The Renaissance of Classic Muscle Cars

Nov 4, 2007

Muscle cars are a staple part of the cultural consciousness of developed North America; even those not familiar and really not too interested in engines and power can’t help but turn their heads when a Barracuda or a Mustang rolls by. The combination of power and style that these cars bring together has always appealed to North Americans, from the early years of muscle cars in the classic 1960s right up to the present day.

Photo: Ford Mustang 1967 Fastback

Photo: Plymouth Barracuda 1970

The problem with muscle cars has always been the same; people see them as impractical, both as family vehicles and in terms of economy. They have never gone out of style as far as looks, and maybe even desire, but they have never been able to reproduce the sales success they enjoyed from the ‘60s to the ‘70s.

Given that muscle cars are known for their massive displacement, which traditionally has sucked up the fuel, it is kind of surprising to realize that there has been a resurgence in the manufacturing of muscle cars by North American companies for much of the new millennium. Ford, Chrysler, and Chevrolet have all turned out new models and reworked existing models in order to bring the muscle car back into the selling mainstream....

Perhaps the resurgence of the muscle car manufacture is best described as a renaissance, for these are not the muscle cars our fathers knew. They are designed to accommodate consumer concerns over fuel consumption, with even the biggest V-8s mitigated in their guzzling through the latest in computer chip technology. Even more stunning is the fact that some of these cars are designed – and are selling – not as traditional two doors but as sedans and even (gasp) as station-wagon like models.

Some resurgent models include the 2005 Ford Mustang, which boasted an entirely new look in addition to a new chassis, and became the best selling Mustang model in ten years.

Photo: Pontiac GTO 2003
Photo: Chevrolet Camaro 2009 Concept

Pontiac also rolled out a new style GTO in 2003, but it was discontinued in 2006. This has not dissuaded Chevrolet, however, as the company has announced plans to roll out a new version of the Camaro in 2009, as well as reworked G8’s and a possible comeback of the GTO.

The struggle of the American car companies is not news. With all of them losing huge market portions to foreign car manufacturers like Toyota, Volkswagen, and Honda, it should come as no surprise that Detroit is falling back on an old stalwart to try and remind North Americans why they fell in love with the companies in the first place. Cars with traditional muscle appeal but designed for family and energy efficiency may be the key to winning back some market share.

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