In the 1960s most folks would walk into a dealer and just pickup a V8 powered sedan, but if you were in the know, you could slip the dealer a secret code and get yourself a sleeper. COPO Camaros, tri-power GTOs, Olds 442s were cars that we celebrate as factory built sleepers. The automotive industry has changed a lot in the past few decades, and OEs lump cars into hyper focused segments -- a Toyota RAV4 is for the young moms, and the Venza marketed for empty-nesters, despite the two cars having much overlap in terms of size/useability and sharing many components. This hyper-segmentation has turned each model into an exaggeration of its requirements -- cars that go fast should look fast, and cars that get great fuel economy should look like spaceships. There are, however, cars that break that mold. Cars that are fast, but look slow, or cars that handle well, but look like tanks. These are the cars that speed junkies desire -- but they are hard to find.
Gone are the days where a buyer could configure his car to have a big engine without the high end trim or gaudy wheels, but can you still buy a new car that is fast, but doesn't scream fast? I'd say the best example of this is the Pentastar V6 powered 2015 Chrysler 200 S, where you can get a 295 horsepower 3.6 liter V6 mated to an all-wheel-drive sedan with a 9-speed automatic gearbox that is just a bar code sticker in the window away from being mistaken for a rental car starting around $26k and decently optioned at $32k. Hitting 60mph in 6.0 seconds according to C&D isn't something to write home about, but mid speed passing should be surprisingly brisk.
What car do you think is a sleeper on the dealer lot today?
Images courtesy of FCA media.