When they were about to go extinct, who would believe the great American Muscle cars have a second wind these days?
Despite the cost of fuel, emission controls, the financial statements of their production, and the generous proportions that today conflict with practicality on the roads, these are still holding on to the true value of the car as they are reborn from a happy past to make a space in a time for nostalgia than with a sense of power and competitiveness.
What Is a Muscle Car?
The muscle car is a term for American (or Australian with the Holden brand) automobiles powered by an oversized engine, most often a V8.
While the first high-powered automobiles were born in the 1950s, official history generally refers to models that date from the following decade as “muscle cars”.
This denomination brings together the sportier versions offered in the American ranges of the time, the midsize coupes and convertibles, equipped with a high-displacement engine taken from the highest range, specific equipment (reinforced suspensions, manual gearbox available as standard, etc.)
Muscle cars thrived at a time when the first generation of the “baby boom” is just reaching adulthood.
A generation at odds called upon to contest many aspects of the “American Way of Life”, even in its most representative symbols: the automobile, the family, social status, and so on. In many ways, the muscle cars of the 1960s reflected this desire to transgress the established order.
Is a Muscle Car the Right Choice for You?
Before deciding if it’s good to sell your car and buy a muscle one you should read this.
If you like the brute force of V8 engines, the smell of gasoline and burnt rubber, and you like straights more than curves, then you will like the powerful American muscle cars.
Although today it is even possible for a Volkswagen Golf TDI to sound like a V8 thanks to technology, there is nothing comparable to the feeling of driving one of the powerful and iconic American muscle cars.
These types of vehicles have been “lifting” the asphalt in their path for more than 50 years – and also, columns of smoke – thanks to their huge V8 engines that devour gasoline as if it were never going to run out.
In a way the ‘muscle cars’ represent the opposite case to that of the European sport’s classics, which are usually characterized by equipping small but powerful propellants.
Of course, except for a few brands such as Lamborghini or Ferrari, in which they are not precisely small displacement-, for its relative lightness and for having a set-up in which cornering behavior prevails.
The Difference Between Muscle cars and Pony cars
What Is a Pony Car?
The “Pony Car” phenomenon, which appeared in the middle of the Sixties, revolutionized automobile production across the Atlantic at that time.
Aimed at a young clientele, the concept will dust off automobile production thanks to the innovative idea of a genius Lee Iacocca.
Pony -being a small horse- is a compact automobile (for the USA!) With a sporty image and affordable to buy. It was built based on an already existing mass-production car with specific bodywork, sporty attributes, and powertrains that range from the 2.8l six-cylinder to the V8 peaking at 7.4l.
Muscle Cars and Pony Cars: How to Tell the Difference?
Pony car? Muscle car? Both of them? The etymology of the cars can be confusing and more when we are talking about classic American sports cars.
In general, we end up calling any beast that equips a large displacement V8 under the hood a “muscle car”, but in reality, many times it would be more accurate to call it a pony car.
This concept takes us back to the car that started all this discord, the original Ford Mustang.
- Precisely from the symbol of the Mustang, a horse, comes the idea of “pony”. It was a relatively compact, powerful, and youth-oriented car that was so successful that it launched its segment, that of pony cars.
- Logically, given the success of Ford and its Mustang, other manufacturers wanted their piece of the cake and the North American streets began to see similar sports cars like the Plymouth Barracuda or the Chevrolet Camaro, the latter still being the great rival of the Mustang today.
- Muscle cars, themselves, are much larger both on the outside and in performance. The clearest examples are the Chevrolet Impala or Dodge Charger. In a muscle car, the concern is to equip a coupe-style body with a powerful engine. No sophistication and a lot of engine noise.
Over the years the dividing lines have blurred and today many muscle cars were disappearing and pony cars were gaining size and power.
Already a Mustang or a Camaro was not geared towards young people and if they are still called a pony, this is more because of their past than their present.
Some will say that today the only muscle is the Dodge Challenger, others will not find the difference between the two segments. In any case, each car enthusiast will agree on one thing: these beasts are beautiful.