A light, airy, effervescent, blog of grave consequence. (NOT!) Dedicated to those of us who must respond to negative stimuli by Chernobyling (entombing in concrete) our innermost thoughts.

Location: Slaughter, Louisiana, United States

A semi-gruntled corporate reliability engineer trying to make ends meet while keeping my wife happy, and myself out of the asylum.

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Finally. Cars you can love again.

I posted this on another site a few months back, but It's still relevant.

I've been looking at the cars of today and some of the new models scheduled for release over the next few years and it strikes me that we've finally gotten back to what our automotive culture should be.

I know there aren't too many people reading this that were born prior to emissions controls, but those days produced some of the most desirable examples of automotive excess in the US auto industry's history. Any of the hemi cars, the pony car wars, all of the other late '60's to '72 big blocks today carry nostalgia factors and price tags that boggle the mind.

I've closely followed the US car market since about 1980 or so. I've often said that there was nothing being produced that anybody would spend time and money on to restore in 20 or 30 years. I mean really. Who cares about a 1982 Camaro with a 140Hp 305 and enough emissions related vacuum lines to give a spider vertigo? It's difficult to follow the slide from Boss 429 to 150 HP GT.

What changed that caused this shift? Several things. From cheap economical imports, to gas shortages, to increasing insurance premiums, to high interest rates, to low quality and poor reliability. All these things combined with Detroit's belief that it would be king forever brought down the American automotive marketplace.

Recently however, we're starting to see a resurgence of several of the things that formerly made our cars great. Power. More is becoming better again. Mustangs are around 300 stock. The F-body is dead, but the GTO is around 350, the Magnum/300C push 345. Even the new genre of "tuner-mobiles" start in the mid 200's. Speed. Several of the new models are capable of turning 13.9 or better in the quarter stock. (Try that with an '85 firebird.) Reliability. You no longer need to know anything to keep a decent car in good condition. (How many people have ever set the valve lash on a solid lifter motor like the ones that made all the power in the 60's?) The best thing about this resurgence is that the new cars also get 20++ MPG and are emissions friendly.

Now, I'm no longer wondering what are the cars that our kids will restore. They're here right now.

What I'm wondering is what's next? Will the industry continue to push HP and speed through the roof? Or will our ever increasing insurance premiums and state-mandated reformulated gasoline prices combine with rising interest rates and a new influx of underpowered Hybrid weenie-mobiles to bring an end to our halcyon era and drag us into twenty years of boring cars?

I know what I'm hoping for, but sometimes it's difficult to keep the past from repeating itself.


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