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Thread: Challenger and Camaro: Not really muscle cars?

  1. #1
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Challenger and Camaro: Not really muscle cars?

    The new Challenger and Camaro are many things - but they aren't muscle cars. That species of animal is extinct and there's not going to be an automotive equivalent of "Jurassic Park" to resurrect them for our latter-day amusement.

    I can almost hear the offended cries coming through my flat screen display as I type, but I stand my ground - and make my case.

    Muscle cars - the real deal ones - were born at a unique moment in American history when technology had developed to the point that enormously powerful engines were available but the government hadn't yet caught up with them.

    When it was possible to build a machine with a six or seven liter engine with no concern whatever for how loud it was, how much pollution it belched or how much gas it drank.

    Before lawyers and regulators made it economically untenable - and legally impossible - to purvey such unchained wildness to the general public.

    When there were no requirements that new cars be fitted with electronic safety nets ranging from air bags to ABS.

    In sum, when it was possible to build a four hundred horsepower V-8 hell ride withno extraneous, price-padding BS and sell it for not all that much more than the cost of a basic family car; when a young man in his early 20s could buy such a machine.

    Those days are decades gone and will never return. Accordingly, neither can the muscle car.

    Challenger and Camaro look the part. They are macho and big-tired and fitted with large and thumpy V-8 engines.

    But it is not the same.

    Their V-8s are as docile as they are powerful. They idle like pussycats and pull plenty of vacuum to run AC, power brakes and other accessories. They are happy with automatic transmissions behind them. They can be driven by... anyone.

    Not so an SS 454 Chevelle or RA IV Goat. Cars like these were marginally house trained and could be very scary. They did not do well in traffic; it was easy to get in way over your head. The clutch action on one of these beasts required manly quadriceps. If you didn't like gear whine, the sonic pulses of thin-wall glasspacks, watching the temperature gauge and the evil handling characteristic of leaf springs and $10 shocks you stayed way clear.

    What we have in Camaro and Challenger are power coupes, if you will - but not muscle cars.

    A muscle car, by definition, is dangerous and wild. It is rude, crude - and obnoxious, too. The closest thing to it that's remotely new is a hardtail Harley with straight pipes. Muscle cars were about two or three things, mainly - sideways skittering burnouts and hard chirps on the 1-2 and 2-3 upshifts down the quarter mile and the strutting presence of an obstreperous rooster when rolling slowly through the local drive-thru joint on Saturday nights with your buddies.

    They gave the finger to society - and openly skirted (and sometimes, brazenly flouted) whatever skimpy laws were then in force. The automakers themselves constantly pulled shenanigans to get around the busybodies and the corporate saaaaaafety scheisse that was just then beginning to burble up to the surface.

    Only a handful of real muscle cars even made a pretense of handling or braking ability; only one (and it was a latter-day survivor and one of the very last of its kind) even offered disc brakes all around. (That "one" would be the '78-'79 WS6 Pontiac Trans-Am.)

    Not a single real muscle car ever came with traction or stability control - or air bags and ABS. These things and muscle cars are as mutually exclusive as Liberace and Victoria's Secret.

    Of course, the new Challenger and Camaro will have all the safety stuff - like it or not. They also handle and brake as well as they go in a straight line. They don't make your eyes water if you stand near the tailpipe, actually manage not-bad gas mileage and your grandmother could drive one, if she had to.

    They will also be expensive - thanks to all the safety and other equipment they are fitted with - and thus, an older man's car. The '08 Challenger runs almost $40k before the dealer gouging bumps it up a few notches beyond that. The pending Z28 Camaro will be close to $30k, at the least. Younger buyers may be drooling - but it's aging Boomers who will be doing most of the buying.

    All of which nicely proves the point that whatever these things are trying to be, they'll never be the real deal. Because they can't - and because the days that made them possible are but a distant speck in the rearview mirrow, never to be revisited.

    END

  2. #2
    Senior Member misterdecibel's Avatar
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    Re: Challenger and Camaro: Not really muscle cars?

    Challenger and Camaro were Pony Cars, not Muscle Cars, anyway.

  3. #3
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Re: Challenger and Camaro: Not really muscle cars?

    Quote Originally Posted by misterdecibel
    Challenger and Camaro were Pony Cars, not Muscle Cars, anyway.
    Well, that's what some say. I personally would say that they were both. The big block Camaros and Challengers, 'Cudas, etc. were arguably as much muscle cars as any GTO or Charger. But the small block versions - especially those tuned for decent handling, like the AAR 'Cuda, Z28 Camaro and Trans-Am, etc. - were more in tune with the pony car concept...

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    Re: Challenger and Camaro: Not really muscle cars?

    Quote Originally Posted by misterdecibel
    Challenger and Camaro were Pony Cars, not Muscle Cars, anyway.
    Actually they were Muscle Cars and, "Pony Car" described the Muscle Car segment they were a part of. As an example a 1967 Impala SS was a muscle car but it was in the "full-size" segment. And there was also the "2-seater" Muscle Car segment which the Corvette and AMC AMX were members of.



  5. #5
    Senior Member misterdecibel's Avatar
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    Re: Challenger and Camaro: Not really muscle cars?

    Quote Originally Posted by Eric
    Quote Originally Posted by misterdecibel
    Challenger and Camaro were Pony Cars, not Muscle Cars, anyway.
    Well, that's what some say. I personally would say that they were both. The big block Camaros and Challengers, 'Cudas, etc. were arguably as much muscle cars as any GTO or Charger. But the small block versions - especially those tuned for decent handling, like the AAR 'Cuda, Z28 Camaro and Trans-Am, etc. - were more in tune with the pony car concept...
    ...and Boss 302

  6. #6
    Senior Member misterdecibel's Avatar
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    Re: Challenger and Camaro: Not really muscle cars?

    Quote Originally Posted by Pete
    Quote Originally Posted by misterdecibel
    Challenger and Camaro were Pony Cars, not Muscle Cars, anyway.
    Actually they were Muscle Cars and, "Pony Car" described the Muscle Car segment they were a part of. As an example a 1967 Impala SS was a muscle car but it was in the "full-size" segment. And there was also the "2-seater" Muscle Car segment which the Corvette and AMC AMX were members of.


    That would be an accurate viewpoint looking back from 2008, but it is a revisionist history all the same.

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    Re: Challenger and Camaro: Not really muscle cars?

    Quote Originally Posted by misterdecibel

    That would be an accurate viewpoint looking back from 2008, but it is a revisionist history all the same.
    I do see your point but we live now not 44 years ago, so we go by today's classifications.

    As a background the original Mustang back in 1964 created a brand new car market called the "pony car". The original Mustang was an inexpensive good looking 2+2 coupe geared to the youth market and not a car intended to be a performance car. The only competition it had was another non-performance 2+2 called the Plymouth Barracuda. Ford started dropping in a K-code 271 horsepower 289 (sometimes called the Hi-Po 289) in 1965 and from that there was the first step towards the Mustang moving into the muscle car segment. Most muscle car buyers did not start buying "pony cars" as performance cars until the 1967 model year when the Firebird 400, Camaro 396, and Mustang 390 hit the dealership showroom floors. In other words the performance "pony cars" evolved into muscle cars. When the term "pony cars" was coined there was no muscle car offering from any pony car, in a few years that changed. That's why looking back now the performance oriented "pony cars" are considered muscle cars. As a side note the Plymouth Barracuda by the late 1960s got the big block 383 and 440 V8 options however they sold in small numbers. By 1970 the Cuda and new for 1970, Dodge Challenger were considered "pony car" muscle cars.

  8. #8
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Re: Challenger and Camaro: Not really muscle cars?

    Quote Originally Posted by Pete
    Quote Originally Posted by misterdecibel

    That would be an accurate viewpoint looking back from 2008, but it is a revisionist history all the same.
    I do see your point but we live now not 44 years ago, so we go by today's classifications.

    As a background the original Mustang back in 1964 created a brand new car market called the "pony car". The original Mustang was an inexpensive good looking 2+2 coupe geared to the youth market and not a car intended to be a performance car. The only competition it had was another non-performance 2+2 called the Plymouth Barracuda. Ford started dropping in a K-code 271 horsepower 289 (sometimes called the Hi-Po 289) in 1965 and from that there was the first step towards the Mustang moving into the muscle car segment. Most muscle car buyers did not start buying "pony cars" as performance cars until the 1967 model year when the Firebird 400, Camaro 396, and Mustang 390 hit the dealership showroom floors. In other words the performance "pony cars" evolved into muscle cars. When the term "pony cars" was coined there was no muscle car offering from any pony car, in a few years that changed. That's why looking back now the performance oriented "pony cars" are considered muscle cars. As a side note the Plymouth Barracuda by the late 1960s got the big block 383 and 440 V8 options however they sold in small numbers. By 1970 the Cuda and new for 1970, Dodge Challenger were considered "pony car" muscle cars.
    Nicely said, Pete - and a very good history lesson!

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    Re: Challenger and Camaro: Not really muscle cars?

    Just posted this article on the main site with pictures:




    http://www.ericpetersautos.com/home/...1&Itemid=10857

  10. #10
    Senior Member misterdecibel's Avatar
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    Re: Challenger and Camaro: Not really muscle cars?

    Quote Originally Posted by Pete
    Quote Originally Posted by misterdecibel

    That would be an accurate viewpoint looking back from 2008, but it is a revisionist history all the same.
    I do see your point but we live now not 44 years ago, so we go by today's classifications.

    As a background the original Mustang back in 1964 created a brand new car market called the "pony car". The original Mustang was an inexpensive good looking 2+2 coupe geared to the youth market and not a car intended to be a performance car. The only competition it had was another non-performance 2+2 called the Plymouth Barracuda. Ford started dropping in a K-code 271 horsepower 289 (sometimes called the Hi-Po 289) in 1965 and from that there was the first step towards the Mustang moving into the muscle car segment. Most muscle car buyers did not start buying "pony cars" as performance cars until the 1967 model year when the Firebird 400, Camaro 396, and Mustang 390 hit the dealership showroom floors. In other words the performance "pony cars" evolved into muscle cars. When the term "pony cars" was coined there was no muscle car offering from any pony car, in a few years that changed. That's why looking back now the performance oriented "pony cars" are considered muscle cars. As a side note the Plymouth Barracuda by the late 1960s got the big block 383 and 440 V8 options however they sold in small numbers. By 1970 the Cuda and new for 1970, Dodge Challenger were considered "pony car" muscle cars.
    In 1970 were either of you even born yet?

    'Cause in 1970 the term "Muscle Car" was still used for the narrow market segment defined by the '64 GTO -- 2-door mid-size sedan/coupes with big engines.

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    Re: Challenger and Camaro: Not really muscle cars?

    misterd,

    LOL. ;D

    Do you drive a 1960s car as your daily driver, do you watch TV on a 1965 RCA black and white TV, do you still think LBJ is in the White House, do you think the current overseas war is Vietnam, do you still get milk delivered to your doorstep, or is your idea of a new TV show Bananza?

    If the answer to all of these is "no", then understand that the term "Muscle Car" includes the performance "Pony Cars" by today's standards. The 1960s ended almost 40 years ago, you need to toss out your bell-bottoms and return back to 2008.

    Yes I was alive back in 1970 and so was Eric.


  12. #12
    Senior Member misterdecibel's Avatar
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    Re: Challenger and Camaro: Not really muscle cars?

    Quote Originally Posted by Pete
    misterd,

    LOL. ;D

    Do you drive a 1960s car as your daily driver, do you watch TV on a 1965 RCA black and white TV, do you still think LBJ is in the White House, do you think the current overseas war is Vietnam, do you still get milk delivered to your doorstep, or is your idea of a new TV show Bananza?

    If the answer to all of these is "no", then understand that the term "Muscle Car" includes the performance "Pony Cars" by today's standards. The 1960s ended almost 40 years ago, you need to toss out your bell-bottoms and return back to 2008.

    Yes I was alive back in 1970 and so was Eric.

    But what I was rebutting was your claim that this terminology was in place by 1970.

  13. #13
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Re: Challenger and Camaro: Not really muscle cars?

    Quote Originally Posted by misterdecibel
    Quote Originally Posted by Pete
    misterd,

    LOL. ;D

    Do you drive a 1960s car as your daily driver, do you watch TV on a 1965 RCA black and white TV, do you still think LBJ is in the White House, do you think the current overseas war is Vietnam, do you still get milk delivered to your doorstep, or is your idea of a new TV show Bananza?

    If the answer to all of these is "no", then understand that the term "Muscle Car" includes the performance "Pony Cars" by today's standards. The 1960s ended almost 40 years ago, you need to toss out your bell-bottoms and return back to 2008.

    Yes I was alive back in 1970 and so was Eric.

    But what I was rebutting was your claim that this terminology was in place by 1970.
    Not to flagellate a deceased equine, but I think Pete's point was that the term "muscle car" is and has been regularly used for years (decades) to describe cars such as the '70s-era Trans-Am and Camaro, as well as cars like the Chevelle, Charger and GTO, etc.



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    Re: Challenger and Camaro: Not really muscle cars?

    Eric,

    That's correct. I am telling the muscle car story looking back in hindsight. The same way the History Channel tells the story of the Cold War, they do it in hindsight.

    misterd,

    Back in 1970 most who bought muscle cars thought they would continue producing them forever and horsepower was only going to go up. They did not realize in a few short years most would bite the dust.


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