Before we get into trouble for being sexist, we want to first stipulate that “manly” cars in our own definition are big, mostly impractical, overly-macho that appear on the outside to be ordinary but are unique for various reasons. That is to say, not only men can drive them.
Most of these cars are fairly cheap, and in some cases are extraordinarily rare and cheap. However, make no mistake these cars are all about as manly as can be. Whether you’re looking for a V8, a turbo, diesel, turbo diesel, V10, or an inline motor you can find it on this list. Some of them are also quite old, however, all can very easily and realistically be daily drivers.
Here are the most manly used cars:
This is a family sedan that would best be served with a sail sticking out of the roof, with a speedometer that reads “knots” instead of mph. The 1968 Galaxie with its gargantuan profile exudes manliness, and with some slight modifications, can be as loud as thunder, as you accelerate into battle against the Enterprise. The 390 cubic-inch V8 is a solid choice and packs quite a punch.
You may recognize this behemoth from The Blues Brothers, and you’d be right. Police did drive the Dodge Monaco for a time, so Dan Aykroyd’s line “it’s got a cop motor, a four hundred and forty cubic inch plant. It’s got cop tires, cop suspension, cop shocks…” wasn’t inaccurate, at least with the police models. The Dodge Monaco replaced the Polara as a squad car and was thought to be too luxurious for such a life, so they degraded it, pitting more so than ever into the well of manliness.
Often referred to as the last great American muscle car, the Buick GNX was a special edition of the Grand National, a trim of the Buick Regal. Grand Nationals came with turbocharged V6 engines, but the GNX’s made 276 horsepower with a different chip and tune from the factory. The GNX also had different rear suspension.
The manliness comes from the fact that a turbocharged V6 is not a common occurrence with old American muscle cars, with the exception of the 1981 Trans Am, which didn’t make this list thanks to its pitiful horsepower rating. There were also less than 550 GNXs made, so if you find one it isn’t going to be cheap.
There is no better way to drive your friends around in style than to do so at the helm of a 1966 Lincoln Continental. Slightly shorter than a proper limousine, just looking at the rectangular body of the Continental makes you believe it can barrel through anything.
Thanks to sheet metal construction, that’s probably true. And if its design doesn’t get your manly heart racing, there’s always the quaint, quirky suicide doors to give it an extra unique personality. While the curb weight is almost at 6,000 pounds, Ford outfitted it with a 7.6-liter V8 giving the car almost 350 horsepower.
If you’re going to get a manly suburban and not fuss about with the modern soccer mom version, go 1980s. Diesel Suburbans in 1985 were mechanically fuel injected, bulletproof engines with starter motors the size of your entire leg.
With some slight modification, in the way of ear-splitting glasspack side-pipe exhaust, you could really aggravate some hippy Californians. If you go for this truck, be sure to get the 6.2-liter engine. You’ll need the torque to reach the Suburban’s 85 mph top speed before the year is out.
Getting slightly more serious, the Cadillac CTS-V is the modern family sedan, and at one point was the fastest sedan in the world, thanks to a 556 horsepower supercharged 6.2-liter V8. It’s the ultimate sleeper, with comfortable leather seats and it can have a manual transmission as well. What’s more manly than strapping a Corvette engine to a 4-door sedan? Nothing.
We got very specific with this particular car. If you’re going to get an 80s turbo diesel Mercedes, make it from 1982, and make sure it’s a 300D turbo diesel. You might be thinking we’re insane for putting your grandma’s grocery-getter on our list of manliest cars, but hear us out.
This car is diesel, turbocharged, and humongous. The very pinnacle of manliness. If you get one of these, which we highly recommend as they are comfortable and go to about a zillion miles before completely dismantling themselves, give it an exhaust leak. It’ll do a ton of damage eventually to your engine, but it’ll sound mad ‘till the very end.
Possibly the quintessential executive sedan, most recognized for being powerful, comfortable, and the perfect size, the BMW M5, equipped with the V10, made our list for its amount of cylinders alone. Putting out roughly 500 horsepower, the 2005-2010 M5 is just fast enough and can even come with a manual transmission. Plus, thanks to BMW’s impressive depreciation rate you can find one for pretty cheap.
Representing the Japanese market is the Nissan R32 GTR. Any year will do. These weren’t built to comply with US safety standards, and certainly not with California’s smog laws, however, you can legally import them and make them smog-ready. Make sure to get the GTR, as it’s equipped with the RB26DETT. Why that engine? Because it’s the most powerful, at “officially” 276 horsepower. A quick tutorial on breaking down the engine code will tell you that “RB” denotes an inline-six-cylinder format, “26” is the engine displacement at 2.6-liters, and “DETT” means “Dual overhead cam”, “Electronically fuel injected”, “Twin Turbo”.
We started with an ex-police car, and now we’re going to end with one nearly 30 years later. The 2003-2004 Marauder was built with police brakes and suspension, and took a dual overhead cam version of the Ford Modular 4.6-liter V8 and gave it 300 horsepower, which was used in the same year Mustang Mach 1. The Mercury Marauder is rare and expensive for what it is, but if you get your hands on one it would be one quick family sedan.
You can find manliness in any car, really, even an ’95 Eagle Talon that has a pink “Princess” sticker on the inside of the driver’s side visor. The beauty with these cars is they don’t care about anything except what they’re meant to do. Pure utility and that is the manliest thing of all.
Avid Formula 1 fan and motorcyclist, I enjoy chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream and long rides to the beach.