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Thread: The no-frills muscle car - would you buy one?

  1. #1
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    The no-frills muscle car - would you buy one?

    The no-frills muscle car - would you buy one?
    By Eric Peters
    for immediate release

    If one of the auto companies decided to build a real muscle car, it would almost surely flop badly.

    Real muscle cars were very different animals from the air-conditioned, hydraulic clutch-assisted, well-insulated and totally reliable performance cars being built today.

    The new Charger, Mustang GT -- all great cars, with performance curriculum vitae no one can question. But they are childishly easy to drive. Old school muscle cars weren't. It took real skill (and often, leg strength) to deal with the heavy clutches connecting 6 and 7 liter engines to "rock crusher" 4-speed manual gearboxes. Modern performance cars have clutches with hydraulic-assist. A 100 pound cheerleader can operate such a car effortlessly. That's an improvement for her, of course -- but something's lost in the translation, too.

    Today's performance cars start up every time. Muscle cars don't. Big V-8s fed by sloppy 4-barrel carbs can be finicky when cold. One had to know how to set the choke -- and just how far (and how many times) to pump the gas pedal. Then there was something called "warm up" -- the period of time it took for the cast iron lump to settle into a tolerably smooth idle, so you could try driving away without stalling out. Modern engine management and fuel injection has made this a thing of the past -- but it was a big part of the muscle car experience. House cats are friendly and easy to manage (usually). But they can't inspire the awe and respect that comes from handling a Tiger. And that's the difference here.

    Modern performance cars do not require your full time and attention; they do not overheat if caught in stop-and-go-traffic. No need to constantly monitor the temperature gauge -- and be thinking of where you might pull off the road to allow the engine to cool off a bit. That was a routine drill with the bar-fighters of yesteryear. Today's performance cars are as docile and civilized as any econo-box. It's all very practical -- but so is a gelding, eating skinless chicken breast and being deferential toward your boss. Nothing to light your fire there (even if you might get burned a little in the process).

    And every modern performance car is loaded up with amenities -- air conditioning and a full array of power options -- that make them as comfortable on a 300 mile road trip as they are blasting down the quarter-mile. All to the good, perhaps. But the adventure of it all has been watered down.

    We pine for the old muscle cars -- but if GM or Ford were to actually resurrect one, we'd very likely snap back to our senses. Most of us, anyhow. It's fine to have a car that looks like one of the old brawlers, but there are very, very few diehards out there who would want to live with one on a day-to-day basis.

    This is the irony of the current resurgence in retro-themed performance cars: As much as they try to conjure the attitude of the originals, they can't ever hope to really be anything like them.

    And the truth of the matter is that most of us are fine with that -- and wouldn't want the real McCoy in our lives any more than we'd want our daughters to bring home a Hells Angel.

    A time and a place for everything. And the time of the old-school muscle cars cannot be revisited. That was then -- and this is now. We can pretend that modern performance cars are muscle cars.

    But we're only kidding ourselves.

    END

  2. #2
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    Re: The no-frills muscle car - would you buy one?

    I agree that offering cars with crappy suspension, steering and the like would be a disaster, but I think that the automakers could do the drivning public a favor by making such things as electric windows, air conditioning, power locks, power seats,and even a radio optional again. In addition, we don't need ABS or stability control, (something that the damned government is going to make mandatory > )

    I would like to see the return of a truly stripped model that would take some excess baggage off the car. People in the North don't necessarily need Air Conditioning. Power windows have a tendency to break, and power seats are largely a waste of money as well.

    On the other hand, I will gladly take the ease of opertating today's vehicles with fuel injection, rack and pinion steering, and independent suspension systems. I would never want to go back to the days of navigating a car with Bias Ply tires and recirc ball steering with leaf spring suspensions. No thanks.

    As I understand it, the Pontiac Solstice is one of the only cars available without all of the power garbage that we're forced to buy, which according to automakers, is a quality enhancement. Bull.


  3. #3
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Re: The no-frills muscle car - would you buy one?

    Quote Originally Posted by swamprat
    I agree that offering cars with crappy suspension, steering and the like would be a disaster, but I think that the automakers could do the drivning public a favor by making such things as electric windows, air conditioning, power locks, power seats,and even a radio optional again. In addition, we don't need ABS or stability control, (something that the damned government is going to make mandatory > )

    I would like to see the return of a truly stripped model that would take some excess baggage off the car. People in the North don't necessarily need Air Conditioning. Power windows have a tendency to break, and power seats are largely a waste of money as well.

    On the other hand, I will gladly take the ease of opertating today's vehicles with fuel injection, rack and pinion steering, and independent suspension systems. I would never want to go back to the days of navigating a car with Bias Ply tires and recirc ball steering with leaf spring suspensions. No thanks.


    I'd like to see this, too.

    Will it happen? I dunno...

    Hot Rod had an interesting story on the "new" camaro recently - and discussed the idea of GM offering a stripped version without the electronic/comfort stuff that pads the price and which many enthusiasts could readily live without.

    As far as standard trac/stability control - cars grow less and less fun each year. I find myself more and more drawn to bikes, which the government hasn't yet focused on much - and which remain mostly free of idiot-proofing!

    As I understand it, the Pontiac Solstice is one of the only cars available without all of the power garbage that we're forced to buy, which according to automakers, is a quality enhancement. Bull.


  4. #4
    Senior Member Kwozzie1's Avatar
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    Re: The no-frills muscle car - would you buy one?

    One had to know how to set the choke -- and just how far (and how many times) to pump the gas pedal.

    the choke was the fun part of getting a car to start on cold mornings. American cars had automatic chokes long before we had them downunder. I think from memory my '71 Rover was the first car I owned with automatic choke. My Falcons of later 70's vintage still had a manual choke. They always started first hit, and the trick was to ease it off a fraction. Too much and there was much hiccuping.

    Rex
    On the Sunshine Coast, in the Sunshine State Queensland (QLD), Australia

  5. #5
    JohnB
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    Re: The no-frills muscle car - would you buy one?

    Ford tried with the Marauder except that they overpriced it a bit and didn't market it well.

    I would have bought one had it been priced about $5 k less.

  6. #6
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Re: The no-frills muscle car - would you buy one?

    Quote Originally Posted by JohnB
    Ford tried with the Marauder except that they overpriced it a bit and didn't market it well.

    I would have bought one had it been priced about $5 k less.
    ..and it would have been much better if it had had a 351 instead of the 4.6 (not enough torque)!

  7. #7
    JohnB
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    Re: The no-frills muscle car - would you buy one?

    Quote Originally Posted by Eric
    Quote Originally Posted by JohnB
    Ford tried with the Marauder except that they overpriced it a bit and didn't market it well.

    I would have bought one had it been priced about $5 k less.
    ..and it would have been much better if it had had a 351 instead of the 4.6 (not enough torque)!
    There's that... The 351 in my Bronco in 4WD-LOW can almost climb phone poles. But... I find that the 4.6 in the GM is grunty enough for the car. One thing though, it's so smooth at speed that one's not aware of how fast it's moving. Coming back from Frisco I got stopped by a CHP guy that said that he clocked me at 92 passing a car (that was doing about 65 on a 70 zone on the left lane). We just had a chat and parted company, none the less for wear.


  8. #8
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Re: The no-frills muscle car - would you buy one?

    Quote Originally Posted by JohnB
    Quote Originally Posted by Eric
    Quote Originally Posted by JohnB
    Ford tried with the Marauder except that they overpriced it a bit and didn't market it well.

    I would have bought one had it been priced about $5 k less.
    ..and it would have been much better if it had had a 351 instead of the 4.6 (not enough torque)!
    There's that... The 351 in my Bronco in 4WD-LOW can almost climb phone poles. But... I find that the 4.6 in the GM is grunty enough for the car. One thing though, it's so smooth at speed that one's not aware of how fast it's moving. Coming back from Frisco I got stopped by a CHP guy that said that he clocked me at 92 passing a car (that was doing about 65 on a 70 zone on the left lane). We just had a chat and parted company, none the less for wear.

    Any time you get to walk away from getting clocked at 90-something is a good day in my book!

  9. #9
    JohnB
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    Re: The no-frills muscle car - would you buy one?

    Quote Originally Posted by Eric
    Quote Originally Posted by JohnB
    Quote Originally Posted by Eric
    Quote Originally Posted by JohnB
    Ford tried with the Marauder except that they overpriced it a bit and didn't market it well.

    I would have bought one had it been priced about $5 k less.
    ..and it would have been much better if it had had a 351 instead of the 4.6 (not enough torque)!
    There's that... The 351 in my Bronco in 4WD-LOW can almost climb phone poles. But... I find that the 4.6 in the GM is grunty enough for the car. One thing though, it's so smooth at speed that one's not aware of how fast it's moving. Coming back from Frisco I got stopped by a CHP guy that said that he clocked me at 92 passing a car (that was doing about 65 on a 70 zone on the left lane). We just had a chat and parted company, none the less for wear.

    Any time you get to walk away from getting clocked at 90-something is a good day in my book!
    I am not going to go into the details of the conversation, just that we parted friends after a handshake.
    Honestly, I wasn't paying attention to the spedometer at that time as my attention was focused on the road and doing a safe pass.

    I got to check the track log on the GPS. The trip page says that the top speed during the entire trip (about 1000 miles) was 96.3 but I'll have to see what it was at that particular spot. I have it set up to log evey 1/16 of a mile. (lots of log points <g>).

    I know that the rest of the traffic was flying at 80+.


  10. #10
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Re: The no-frills muscle car - would you buy one?

    A good end result, either way!

    I've been in similar situations myself and have found that demeanor (yours!) counts for a lot, as well as whether what you were doing was just a "technical foul" (or genuinely unsafe). If it's just a technical foul (something that's against the alw that the officer could write you for but which isn't necessarily dangerous or even unsafe) and you don't act like an ass, I have found that your odds of having a conversation just as you've described and then parting ways in a friendly manner (and without a ticket) is better than 50-50...

  11. #11
    JohnB
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    Re: The no-frills muscle car - would you buy one?

    Quote Originally Posted by Eric
    A good end result, either way!

    I've been in similar situations myself and have found that demeanor (yours!) counts for a lot, as well as whether what you were doing was just a "technical foul" (or genuinely unsafe). If it's just a technical foul (something that's against the alw that the officer could write you for but which isn't necessarily dangerous or even unsafe) and you don't act like an ass, I have found that your odds of having a conversation just as you've described and then parting ways in a friendly manner (and without a ticket) is better than 50-50...
    I pulled the speed log from the GPS and it shows that I was at that speed only for 24 seconds or 0.6 mile and it shows a gradual increase from 73 to 92 and back to 72 over a 2 minute period so I was clearly passing and back to "cruise"

    I basically told him that I wasn't going to sit there and argue and left it up to him BUT I made mention that I was monitoring the speed on the GPS at the time and had been on cruise control all the time except for the passing.

  12. #12
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Re: The no-frills muscle car - would you buy one?

    I don't doubt, also, that your "profile" worked to your advantage, too - by which I mean: Here's a regular looking grown man who appears to be a solid citizen with articulate, clears-poken speech who is clearly not some amped-up idiot in need of a lesson. He probably ran your record too and found it clean - which can count, too.

  13. #13
    JohnB
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    Re: The no-frills muscle car - would you buy one?

    Quote Originally Posted by Eric
    I don't doubt, also, that your "profile" worked to your advantage, too - by which I mean: Here's a regular looking grown man who appears to be a solid citizen with articulate, clears-poken speech who is clearly not some amped-up idiot in need of a lesson. He probably ran your record too and found it clean - which can count, too.
    Yep, all that and my "retired" badge <BG>

    Did you look at the record I sent you? I think that had he given me a ticket I could have argued succesfully, I think, that the "clocked" speed was only a momentary peak while passing.


  14. #14
    DonTom
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    Re: The no-frills muscle car - would you buy one?

    "No need to constantly monitor the temperature gauge -- and be thinking of where you might pull off the road to allow the engine to cool off a bit."

    I've noticed that too, but I would like to know how they fixed that problem! Radiators and the A/C core seems to be smaller,yet works a lot better than the larger ones in the past. Is it because the engines are smaller or what?

    -Don-



  15. #15
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Re: The no-frills muscle car - would you buy one?

    Modern cars have to (for emissions reasons) operate at pretty consistent temps. so the automakers have had to develop adequate cooling systems - everything from radiator size/capacity to airflow, etc. - to make sure that they operate within that range and so don't pollute.

    The reduction in overheating is just a side bennie!

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