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Why can't muscle cars find a place in my heart?

Call me a typical hot-hatch loving fan boy if you wish, but the simple fact of the matter is that I really cannot get to love American muscle cars. And that is a real shame if you ask me.

The thing is, I totally get their appeal. They're big, sleek and rip-roaring machines that can give you a properly comfortable cruiser for those cross-state journeys, but at the same time there is always a potent V8 ready to be unleashed. That sounds like a petrolhead's dream in my opinion.

So why in the name of all that’s holy can I not get to love these beasts?

Maybe it’s because I am being stereotypical about American cars. I am a strong believer that American car interiors were made out of the same plastic you find in your Chinese takeaway tubs, and in my defence that was true up until not that long ago. But now, it’s clear that the interiors have played a very serious game of catch-up. Oh, for sure, they still aren't quite up there with the Germans, but the USA is quite fiercely competing with the rest of the world when it comes to quality these days.

The devils work
So if Muscle cars buck the trend when it comes to crap interiors, why can I still not find a place in my heart for them? The issue must be deeper than the materials used…

How about the automatic gearboxes (read: slush-o-matic) that the Americans seem to be so fond of using these days? Despite muscle cars being serious performance machines, a vast majority of them are fitted with really awfully slow autos; not even a dual clutch will wriggle their way under the hood of a Chevy. To their defence, some people may claim that the automatic gearbox is used to give the car the more Grand Tourer feel. They may have a point; the Aston Martin DB9 has a similarly lacklustre ‘box, but gets away with it because it’s classed as a GT car. But I still believe a massive V8 lump should deserve to have proper manual for proper drivers.

This is a muscle car. Apparently.
Or maybe, just maybe, it was design. I emphasise on ‘was’ because America now makes some pretty damn good looking cars, don't they Corvette C7? But if you cast back a little more than a decade ago, then styling wasn’t really great. Yes, I’m looking at you Pontiac Aztek, 2000 Mustang and Chrysler PT Cruiser. I’m not after a pretty car, but if you're going to have a massive V8, then surely the style must be a bit more flared than that horrid Mustang? But as I say, that issue has more or less been rectified in these modern times. Oh, and talking about them V8’s…

OK, I admit, this is another issue that has been more or less fixed now. But this was still an issue that other countries weren't facing. Is it me, or were those engines a bit weedy: classically “all show, no go”? When the now previous generation Mustang was introduced in 2004, the base engine was a 4.7L V8 that made a miserable 295bhp. Plonk that in a large car and the performance you got was mediocre. As a comparison, just one year later Audi released the RS4, which had a 4.2L V8 producing 414bhp and revved to 8000rpm. That car was, and still is, the dog’s testicles. At least today American engines are viable, if not better than the competition.
Modern efforts are much better. But why can't I love them still?

But then again, every car has their downfalls. The hot hatch, which I love to bits, can have fingers waggled at them for having turbo lag, an uninspiring soundtrack and not looking unique enough. I think it all boils down to what you grew up with. Here in the UK, you're much more likely to see a Ferrari snarling down the street than you are a muscle car, so I believe I haven't grown up to appreciate them in the full.

Don’t get me wrong, I respect muscle cars so much and I really want to fall in love with them. I just need to be surrounded by them one day and I'm sure one of the classics will suck in my heart through their mighty air intakes.
Why can't muscle cars find a place in my heart? Why can't muscle cars find a place in my heart? Reviewed by Jack Cooper on April 11, 2014 Rating: 5

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