A couple of weeks ago, we drove around in a $160K Mercedes S-Class convertible with a white leather interior. No one really paid much attention to our "hoity-toity" selves as we cruised around in what amounts to a rolling boardroom of opulence. Then, we drove a flaming orange, snarling 2018 Chevy Camaro 2SS Hot Wheels Edition, and we swear some people got a bad crick in their necks as they looked back in abject jealousy. The Camaro costs about one third the price of the big Merc Cabrio, but it gets 10 times more attention.
The world loves muscle cars, unless you happen to be the neighbor of a muscle car owner who loves to rev his engine at all hours of the evening and early morning. They're like a kid's imagination come to life in the form of a life-size car. The fat tires, the 5-spoke wheels, the angry burble of the big V8 engine (EcoBoost Mustangs need not apply), and the visage that looks pissed 100% of the time. The muscle car is like an automotive animal that's visceral, loud, and anything but subtle.
So, what is it about muscle cars that garner so much love? First of all, they're nostalgic. For many baby boomers, their childhood and teen years in the '50s and '60s were spent with the heyday of the muscle car. Perhaps their father or grandfather owned one, or they were even lucky enough to own one in high school or college. Chevy Camaro, Plymouth Barracuda, Pontiac GTO, Dodge Charger.. all of them owned the straight line and the drag strip back in the day, and though some are no longer made, others live on. The Ford Mustang, Chevy Camaro, and the Dodge Charger and Challenger are the ones that hold court today, and they're better than ever.
Secondly, muscle cars are better than ever. No longer just created to burn rubber and drag each other at stoplights, they've become true performers in their own right. The current supercharged V8, 650 hp Chevy Camaro ZL1 is a bona fide sports car that can handle a track better than most performance cars that cost twice as much. The muscle car has evolved into something more than it ever was over half a century ago. But even base models of current muscle cars offer more performance, more tech, and more comfort than anything made decades ago.
When people see a muscle car drive by, they admire its place in history, but even those who aren't old enough to appreciate its heritage love its uniqueness. There's nothing quite like a muscle car because they're not practical by any means (unless you count the Dodge Charger sedan, which can double as a family vehicle). In the modern age of crossovers and SUVs that dominate the American landscape, it's great to see that a segment like muscle cars still exists. It makes almost no sense except to bring back memories, stir the automotive emotions, and lay down a patch or two if the desire arises.
Though most folks would balk at the idea of spending money on a fuel-guzzling muscle car that's loud and angry, the draw of them is undeniable. The lure of getting into a car that can make your pulse race, cause your grin to reach both ears, and also bring back memories of your dear old dad might actually be priceless in terms of the feelings it elicits. Though sales of muscle cars is waning, we hope Ford, Chevy, and Dodge never stop building them because it would truly be the end of an era and a disappearance of the kind of car that makes us excited about driving.