It was at a friend’s birthday party around 1969 where someone had bought the birthday boy a Hot Wheels Drag Race Action set. In the long, cool-looking box there were two Hot Wheels cars, 30 feet of bright orange track, a starting gate, and a finish line gate complete with checkered flag that would fall to one side indicating which car crossed the line first. It was freaking awesome! It was the most incredible thing this 8-year-old kid had ever seen—a true game changer. Now, I had some toy cars at the time, but they were nothing like this new breed of candy-painted metal cars that I had just witnessed rip down that smooth, pliable track. The toy dragstrip was attached to the back of a wooden chair by way of a plastic vice-like contraption and it swooped down to the floor similar to that of a giant slide at a county fair (sans gunny sack). For the next five or six years, Hot Wheels made top billing on my Christmas and birthday lists. Today, those cars are worth a grip of cash … [Read more...] about How a Hot Wheels Car Got So Many of Us Into Real Muscle Cars
Real muscle car
How many phases have we gone through with our muscle cars, and which phase are we in now? Suppose we rewind all the way back to the start, when muscle cars were new. They were in showrooms, plentiful in newspaper classifieds and on used car lots. Originality was for those who didn’t have the funds or the mechanical ability to build a car. The cars that got respect were those with major mods: tall hoodscoops, tunnel rams, wild paint jobs, side pipes, air shocks, ladder traction bars, super-wide rear wheels and tires, and maybe some fender flares. Wild street machines built in the pattern of Pro Stock cars were in the magazines. They’re what people aspired to. Stock, unmodified cars mostly got a shrug. This lasted through most of the 1970s. Then the interest in street machines began to wane. In a complete about-face, people were becoming interested in original muscle cars, uncut and unmodified, just like they were in the showroom. After 10 years of building street machines … [Read more...] about Trends in Muscle Car Collecting Continue to Evolve
In an act of enormous generosity, a fresh-from-the-farm fraternity pledge offered to drive the Polo-clad seniors around in his car—a restored 1967 GTO with Centerline wheels. "No one in Independence (Missouri) ever beat it," he proudly declared. "Worth over 20 grand." That was in 1990. The older fraternity brothers winced. "We'll be seen in that?" Showing maturity beyond his years, he stabled the Goat and returned next semester with a beat-up Tercel. This was, ironically, the more socially acceptable choice at my upper-middle-class fraternity.Muscle cars are cool. They're tough. They're American. But they're not for up-and-comers. Refined? Well, no. Sophisticated? Hardly. A technological tour de force? Save them words for androgynous Europeans with little glasses. If you're the type who understands opera or worries about the safety of dolphins or includes "tofu" on your grocery list, don't even try to understand.It's about manliness. Old-fashioned, redneck manliness. The innate … [Read more...] about The Truth About Muscle cars: Third Place
Sounding every bit as superficial as the redneck poseur he portrayed, the expression on actor Warren Oates’ face as he uttered those words in the 1971 cult classic “Two-Lane Blacktop” spoke volumes about what a muscle car was and what it was built for.As his right foot slammed through the firewall and the big ’70 Judge GTO lunged forward, the contrast between Oates’ character and the two car-obsessed drifters he raced across the U.S. couldn’t have been starker: his brand-new orange Pontiac was a mean machine, but their beat-up primer-gray ’55 Chevy was the real deal.In a recent blog, Motor Trend’s Angus MacKenzie pontificated about the fate of the muscle car. Mainly, he opined as to the engines and body styles it might possess in the not-so-V8-friendly future.No offense, but I think Angus bypassed an important point. His view of what will happen to the muscle car and how it must change assumes that the concept’s … [Read more...] about Muscle Car Writing Contest Finalist #2: Don Gammil Wants You to Color Him Gone
While his own racing success and the original Cobras’ performance and track success were the basis of the Shelby legend, I think it’s fair to argue that had there not been so many replicas made, that legend would be less renowned. The only reason why the general public knows about the car is because of the replicas. In the 1960s and 1970s, the chances of seeing a Cobra off of a racetrack were close to nil. Serious car enthusiasts knew about Cobras and of course the six Daytona Coupes took on a Bugatti like aura among collectors and buffs, but to the general public it was just another ’60s hot rod. If people outside the car world knew about the name Shelby, it was because of Ford Motor Company. Without the “Cobras” built by replica makers, most people would have thought that Shelby was just some kind of Mustang.Mr. Shelby’s business relationship with Superformance is more of a marriage of convenience than an acknowledgment of how others have helped … [Read more...] about The Cobra And The Cheetah: A Muscle Car Tale (Part One)
In How Fake Luxury Conquered The World, Jack Baruth started a productive conversation on just which cars or group of cars disrupted Alfred Sloan’s “a car for every purse and purpose” hierarchy of brands that was such an important factor in GM’s success in the 20th century. Jack believes that letting each division sell fully equipped full size cars like the Caprice, Regency and Park Avenue trim lines cheapened the Cadillac brand and blurred the lines between all GM brands. In the comment thread to Fake Luxury, some of the Best & Brightest suggested the 1965 Ford LTD’s seminal role in breaking down the lines between middle class and luxury cars. Yet others suggested the blurring of lines began in the 1950s with cars like the Buick Special, a less expensive Buick.Before the 1970s, the brands at GM were individual corporate divisions, with considerable autonomy. They shared some corporate R&D but for the most part developed their own engines and … [Read more...] about How the Corvette and Muscle Cars Helped Destroy Sloan’s Hierarchy
TTAC reader Richard Murdocco submits his tale of doing the unthinkable…willingly buying a V6 muscle car. While TTAC has been a proponent of the most recent V6 Mustang, few are so enlightened to its performance potential.It was early 2011, and my last car, a 2003 Infiniti I30, became intimate with a Dodge minivan. I was just starting out my professional career, and I needed a car. Weeks prior I walked the lot of a Ford dealer on Long Island, and saw it there…a 2011 Kona Blue Ford Mustang, with the tech package, brown saddle leather seats and white stripes down the rocker panels. It was beautiful. It is a V6… *Gasp!*I read the reviews before going shopping- despite the non-muscle car reputation of a V6 Mustang, everything on paper told me that Ford’s latest offering was nasty. A game changer. The 3.7 engine produces 305 horsepower, 280 pound-feet of torque and gets around 30 mpg on the highway (I’ve found that with my driving, it’s roughly … [Read more...] about Ur-Turn: Confessions of a V6 Muscle Car Owner
Two doors. 390 horsepower. 8 cylinders. Two seats. Just a hair under $25k. Sound too good to be true? It might be one of the best muscle car deals going, as long as you’re willing to drive a pickup.While perusing the Ram website for someone looking to buy a pickup, I came across the Ram Express; with a regular 6’4″ bed and rear-drive, it can be had with a 5.7L Hemi engine and a 6-speed automatic transmission for just $24,825. Next year, the 8-speed automatic will be the sole option. For those of us in the snowbelt, four-wheel drive will bump the cost up closer to $28,000, which makes it less of a value proposition. Note that in Canada, the Express starts at a mere $22,395 for a 4×2 single cab – the sole option is four-wheel drive, and a bigger cab is not available.The V6 Mustang is rightly touted as the muscle car bargain of the century, but the Ram Express offers its own proposition. No, it won’t handle like a V6 ‘Stang, nor will it return the … [Read more...] about Is This The Best Muscle Car Deal That Nobody Knows About?
insipid schmaltz that made you want to install glasspacks on your Super Cobra Jet 428 Torino just to drown it out. Most of the muscle cars of the era were also pretty bad in real life, requiring slicks, aftermarket engine hop-ups, and a super-talented driver to get anywhere near the advertised acceleration figures (and don’t even try to drive on in stop-and-go traffic). And yet… go to any cruise night or car show full of 1960s muscle cars in the United States and you’ll hear about the greatness that was America before the insurance companies, Ralph Nader, and smog-obsessed Southern California politicians threw a big wet blanket over everybody. That means that owning, say, a ’70 Buick GS is a political statement for many. I predict that we’re going to see the exact same process with big body-on-frame SUVs by about 2022. Or not. What do you think? … [Read more...] about Question: Will Gigantic SUVs Symbolize Freedom and Rebellion In 20 Years, As 1960s Muscle Cars Do Now?
Dodge’s beastly Challenger has always been about raw, retro muscle-car style, and the company’s eye-searing Sublime Green–painted Challenger T/A concept takes that formula and cranks it up to 11. Whipped up to tickle show-goers at the 2014 SEMA show in Las Vegas, this special Challenger channels the spirit of racing driver Sam Posey’s original number 77 Challenger T/A, a track animal that defined ’70s-era pony-car racing.Sure, the matte-black-over-lime-green color scheme may be a bit disco, but mechanically, the Challenger T/A concept is wholly modern. Chrysler’s familiar 6.4-liter Hemi V-8 sends power to the rear axle via a six-speed manual—the same drivetrain found in the 2015 Challenger R/T Scat Pack—provides motivation, and it breathes through a functional Viper-style hood scoop. For even more airflow, the Challenger’s running lights—the inboard units up front—have both been replaced with a … [Read more...] about Dodge Challenger T/A Concept Brings Old-School Muscle-Car Flair to SEMA