Muscle Cars Essay

(Part 2)


Although they are also similar to sports cars, muscle cars differ in that sports cars are only 2 seaters, whereas muscle cars always have a back seat. Another feature of a sports car is that, although they are generally stripped down to include as few features as possible to decrease weight, with modern technology they can now be highly luxurious and fast. For a car to be considered a pony car it has to be ‘an affordable, compact, highly stylized car with a sporty or performance-oriented image’ (Wikipedia, Muscle Cars). The key differences being that a muscle car is not necessarily highly stylized or compact. One example of a muscle car is the Ford Torino, which was one of Ford’s first muscle cars (Portman)

Some other types of cars are luxury vehicles, which are defined as a vehicle with commodities that are far beyond necessity. An example of a luxury vehicle is the Lexus IS F. Another type of car is a sedan. Which is defined as a car that seats 4 or more with a fixed roof and always has four doors. An example of a sedan is the Chevy Malibu. There are also cars classified as coupes, which are defined as a two door, two to four seat car that has a fixed roof. For example, the Honda Civic 2-door is classified as a coupe. You also have cars classified as a buggy. There are not many that are made for the road most are made for the sand dunes. They are defined as a car that has its wheels projecting beyond the sides of the vehicle. The most well known example of a buggy is a Volkswagen Beetle, of course.

There are also cars that are classified as convertibles, they are defined as a car that has a flexible cloth or rigid metal retracting roof. The two types of convertibles are called hard-top convertible, which often has a roof made of metal that matches the body but also retracts into the trunk. There is also the soft-top or cloth-top convertible which is a roof that is made of a canvas material that retracts into the trunk. An example of a convertible is the Chrysler Sebring Convertible. The Chrysler Sebring Convertible can be either a hardtop convertible or soft-top convertible. Also, there are fastback style cars, which are defined as a car that has a roof that slopes back to the trunk at a slight angle, but has a separate trunk lid. Usually, the fastback style is used on muscle cars, and were actually introduced on some of the early Ford Mustangs and Shelby Mustangs like the GT350. An example of a fastback is the 1967 Shelby GT500.

There are the cars classified as a hatchback, which are defined as a car that has no separation between the rear passenger space and has a top-hinged liftgate. One well known example of a hatchback is the Honda Fit. Another well known type of car is a pickup truck, which is defined as light duty open bed truck. A common example of a pickup truck is the Ford F-150. A slightly less well known type of car is the roadster, it is defined as a two seat open car with little weather protection. An example of a roadster would be the Lotus Elise.
There are cars classified as a hearse, which are defined as a car that has been converted to transport deceased people in coffins. One vehicle that is often converted into a hearse is the Cadillac W29. Another classification for cars is a SUV, or Sport Utility Vehicle, which is defined as a form of a pickup truck except; the passenger and cargo areas are fully enclosed as one. An example of a SUV is the GMC Chevy Suburban. There are also cars that are classified as a spyder/spider. The only difference between spyder and spider is the spelling; although the spelling spyder is most commonly used. These are defined as a convertible sports car. An example of a spyder or spider is the Lamborghini Gallardo Spyder, generally the classification of spyder/spider is included in the make of the car.

One other classification for cars is a limousine, which is defined as a car that is driven by a chauffeur that has a division between the front and rear passenger areas. A limousine is generally an extended version of the original car, where they chop it in the middle and extend the chassis body and drivetrain. The most common examples would be a Hummer Limousine or a Lincoln Town Car Limousine. The other main classification for a car is a T-Top, which is sometimes referred to as a T-Top convertible, that has a roof with two removable panels and a solid bar that goes from the front to the back of the roof. Most T-Tops are muscle cars. An example of a car that is sometimes a T-Top, but is not a muscle car, is the Dodge Viper (Powers).

Muscle car production has influenced the car industry by researching and developing speed technology and making it more economical for everyone to purchase and use. The speed technology that was created during the Classic Muscle Car Era has been upgraded and added to. Due to technological advances, as compared to the 60’s and 70’s, all this speed technology has become far cheaper to produce and sell. These advances in speed technology have made racing more interesting and available to the public. The reason for racing becoming more interesting to the public is, that it allowed race cars to be faster, which made it more dangerous yet interesting. (Owen)

As the years progressed, ‘true’ muscle cars slowly went extinct for a period of time due to the government cracking down on safety regulations and setting limits on the maximum amount of horsepower cars can have, etc. This crackdown caused automobile manufacturers to no longer be able to create ‘true’ muscle cars, so that by 1972 muscle cars were essentially extinct for a period of time. During this time many of the muscle car brands stuck around but were no longer ‘true’ muscle cars, as they were too weak and had the wrong body styling for it. This continued up until about 2004 for the majority of muscle car models, although there are still some muscle cars that have yet to be resurrected. Fortunately, as the speed technology advanced, so did the safety features that were for the most part nonexistent back in the 60’s . Which is what has allowed for the resurrection of the ‘true’ muscle car. (Wikipedia, Muscle Cars)

Some of the different muscle car manufacturers design their muscle cars purely for the race track or drag strip. One such manufacturer is Shelby American who, while other companies focused on one track or another, put their efforts into creating cars for both. Shelby’s car that is made for the track is their GT350R. The ‘R’ signifying that it is designed for the race track, as it has a lot of power while also having good handling. Whereas the GT500, which is not balanced in speed and handling, is purely designed for the drag strip (Wikipedia, Ford Motor Company). While Shelby American focused on both types of muscle cars, Chevy’s muscle cars mainly focused on race tracks (Wikipedia, Chevrolet). Dodge and other Mopar’s were focused on the drag strip (Wikipedia, Dodge).

This is how the modern muscle cars, such as the Chevy Camaro, came into existence. Without muscle cars much of the speed and safety technology we know today would either be nonexistent or very expensive. Those are the differences between all the different types of cars, from a convertible to a muscle car. Additionally this is a brief account of historical events and societal changes that have influenced the production of muscle cars. These are the ways that muscle car production has helped create and yet change the racing industry by making it safer and more interesting.



Muscle Cars