There are precious few things in life that can allow a responsible adult the basic pleasure of feeling like a teenager. Simple nostalgic experiences, such as swinging on a swing set, roller skating, or jumping on a trampoline, can induce a sense of euphoria an make us feel like a kid again.
Ranking high on the car enthusiast’s short list of truly nostalgic experiences is that of driving, riding in, or even seeing the familiar cars of yesteryear. Big, beautiful, and just a little loud, these old cars stole the hearts of America.
This is a fact that has not gone unnoticed by top automakers. Today’s retrospective offerings from Ford, Chevy, Pontiac, and Chrysler are great looking, technologically advanced, and typically much more powerful than the object of their inspiration. Here are five great retro rides and a little about the originals, too.
Technically, the Mustang is not a retrospective version of the original. It is the only car on the list which has remained in continuous production for the last forty-nine years. The Mustang, which is named after a World War II fighter plane called the P-51 Mustang and the book by Frank Dobie entitled Mustangs, is considered by many to be the first pony car. In the first two production years, the Mustang sold over one-million units. The worst year for sales was 2009 and sales have increased every since. Drawing inspiration from the fastback Mustangs of the late sixties, Ford release a redesigned S197 Mustang in 2005. The modern Mustang is equipped with all of the latest safety, communication, and audio features and it is very fast. The 1968 Shelby GT 500 Mustang, equipped with a 7.0-liter Cobra-Jet produced 335-horsepower. The 2013 Shelby GT 500 Mustang, with a 5.8-liter supercharged engine is turning out 662-horsepower. Wow, that is fast.
The Camaro was introduced in 1967, as an answer to the groundswell which the Ford Mustang and Pontiac GTO were creating. It was produced continuously from then until 2002, when production was halted due to dwindling sales. In 2010 it was reintroduced to the jubilation of the car enthusiast community. With a similar appearance to the Camaro, from the mid to late sixties, sales figures have climbed every year since. Camaro has stood true to its roots in racing, reintroducing the beloved Z28 package for 2014. The Z28 is equipped with a 7.0-liter V8 that makes 500-horsepower and it “tore-up” the track at Nurburgring, Germany breaking numerous records for production vehicles.
Officially, the Challenger was produced from 1970 through 1974, from 1978 through 1983, then reintroduced again in 2008 and remains in production, in 2014. Realistically, the middle portion of this production line (from 1978 through 1983) does not qualify as a muscle car. It was an econo-box Mitsubishi with a Challenger badge. It was a Challenger in name, only. The Introductory line was, however, a beastly piece of automotive art; powerful, aggressive, and seductive. The present production run is everything that the initial car was, and much more. It handles better, stops better, has all of the latest gadgets and techno-fare, and it is quick. The 2014 Dodge Challenger SRT8 is equipped with a 6.4-liter Hemi, which produces 470-horsepower and 470-lb.-ft. of torque.
Worthy of at least an honorable mention are the Chrysler 300 and the Pontiac GTO. The 300 sedan was introduced in 1955 and ran until 1965, but is often forgotten among auto enthusiasts. It was reintroduced in 2005 and remains in production today. It is very popular as a family vehicle, as well as with the luxury crowd. The GTO, thought by many car enthusiasts to be the first muscle car, was initially produced from 1964 through 1974 and had a brief retrospective run from 2004 through 2006. Pontiac is expected to relaunch the “Goat” an has a 2014 Pontiac GTO in the works.