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Thread: Muscle Cars: The "Just For Men" hobby?

  1. #1
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Muscle Cars: The "Just For Men" hobby?

    Perhaps you've noticed.

    In the pages of muscle car enthusiast magazines and at car shows where muscle cars are the main attraction, the over-40 crowd is the largest demographic.

    Twenty years ago, if you looked through, say, Hot Rod magazine, Car Craft or High Performance Pontiac, the owners of featured cars were mostly young guys in their 20s and 30s. It was the same on cruise nights. Muscle cars were young men's cars.

    Now it's almost entirely the Just For Men set.

    Which is a little jarring (the whole muscle car thing was at one time Youth personified) but is easily explained.

    First, muscle cars have become expensive cars - and that almost automatically rules out anyone under 30. The days when a high school or college-aged kid could find a decent-condition '60s or '70s muscle car for two or three thousand bucks are long gone. The more popular models - anything with a big block V-8; a Mustang or a Camaro - easily fetch $30,000 or more. Some are six figure cars, a development that's almost inconceivable to those of us who were high-school age in the early '80s - when such cars were just old beaters and gas hogs that no one especially wanted. Certainly, no adult wanted.

    The point being, not many kids in their late teens/twenties today are in a position to cough up the money it takes to buy a muscle car. It's not like a new (or recent model used) car, which you can at least finance at a decent interest rate. Most of these purchases involve a private seller who will accept just one thing - cash. Good luck trying to scrape together $20,000 on McDonalds and lawn-mowing money.

    The high cost of entry has kept the muscle car ownership pool almost completely static. The guys who were young in the '80s and '90s (when muscle cars were still affordable) bought theirs then and have tended to hold onto them; or they simply have the money to indulge because they're now in their middle years and have had decades to sock away the cash for fun things like blowing a wad on a 40-year-old GTO.

    A secondary effect of the high cost of entry is, of course, that younger prospects never got to work on muscle cars, so never grew to know and love them, either. Their formative years were spent hopping up front-wheel-drive and all-wheel-drive "sport compacts." This where the Youth have gone.
    It's what they can afford; it's what they know - and it's where the future lies (for them).

    But where does that leave the classic muscle car hobby?

    It's a graybeard's thing; something that older dudes will continue to be into for as long as they're able to be into it. But that's not an indefinite, infinite thing.

    Prediction: After another 20 or 30 years roll by and the majority of Baby Boomers and Gen. X muscle cars groupies are either dead or more interested in their wheelchair scooters than they are in muscle cars, the cars themselves will mostly fade away as curious relics of an ancient time - much like steam locomotives and Civil War re-enactments today. A few newbies will carry the torch, but for the most part, muscle cars will not even register as a blip on the screen come 2030 or so.

    The upside is - if you're still around and still interested - you'll probably be able to buy that 383 four-speed Coronet you always wanted for a decent price at last.

  2. #2
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    In the 60's and 70's one could actually work on a car.

    IMO today's cars are almost impossible for even the above average amature auto mechanic. The special tools and computer diagnostics that are required, make it prohibtivly expensive to modify ones car. A lot of dealerships rely on calling 'factor tech support' for a problem diagnosis.

    Today's muscle car is not just a big block, but rather an extremely expensive, sophiscated, turbo or supercharged engine.

    Young people can't afford to own / maintain this kind of car.

    Several of my divorced friends (over 60) have replaced their wives with sports cars

    But yeah, I think the concept will be dead in 20 years. You can get stock cars with respectable performance. Besides, there's nowhere to drive them!

  3. #3
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dBrong View Post
    In the 60's and 70's one could actually work on a car.

    IMO today's cars are almost impossible for even the above average amature auto mechanic. The special tools and computer diagnostics that are required, make it prohibtivly expensive to modify ones car. A lot of dealerships rely on calling 'factor tech support' for a problem diagnosis.

    Today's muscle car is not just a big block, but rather an extremely expensive, sophiscated, turbo or supercharged engine.

    Young people can't afford to own / maintain this kind of car.

    Several of my divorced friends (over 60) have replaced their wives with sports cars

    But yeah, I think the concept will be dead in 20 years. You can get stock cars with respectable performance. Besides, there's nowhere to drive them!
    From what I can tell, a lot of 20-somethings are modifying moderns cars for increased performance; these kids are ECU-adept, having grown up with computers, etc.

    So it's not workong on cars, as such, that's disappeared or disappearing. It's that not many young (under 30) car enthusiasts are working on or even interested in the old stuff.

    It makes sense. Just as as my generation (Generation X) is mostly into the '60s and '70s stuff, with little knowledge of or real interest in the '30s and '40s stuff.

    But a new element that's been added to the mix is that cars have undergone what amounts to a sudden, dramatic evolution that has drastically altered them in a fundamental way.

    Consider:

    A car built in the late 1970s (or early 1960s) wasn't all that different, in its basic layout and even its basic technology, to a car built in the 1930s or 1940s. Iron block engines, carburetors, simple brake systems; no computers at all. Etc.

    But since the mid-late 1980s, cars have become vastly more complex in almost every way. A 2010 car has much less in common with a 1979 car than a 1979 car had with a 1949 car... or a 1929 car, for that matter.

    Older, per-computer cars are not merely classics; they are relics. Like a cloth-covered Sopwith Camel relative to a Learjet.

    If you didn't grow up with muscle cars (or Sopwith Camels) you don't have a feel for them; they are something strange and foreign; something your old uncle Phil or some other graybeard is into...

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    I may not like riced up Civics and the like, but I like what the younger generation is doing to their cars. Although different, the concept is the same. Tune, modify and run fast (if there's room).

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    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by swamprat View Post
    I may not like riced up Civics and the like, but I like what the younger generation is doing to their cars. Although different, the concept is the same. Tune, modify and run fast (if there's room).
    Yeah - I respect it, too.

    It's not for me. But I like that they are into their cars.

    What I can't stand is the nigger-rigging of a classic car; cheap (garish) paint job and 'dem twenny-fo-ah inch ree-hums, mang.

    Gomesayin'?

  6. #6
    Senior Member eesquared's Avatar
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    I wouldn't say exclusively for men. There are a few women out there who appreciate muscle cars.

    Amen to the cost, though! Hubby is just finishing restoration of his '71 Chevelle. We could have fed a small country for what it cost!

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