Turn the ignition, and its carnal soul stirs from hibernation. The engine rumbles and burps its way to idle. Blip the throttle and unbridled power and torque stir your soul. Grab the pistol grip shifter, throw the slush box into D and let em' rip. There's no denying the truth about muscle cars, and no denying their place in the world. Known and revered globally, Japan has their R34's, Deutschland has their M's and AMG's and the US, of course with its goats, 427's and Hemi's. The muscle cars' place on this earth is to remain politically incorrect, defy the law, and spit in the face of the rebel which lies in all of us.
Some would argue that the term "muscle car" is an American term, originating during the 50's or 60's. But in actuality, the muscle car has lived, exactly, since the assemblage of automobile number 2. Over the years, muscle cars have evolved from an existence solely defined by monster displacement, to fully sorted and balanced ubermachines, equally capable of accelerating, turning and stopping within un-comprehensible and convention defying specifications. If necessity is the mother of invention, then muscle cars are the dead-beat father of innovation. Through their evolution, laws (governmental, physical or otherwise) have challenged engineers and gearheads to do more with less. Inevitably they succeed.
Considered neither supercars or pocket rockets, the muscle car lies in the sweetspot somewhere between. To further define a muscle car is futile. To place boundaries around its limits is stupid. We've all been in muscle cars, and we all remember exactly the moment we first laid eyes on one. Our first ride, our first drive- burned indelibly into the minds eye. Few days in a man's life compare to our first experience in a muscle car. Thereafter, our life is an endless pursuit to re-capture that moment, the smell of white and red-piped leather, and the feel of your cranium bouncing off the headrest as you banged through the gears. Sensory overload leads to a blur of motion, lights and noise. Few earthly possessions can satisfy like that of the orbit orange encountered in our first judge, or the exhaust note of a WOT 427. Simple words, grabber, shaker, Boss, Hurst, Cuda and Skyline elicit unspeakable boyhood fantasies, and drive irrational acquisitions of unworldly proportions.
Today, we are living on the verge of a golden age for the muscle car, the likes of which have never been seen. The effects of globalization, currency manipulation, plummeting market share and deathwatches loom overhead, yet the worlds' automakers are duking it out in a no-holds-barred ultimate cage match for hot rod supremacy. For domestic manufacturers, the gold standard of success is an incentive free sale. To that end, the current generation Mustang has been running wildly right out of the gate. Old man Shelby and Parnelli Jones are lending further credibility to the first worthy successor to the Hurst editions and TransAm racers of yore. Thankfully, everybody is piling into the battle royal. Originally unveiled as "concepts" in January, the next generation Chevy Camaro and Dodge Challenger are pedal to the floor, in a head to head race for production. Not to be left in the dust, Nissan just announced its' plan for the GTR, the successor to the legendary Skyline. Do we really need a sub-5-second 0-60 jeep Cherokee? Hell no, but why not! The go-fast treatment is being applied with reckless abandon to SRT's SVT's, M's- S's, and AMG. With the recent unveiling of the Lexus LS600hL packing 430hp, even the otherwise anemic hybrid powertrain has crawled into the ring and delivered a folding chair to the head of their competitors. Never before has the world enjoyed the selection and performance of muscle cars that we do today. And the undisputed winner in all of this? You and I.
Their place in the world is hard to justify, existing in a peripheral space alongside the mainstream market. The muscle car commands attention from the worlds' automakers like that of a red-headed step child. Because cars are commodities, amounting to nothing more than toaster ovens to the general populace, bean counters and regulators will remain the ever-present threat. But for the believers, their value is defined by forces greater than ROI and MPG. And what about the future of the muscle car? Have no fear, they will remain the omnipresent force driving vehicle sales and buzz around the worlds great brands. They will irresponsibly burn through too many gallons of gas and be responsible for too many "reckless driving" tickets along the way. And what does the muscle get in return? No respect. I wouldn't have it any other way.
Muscle car translated in any language means fast, loud and obnoxious and shall be universally celebrated for being so.
[Published as originally submitted.]