(Words by Bryan McTaggart) – I remember 1992, when Chevrolet took the new (and rather ugly) Orca-bodied Caprice, opened up the rear wheelwells, shoved a 500ci V8 under the hood, and took a cue from Buick’s catalog and painted the thing all black. It was so popular at the 1992 SEMA and NADA shows that the decision was made. Two years later, the car went into production and even though the engine choice had been neutered to a 260hp LT1, the car sold well. It had a street presence that couldn’t be denied (though, with a cop car sibling, you could see it was the family delinquent with no help whatsoever).
Fast forward to 2004. Bob Lutz had spent years trying to import a Holden after reading a Car and Driver article that they had written about the Commodore SS. He gets his way, and Pontiac gets a revived GTO. For all of their work, all GM got was bitching. “It’s too bland.” “It looks like a Grand Am.” Waah, waah, waah…the next import, the G8, barely did any better.
It’s now 2014. The second Supercar era, which somehow came back to life in the mid-80’s and really kicked into gear in the mid-‘00s is on in full swing. Mustang, Camaro, and now Challenger can be had with 600+hp, a number that used to be the strutting point for show cars and race cars, and they can be had with any creature comfort your little heart desires. Except, there is so much bitching about them going on that I wouldn’t be shocked if the end of the fun doesn’t come from Big Brother, but instead from the manufacturers themselves, when they finally throw their hands up in the air and scream, “F*** it! Fine! Here’s your Camry knockoff! SHUT UP!”
The Camaro’s roof is too low. The older Mustangs feel too cheap. The upcoming Mustang looks like a Fusion. The Challenger is fat. A W-body?! HA! They drive the wrong wheels! The Charger has too many doors. Give me a break!
Have you actually, honestly driven one? ANY of them should satisfy your gearhead itch! I’m banned from a dealership in Carbondale, Illinois after “test-driving” both a 5.7 and 6.0 GTO so hard that I ended up buying the dealership tires. I had a Challenger Trak Pak for all of a week before a Dodge dealership called it back after I couldn’t cough up an additional $3,000 on top of everything else I had put down. I’ve owned a 2001 Regal GS with the blower motor, 2005 Mustang GT, 2006 Monte Carlo SS, and 2006 Chrysler 300C. I’ve driven the GTO’s, the 4th and 5th Gen Camaros, and some hot-rodded Subarus. All of them offer exactly what I’ve been looking for in a car. Ok, maybe the Subies could use some legroom…
I understand weight being an issue with the newer cars, so let’s address that. The last time I’m aware that a stripper model was available to the public en masse was the 1995 Ford Mustang GTS, which basically was a stripped V6 Mustang with the GT’s V8, running gear and suspension, and instrument cluster. Sounds good so far? It could be ordered as stripped or optioned as the person wanted. It was the spiritual successor to the LX package for the Fox Mustang, which was well-received. However, Ford barely moved 6,000 of them before ending that program. So, in short: NOBODY wants a stripped model except the most hardcore racers.
When the launch of a 600+hp car with a manual transmission is met with nothing but complaints, something is wrong. And I’ll be absolutely damned if it’s with that car. I’d donate one of my most treasured body parts to science in order to afford that Hellcat. There are a lot of people who would love to own that car, or any of the newer musclecars, for that matter. But the complaining continues. Keep it up, guys, and soon I bet it looks like 1977 all over again in the dealerships.