By on September 22, 2017

road-runner-jack-smith

By 1966, muscle cars were hitting peak stride. But some argued they had become too expensive and strayed too far from the original concept. As performance models had grown in displacement and technology, some crossed into premium pricing territory. Pontiac’s GTO, for example, could easily exceed $4,000 with a handful of options when the average cost of an American automobile was closer to $2,750.

Enter Jack Smith.

Plymouth had fallen into the pricing pitfall like most other manufacturers. Smith, who owned a souped-up Belvedere II, had recently been promoted to head of the company’s mid-sized car planning division. He wagered the public might enjoy a car like his and Plymouth introduced the GTX in 1967 to compete with the GTO. But it was still too expensive, especially for a budget brand like Plymouth, and garnered a lukewarm sales response — which gave Jack an idea.  (Read More…)

By on August 26, 2017

Image: Buick GSX, by Corey Lewis In our previous concours edition of Picture Time, we shared five distinctly American luxury cars from years gone by. Today we move forward in history a little, and subtract some luxury for the sake of sheer power.

Follow along now for some great American muscle cars from the show.

(Read More…)

By on August 11, 2017

2017 Chevrolet Camaro RS - Image: GMThere’s more than one reason the sixth-generation Chevrolet Camaro has failed to live up to the fifth-gen Camaro’s U.S. marketplace success.

First, the drama of the (quite possibly) superior sixth-gen Camaro’s styling is diminished by the fact that it looks so very much like the fifth-gen car. To the casual muscle car buyer — of which there have to be tens of thousands of it’s going to be the high-volume sports car it was — it’s certainly not obvious that this is even an all-new car.

Then there’s the fact that the sixth-gen Camaro also continues the fifth-gen’s visibility trend: there is none. Added to that, GM always intended to sell fewer Camaros to daily rental fleets when the sixth-gen car arrived for the 2016 model year.

In the end, however, it’s always down to money. Not only is the Chevrolet Camaro a costly ticket, but Camaros are also packaged in a way that shrinks appeal at the affordable end of the spectrum.

According to GM’s North American boss Mark Reuss, the company wants to fix that, though it’s not yet clear what the remedy is. (Read More…)

By on August 1, 2017

2018 Ford Mustang GT - Image: FordLike a good neighbor, Ford Mustang is there.

We noticed last week that Ford’s more costly 2018 Ford Mustang GT offers an $895 Active Valve Performance Exhaust option. Only now, however, do we know just what that performance exhaust system entailed.

Sure, it can be loud, but the 2018 Mustang GT’s optional exhaust is more than just a baffle that opens under heavy throttle. Now you can hush your Mustang at the crack of dawn to avoid waking Dan and Mary next door; the pesky neighbors who mow their lawn at 8 a.m. on Saturdays but hate everything about your all-American muscle car. (Read More…)

By on July 26, 2017

2018 Ford Mustang GT rear - Image: FordThe 2018 Ford Mustang GT, freshly facelifted and powered up, will cost you 6 percent more than the 2017 Ford Mustang GT.

The base price for a Ford Mustang EcoBoost falls to $26,085, a $610 drop as Ford eliminates the basic Ford Mustang V6 from the lineup and moves the EcoBoost downmarket to aid affordability. Now with 310 horsepower and 350 lb-ft of torque, the least expensive 2018 Ford Mustang is $400 more than the least expensive 2017 Ford Mustang.

But it’s the 2018 Mustang GT, now priced from $35,995, that’s growing increasingly expensive. A $1,900 jump is nothing to sneeze at, particularly given the speed with which the $40K barrier is now crossed.

Non-Shelby Mustangs can get pricey in a hurry. (Read More…)

By on June 29, 2017

2018 Ford Mustang GT V8 - Image: Ford

Ford Motor Company, in a tremendously public product planning moment, revealed at the beginning of 2017 that the automaker would produce an F-150 Hybrid, Transit plug-in hybrid, and a Mustang Hybrid by 2020.

Then-CEO Mark Fields said at the time, “Ford is committed to being a leader in providing consumers with a broad range of electrified vehicles.” But now that Ford revealed plans for the 2020 Mustang Hybrid, the Blue Oval has a three-year gap in which to talk about a car that doesn’t yet exist.

How to talk about it now, three years prior to launch? Ford Canada is placing promoted ads on Twitter that are endlessly popping up in my feed.

The Mustang Hybrid is not shown. But the future earns a prominent mention. (Read More…)

By on May 17, 2017

2017 Chevrolet Camaro SS - Image: white

General Motors reported 8,737 Chevrolet Camaro sales in the United States in April 2017, a 17-percent year-over-year increase for GM’s third-best-selling car last month.

For the sixth-generation Camaro, a car that had a decidedly unimpressive launch phase last year after routinely outselling the Ford Mustang for half a decade, April 2017’s improvement led to the best month yet. Not since the oft-discounted fifth-generation Camaro was nearing the end of its line in May 2015 has Camaro volume been so strong.

As for the headline-creating bits, yes, the Chevrolet Camaro beat the Ford Mustang in April 2017 U.S. sales. Camaro wins. Camaro is the victor. To the Camaro go the spoils.

GM must take time to enjoy its Camaro’s victories. Once routine, they’re hardly common now. (Read More…)

By on May 2, 2017

1960 Mercury Marauder

As the heady 1950s horsepower race transitioned into the far-out 1960s pony and muscle car wars, buyers were able to gorge themselves on a buffet of choices. The only question needing an answer was: how wild do you want it?

If there’s money in your pocket, well, step right up to more horsepower and brawn than you can ever hope to handle, young man.

Seemingly overnight, Detroit felt the urgent need to muscle car all the things. Compact economy car? Better drop a 340 or 383 cubic incher in that light, skinny-tired sucker. Plush, gargantuan family sedan with soft springs? Meh, that thing can probably be made to haul ass. Add some cubes!

Budding environmentalists clutched their chests and reached for their puffers. Still, amid the smorgasbord of tire-shredding excess, some models made you wonder: was this really necessary? (Read More…)

By on February 3, 2017

2017 Ford Mustang blue - Image: Ford

Across much of the United States, January is not the season for pony car purchases.

In fact, January is not the season for big automotive purchases in general.

Auto sales are at their lowest point in January. The rush to buy and lease vehicles in December, when spending comes naturally and time away from the office is easy to come by, is over. The weather typically takes a turn. Wallets are not flush.

Last month, U.S. auto sales dropped 2 percent from January 2016 levels. Blame a 13-percent passenger car downturn.

But the Ford Mustang, Chevrolet Camaro, and Dodge Challenger all tanked at a substantially worse rate than the market at large, following up a disappointing 2016 with January results that had better not set the stage for 2017. (Read More…)

By on December 6, 2016

2017 Chevrolet Camaro V6 V8 1LE - Image: General Motors

Well, that was short-lived. After somewhat positive, very incentive-fueled results for the Chevrolet Camaro in September and October, November’s numbers told a very different story.

General Motors’ underwhelming launch of the sixth-generation Chevrolet Camaro produced significantly fewer sales in 2016 than the old Camaro managed in its final year. Camaro sales through the first eight months of 2016 were down 15 percent, year-over-year. But GM then threw down the incentive gauntlet in September with massive discounts, intending to clear an inventory glut.

It worked. Sort of. The Chevrolet Camaro outsold the Ford Mustang in September — and again in October — but inventory levels scarcely decreased. Autumn simply isn’t the time to sell large numbers of pony cars, even if the Camaro attracted more buyers thanks to average discounts of $4,700 per car.

Regardless, that two-month Camaro win streak turned out to be a two-month blip. General Motors scaled back Camaro incentives in November 2016. Consequently, Camaro volume declined, the Camaro was once again handily outsold by the Ford Mustang, and there are now 177 days of Camaro supply across America. (Read More…)

By on November 7, 2016

2016 Chevrolet Camaro white

Updated with additional October incentive numbers.

In theory, 2016 should have been the Chevrolet Camaro’s year. Although it’s not over, we already know it won’t be the Camaro’s year.

But the Chevrolet Camaro is making headway as 2016 comes to a close. October was the second consecutive month in which the Camaro outsold the Mustang.

(Read More…)

By on September 12, 2016

2017 Chevrolet Camaro

In response to disappointing sales of the new-for-2016 Chevrolet Camaro, General Motors revealed last week that it will cut prices of the 2017 model.

Although there are plenty of 2017 Camaros already available — all of which will benefit from the newly lowered price — the issue facing GM’s U.S. dealers now pertains to the number of 2016 Camaros on dealer lots. Of the roughly 27,000 Chevrolet Camaros in stock at dealers across America, according to Cars.com, 40 percent are MY2016s, the appeal for which decreases rapidly as more MY2017s become available.

This ballooning Camaro inventory, a 139-day supply heading into September 2016, was caused by a sharp decrease in Camaro demand with the launch of the all-new sixth-generation model, a subject we’ve explored frequently in the past. Through the first eight months of 2016, U.S. sales of the Chevrolet Camaro are down 15 percent.

But sales of the Camaro’s chief rival, the wildly more popular Ford Mustang, are falling, as well. Dodge Challenger sales are sliding, too. (Read More…)

By on August 22, 2016

2016 Chevrolet Camaro SS yellow“Do you want to get in and out of your car easily and do you want to be able to back out of a tight parking spot?” Ford Mustang buyer and former Chevrolet Camaro shopper John Oglesby wrote to Car And Driver for its September 2016 issue. “If so, you need the Mustang.”

John Oglesby is truly representative of the market as a whole. After holding its position as the top dog in the segment for five years, the Chevrolet Camaro predictably lost its title to the Ford Mustang in 2015, the year of an all-new Mustang; the last year for the now-departed fifth-generation Chevrolet Camaro.

2016 hosted the launch of an all-new Chevrolet Camaro, but a return to sales leadership wasn’t in the cards. Not at any point since the nameplate’s 2009 return has the Camaro sold so poorly. Year-over-year, U.S. Camaro volume is down 15 percent compared with 2015, the Camaro’s previous worst year since returning. (Read More…)

By on July 8, 2016

2016 Chevrolet Camaro

After TTAC delved into the details of the sixth-generation Chevrolet Camaro’s gradual decline last month, General Motors reported the worst sales month for the Camaro since November 2014.

June 2016 sales of the Chevrolet Camaro fell to a 19-month low. With only 4,969 sales — a huge number by the standards of most sporting cars but a 40-percent drop compared with the Camaro’s five-year June average — U.S. Camaro volume fell below 5,000 units for just the second time in the last 18 months.

Newly launched this past winter, the latest Camaro’s sales have fallen well below the totals achieved by the six-year-old fifth-gen Camaro in its final — and worst — year on the market. In the first-half of 2015, GM reported 42,593 U.S. sales of the Camaro, a 9-percent year-over-year drop. Yet one year later, the new Camaro is down 14 percent to 36,834 units, a drop of 5,759 sales. (Read More…)

By on June 23, 2016

2016 Chevrolet Camaro

On the Muscle Car Calendar, 2016 was supposed to be the Year of Camaro.

After outselling the Ford Mustang in the United States in five consecutive years between 2010 and 2014, it wasn’t surprising to see the Chevrolet Camaro fade into a distant second place in calendar year 2015. The Mustang was all-new in sixth-generation form for model year 2015; the Camaro was in its seventh and last year of its fifth iteration. The refreshed Dodge Challenger’s success may have played a role in the Camaro’s sharp decline, too, as 2015 was the seventh consecutive year of U.S. Challenger sales growth.

2016, with the reborn Camaro freshly reengineered and the Mustang no longer the freshest American muscle, is not turning out to be the Camaro’s time to shine.

Through the first five months of 2016, the Ford Mustang has outsold the Chevrolet Camaro by 21,324 units in the United States, a margin that may be impossible for the Camaro to overcome by year’s end. (Read More…)

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