I think it’s cool to round out the Modern American Muscle cars with this pic. The Ford Mustang GT, Dodge Challenger, and the Chevy Camaro. Cooler still. They make their way to church.
The rebirth of the modern muscle car actually began with the restro-styling of cars. Several manufacturers had tried reviving their brands with bringing back model names and even their styling cues to breathe life into a waning American auto market. The first successful vehicle: the fifth generation Mustang.
Introduced in 2004, it commemorated the original pony car with its fastback style and front end. Perhaps outside influences needed to align as well. In the US, people had moved themselves into unnecessary, unaffordable mortgages for dream homes, likely needing to match that garage with a dream car. That’s clearly speculation though.
Ironic that the return of the pony period would also bring its weaknesses. The reinvigorated Mustang would also offer the wimpy six cylinder engine options that many still remember from the inaugural iteration. Fuel efficiency has always been the bane of the muscle car as manufacturers have to balance performance with federal regulations on fuel consumption. Fortunately with more diverse model offerings, they can shift the efficiency average to the subcompact categories and still have the appeal to the brand from the flagship sedans or performance vehicles. Ford’s 1964 Mustang would see a success that was only matched by the Model A when it was born. Today, Mustang’s rebirth has been a boon as well, but it would be joined by its pony siblings once again.
The Chevy Camaro would reappear following the concept car’s role as Bumblebee in the film Transformers in 2007. The production model released afterwards (in 2009) delivered just as well as the film. The resurgence in reborn muscle accepted by the American market from Ford had to have its Chevrolet brother. Although concept cars would be the only tease for a time, they were just making buyers hungry for the feisty little brother of the Corvette. People wanted a rear wheeled drive sedan.
During the wait period however, Dodge would enter the scene in 2006 with its retro-styled Charger and its SRT8 package. Although the Charger base model could be as mild-mannered as the Mustang with it V6 option, Dodge would release the Challenger in 2009 challenging the others for its spot on the podium. Again the Big Three were in the muscle car market.
To show the American market that this wasn’t just a flash in the pan, Dodge conjured up a bigger than life version of its Challenger SRT8, the Hellcat. Deemed the most powerful American muscle car ever produced creating over 700 hp with a supercharged HEMI. American muscle cars are again beginning to challenge the world’s performance coupes.