Detroit automakers produced several cars during a time between the 1950’s and the mid 1970’s that have become the heart of American Muscle. They share the same characteristics: responsive transmissions, aggressive exterior design, souped up engines, two doors and a sporty interior. Changing tastes and rising fuel prices eventually led to a decrease in sales to the point where just a few models were produced each year.
Thanks to the efforts of manufacturers like Ford, Dodge and Chevrolet, and despite even higher gas prices, muscle cars are back in style. In 2009 renewed interest in this category has lead Chevrolet to bring back one of it’s darlings, the Camaro. And though Ford never quit production of it’s iconic Mustang, it has gone through 9 generations of tweaks to make it the favored muscle car it is today.
There are a whole line of the vehicles produced, at one time or another, that qualify to carry the moniker muscle car. Not to be outdone by the Ford Mustang and Fairlane 500, Mercury released the Montego, Chevrolet joined in with the Corvette and Camaro, Pontiac produced the GTO, Firebird and Tempest, Oldsmobile had the 442, Plymouth the ‘Cuda, and Dodge released the Challenger and Charger. The Mustang and Corvette made a lasting long stand, for a while being the only two muscle cars under production, but Dodge has made a resurgence with the recent releases of the Challenger, Charger and sleek Viper.
It is a fascinating assumption that it was Ford’s remodel of the 2005 Mustang that created the current craze for muscle cars. The current Mustang, styled after it’s predecessor of the 1960’s, has embraced it’s retro look while it’s technology incorporates contemporary styling. Resulting sales have increased exponentially, even without incentives.
Daimler Chrylser, inspired by the success of the Mustang, gave the go ahead to bring back it’s own retro cruiser. The Dodge Challenger concept car began appearing in automotive shows across the US, and brought it’s V8 Hemi powered model back in 2009. The success seen with the Challenger gave General Motors the intensive to bring back the Camaro.
Thinking it’s a bit silly to bring back such obvious gas hogs? The average muscle car in the 70’s ranged between 10-12 MPG in town and 15-16 MPG highway. Computer efficiency and technology has made it possible for the Corvette to increase highway MPG to 28 miles. While fuel mileage is certainly decreased from more fuel efficient models, this new crop of muscle cars are still superior to their predecessors.