Remember the death of the American muscle car? Its demise is generally dated at 1971, but technically that’s just when it got sick. The illness was terminal, but slow to progress. Indeed, it took most of the decade to murder a movement that started with the birth of the Corvette in 1954.
So here’s the good news. We are today living through another golden era or these cars, many reborn in the spirit of the originals and some even in their image. Just as I imagine it was in the late 1960s when any alleged driver’s car’s engine that did not displace at least 7.0-litres was barely worthy of the mention, I wonder if today we appreciate just how gloriously bonkers American fast cars have once more become.
The thought occurred as I wandered around the New York show looking for stories wherever they might be, and kept finding my eye drawn away from the cars I should be looking at towards those I wanted to look at.
631bhp Chevy Camaro XL1
The first was the Chevy Camaro XL1, a car whose presence in the mirror will likely prove so intimidating, I confidently predict it will cause accidents just from people trying to jump out of its way. And it does not deceive. It packs a 631bhp punch – more power than a McLaren F1, yet if you were able to buy one in the UK for the same price it would set you back just £42,000: that’s over 200bhp more than a BMW M4, for over £15,000 less.
But even the Camaro pales beside its rival from Chrysler, the brilliantly entitled Dodge Challenger Hellcat. In UK money you’d need to fork out almost £50,000 for this one, but then again it does put a barely believable 697bhp at your disposal, which as if you need reminding, is better than Lamborghini Aventador power. It’ll do 204mph too.
And then, of course, there is Ford whose traditional answer to such cars is an ever increasing array of ever nuttier Mustangs, but within the portfolio at present just happens to lurk the new Ford GT which, like the GT40, is only available as a road car to homologate the race car it really is beneath the skin.
Sadly too few of these cars are available to us on anything other than an unofficial import basis complete with the limitations of no dealer network, uncertain warranty issues and a steering wheel on the wrong side of the car. But at least we can now go out and buy a properly backed, officially imported right-hand drive Mustang.
RHD Mustang a runaway success
Better still I understand the car is proving a runaway success, which I hope will incentivise others to look more seriously at making their madder products more widely available to us. In the meantime, I hope American petrolheads realise just how damn lucky they are. In real terms there has probably never been a more plentiful supply of cheap horsepower. They have, in truth, never had it so good.