By on August 20, 2014

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If you ask Jack Baruth, the Chevrolet Corvette Stingray is probably the finest sports car on sale today. And with the addition of a new 8-speed automatic (a feature that will be more popular than many enthusiasts will care to admit), the C7 will add gains in performance and fuel economy. The 0-60 mph and 1/4 mile sprints shed a tenth of a second each: 60 mph comes up in 3.7 seconds, while the 1/4 mile is covered in 11.9 seconds. Highway fuel economy is up 1 mpg to 29 mpg. Yes, these are incremental improvements, but it’s also amazing that you can buy something with supercar performance and highway fuel economy within spitting distance of a mid-size V6 sedan.

Beyond the ‘Vette, the array of American performance cars on sale right now is staggering. If you like muscle cars, you can have your pick of a Mustang, Camaro or Challenger, where even the weakest variants offer 300+ horsepower V6 engines that are quick enough to run with the V8 Mustangs of ten years ago. At the upper end, you have big block pony cars that come with more power than most Italian exotics, available at prices well south of the six figure mark.

If you want something a bit more European, Ford will sell you not one, but two turbocharged hatchbacks that are widely regarded as the top of their class. There are a myriad of sedans in all kinds of flavors, from the pseudo-Euro Cadillac CTS and ATS to the unmistakably American Chrysler 300 and Dodge Charger and the under-appreciated Buick Regal GS. And let’s not forget the formidable Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT, which makes the AMG and M SUVs obsolete by virtue of its existence.

I was born an import guy, and have long worshiped at the altar of VTEC. JDM parts, drifting and Sport Compact Car were my holy sacraments. But the last year has been a sort of Damascene conversion for me. The most exciting cars have, in my opinion, been coming out of Detroit, and they’re no longer the one-trick ponies..err, pony cars that I remember from my youth, good for straight line performance, big torque and little else.

For someone of my means, it’s hard to think of something more compelling than the Fiesta ST, which can hit 60 mph in less than 7 seconds while returning as high as 40 mpg on the highway. If I were a wealthier man, than the C7 would be what I’d want – but I’d take the 7-speed manual. I’m not quite ready for two pedals yet.

Perhaps I lack the context and years on this planet to make this judgement call, but I can’t think of an era where the American performance car has been so well-rounded, dynamically capable and competitive against the global offerings of the performance car world. Let me know what you think.

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147 Comments on “A Love Letter To The American Performance Car...”


  • avatar
    tomLU86

    Good luck finding one!

    C7 has a 7-speed manual, not 6.

    But I liked the article, it’s nice to see local team get a break. I don’t know why you diss the ATS/CTS as pseudo-Euro; new BMWs are pseud-BMWs by the same standard.

  • avatar

    Maybe it’s just me but seeing 700+ HP cars come out within reach of the average moron scares the living crap out of me, regardless of ESP and other nannies onboard. The standard driving test just doesn’t cut it with that much power, not to mention the sheer stupidity that will occur.

    • 0 avatar
      raph

      You’ll be okay, there are cars out there driven by mere mortal morons that eclipse that figure by several hundred at the rear wheels society has yet to crumble.

      http://www.1320video.com/texas-streets-hunt-super-bowl-street-racing/

    • 0 avatar
      Superdessucke

      They may be within reach but, fortunately, the average moron these days drives a bloated CUV who can only tailgate you until there’s a curve in the road.

    • 0 avatar
      Ryoku75

      Its not the power that scares me, its peoples poor driving habits that’re the issue.

    • 0 avatar
      Jeep Guy

      Just because a person can afford the high end supercars, that doesn’t make them better drivers. Being an average moron who would just love to have a “hellcat” but can’t because I can’t afford it either, I see how people drive and park and care for the more expensive brands, the cars I refer to as “porcupine cars”. After seeing them parked stupidly and wearing signs of curb rash and door dings because the owners are rich enough not to care about the “status symbol” that is their daily driver, I can honestly say that most of my friends, my underpaid, underappreciated, dollar stretching moron driver friends, take better care of the cars and trucks they have and use than those who don’t have to care where or how the next car payment, or meal for that matter, is coming from……….

    • 0 avatar
      Kaosaur

      Yesterday while at the Mazda dealer I saw a Cobra Jet had been towed in for a flat tire change…

      A lot of these kinds of cars are bought here by young military guys and young money and they really don’t last long before they’re beat to death — often still within the warranty period.

      On a side note, the neighbor’s often-drunk-driving girlfriend who totaled her brand new Accord on her 4th day in the car decided to replace it with an RX-8. -.-‘

  • avatar
    kvndoom

    I mentioned sometime last year that the trend was shifting and you could get more cool cars with a stick from American brands now than you can from imports.

    It’s kind of odd because part of what gave Japan, Inc such a foothold with the youth of the 90’s was 3-pedal coolness. Many Acuras from the last decade have *higher* resale value if they carry 3 pedals. (Don’t let the lying stealerships tell you otherwise if you trade in… look at all the “RARE 6-speed manual” ads online)

    I applaud the Corvette. If I had the money… hell yes. And an SS too, for weekdays. :D

  • avatar

    #1 Ignore the enthusiasts. (The vast majority of them aren’t driving cars like this daily)

    #2 Ignore the car reviewers. (The vast majority of them aren’t driving cars like this daily.)

    #3 GIVE THE PEOPLE WHAT THEY WANT (us buyers who strap in, daily, and RIDE FIRE…)

    #4 Give it to them at a price they can afford.

    I want every single conversation to end with “but the HELLCAT is FASTER and costs less…”

    I don’t give a damn about “curves”.

    #5 No matter what: BEAT THE IMPORTS.

    Your namebrand is what you make it. If you keep releasing RIDICULOUSLY OVERPOWERED PRODUCTION VEHICLES that no one can even THINK of messing with on the street – THEN YOU’VE WON. No one, and I mean NO ONE is going to a “track” beyond the 0.1% of buyers who actually do.
    “WE” are driving these cars back and forth to work, to the kid’s activities, to our girlfriend’s house,etc and only actually using that performance on highways and for showing off burnouts and powerslides in parking lots. We want MORE Power.
    707?
    How about 808 next time?
    How about 1000?
    You need to focus on putting that power down, riding smoothly on abused American roads and DESTROYING the Nissan GT-R in EVERY SINGLE LAUNCH.

    That is your mandate. GET ON IT.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      Grow up.

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      “I don’t give a damn about curves.”

      Prepare to get your Hellcat’s ass handed to you then. Roads have curves.

      • 0 avatar

        Tell that to i80, i280 or the Southern State.

        • 0 avatar
          sportyaccordy

          The Southern State has curves, as does the Grand Central Parkway, the Belt, Jackie Robinson, Cross Island… hell all the parkways in the 5 boroughs have curves.

          Plus it rains in NYC more than it does in Washington, so your traction is limited a lot of the time.

          I say all this to say a Hellcat up there is a waste… on a parkway, or from a stoplight drag, you will probably have a hard time losing a rattle trap modded WRX or DSM, especially if the weather is less than perfect.

          And you will probably get gas mileage in the single digits.

          Complete waste of a car to have in the Northeast, I pity the fools who buy these up there.

          • 0 avatar
            dal20402

            Yep, sportyaccordy.

            Far less performance can be unusable in bad weather. Twice, I’ve done impromptu low-speed street races with my wife, me in my 415-hp G8 GXP and her in our 224-hp Forester XT. Once it was damp and once it was raining hard; I am in the Pacific Northwest, after all. Both times, I lost badly while looking for nonexistent traction. The result would be different on the three days a year when it’s dry.

          • 0 avatar
            Hummer

            Accord, its already been said the Hellcat can do at least 20MPG, last I checked that was double digits.

            That’s really good.

          • 0 avatar
            sportyaccordy

            NYC traffic is hell on gas mileage. I averaged ~20 MPG in a 1993 Accord for years there. If BTSR plans on shuttling clients around in his Hellcat he will be lucky to see half of that.

          • 0 avatar
            87 Morgan

            Who cares about gas mileage when looking at Hellcat. You only prove what people suspect, that you are a Douche, if you are in a dodge dealership pretending to seriously consider purchasing a HC.

            You invest in a HC. It will never go down in value as long as you don’t wreck it. Even then….builders will pay half of the purchase price for the drivetrain alone. Then go stuff it into a 70′ Cuda that started life with a 318 and sell at Barret for $500k.

            Heck, not that I think about it….

      • 0 avatar
        raph

        Gotta agree with BT here, the roads tend to be long and straight on the mid-Atlantic coast and curvy roads unfortunately rare with local revenue enhancers potentially hiding behind those curves.

        It’s the reason drag racing is king here in the east and why the Hellcat is right in its element.

        Egos are made and broken generally on the basis of brute power and gearing that allows you to motor past when acceleration is a wash.

        • 0 avatar
          golden2husky

          There are curvy roads on LI, Bigtruck. Not enough of course and not nearly long enough, but still the thrill of major G forces is equal, it not superior to the thrill of brute acceleration. My opinion. But I also love the sound of a LT1 nearing redline, front end up a bit, rear digging in, and slamming into second….yeah power is totally cool too….nice part of the C7 you get healthy dollops of both!!!

        • 0 avatar

          Goldenhusky

          Whether I’m going to Atlantic City, Foxwoods, Mohegan Sun or Poconos, it ain’t nuthin’ but STRAIGHTS.

          Long, boring straights.

          I drove back from AC at between 80 and 90 with open roads at 11pm and it still took too long.

          • 0 avatar
            mcs

            >> I drove back from AC at between 80 and 90 with open roads at 11pm and it still took too long.

            Get a plane. Legal 200+ mph and water isn’t a barrier. Problem solved.

    • 0 avatar
      bryanska

      Argh, the time is right for a hot rod minivan.

    • 0 avatar
      87 Morgan

      As much as I applaud your Hellcat love, we ‘mere mortals’ will not see the Hellcat……very often. I have spoken with several Dodge dealers in the last several weeks and everyone has indicated the dealer will be keeping the HC. If they are going to produce 3k units, I would bet only half ever leave the selling dealers private collection.

      As for the concern of idiots driving them on the street, very unlikely. Charger, perhaps.

      • 0 avatar
        Hummer

        Source that the car is limited to 3k?

        • 0 avatar
          87 Morgan

          Number proposed by one of my dealer contacts. Regardless, I seriously doubt you will see very many produced for various reasons, exclusivity being one of them: ZR1, Enzo to some extent but arguably different clientele for sure.

          I guess my premise is this: the idea that someone is going to buy this car as a primary driver and have to drive it in foul weather or be concerned about MPG is preposterous.

          My kids will see one at a show when they have kids and say I remember when…..

          • 0 avatar
            Hummer

            Dealers will say anything, ask them if they have a brown diesel manual station wagon with AWD, and they will say its upcoming.
            A 3k limit would be well reported in the media including sites like this. At a bargain price of 59k I would find it very hard to believe they would be limiting the production to so few.
            I also disagree that anything about DDing this is prepostorous, as long as they tires are in spec there should never be any trouble driving this in foul weather. The fuel mileage even if not in the 20s as mentioned by Chrysler engineers would be acceptable to most consumers of this niche even if it were mid teens.

            I certainly wouldn’t hesitate to DD this, would get better MPG than my current DD, although I’m sure it would be a little less sure footed in foul weather.

          • 0 avatar
            CJinSD

            If Fiat really intends the finale to their Hellcat circus to be a handful of sales to people with dealership connections then they are as stupid as they’ve ever been. Do they really think these cars are casting halos over reskinned Italian junk? If my company wants a $60K German car, I stop at the dealer and leave with one the same day. If my company wants a $90K limited production German car, we put the order in a few months before the lease on the $60K car runs out. Why should the Hellcat be any different than an Audi S7?

            While truck shopping a couple of years ago, my business partner insisted we visit the local Ford dealer. The showroom was full of Boss 302s with something like $30K of dealer mark-up. Those cars were reasonable values at MSRP. At over $70k? What’s the point of a cheap M3 that costs more than an M3? No wonder there are still 6 ‘new’ 2012 Boss 302s in dealer inventories. A car is worth whatever a deranged halfwit can afford to pay for it, but only to the deranged halfwit.

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            @CJinSD – There’s nothing nearly as epic about the M3. But its equally low production figures are by default.

            Boss 302s were under-priced for what you got. But the Boss’ very reasonable MSRP was a gimmick to create a bigger buzz and hopefully a buying frenzy. The price gouging was no surprise, with collectors coming out of the woodwork. What added to their mystique was how easily they embarrassed the M3 at the track!

      • 0 avatar

        You do realize I live on Mount Olympus, Queens, NY?

      • 0 avatar
        Lie2me

        “That rumor about the 1,200 cars really upset a lot of people,” he said Wednesday during the unveiling of the 2015 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat at Vinsetta Garage in Berkley. “I want to get as many of the cars out on the road, I want to get as many people talking about Dodge and excited about Dodge as possible.”

        -Dodge CEO and President Tim Kuniskis

  • avatar
    Stumpaster

    If your article must start to a reference to Jack B, you probably should have had Jack B write the article.

    • 0 avatar
      VoGo

      My beef is the continued confusion of the Challenger and Charger with American vehicles. In what way? Because the parent company once was incorporated in the US? Because of Bob Dylan?

      For the record, they are Canadian built off a German platform by an Italian owned, UK Headquartered, Dutch company.

    • 0 avatar

      So if I start off a post with a reference to the Talmud, I should have my rabbi write it instead?

    • 0 avatar
      Stumpaster

      I think ya’ll misunderstood my comment. It was NOT a reference to Derek being Canadian and Jack being American. Not at all. I was just making a point that TTAC’s articles without Jack are just a bunch of overwrought BLAH BLAH BLAH. And to add spice to them they just need to refer to Jack.

      TTAC, I know your overlords don’t care and think everyone is replaceable, but the people who left this place starting from Ed N. that I caught at his tail end, every single one of them, have not been replaced by quality content or anything comparable to it.

      Which is consistent with the other trends in employment nowadays. The business leaders keep on removing those who’ve been the longest and bringing “new blood” in at lower rates, except that new blood is diluted with piss and milk, between their Facebook and Twitter updates. There is virtually no quality writing on TTAC today. There is lots of rambling and regurgitation, yes, but when it comes to hard points, clear focus, and structure, you got nothing.

  • avatar
    mikey

    Sorry Derek….I would of made a comment earlier. I just had to check, and make sure I was on the right web site.

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    We are not just in a golden domestic performance car era, but a golden performance car era in general. Pretty much any brand you can point to has a performance car, and any brand that isn’t Mitsubishi has at least 2 (yes, even Buick!!!).

    But yea, the domestics have come a long way from Pontiac 6000 STEs (lol I just realized- was that name supposed to one-up the Audi 5000????). The ATS and CTS are by far the driver’s picks in their respective classes, and the Mustang, Corvette and even the Camaro are world class entries in their segments- no asterisks needed. Detroit is back… just needs a few generations to wash its hands of the last few decades and win back hearts and minds.

  • avatar
    DevilsRotary86

    American performance cars are indeed better than imports now, and I don’t care. I just like my Japanese sports cars and that’s just how I am. So there aren’t many new ones being built. All I have to say is “thank god for the used market”. If I were to HAVE to choose a new car today, I would probably just settle on an FR-S.

    And besides, there are so many choices in American performance cars but none that I actually would want to buy. The Corvette doesn’t have a rear seat, the Focus/Fiesta ST aren’t available as 2-doors, and the Mustang/Camaro/Challenger trinity are too big and heavy.

    But fortunately for me, I don’t have to have a new car. I have my ’06 Acura RSX-S and my ’86 RX-7 GXL and I couldn’t possibly be happier.

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      “the Mustang/Camaro/Challenger trinity are too big and heavy.”

      I basically agree, but there’s a wide delta there — you have more than 1000 pounds between a base Mustang and a Challenger Hellcat. There’s more distance between those two in weight than there is between the FR-S and the base Mustang.

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      Too heavy for what? Does your garage have a glass floor? Do you plan to tow one of these vehicles and their weight exceeds the capacity of your rig?

      • 0 avatar
        05lgt

        This. since the V6 Mustang goes, stops and turns better, the lightness isn’t really doing much for the FR-S. I’m not even sure the tires and fuel cost more. Maybe he means the RX-7 has steering feel. That I can’t argue with.

      • 0 avatar
        DevilsRotary86

        I just don’t like big heavy cars. Generally speaking, anything heavier than 3,000 pounds I am just not interested in. I subscribe to the Collin Anthony Bruce Chapman line of thinking: “Power makes you faster in the straights, lightness makes you faster everywhere”. So as nice as the Mustang is, at 3,500lbs I am just going for it. The FR-S at 2800lbs though, I could go for. But, I am thrilled with my RSX-S so that isn’t happening either.

        Plus, all things being equal, a lighter car wears through tires slower and chews up its brakes slower, and overall a lighter car just “feels” better. To me, a lighter car is a better car.

        So far, I have been able to hold to this 3,000lbs rule: ’91 Honda Civic ~2250lbs, 1992 Nissan 240SX ~2700lbs, 2006 Mazda Miata ~2500lbs, 2009 Chevrolet Cobalt LS coupe ~2800lbs (part of a “let’s try American phase” that I had), Acura RSX-S ~2800lbs, and my RX-7 ~2500lbs. I just don’t have any desire to break that trend. So yes, if a meteor were to fall out of the sky and wreck my Acura I would probably go with an FR-S, or scour the used ads again. But that hasn’t happened, and I drive it carefully and meticulously keep up on maintenance. So I could have this car for decades.

        • 0 avatar
          bumpy ii

          +1

          Somebody can add 500 hp to the FR-S, but there is no quarter-ton-delete package for the Mustang (unless you go the SCC route).

        • 0 avatar
          danio3834

          I agree with wanting good performance, but focusing on the curb weight on paper specification isn’t a good way to measure a car.

          As 05glt alluded to, many of those lighter cars are completely outperformed by heavier vehicles, so focusing on the weight spec doesn’t necessarily net much direct benefit.

          • 0 avatar
            DevilsRotary86

            Well, it is my criteria. I don’t like heavy cars and that’s that. At the end of the day it is my money, and a car is a lot of my money. So I am going to get exactly what I want or they don’t get the sale. Simple as that. It’s impressive how much American performance cars have come along, but I am simply not buying one because they haven’t released something that I want yet.

            It’s frustrating too because the US car companies have shown concepts along the lines of something I want; but they won’t produce them. Namely, the Dodge Razer and the Chevrolet Code 130R.

    • 0 avatar
      Kaosaur

      I have the rotary bug as much as anyone can, but after a week spent driving a Fusion SE, I’m looking hard at a Fiesta ST or maybe the next Miata or Mazda 2.

      Maybe I would feel differently if I had AC that worked (needs R12), turn signals that worked (still can’t figure this out after 5 months) and a car that would start up right away when it’s 80+ degrees out (I live in the South).

      I know that I can’t get a car like this today, but this week I learned the difference between a “fun” car and a “great” car.

      The 10AE is my DD, but if I got something new, with the fuel economy it gets, it wouldn’t be a good weekend car. The only reason to keep one if I got something new would be if it were set up for racing…and it’s not. I’m stuck making the decision between buying something new or dumping money I’ll never recover into making this car perfect. Essentially, I’m in conflict between personal joy and my practical/stingy-economist bent.

      • 0 avatar
        DevilsRotary86

        Oh, I agree that the Fiesta ST is a good car, and it is nice and light at about 2700lbs. I just don’t want a 4-door car.

        I am lucky to have the luxury of keeping my ’86 as a toy/project with a reliable DD.

  • avatar
    VoGo

    This editorial can’t be correct, because every other comment by the B&B tells me how the EPA and CAFE are destroying the American car market and forcing us all to drive vanilla blandmobiles.

    • 0 avatar
      kvndoom

      Slow decay is still decay. The toys we have today may very well be illegal to manufacture in a decade.

      Then again, maybe they’ll just keep building a handful of compliance cars to exploit the loopholes. It’s all ridiculous.

      • 0 avatar
        VoGo

        But where is the ‘decay’? Cars are continually improving their performance, as they have been for decades.

        • 0 avatar
          James2

          The decay may not be earth-shattering, but it is here. For example, the V-8 is all but gone and it looks like V-6s might not last the decade.

          The beloved manual transmission is all but dead –even Ferrari and Lamborghini don’t bother anymore.

          If you’re not of the generation that knew what a “carburetor” is, then the decay might not be that apparent. But, as you know, a lot of people can’t let go of the past.

          • 0 avatar
            dal20402

            Does it matter if the V8 is gone from the mass market (ponycars aside) when all of today’s V6s have more power than the V8s of twenty years ago?

            For that matter, does it matter if the V6 disappears when you have Mercedes making a perfectly tractable turbo four with 350 horsepower?

            Emotionally, I think it does a bit, just because I like the sound of six- and eight-cylinder engines — but it’s hard to turn that into “decay” when performance continues to improve.

            Think about this: a current Accord Sport with a stick (which doesn’t even have a turbo!) can narrowly out-drag a stock Fox-body 5.0.

          • 0 avatar

            Exactly, dal, exactly.

          • 0 avatar
            VoGo

            Is there a correlation between number of cylinders and penis length?

            I thought we were talking about performance.

          • 0 avatar
            sportyaccordy

            The V8 is all but gone? The manual transmission is all but dead? Lol. No, these statements do not jive with reality.

          • 0 avatar
            George B

            James2, I’m not so sure I’d call it decay so much as changes that isolate the driver some good sensory feedback. Better performance numbers combined with less fun. V8 engines generally sound better than their replacements with fewer cylinders, but engine power output continues to climb. Manual transmissions allow a more direct connection between the engine and the wheels, but newer automated transmissions can shift faster.

          • 0 avatar
            sgeffe

            This. I fear a “minor malaise era” is in the works, and sooner than you think.

            One-cylinder turbocharged Trabants, with liberty and justice for all! All at the altar of CAFE and dubious “green” initiatives!

            As stated, will keep my 2013 Accord V6 running as long as possible, or grab another Accord V6 at the MMC next year depending on the scope of it, before Honda, too, as one of the last holdouts, is forced to neuter that vehicle.

            As to the ‘Murican heavyweights, enjoy ’em while you can!! Your next one may be aforementioned Trabant with canned “engine noise” on the stereo speakers!

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            @dal – Comparing the old and new is like apples to oranges. The old 5.0 was a truck engine designed to tow. Low revs, low compression, etc. And was geared 2.73 to 3.08 max. It did what it could.

            So time marches forward and compact cars are much faster with small engines. So what? And if I have to explain the difference a V8 makes, even with similar hp, you wouldn’t understand…

  • avatar
    DearS

    I’m not so condescending as to believe they ever lacked intelligent people/engineers. The performance from these cars is awesome, although after sitting in a C7, Camaro and Impala, I preferred the Impala. Just so comfy.

    I do have a problem with the way these corporations do business and customers still flock to these companies.. I just wish we didn’t have to pay (bailout) for the development of these cars. We gave the domestics enough money to hire the best engineers and have great plants while still having money for exec bonus. They also lied about recalls and tried to blame it on old GM, which is bull. They are using the money we gave them and they wont even fix the issue they covered up. Until I see some data, I’m not ready to believe most American cars are reliable, I don’t assume that about any brand.

  • avatar

    I grew up liking Japanese imports due to their superior space utilization and light weight. (I am talking Early to mid 90s.) Now it seems the enthusiast cars are all American. I think the reason all the cool Japanese cars disappeared is the bursting of the bubble economy, so no more limitless r/d money, and now every car must sell in large numbers. I am sure this has been covered elsewhere. Remember when Toyota has a rwd Corolla, the Celica, the Supra, and the MR2 all at the same time? Or Mazda had the Miata, Rx7, MX6, Mx3, and crazy turbo 323? Not to mention all the wierd Japan-only stuff Mazda used to make (Cosmo, Autozam Az-1)

    Congrats to Ford on the fun (though hella cramped) Fiesta and Focus, and world class Mustang. Congrats to Chevy on the world class Corvette. And Thanks to Dodge for having the Big, stupid rwd Challenger, Charger, and 300, available with engines from ~290 to 707 horsepower! A lot of the aforementioned cars can handle as well!

    My opinion doesn’t matter, since I tend to buy used. Maybe I’ll get a cool used american car in 8 years.

    • 0 avatar
      JMII

      Yes the tables have turned, before (the ’80s & 90s) on the American side you had the Camaro and Mustang only and some of those featured only (gasp) 4 cylinders. Where as Mazda, Mitsubishi, Toyota and Nissan made all kinds of performance cars, they were light, RWD (or AWD) and turbo charged. Even Honda made quick Civics and Acura gave us the NSX. Now almost nothing is left, its kind of sad.

      I credit Dodge who said “screw this” and went back to their American roots with HEMI V8 power and RWD, heck they even did that in a wagon (Magnum)! Chevy and Ford followed suit. As mentioned in the article even the V6s are performance oriented these days.

      Unfortunately other then the FR-S and the Miata (from Japan again) the battle against weight is clearly lost as the answer appears to be more POOOWWWEEERRRR. The good news is this time around there doesn’t seem to be a mileage penalty. And turbos are making a come back.

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      1985 Honda Prelude
      1.8 liter
      100 hp
      Base MSRP (2014 dollars): $22,915

      2014 Honda Accord Coupe
      2.4 liter
      185 hp
      Base MSRP: $23,625

      1987 Toyota Supra Turbo
      3.0 liter V6
      230 hp
      0-60 (Car and Driver): 6.4 seconds
      MSRP (2014 dollars): $49,504

      2014 Toyota Camry SE V6
      3.5 liter V6
      268 hp
      0-60 (Car and Driver): 5.8 seconds
      MSRP: $27,850

      The performance is still there. But these days, it usually has four doors, and it will be more of a Q-ship than a boy racer.

      Performance has become commonplace. But the coupe market has become a niche, and the pony cars are virtually all that is left of it.

    • 0 avatar
      bosozoku

      >Maybe I’ll get a cool used american car in 8 years.

      Assuming any of their reliability pans out, it’s going to be an interesting dilemma picking between all the used 2012-15 Abarths, GTIs, Focus/Fiesta STs, etc. that will be showing up on craigslist and Carmax lots by 2020-22.

      It’ll be a golden era for us cheapskates who want a featherweight turbo.

  • avatar
    Bocatrip

    Yes the new Vette is a super value and is vastly improved (especially the interior) from past generations. Yes, there are many current “muscle cars” to choose from that are affordable compared to the imported supercars (R8, GTR, etc) However, for those who might be looking for exclusivity as well as power, with all the Vettes that are being produced, you won’t find it there. The car is barely out, and I see at least one new Vette every day not to mention all the Comaros,Stangs, and Challengers.

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      Exclusivity is neat, but paying for it isn’t as neat. Finding something exclusive at a normal price means you know something other people don’t. Buying something no one else can afford just means you have money, which doesn’t say anything good or bad about you (except to Ayn Rand acolytes).

      • 0 avatar
        Hummer

        Exclusvity doesnt have to be expensive or secretive.

        Less than 10k H3Ts were made and I have 1 of less than 100 with a manual transmission and probably less than 15 with manual in addition to front and rear factory lockers.
        Old H1s are also just as rare if not more rare.

        • 0 avatar
          VoGo

          There is a difference between intended exclusivity and sales failure.

          • 0 avatar
            Hummer

            Considering it had no advertising and was only on sale for a year, a year if you remember correctly saw the collapse of two major automakers, the sales it did make were very good.

            But nice try ;)

        • 0 avatar
          dal20402

          See, that’s exactly what I’m talking about. The exclusivity of your H3 is more satisfying than the exclusivity of a S600 or A8L W12.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            I actually met a gentleman last week who had a Volvo V70 wagon with a manual. He claimed to me he bought it new-used and brought it down from Canada in 2001. He might have the only V70 manual in the US.

          • 0 avatar
            krhodes1

            @28 Cars

            Nope, no sunroof, stickshift, cloth seat V70s are all over the place here in Maine. Standard dealer stock here for as long as Volvo offered them that way. Cheap Yankees love that sort of thing. Three of them in my extended circle of friends/acquaintances. Looked over another one a friend from PA was interested in buying six months or so ago.

            Now my 6spd, RWD, non-sport 328! wagon – that is a unicorn. And I am, in fact, a cheap Yankee.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            @krhodes1

            Were those V70s local to you US or Canadian spec?

          • 0 avatar
            krhodes1

            Local. Portland Volvo always had a couple in stock while they could still get them that way. Usually the only option was the cold weather package, for obvious reasons. No sunroof, cloth seats, butt heat and a stickshift – what more do you need? Wish I could have gotten the BMW that way.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            @krhodes1

            Good to know they are out there. I’d like that sort of base cloth/stick combination in an P2 S60 but I have never seen it. Perhaps in the magical land of Maine I should check.

          • 0 avatar
            krhodes1

            New England in general is your best bet for something like this. Probably some S60s out there, but most folks here who want a “stripper” premium car bought wagons.

            But the problem will be finding one for sale. The folks who bought them are cradle to grave types, and Volvo won’t sell them another one. No different than myself with my wagon – I ordered it just the way I want it, and BMW refuses to sell me another one like it (and I actually really like the new F3X 3-series). So I plan to keep it FOREVER. Even a 3-series is cheaper to fix than it is to buy new. No way no how will you spend $650/mo on repairs month after month after month after month.

    • 0 avatar
      redav

      Ah, exclusivity–what hipsters value in a car.

      Fortunately, I don’t care what hipsters think.

  • avatar

    Hey Derek, on the main you’re right, though the cars s still bit too big and unrefined. They work well up in the northernmost parts of North America, but can be a bit of a chore elsewhere. I love what I’m saying too, but I still think a Renault Mégane RS….

    And a Ferrari is still a Ferrari. Sorry Corvette.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      All new Ferraris have automatic transmissions. Whatever being a Ferrari means, I don’t want it.

      • 0 avatar

        I guess you wouldn’t, but what do I care…

        All I can say is dare to dream CJ, dare. A piece of la dolca vita, Lake Cuomo, Capri, Siena, Modena, Sicilia, auto strada, Sant’Agata Bolognese, Costier Amalfitana, food, wine, women. All and more it means, an Italian dream.

        Yes they break down CJ. In a dream, it don’t matter.

        • 0 avatar
          CJinSD

          No need to dream. I’ve been to Italy and was raised by my Italian mother and Austrian father. Now I live in Pacific Beach where I’m surrounded by all the best things in life, even if some of them have tattoos.

  • avatar
    dal20402

    Agreed. I’m not even sure I want a performance car anymore (thanks mostly to the combination of fatherhood and increasingly heavy-handed speeding enforcement) and yet I still can’t ignore some of what America is putting out. I couldn’t wait to buy a G8 GXP and I think the Chevy SS is an equally compelling proposition despite the higher price. Both outperform imported competition (and not just in a straight line) while being cheaper and more practical. I feel the same way about the upcoming 2015 Mustang GT and, as you mention, the Stingray.

    As I’ve discussed with other commenters here before, I may replace my performance car with a not-as-high-performance car. But if I buy another performance car it will be American.

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    I do think it’s a big call to state that the Corvette is the ‘best’ current sports car.

    It is a very nice product and relatively cheap, but to allude that it is cheap and a ‘little’ more expensive than a daily $hitter is quite inaccurate. So, how many AVERAGE Americans can afford to go out and buy one?? This comment made regarding a WRX would be far more accurate.

    I could state that a Godzilla is a little more than a Corvette and a far superior ride. It’s all subjective.

    At least the Corvette is designed from the ground up to be what it is and isn’t like many blinged up $hitter vehicles. A couple of these style of vehicles come to mind, like the Hellcat or the Caddy Silverado Escalade, an off roader that’s not good off road.

    I would even place an HSV into the ‘blinged’ up $hitter category.

    In the end this article is very subjective. There are cars out there that are equally as fun to drive and a lot cheaper. It’s about the overall experience and pleasure, not just the numbers.

    A fantastic driving experience varies from what you are doing. Crossing a river in a 4×4 can be just as exhilarating to some as some one with a Hellcat racing retiree’s in a Focus at the lights, then bragging (BTR).

  • avatar
    cargogh

    I agree about the Fiesta ST. I’m old now but I find it very desirable. As far as automotive progress, go back 25 years and compare it to my old Omni GLH turbo. The inflation calculator says its $10,014 base price was only $24 less than the current ST’s base price of $21,400. It is absolutely amazing what $24 and 28 years will give me now. The safety and build quality alone are night and day. I bet the driver’s window frame on the ST doesn’t start pulling away from the body at 90. I’ve gotten 11 mpg before in that thing. EPA gave it a combined score of 20 with the old testing. The ST’s is 29.

    I’ve had some huge vehicles over the years but always maintained a soft spot hot hatches and smaller cars, though I’m well aware of the atrocious modifications given to many. I was somewhat disappointed that Chrysler didn’t do more with the Dart on its debut, or already, but love that SRT products exist.

    I remember reading in the mid-80s that the only way to tell an expensive car from a cheap one in the future will be by the amount of bright work on the exterior. I’m very happy it hasn’t turned out like that.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    Nice car, but I have grown up and I am not as interested in toys. Safety, reliability,low maintenance, comfortable,economical,utilitarian,and affordable are the things that interest me even if it comes in a boring package that could be mistaken as an appliance. I would even settle for appliance white so long as it meets my criteria.

    • 0 avatar
      golden2husky

      What are you doing here then?

      • 0 avatar
        petezeiss

        He, like me, is here because “Safety, reliability,low maintenance, comfortable,economical,utilitarian,and affordable” are often discussed by very knowledgeable people.

        And it also kind of like going to the primate house.

    • 0 avatar
      smartascii

      This is how I feel about my washer and dryer, but that’s because my washer and dryer don’t give me any joy. If you get no more pleasure from driving your Rav4 (or whatever car you have that meets your criteria) than you would from a MazdaSpeed 3, well, then, I get it. But if you would enjoy your everyday life a little bit more with a “driver’s car,” I mean, why deprive yourself, if you can have it for the same approximate cost?

  • avatar
    hgrunt

    I’ve followed the exact same path as you, Derek.

    I was really into Hondas, loved flipping through Sport Compact Car in my spare time, poring over the tech articles over and over, while making a list of things I’d do the day I could afford a ’99 Civic Si, or an FD. After being lent an ’03 CTS-V for three months, any objections I had to small block pushrod motors completely disappeared. I should’ve bought it off my friend when he decided to sell it.

    The Fiesta ST is the one new car I’d very seriously consider buying, even more so than the FRS/BRZ twins. It’s everything I *know* I want in a car: Practical, economical, makes lots of angry noises, fun to drive. None of my friends think it’s a good car, and would probably try to stage an intervention if I tried to go buy one.

  • avatar
    golden2husky

    I have had a C7 manual convertible for six weeks now and have to say it is a fine automobile. A rip roaring sports car when you want, and a reasonably comfortable cruiser when you need that. Poor mileage with your foot in it yet it delivered 32 MPG when in ECO mode on the highway. Loud exhaust in sport, yet quiet in touring. A well appointed interior with high quality materials, quality switchgear, and an excellent level of assembly. Exterior of mine is also well assembled. If I had to say what is weakest about the car I’d say the material used for the body panels simply is not as smooth as sheetmetal. This car has a dual personality and it delivers each in near perfect fashion. Perhaps it will not have a red dot for reliability; that’s fine by me. This is the best $75K I’ve ever spent. And this car is the first new GM model I or my wife have ever purchased so we are hardly GM fanbois….but what a car!

    • 0 avatar
      redav

      Indeed. I’m not a GM fan. I’m not really a Corvette fan. I’m not really into the new styling. I don’t want the new ‘Vette, but I still kind of want one.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    Just because I don’t drive a performance car doesn’t mean that I don’t like cars. I like cars in a smaller and more reliable package. I didn’t say I hated performance cars, I said I choose not to own one. There are all kinds of articles on this site from economy cars, performance cars, classics, trucks, and Murilee’s Junkyard finds which I enjoy. This site does’t force manufacturers on the reader it gives you variety. I am glad you like your new Corvette.

    • 0 avatar
      golden2husky

      Truth be told, I don’t drive the Stingray as a commuter. I too, have an appliance – a hybrid no less – for that. But performance does not automatically mean unsafe and unreliable, or immature operators…I get a little touchy about that. But yeah, buying $1500 of tires every 20K would suck big time..

    • 0 avatar
      bosozoku

      And if the GT86 twins were branded as a Dodge FRS and Chrysler BRZ, you’d be defending without question. Give it a rest.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    @peterzeiss-I even have a 4 cylinder 5 speed manual transmission truck with crank windows,manual locks,a plain non micro chipped key, gauges, and no touch screens. It does have air conditioning, power steering, and power brakes so yes maybe I have visited the primate house but it runs good and it is inexpensive to operate. I also shave with a safety razor and use shaving soap.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    Not saying you are an unsafe driver, I worked with a lady who has a Corvette and loves to take it out on a track and race it and goes to Corvette club meets but she is a safe driver and drives an economy car the rest of the time. The most important thing is that you enjoy what you drive. Most immature drivers cannot afford a car like the Stingray.

  • avatar
    Roader

    The same article could have been written in 1969 or 1970. Does performance keep increasing from here? Probably not although BTSR’s enthusiasm is refreshing. He reminds me of the soldiers who came back from Vietnam, when I was a kid, who went out and bought new muscle cars with their saved up Hostile Fire Pay. But robotic cars are probably going to mean that half of today’s newborns will never learn to drive. My guess is that within ten years automobiles will go from being owned or leased to a subscription service, where you pay for N number of rides during certain hours of the day on specified days of the week; sort of like a cell phone contract. And within twenty years human-driven cars will be severely restricted in urban areas. Only very rich people will own cars. And urban planners don’t even know what they don’t know:

    http://ti.org/antiplanner/?p=9349

  • avatar
    stuki

    America, along with the Middle East, is the last bastion of performance street cars. The Japanese simply stopped having kids altogether around 1980. Performance in their mind, pretty much revolves around having a faster Asimo pushing them around in their wheelchair. And the Euros are are content to watch The Stig brag about how fast “their car” can go, if only they weren’t “concerned” and “urbane” enough to spend their days hugging trees instead of driving.

    Just like America is now the last vestige of 3 pedals (aside from the occasional Japanese Rangefinder and tube amp aficionado whose world stopped in 1950), it is also rapidly becoming the last vestige of going fast and enjoying oneself on public roads; without guilt even.

    It’s a bit like personal use firearms. The Euros definitely produce good stuff. And for a while by they produced by far the best stuff. But the days of Sig and Glock and HK and Walther dramatically outperforming the native makers in the only market that actually cares about the end product, has long since ended. Performance road cars will prove no different.

    • 0 avatar
      petezeiss

      “going fast and enjoying oneself on public roads”

      I’d rather you went slowly while enjoying yourself on any public road I may be on. Talk about distracted driving.

      And wait till your health insurance *makes* you endure the very close scrutiny of a dietician and she discovers the wanton abandon with which you ingest stereotypes.

      • 0 avatar
        stuki

        Spend some time in Silicon Valley or LA, and you’ll quickly come to see the drawbacks of having 10 million self proclaimed “responsibles” competing in drive slow events, piled up in front of you wherever you go……

        And, stereotypes exist for a reason. And at the margin, over time, even small such reasons drive decisions. If the American consumer, vis a vis his European or Asian counterpart, continues to relatively value performance in automobiles to a greater degree than was the case in the past; that will over time result in relatively more favorable conditions for producers targeting them, having a stronger presence here.

        • 0 avatar
          petezeiss

          “10 million self proclaimed “responsibles” competing in drive slow events”

          I’d be one of them. I happily trade time for the surety of getting somewhere safely. I routinely arrange my life around leaving early for places.

          Speed increases the violence of anything bad that happens.

    • 0 avatar
      bosozoku

      “America is now the last vestige of 3 pedals”

      U wot m8?

  • avatar
    IHateCars

    Indeed, it is a great time to be a car guy.

    The Big Three are putting out some great vehicles….it’s the Japanese and European makers that seem to be entering their own “Malaise Era”.

  • avatar
    bts

    Does anyone else think the 3.7 second time is too quick for a base Corvette? In the last generation, the 7L Z06 barely made it in 3.6, so they basically moved up one model in specs. There’s really no need for a 6.2 L V8 in the base car anymore.

    A new model to cover the lower end of the market is what they need to complete with base Porsche 911 performance and maybe Nissan Z. A version of the 5.3 V8 should have a low 4 second time and over 30 mpg on the highway for bragging rights.

  • avatar

    “I was born an import guy, and have long worshiped at the altar of VTEC.” Back in 1987 I was on my second CRX, looking at getting something with a backseat, most likely a Prelude. Before buying one, I drove a friend’s new 5-speed Mustang GT. What a revelation. I ordered a 5.0 shortly after, have had American V8s ever since.

    • 0 avatar
      cargogh

      Back in ’87 my next door called his cat, Princess, every evening for 30 minutes outside my LR door. Here Prenthisss, Pren–thisss. I can still hear it. The cat seemed reluctant to return. His only redeeming quality was that he drove a new Mustang LX 5.0. I’m still driving a Fiesta S and Mr. Dweeb has 225 hp. He began parking a beige 4 dr Escort, so I asked him one day how bad it was driving that piece of crap while waiting to get the Mustang back from the shop. “Oh,no. I love the Escort; I traded for it. The Mustang was just too
      fast.”

  • avatar
    DenverMike

    As the saying went, “You just can’t catch a 5.0” But around here, they target the Windsor 5.0’s specs, without ever driving one. In a Fox Mustang and 5-speed, that is.

    Back then, there wasn’t much that could match its performance. Especially not in its price range.

    Yes a 2014 Accord Sport manual could give an ’80s 5.0 Mustang GT a run for it’s money, but you have to leave the Mustangs rear gears stock. (and not the notchback) All stock vs stock. Never mind the ’80s Accord was rock’n 89 HP back then.

  • avatar
    Power6

    Great thoughts Derek. My impression of the 80/90s, and I am a little older than you, was that the domestic performance cars were worlds better than the old “muscle car days” but always a little cruder than the import stuff. the fox Mustang is a legend but it was a little outdated and simple and maybe some of the kids didn’t like that. Lots of choices for import performance. Once the STI and Evo hit it was like 300hp rally rocket or 260hp Mustang GT still based on fox body live axle hmm…tough choice.

    Now we have little from the Japanese, mostly mainstream stuff. Where is the Prelude VTEC, Celica, Supra? Gone and nobody cares. But the Mustang and Camaro…oh I really want one of those 1LEs with the Recaros bad…

    • 0 avatar
      DenverMike

      @Power6 – It’s too easy to defame ’80s/’90s Mustang GTs, against recent/current compact hot rods. It’s only in recent years that Mustangs GTs have been running with M3s, but that doesn’t mean old Mustang GTs didn’t do the same with fairly mild upgrades.

      • 0 avatar
        el scotto

        Agrees with you about the Fox body ‘stangs. Easy and cheap upgrades where available and widely used. Cuing “Ice, Ice, Baby” as I fade away.

        • 0 avatar
          DenverMike

          You’d think Vanilla would’ve rocked the AMG or Testarossa. Or the Turbo 911 ‘vert.

          The Mustang’s aftermarket is ridiculous though. Biggest of any car by far. But how can anyone leave their’s stock?

          I’d leave them looking/sounding stock, but it was GAME ON for the drivetrain and suspension. Factory gearing was a joke. Shocks too. The stamped-steel control arms (on the rear) were flimsy. Bushings were spongy all around. And a sloppy shifter to name a few.

          Simple things made for a dramatic transformation. The stock Mustang could’ve been “world class” with simple upgrades at the factory.

          But Ford sold you the shell, like unfinished furniture. Or plain vans for you to customize and make your own.

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