The Mystique of the Muscle Car

Do you miss the days when cars still had bumpers, you could tell a Chevy from a Ford without having to look at the emblem, and when Oldsmobiles, Pontiacs, Plymouths and others still roamed the roads? Do you wish that when a car breaks down that you could still actually fix it yourself without needing a degree in electronics or engineering? If the answer is yes, you are halfway to understanding the mystique of the muscle car.

Because not every classic car is a muscle car, the remainder of the equation of its appeal lies in the concept and the way it was made. While the cars of the early 21st century can be driven with a latte in one hand and a smartphone in the other, you needed to pay attention -- and use muscle -- to handle muscle cars. The money was spent under the hood, not to make them user-friendly or convenient.

Regardless, they were still built to impress. However, unlike subsequent times, cars weren't built to draw in the white-collar crowd; they were manufactured for the working man and, in the case of muscle cars, for drag racing as well. Most of the true muscle cars had V8 engines, two doors and rear-wheel drive.

Muscle cars were an option, but it was quite common for the someone to shell out the extra money for engine power to turn a car into a muscle car. That trend eventually changed when car manufacturers focused on increased electronics and comfort as part of power options.

The heyday of the muscle car was between 1960 and 1972. Emission controls and oil shortages mainly caused by the gas crisis around 1973 and increased insurance rates for high-performance cars sparked an increase in consumer popularity away from performance cars toward more efficient ones.

Why would someone from modern times take an interest in these old cars? For the older generation, it may serve as a time machine to a simpler era. Car lovers born in later times might identify with this mystique of something they can't get in a modern market and thus choose a muscle car as a way to set themselves apart from the masses. To these enthusiasts, power means what's inside, not external bells and whistles.

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