs.  Muscle, in my opinion, refers to RETRO American Muscle.  Yes, the Mustang is an American car with a big displacement V8 engine, but I do not consider it a muscle car in the truest sense of the word.  But this is a problem I have with just about every new American muscle car with the exception of maybe the new Dodge Challenger, which in my opinion, actually looks like a 1970s muscle car.  That is just my opinion, however, and a lot of my friends disagree with me on this topic.  Despite my hesitancy to place this car in the muscle car class, bottom line, this is a great car to have and is very competitive in this class, the performance ratings of a fully tuned Dominator serve it no justice.  This is a serious contender in any muscle car race.

Picture Perfect Drive

Posted above is a race I had with several Dominators against my Vapid Blade (pictured below), a car that received a great deal of mileage from me.  Note what hits me at :39, and set the stage for me to have to fight my way all the way back.  The Blade looks like a boxy Ford Falcon, which has a major following.  Fully tuned, the car shares the same performance ratings as the Dominator, but I am convinced that the Dominator is faster in almost every way, with the exception of handling maybe.  That being said, I still drive this car a lot.  It is damn quick, it has mad style, and will give almost any car in the class a run for its money.

Sinner St

The Declasses Sabre Turbo has a special place in my heart (unfortunately, it doesn’t have one in my garage).  This was the Sabre GT in GTA IV, and was my serious go-to/heavy-hitter/you-bout-to-get-trashed car for muscle car races.  This car is clearly a 1970’s muscle car bastard child of every American manufacturer of the time, so asking me what car inspired this is like asking a prostitute “who’s the baby daddy”.  I had once thought it was an Oldsmobile Cutlass, but the front looks like a Chevy Malibu.  My favorite color scheme was yellow and black, but when the car was yellow, it reminded me of the OG Eleanor, which was a Mach 1 Mustang (forget that Nicholas Cage BS, the original 1970s Gone in 60 Seconds was produced by, and starred by the same guy who drove in the movie, H.B. Halicki, who died making the sequel, but I digress).  As far as performance, this car excels, and nips at the heels of the leaders of the class, but isn’t enough for me to house it in my garage.  This car has a long lineage, and I would love to have another.  If Rockstar gives us the ability to have a fourth garage, this will definitely be there.  Check our crew boss Backof’s pic below!

Lago Zancudo

Another muscle car that has a special place in my heart (not in my garage) is the Declasse Stallion.  This is the OG muscle car of GTA, and has been with us since the first GTA.  Every time I see this vehicle I think of GTA III when this car was everywhere.  Great sounding car capable of doing doughnuts and sliding through corners from the start, not much has changed in it’s long history.  Every iteration of this car seems to be inspired, at least in part, by the Oldsmobile Cutlass’ of the late 60s and early 70s and Ford Mustang (hence the name “Stallion”).  The car seems to slide less in GTA V than it did in GTA III and IV, but it seems to suffer a little in the acceleration department.  Similarly the Declasse Vigero makes a re-appearance, and performance differences between this vehicle and the Stallion are marginal.  This car looks mean, just like it’s ’69 Chevy Camaro counterpart.  Wider wheels would be appreciated, as this vehicle is powerful, but has trouble actually using the power it makes, even when fully tuned.

Another OG “muscle car” would have to be the Declasse Voodoo.  Why this is considered a “muscle car” is beyond me.  This vehicle is the epitome of low-rider, and if there were a low-rider class, this would be king.  Obviously taking cues of the old school Chevy Impala, this car is at home on Grove Street.  This car should come with hydraulics, as it did in GTA San Andreas, but that is not an option in GTA V, nor is it really an option to go very fast in this vehicle, as it seems to suffer in almost every performance department.  But let’s be real for a minute, that is not why you would buy this car in the first place, right?  You would buy this to pay homage to the left coast, the best coast; the west coast, so pick this nasty looking thing up, head on down to Los Santos and make your shit gleam.  Maybe take a sniper rifle to the suspension at the same time, and drop that heavy slow fool on its nuts, because lets face it, slow cars means pedestrians have more time to drool over your baby.

The Albany Buccaneer has been around GTA for some time, making a strong appearance in GTA IV.  However, in the newest installment, this vehicle is based upon the mid 1960s Buick Riviera front with a Chevrolet Chevelle SS rear of the same era.  This vehicle actually performs fairly well, considering it is rather large.  It isn’t prone to a great deal of oversteer like I would think that it would be, but in modified form, it might be overtaken by some of the other smaller vehicles in the class.

Ill Gotten Gains DLC released three vehicles for this class.  On the slower end of the spectrum, we find the Vapid Chino.  This car definitely has some style going for it, as it appears to be based heavily upon the mid-sixties Lincoln Continental.  While handling is mediocre, the acceleration and top speed of this vehicle does not really make it a top choice for me, in terms of speed.  Customization is pretty thorough, so if you are looking for a unique cruiser, this might be the car for you!  Comparable in terms of speed and style you might also consider the Albany Virgo, another large vehicle that could be used for cruising.

Grapeseed Main Street

The final car that we will look at from the Ill Gotten Gains DLC is a whole different story, and that is the Invetero Coquette BlackFin.  Based upon the 1957 Chevy Corvette (hardtop), I recall my first moments driving the vehicle to Los Santos Customs.  In stock form, I found myself throwing the vehicle sideways around every corner with ease, not once feeing nervous or irritated with traffic, curbs, elevation changes, whatever, this vehicle shrugged it all off and wanted more.  Looking at the vehicle, you might wonder if this is the Coquette from the Sports Classic class.  While, yes, it is basically the same car, this has new styling and handles a little bit differently.  Pictured above thanks to CARLA_BOMBA, this car comes as a hardtop, but you can easily chop it off to make it the convertible you see below.  The car comes with wheels that have  a thick lip on them, but this throwback with the white walls is a tasteful addition.   In terms of performance, fully tuned, this car yields the highest top speed, and is capable of keeping up with most in the corners (be ready for a little oversteer).  This car is definitely a keeper for me.


-Take a look back there, sirens blowing

Clearly a late 60s to early 70s Dodge Charger, the Imponte Dukes (Dukes of Hazzard) was a go-to car for me in GTA IV.  This is not really the case for me in GTA V Online, which is a shame, I absolutely love this car.  It is wonderful to drive, especially off-road, but in a flat out race with all of the muscle cars lined up at the start line, I find myself coming into turn one at the back of the pack, more often than not.  Top speed is not quite on par with the other cars either, but when it comes to stock vehicles for single player the Imponte Duke O’Death is easily the quickest of any muscle car.  It completely outclasses every other car in every performance category except for handling (get ready for some major oversteer).  The car has crazy styling, too, a mix between the Dukes of Hazzard (hence the name) and Mad Max.  If you don’t know about Mad Max, then you need to brush up on your classic cult car movie history a little bit (my favorite of the series is The Road Warrior).  If you can deal with Mel Gibson, then the old Mad Max trilogy is worth your while (throwback).

If you haven’t seen the new Fury Road, you are missing out.  Firstly, this movie is NOT really about Mad Max, it is more about a feminist movement from an extremely classist and patriarchal society.  If I have already turned you off, fear not, the movie is basically a 2 hour chase scene (I swear, the action NEVER stops).  And if you are into pyrotechnics and cinematography, this film is a must see for you.

Also under the Imponte flag is the Imponte Phoenix.  This is another car I would love to have, but simply hasn’t found a home in my limited garage.  Do not get me wrong, this car is damn fast.  Considering it is clearly based upon the Pontiac Trans Am/Firebird era, it had better be.  But it does suffer in some specific and crucial categories, namely, it is not the most balanced car.  Over-steer happens, and when it does happen, it isn’t necessarily in a way that is controllable or beneficial.  If you want a Trans Am (I do) this is your car, and you will do well in races if you push your competition beyond their limits.  Otherwise, you might find yourself working extra hard.  The late 1980s version of the Trans Am/Firebird/IROC Z combo would be the Imponte Ruiner.  In stock form, this car is actually quite quick, having good acceleration and top speed.  Traction is good, and the car is actually quite predictable when it looses traction.  Braking and entering is where you will catch people in this vehicle.  However, when put up against other fully modified muscle cars, I think you will have to work a little bit harder to keep up, depending on what track you are on.  I would say this car is best when dealing with low to mid range corners.  Check out RandallKLahey’s Phoenix below.  This thing must have made a tough run!

Tataviam Mountains

Yet another vehicle I want in my garage that I simply do not have room for is the Cheval Picador.  Why do I want this?  This is the epitome of coupe/truck functionality and speed.  Taking cues from the Chevy El Camino and Holden Utility, this is a stylish and functional machine.  The car/truck combo is oddly All-Wheel-Drive, which is not the case of the true El Camino and Holden Utility vehicles, but that being the case, the car seems to accelerate very well off the line and has pretty strong traction.  That attitude of this vehicle is a little odd in the corners, in my opinion, and it doesn’t quite keep up with other fully tuned muscle cars, which is why I opted to not keep this vehicle in my garage.  However, this car is definitely a looker!

Mirror Park Blvd

If you are looking to fill your garage with a classic truck, then Bravada has its Rat Truck and Rat Loader for you to choose from.  Based on the 1930s Ford Model A, these things are large and slow, so I have not really toyed with them very much.  If you were to purchase one, then I would recommend going to Los Santos and customizing it, because there are lots of options to choose from!  Check out CherryBlossomX’s pictured above.

The Bravado Gauntlet seems to edge out the competition in all of the performance categories.  While acceleration and speed seem to be about the same as the Vapid Dominator and Blade, it edges them both out in terms of cornering and braking, which makes it a serious contender for fastest car in the class, right?  No.  I am not sure where the chink in the armor is, frankly, but as much as I have used this vehicle for racing purposes, it simply doesn’t cut it when it comes to lap times.  To be completely honest, the Vapid Dominator has taken its place in my garage based strictly on race wins, not necessarily performance ratings.  Furthermore, the other heavy hitters of the class (Blade, Blackfin, and others) seem to be under my good graces a little moreso than the Gauntlet, despite me holding onto the performance ratings.  Another reason I held so dearly onto this car is because of it’s style.  It isn’t the most customizable car in the game, but come on, it just looks angry, (see the Chevy Camaro frown below).  The rest of the vehicle is very reminiscent of the Dodge Challenger, both old and new.  This car screams muscle.

Carcer Way

So to sum up: I have (despite having racked up a great deal of mileage) recently sold my Gauntlet, and the Vapid Dominator seems to have taken it’s place as my go-to muscle car, unless I expect to spend a lot of time at top speed, in which case, the Blackfin is my go-to vehicle for this class.  Other notables are the Blade (this also has a great deal of mileage from me), pretty much any Imponte, and the great Sabre turbo, although I have been surprised by being beaten by some of the other cars that don’t seem very quick at first, but ended up in the hands of a capable driver (as is always the determining factor).

*Disclaimer: these are my opinions. While I love racing in GTA, the in game physics are simply not what I would call a driving simulator. Having said that, I believe the physics for a game are very good, which means strategy and knowledge are both crucial to winning races. Furthermore, many of the cars have different strengths/weaknesses and the driver is always a determining factor in winning races. These are my opinions, and I am open to discussion and alternative perspectives on these matters.*

Live fast, die young.


3 thoughts on “A Racer’s Perspective V: Muscle

    • That is what my co-workers say…and the students in my program lmao I just need to have something in front of me to do I guess…

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