DetN Burgess: Muscle Cars RIP. Again. Maybe.

Robert Farago
by Robert Farago
detn burgess muscle cars rip again maybe

Detroit News scribe Scott Burgess offers a piercing glimpse into the obvious: the muscle car is dead. Burgess reckons "no one could have predicted the dramatic change in consumer tastes, high fuel prices and eco-politics when designers started penning those car's revivals." OK, well, anyway, Burgess isn't quite ready to pronounce the muscle car's TOD. "The Go-Fast gene in men and women will never disappear," he concludes. Frighteningly enough, Burgess' rant includes wistful quotes from GM players who talk about the move away from high horsepower vehicles as if the thought just occurred to them, with a similar lack of closure. "There's going to be a lot of internal pressure to move engineering resources to these other products," opines Tadge Juechter, GM's vehicle chief engineer for the Chevrolet Corvette and Cadillac XLR. "That's going to really impact future muscle cars." Going to be? Going to? "The concept of the muscle car will probably evolve into a really fun-to-drive, stylish vehicle," predicts Troy Clarke, GM's president of North America. "As opposed to something that just breathes fire and has more cubic inches than the next guy." Probably? Meanwhile, The Wall Street Journal reports that the industry shills knows as the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) have high horsepower vehicles in their premium hoiking sights. Enjoy your Challenger while you can Scott.

[Interview with Scott Burgess about muscle cars below.]

Join the conversation
4 of 26 comments
  • Jthorner Jthorner on Feb 12, 2008

    "no one could have predicted the dramatic change in consumer tastes, high fuel prices and eco-politics when designers started penning those car's revivals." Uh, what rock have these people been living under? Weren't most of the relevant decision makers alive during the 1970s fuel embargoes? Anyone who claims that the run up in fuel costs over the past five years was a surprise is an idiot. The growth of Asia and it's surging fuel demands has been thoroughly documented. The flat-lining and then decrease in US fleet fuel economy was likewise well documented. The only ones who didn't see this coming where those who DIDN'T WANT TO SEE IT COMING. "Can’t Ford and GM try bringing over their Aussie muscle cars?" Uh, you must have missed the recent Pontiac GTO which is just such an animal. Don't feel bad, almost everyone missed it. But hey, Lutz tried ... "In real world uses car on car, rarely will handling overcome a deficit of muscle. " I guess it depends which real world you live in. For me an enjoyable real world drive is Bear Creek Road through the Santa Cruz California mountains. It is a whole lot more fun in an old underpowered Fiat X1/9 than it is in anything with a V-8.

  • BerettaGTZ BerettaGTZ on Feb 12, 2008

    RIP muscle car? Better to kill it off now while muscle cars have reached their zenith of hp and refinement, rather than let them morph into something totally unworthy of the name. Those who forget the past are destined to repeat it. Remember the 70's fuel crisis? What kind of "muscle" car did that bring us? A Pinto-based Mustang II "Cobra" and a 145 hp V8 Camaro. No thanks.

  • Windswords Windswords on Feb 12, 2008

    Love the picture with this story. Now that's a real Challenger! Good memories.

  • on Feb 12, 2008

    I am saddened but not surprised at the eminent demise of the muscle car. Teh approval of the new CAFE standards was the death knell of muscle cars to my ears. I agree with the poster who siad there is no substitute for the feeling you get when you floor a high cube V8 engine, both the sound and the force tugging you back in your seat. I enjoy high revving engines as well-I owned an RX7 at one time-but it is not the same. Throw the 0-60 and 1/4 mile times out the window, a small engine with peak power above 5,000 rpm and no low end grunt just doesn't give the feeling of speed that you get with a muscle car, whether it be Ford, Chevy, or Chrysler. i imagine that any true gear head, at least anyone over the age of 35, will shed a tear for the passing of the true muscle car. I imagine that Ford will keep the Mustang galloping as long as they are in business. They probably will go back to a 4 cylinder base variant-harking back to the dark days of Mustang, the 70's-with a turbocharged 4 for the GT. And like the 70's, it just won't be the same, even if they find a way to wring 300 hp out of a turbocharged four. (Somebody mentioned the current turbocharged 2.3L, 4 that Mazda uses; even tuned to maximize power for rear wheel drive, I doubt it would equal the 300 hp that the current V8 puts out. Afterall, it's under 300 hp in the 4 wheel drive Mazdaspeed6.)