Webster defines muscle cars as, “any group of American-made, two-door sports cars with powerful engines designed for high-performance driving.” In other words, they are loud, and they go real fast!
Now, I’m the first to admit that I know absolutely nothing about how a car works. Other than filling up the gas tank, making sure it has its oil changed on schedule and rotating the tires . . . that’s about it. The way the engine works? A complete mystery. But, you don’t have to know everything about cars to like cars. The muscle cars of the ‘60s and ‘70s – those are the ones I really like. They were the ‘it’ cars of my generation. The cool cars, the ones that got noticed cruisin’ on Friday night or roaring into the parking lot at school. Between the songs about them, the movies and TV shows, lots of people have fond memories.
My first car was a ’71 Mustang – fastback, lime green with black racing stripes down each side. Not your typical girl’s car, but I loved it. Mustangs have been one of my favorite cars for a long time. Ford Motors hit it right with their introduction in 1964 (or 1964 ½ to purists). Decades later, they’re still popular. Recently, CBS’s show Blue Bloods had an episode about the Bullitt Mustang. Driven by Steve McQueen, one of the dark green ’68 Mustangs used in filming was reportedly sold after the movie for $2,500. The Charger driven in the epic chase scene was destroyed during the filming.
The 1972 Gran Torino (dark green like McQueen’s car) used in the Clint Eastwood film was purchased on-line and later bought by Eastwood for his collection. The car used in the Starsky & Hutch series was also a Gran Torino (a red ’75 model).
The 1964 Pontiac GTO is considered one of the pioneers among muscle cars. It could go from 0 to 60 mph in 6.6 seconds. Ronny and the Daytonas had a hit song – GTO – that you may remember.
Other well-known muscle cars include the ’68 Road Runner, the ’69 Chevy Camaro (it could go from 0 to 60 mph in 5.3 seconds (see how much improvement came about in five years?), the Chevy Nova, Pontiac Trans Am, Plymouth Barracuda, and the Chevrolet Chevelle SS. And let’s not forget the Dodge Charger of the Fast & Furious movie series.
So many classic rock & roll songs were written about these cars: Mustang Sally by Wilson Pickett, the Dukes of Hazzard theme (who didn’t love that airborne orange Charger?), and Hot Rod Lincoln and Maybellene by Chuck Berry. The Beach Boys has several hits, including Little Deuce Coupe and 409. One of my favorites, by the Beach Boys, was The Little Old Lady from Pasadena – “but parked in a rickety old garage, there’s a brand new shiny super stocked Dodge.”
And let’s not forget the TV series that featured some favorite muscle cars. First to mind is, of course, The Dukes of Hazzard, but there was also the Monkeemobile from The Monkees that was built from a Pontiac GTO, that cool Corvette on Route 66, and Nash Bridges’ ’71 Barracuda.
Present day cars are certainly more energy efficient, but the era of the muscle cars was special. Perhaps it’s just nostalgic to remember them and the friends who had them. They really were and still are classics in their own right. Varoom . . . . .