Do you remember the “’Cuda,” “’Stang” and “Goat”? If you were born in the 1960s or earlier, you probably do. These nicknames were lovingly given to the “muscle cars” of that long ago time. The “Big Three” automakers of the 1950s and 1960s took America’s love affair with the car, as well as the horsepower they provided, very seriously. Everyone loved those gas-guzzling beasts of impressive size and power.
In 1973, the Arab embargo forced gas prices to shoot up. Shortly after, insurance rates soared. The federal mandate to clean up the emissions created by the cars dealt the fatal blow, causing the end of an era. They were replaced by small, low-powered economy cars, which were driven more out of necessity than desire for more than 25 years.
Fast-forward to the 21st century. Like the caterpillar that metamorphoses into the butterfly, the muscle car is experiencing a beautiful transformation after some time in dormancy. In 2005, Ford stepped out of the shadows with the retro-styled Mustang. Banking on the wistful dreams of people who grew up with the first generation of muscle car, Ford cashed in with the Mustang, gambling on the hope of a renaissance in horsepower.
The gamble worked. Over the last few years, a resurgence of cars with large amounts of horsepower, slick good looks and at least a casual eye on the gas pump have hit the market. Some, like the Pontiac GTO, didn’t get far. However, the lineup for 2012 is by far the most impressive to have hit the road in many years.
Once again, Ford entices muscle car fanatics with the reintroduction of the 2012 Boss 302 to add to its already impressive Mustang bloodline. Garnering awards and recognition from several automotive publications, it looks like there is no stopping this pony.
In addition to the Mustang, which will repeat Ford’s 2011 offer of a 5.0 liter, 412 horsepower engine, 2012 will see the return of the Dodge Charger “Super Bee,” with its trademark black and yellow theme inside and out, powered by a 470-HP 6.4 liter V-8 Hemi. Alongside the Charger, 2012 will witness the continuation of the Challenger and the resurrection of the Dodge Dart. Mopar lives again.
Chevy, not one to be left in the dust, has refashioned both its iconic muscle cars, the Corvette and Camaro. The Camaro boasts a standout feature that the other members of this exclusive club can’t claim: a five-star rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
The muscle cars of 2013 look no less impressive. Despite rising gas prices and the increasing federal mandates on fuel efficiency and emissions, the new era of the muscle car is upon us.