In a lot of ways many of us think we are much cooler than our parents ever were, until we remember the cars they used to drive. Camaros, GTOs, Mustangs, Barracudas, Challengers, Chargers, the kind of cars people will always talk about.
Let me start out by saying there are some really cool things going on in the automotive industry. The muscle-car race going on between the Mustang, Camaro and Challenger is great. It’s a smaller version of the muscle-car race that went on all through the ‘60s and early ‘70s, which was an era about which every gear head fantasizes.
All the modern muscle cars being produced by the Big Three are based on influences from their mid-‘60s models, and all have models that produce more than 400 horsepower, and that’s a lot! Although the cars are cool, they don’t carry the same vibe and spirit as the original models.
I was raised driving classic muscle cars, and I understand the intoxicating value of driving a 1968 Camaro without a thought of ride quality, or why I can’t hear the stereo. It’s just you and eight cylinders thumping down the road, making too much noise and pushing a stiff clutch pedal as you grab second gear.
Some people could never understand how this could be enjoyable, and to that I would suggest, buy the new model, or a Prius. For those of you who do get it, you might agree or disagree with my thoughts on the new muscle cars, but that’s what muscle cars are all about: “Mine’s faster and cooler than yours.”
Although I am a classic Camaro enthusiast, I have to admit the new Challenger takes the cake from a styling and coolness perspective. Dodge did the best job in staying true to the influences from the original model. Looking at a side-by-side picture between the new and old model, you can see the point I’m making.
Now, from a gear-head’s perspective there are some disturbing car models that were produced in the past few years. The new Chevy Malibu, which used to be the same model as the Chevelle, and the GTO that was being produced before Pontiac went under.
The new Chevy is a disgrace to the Malibu name. It in no way resembles the golden years of the asphalt-pounding Malibu from 1964 to 1970. It’s fine if Chevy wants to make a user friendly commuter car, but come up with a different name.
A similar problem exists with the recent model of the Pontiac GTO. The original GTO is credited with starting the entire muscle car race in 1963. In other words the GTO was the beginning of an era, and a legend.
There really isn’t a problem with the newer GTO other than the name. It produces more than 400 horsepower, but from the styling aspect, it’s just a Grand Prix fitted with some fake hood scoops. That’s like throwing a cowboy hat on Elton John and calling him John Wayne.
There are a few kinks to work out in modern-day muscle cars, but I hope the market for these cars keeps up. It’s finally getting to the point again when the Big Three are duking it out with good old fashion cubic inches and horsepower numbers.