There comes a time in a man's life when he feels like he owes himself a real car. He's worked hard and made a good living, and now it's time for a well-appointed, powerful car. Something with an air of classy styling that gathers looks from even the most discerning and snobbish eyes, but yet still retains a muscular persona that car guys appreciate. Unfortunately, for muscle car enthusiasts there aren't a lot of cars of that ilk out there. Where's our upscale American muscle?

Hurst wondered as well and decided it was time to step back into the market. The issue, they reasoned, wasn't a lack of pricey aftermarket performance muscle cars, and it certainly wasn't a lack of worthy platforms, it was a lack of American performance packages that felt less like a mass produced ponycar with a boy-racer body kit and striping and more like a handbuilt factory-backed piece. A true gentleman's muscle car, if you will. After all, if it's going to cost as much as an AMG Mercedes-Benz, you can't make a buyer feel like he stepped down in quality.

We'll admit that we typically look for cheap, lightweight, stripped-down models to build PHR project cars and weekend track toys, but for hellish daily L.A. commutes and long trips, we'd rather reach for the keys to a plush, fully optioned car. There's room for both in our hearts, but it still has to feel like a real muscle car. That's why we accepted Hurst's offer to spend some time behind the wheel of their new Challenger and Camaro. We wanted to see if they really were an evolution of the breed.

After spending a week behind the wheel of the top-level supercharged Performance Series 4 Camaro and Series 4 Challenger and logging a few hundred miles of daily commuting, canyon running, cruise night attending, and acceleration testing, we have to say we're impressed. Like previous Hurst-packaged cars, the Hurst Challenger and Camaro were never meant to be quarter-mile cars or serious open trackers; they're intended to be truly nice cars to drive. And in that, Hurst hit a home run. Not only do both cars sport impressively well balanced but compliant suspension and enough power to pull away from the herd with ease, they also truly feel like upscale muscle cars. The interior is wrapped in posh twice-dyed, top-stitched leather, and the Hurst Hard-Drive shifter is a work of art. It's quiet and free of road noise, and the MagnaFlow exhaust has only the slightest low-volume rumble mingled until under hard throttle where it coalesces beautifully with the right amount of supercharger whistle. Both cars even get respectable mileage, and boy do they gather attention.

From guys in pickup trucks, to the Porsche Carrera driver who gave the Challenger a thumbs-up and the Bentley Continental GT owner who dropped a tire off the road while staring a little too intently at the Camaro on the freeway, the clean but aggressive styling of these cars gets noticed. Even the most hard-core street racer we met at the Friday cruise-in at Bob's Big Boy was swayed. It didn't take more than a 15-minute blast around the area to elicit a change of heart: "You know, this really is a nice car," he says.