By Jimmy Jones, USDR Contributor
While perusing my local Chevrolet dealer this last Sunday, I leaned down to peer at the window sticker of a Camaro SS – a decent car, I guess. Personally, I’m more of a Mustang guy, but while it was under my nose I decided to take a peek. Only to turn up my nose as I’d entered a room full of goat cheese: $38,XXX? The high price made me think about the 1969 Camaro’s body lines and how the SS is based off the old classic, which lead to more thinking on my part. Buckle up folks!
Today’s modern pony cars – the Mustang, Challenger, and the Camaro are all based on their 1968-69 counterparts’ design. During that same era people I knew drove cars such as the 1968 GT Torino and Chevelles. Ironically enough, when I started high school, a friend drove a 1968 Chevelle. Another kid I knew drove a red 1969 SS Chevelle 396 with a 4 speed. There was the kid that pulled into the school parking lot in his 1969 Camaro SS, and the hot girl that drove the 70 SS 454 Chevelle. By the time I was in high school, those cars were classics. It was COOL to drive those old model vehicles.
Glory days. Even today, most guys I know would gladly trade their Mercedes Benz for one of those vehicles to go screeching around corners.
Yes, to the general public they’re just super-old cars, but to us gear heads they ARE classic Detroit metal during some of the last and finest years of true American iron and muscle.
Today, the Mustang, Challenger and Camaro resemble their original looks, are much faster than the originals, much safer, and much, much more comfortable and pleasant to drive. But will they be classics someday? Perhaps. Maybe I am being too hard on the modern versions of the pony car. There are those autos that still possess some character and are still obtainable by the middle class working hero. And these ponies deliver that just like they did back in the glory days. They still make that magnificent sound and they still go like stink in a straight line and through corners. Maybe they will win the hearts of the yet-to-be-born boys and girls. Maybe bedtime stories with my little daughter reminiscing about the time I got her uncle to work on time in 28 minutes on a forty-five-minute drive in my red Mustang GT will cause her to want to feel that same power and freedom I once knew (don’t worry I won’t tell her that story prior to me being on my death bed.)
I just feel like we have lost some sort of vehicular focus in this country. We drive our crossover XUV’s and have Prius miles per gallon envy. I just don’t know if in 20 years when I take my daughter to a car show if she’ll want me to show her a 1999 Prius and get emotional on her about how it got 49mpg and it was so whisper quiet around town that the next generation Prius had to have a “whiirrrr” noise added to it so blind people wouldn’t walk out in front of it.
Is there such a thing as modern-day classics? I don’t know. All I know is that it wouldn’t hurt my car loving feelings to watch a monster truck run over a new Camaro, Mustang , Challenger or Prius. And that makes me sad, because my lack of emotion indicates that tomorrow’s classics are truly gone.