Car makers race to build new generation of ‘muscle’ cars

04 July 2006
Source - The Belfast Telegraph

American car makers are turning back the clock to cash in on baby boomers’ nostalgia for the “muscle” cars of their youth.

Chrysler is to resume production of its celebrated Dodge Challenger after more than three decades and has updated its Dodge Charger to meet the demand in a flourishing mar-ket for new and vintage muscle cars. General Motors is expected to bring back its Chevrolet Camaro, which is inspired by the 1969 version of the legendary car, and Ford has already redesigned its iconic Mustang.

Muscle cars, typically two-door models with high-powered, eight-cylinder engines, bring back memories of cheap petrol, drivein theatres and cruising main street in the Sixties and Seventies.

Although times have changed and, with petrol now selling at nearly $3 a gallon, many drivers are looking for less thirsty, compact cars, makers believe there is also a big market for the monster cars.

Fuelled by films such as The Fast and the Furious and the return of the 1969 Dodge Charger “General Lee” in the film remake of the television series The Dukes of Hazzard, wealthy baby boomers are now recapturing the days of their youth, when high-school car parks were packed with Camaros, Mustangs and Barracudas.

There is even a new television show, Fast Inc. in which experienced car hunters fill in requests for vintage and muscle cars for celebrities, models and eccentric millionaires who are looking to stay ahead of the curve.

Very few original muscle cars have survived intact because most suffered modifications at the hands of exuberant young owners. The small number that are still on the road sell for huge sums. A 1970 Plymouth Barracuda was sold at auction in January for £1.6m and a 1970 Chevelle fetched £800,000.

Chrysler has already unveiled its Challenger. It is a two-door coupé with a long bonnet, a wide wheel base and mirrors the look from the original model of 1970 to 1974. It has a 425-horsepower Hemi engine, a six-speed manual transmission and a top speed of 174 mph. “It’s a modern take on one of the most iconic muscle cars,” said Tom LaSorda, Chrysler’s president. “We haven’t seen this kind of spontaneous, passionate response to a car since we unveiled the Dodge Viper concept in 1989.”

Production will begin in 2008. Mr LaSorda did not announce the price or say how many of the cars will be built. The Camaro and the Ford Mustang are expected to cost between £15,000 and £20,000.

No comments: