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Unhinged: What “Good Old Days”? Here’s The Breakdown From the 2015 NAIAS…These Are The Good Old Days!

Unhinged: What “Good Old Days”? Here’s The Breakdown From the 2015 NAIAS…These Are The Good Old Days!

I could see the hate mail flying before I started typing…it’s sacrilege to say that anything besides the 1964-1972 “Musclecar Era” is worth mentioning when it comes to the pinnacle of factory performance. But here’s the thing: that argument started getting weak right about 1993, and by 2005 you had front-drivers that could give some of the biggest and baddest from the old school a serious run for the money. Well, we’re ten years past¬†that point, and what a time it is to be paying attention to the car market: 707 horsepower in a four-door sedan. 200+ mph American sedans. A flat-plane crank V8 that didn’t come from Italy. Hybrids that would scare an unsuspecting passenger to his absolute core. Factory overkill 4x4s. And the wildest paint colors and graphics packages this side of the 1970 Mopar High Impact Colors.

hellcat lime:black

Autoblog was in the middle of the 2015 North American International Auto Show and they compiled the averages of all of the cars that were unveiled at the show. Everything from the Chevrolet Bolt EV concept through the Acura NSX and Ford GT was looked at and added into the mix, and the total breakdown looks like this:

  • Average horsepower: 331
  • Average pound-feet of torque: 349
  • Average liters of displacement: 3.29
  • Average number of cylinders: 5.9
  • Average number of transmission gears: 7.1
  • Average 0-60 MPH time in seconds: 5.6
  • Engine aspiration: 68% turbocharged, 24% naturally aspirated, 5% supercharged, 3% bi-charged
  • Driven wheels: 63% all-wheel drive available, 43% rear-wheel drive available, 18% front-wheel drive available, 25% options available
  • Fuel: 72% gasoline, 14% hybrid, 7% diesel, 7% electric

Look, I’ll take anything from the Musclecar Era in half a second, but you cannot deny the choices that are available nowadays. That horsepower number is SAE average, not the gross horsepower numbers that we all know the old-school engines by. The average 0-60 is also quite eye-opening…while I highly doubt that the new Volt will be leaps and bounds past the old Volt’s 8.9 second 0-60 time, that’s within range of the 1980’s Monte Carlo SS. In fact, that average 5.6 second time compares well with a 1970 Chevelle LS6’s official 0-60 of 5.3 seconds. And it’s being done with smaller engines that are huffing more air, backing up every turbo Buick fan’s best argument for boost.

ford gt

Sure, the cars are heavier, loaded with more techno crap that we really don’t need (GT350R being a very nice exception to that rule…thanks, Ford!) and don’t have that charm that the old-school cars do. But while there’s plenty of people who will cry foul over every new car, just think of the Ford GT: After running and testing the EcoBoost V6’s setup in one of Chip Ganassi’s race cars for the last year or two on the track, Ford felt confident enough to stuff a turbocharged V6 into a car destined for LeMans and named it after one of the most legendary cars to ever roam that track. If that doesn’t brighten your outlook on the future of cars, then the only other suggestion I have for you is to save up for a Barrett-Jackson auction.


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11 thoughts on “Unhinged: What “Good Old Days”? Here’s The Breakdown From the 2015 NAIAS…These Are The Good Old Days!

  1. Tedly

    I’ve been saying it for years. We are now living in the Golden Age of horsepower and performance, and that Age is just getting started,, from the looks of it.

    Things just keep getting better and better no matter what is thrown in our faces.

  2. Nick D.

    Can’t argue with that. The new cars run rings around the engine with greater reliability, better fuel efficiency, better crash safety, less emissions and a full warranty. I wish they weren’t so damn heavy or expensive but I guess that’s the price you pay.

    I’m sure that TJ Martin will be on here to rant about this in a few minutes.

  3. Gary Smrtic

    We are indeed living the golden days of performance and capability, but what have we lost or forgotten? These cars used to be targeted to the youth market. The performance cars we grew up with were relatively low cost. Strippers, but for powertrain. I think something’s lost in today’s overloaded vehicles.
    Not complaining, neccesarily, just an observation.

  4. mooseface

    I agree with everything said: in terms of performance, handling and build quality, things have never been better.
    What is the cost? We’ve lost the youth market, these things are very expensive and not as practical as the muscle cars of the past, not to mention that the youths of today are very disengaged and have their focuses elsewhere. Also we’ve lost driveway-mechanic simplicity. I don’t doubt that any repair can be done by a determined enough shadetree with a decent toolset, but it won’t be easy at all.

    So, yes, this is absolutely the golden age of performance cars and OEM insanity, but the tradeoff may in fact the be future of our hobby.

    1. Tedly

      You and Gary are very right. This heyday is coming at a heavy cost, one that won’t be readily visible for many years to come.

      I see it a little differently though.

      What is happening is the groundwork is being laid for a resurgence in craftsmen and mechanics. There is a time coming when these men and women will be in shorter supply than they are now, and people will see it. That point is when we will see more and more people turning to these areas as ways of making a living as well as a hobby.

      It’s already starting, Do a scan of YouTube for “How to…” videos on just about anything. There’s actually a trend that has been gaining traction of what is called Maker Spaces. Think of it like a gym membership, but instead of exercise equipment you get access to shop space and tools.

      Now if we can only keep things alive long enough to see this resurgence come to fruition, we may see the dawn of the next golden age of hot rodding, not just the Golden Age of hot cars.

      It’s going to take guys like us getting involved with the younger crowd and learning from them as well as mentoring them.

      One thing the economy has done is drive people to do things themselves, car repair included. They are out there, lets keep encouraging them.

      1. mooseface

        I like your perspective, Tedly.
        It is evident that there has been a boom in do-it-yourself work in the last few years, heck, it’s what’s convinced me to drop the remote and grab a wrench. A rewarding journey, to say the least. I would dearly love a skills renaissance to emerge.
        My greatest concern is the growth of general passivity among all generations, we’re so enraptured by entertainment and social media that we sometimes forget that we need our passions and our real-world experiences, or our lives aren’t well lived.

  5. Carlo

    I predict that a few high profile crashes like the Lambo Huracan in the Czech Republic will severely castrate performance cars in the next few years. Don’t forget, they don’t call this LawyerLand for nothing.

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