Question of the Day: Is Anything Old Good Again?

Jonny Lieberman
by Jonny Lieberman

We could also ask, "Can you ever go home again?" Lots and lots of retrofitted metal is coming our way. Dodge is rolling out the fatty Challenger, Chevrolet is (maybe one day) offering up the Camaro and it looks like Pontiac is (gulp) actually bringing back the El Camino, although who knows what they're actually calling it (Pontiac Davey G8 if they're being honest). Don't get me wrong, truck-cars have always been cool, but this one? I was stuck at a red light over the weekend, staring at a Honda Element and I realized it, in fact, has suicide doors. Back in the day, suicide doors were the very definition of cool. I mean, a big old Lincoln Continental? Fuhgedaboutit. But an Element? I'll forget all about it, but for very different reasons. When I was in high school El Caminos and muscle cars were cool because you just knew the driver had an STD. A cool one. But this new Pontiac? What sorta disease you going to get from that? Gingivitis? So is there anything positive to say about all the retro shit they're giving us now?

Jonny Lieberman
Jonny Lieberman

Cleanup driver for Team Black Metal V8olvo.

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  • Geeber Geeber on Mar 25, 2008

    The Mustang has one big advantage over the Challenger and the Camaro - it never went away. It has been on the market since April 1964, and it has always been a sporty two-door that offers style and simple mechanicals at a relatively low price. People also forget that during the 1960s the Mustang was regularly outperformed by its GM and Mopar competition (Bullitt aside). It was more of a secretary's car (remember the opening for The Mary Tyler Moore Show?). The Mary Tyler Moores of the real world saved it in the long run, because its appeal was not as limited as that of the Camaro/Firebird and Barracuda/Challenger. Today the V-6 models still appeal to buyers who want something with a little bit of style that is reliable and relatively inexpensive. The convertible model is also important - it's relatively affordable (especially in V-6 form), and much better-looking than the GM and Chrysler convertibles in that price range (Pontiac G6 and Chrysler Sebring). The Mustang may take a hit when the Camaro and Challenger appear, but I have a feeling that, just as before, when the smoke clears it will be the last one standing. Even people who don't know much about cars know what a Mustang is...the same cannot necessarily be said about the Camaro and Challenger. As for the MINI - remember that the original was sold only briefly in America, and never sold in large numbers over here. WE know that it is based on the original, but the majority of Americans are unfamiliar with the original MINI. To them, the new MINI really is a NEW car.

  • Carguy Carguy on Mar 25, 2008

    All retro crazes are based on the faded rose colored view of the past when we thought that life was somewhat better (which most likely it wasn't). Let's face it, by any scientific measure new cars are better than old - just take any old Mopar for a spin to be reminded just how bad they really were. With all this retro styling, what will our kids get nostalgic about as they get older - the Dodge Challenger? That would be second hand nostalga. It would more likely a Scion. Maybe we should be looking towards the future for our transportation design and rather than live in the past?

  • Whatdoiknow1 Whatdoiknow1 on Mar 25, 2008

    In many ways the Mustang is just like other cars like the Accord, Civic, and Corolla. It has been around forever and Ford has continuously followed a simple yet effective formula for keeping it viable in the market place. When you look back to the 1980s you will find that all of the attributes that made Camaros and Firebirds better performing and looking cars are also the reasons for their eventual failure in the marketplace. While the Fox platform Mustangs were no beauties they were actually fairly practical cars to live with; normal sized adults could fit in the back seats without any problems, the cargo space was quite decent, the car was easy to get in and out of. They also cost a few thousand $$$ less, were equiped with smaller less expensive tires. Unlike the over the top styling of the Camaro and Firebird, with the Mustang all you needed to do was change the tail light to LX model ones and remove the red strip down the side and you had a nice understated ride. Hell if the GT was still too much for you you could just buy an LX 5.0 and call it a day. On the otherhand the Camaro was the poster child for impractical cars in the 1980s; low to the ground with doors that weighed about 100lbs each, a big heavy glass hatch that was poorly mounted, leaky T-Tops that made the body quiver to no end, an unuseable backseat, a cargo area dominated by an enormous axle hump, a hood that also severly overweight. With all the draw-backs of the F-Body Camaro what the hell was the point of owning one if it was not a Z28 or IROC? Truthfully there was none. A v6 Camaro amounted to a big doofy car that was easily outclassed by many simple FWD sport compacts. For a guy, owning a v6 Camaro was the equivalent of wearing a pleather jacket. To sum it up a v6 Camaro was over-sized, over-weight, under-powered, under-tired, poorly handling, no room inside havin, poorly built, a penalty-box of a car. In otherwords a very bad formula for designing and building cars. So once again GM and Chysler have big, heavy, inefficent cars coming to market. on the outside they are big yet they will have all of the practical drawbacks of their orginial counterparts; big heavy doors, hard to access rear seats, limited cargo room for the size and weight. Outside of a some high-speed runs and some stop-light burn-outs you have at best a one-trick-pony all over again. Once again we have a top down marketing approach were each lower level model loses a great deal of the appeal of the "super" decked out muscle machines. Rather than start with the basics, GM and Chysler start with the "wet dream" and are forced to engineer backwards leading to the usual crappy products. But, hey a few older retired gents are going to rediscover their hard-ons without the help of some viagra.

  • Landcrusher Landcrusher on Mar 25, 2008

    Turbo G : "But where to go when you need to refresh your retro cars? For example, the new mustang is styled after the late 60’s Mustangs. Where does Ford go now? To the 74-78 Mustang II style for the 2012? It’s going to be hard to keep the magic going here…" Hmm, that sounds familiar. Here is a better question. If your customers think that your old product is more aesthetically pleasing than your present product, why would you NOT make your next product look more like the old one? At any rate, how about they go in a different direction than the one that lead to near zero sales? (Mustang II). The NEW mustang is a NEW mustang after all. They took the basic look of the old one, but they used modern materials and influences. Now they give themselves another chance not to go wrong. IT'S A NO BRAINER. Oh, and here is the real killer benefit: If the next version doesn't sell, then they can go back to the last one that did, and update from there again. BRILLIANT! Jeremy Clarkson can bash Porsche all he wants, but they make a LOT of money with this formula. Ford would do well NOT to kill the goose.