Look what muscled its way out of history

Source: Times Online - Jay Leno

August 27, 2006

When I was growing up in a small town in Massachusetts, there were no sports cars. Nobody had seen a Ferrari. Occasionally a Corvette might come through town, but it was the type of thing where we’d hang around the local McDonald’s or Dairy Queen until about 11pm. Then you’d get home and somebody would call you and say, “Oh you should have stayed another 15 minutes, a Corvette went by!” And you’d be like, “Nnooo! I missed it!” Because you didn’t see those type of cars.

At that time in our town the workers would drive a Galaxie, the middle manager would drive the Ford Galaxie 500, and the boss would drive the Ford Galaxie 500 XL. And that was sort of the range of cars that you had. Almost everybody had a four-door or a station wagon. If a guy had a two-door he was probably a bachelor. You’d see an occasional MG, maybe a few oddball English sports cars but for the most part that was it.

That all changed when the Ford Mustang came out on April 17 1964. That was a real American version of a sports car. It was followed by the Chevy Camaro and the Pontiac Firebird. These had such an impact because they were reasonably practical cars that middle-class people could buy.

At the time, and this shows you how provincial Boston was, there was a bestselling book called Sex and the Single Girl by Helen Gurley Brown. And Mustang had an ad — they were trying to sell six-cylinder Mustangs to secretaries — and the ad was “Six and the Single Girl”. The Boston newspapers wouldn’t publish it because they thought it was too racy.

These were the high-performance cars of my youth because a Ferrari or a Lamborghini were cars you’d see only in magazines. But you could come close to the performance with the Camaro or the Mustang. There’s a whole range of cars that have a connection with people of my generation; they raced them, they made love in them, they got married in them.

The Camaro was always a little bit more sophisticated than the Mustang. The Mustang came out first so the Camaro had to be a little better. They had the IROC and Z28 versions, plus the Camaro had the Corvette thing to play on a little bit. It was like the little brother to the Corvette so consequently you could get a Camaro with a Corvette engine in it....

See the rest of the article here - Times Online

No comments: