I know I’m out of step with car lovers everywhere, but I’ve never understood the visceral, some would say Neanderthal, appeal of the muscle car (MC). Back in the days of the GTO, when young and old were talking Hurst shifters and hood scoops, I kept thinking, “What is this about? It’s still Detroit iron with a big motor that only goes well in a straight line.” I liked, and still like: sports cars, hotrods, and one-offs; Cadillacs, hearses, and limos. Vehicles, that is, with a distinct purpose.
Now comes a new generation of MCs that makes even less sense. The new Challenger, Camaro, and Mustang (CC&M) are getting all kinds of media attention, and people want to buy these dumb beasts because they either hold some quirky nostalgia for the ‘60s or mistakenly think of them as “performance cars.”
Taking a big engine and putting it in a heavy sedan chassis (with lousy brakes and handling) doesn’t make a performance car. Yet this same process goes on with the new, reskinned CC&M, at a time when Big Power is supposedly on the way out. The new Camaro (18 mpg, city) beat Honda’s Insight 2 to 1 in sales for May. How will the Obama administration read that development?
These cars won’t even meet government fuel-economy standards in a few years. An interesting article (the accompanying video is above) offers ways to get these behemoths into compliance, including lighter materials and smaller, more economical engines.
But I think the traditions of the CC&M are far too strong, and if transformed, they wouldn’t be anything like the same cars. So by 2016, the deadline date for emissions targets, they will die and—like their prehistoric forbears—turn themselves into pools of oil.
I know, you all love your GTOs and Mustangs. Well, how are they going to fit into the new world of global warming, oil independence, downsizing, and eco-transport? In fact, how are all of us car lovers going to fit into that world? Hit us with some ideas.