Muscle cars of the 1960s and 1970s are absolute pigs to drive, and they are outshined by even basic economy cars of the present day in almost every way that matters.
You may be practically foaming at the mouth at my suggestion that a Nissan Sentra is in any way better than the Mustangs, Cougars, Barracudas, Challengers, Chevelles, Corvettes or 442s of yesteryear. And that’s okay. I still believe the epitome of car design was the ’60s and ’70s, and there is no substitute for burbling V8s and the smell of exhaust that hasn’t been funneled through a catalytic converter. There’s also the supreme “cool” factor of classic cars. But classic cars are otherwise abysmal in comparison to modern models.
Body roll is atrocious, brakes have the stopping power of two pieces of chewed bubble gum pressed together, they are incredibly inefficient, have the handling prowess of a fawn walking on ice and are insanely unsafe in a crash.
And yes, they are slow.
A 1969 Chevelle SS 396, perhaps not one of the fastest muscle cars of the era but easily one of the most obtainable today, gets from a stop to 60 mph in 7.6 seconds and hits the quarter mile at 15.4 seconds. Even three-row crossovers like the Cadillac XT6 Sport and Hyundai Palisade beat those times by significant margins.
Now, this is not a column to bash classic muscle cars. Instead, it is to make a point that, while we may lament significant changes to the worldwide landscape of cars, progress is not something to be lamented.
In this instance I speak of electric cars or EVs, the future of motoring. Toyota plans to generate half its sales from EVs five years from now, Cadillac could be all-electric by 2030, Nissan is in the process of introducing eight new EVs by 2022, and even the Mustang now has an electric variant, the Mach-E.
Though gearheads and car lovers may bemoan electric vehicles the characteristics that make a car, well, a car as we’ve known it for well over a century, the future is not all bad.
I’ve recently piloted the 2020 Chevy Bolt and 2020 Nissan Leaf for a week at a time. Though these are still on the economy side of EVs, they are charming little hatchbacks that give a glimpse into the everyday motoring experience of tomorrow.
They are whisper-quiet, provide instant acceleration and will totally change car design when grilles are no longer needed. And no matter where you stand on the climate change issue, I struggle to think of anyone who would decry cars that produce no emissions.
There are some downsides, of course. The charging infrastructure does not support the freedom gas-powered cars provide, or the quick refueling. And yes, EVs just don’t give us the overall sensory experience of gas-powered cars. But they are the future, and after my travels in the Bolt and Leaf, the days ahead aren’t too dark for the car lover.
In the relatively near future, EVs will dominate the roads, but there will still be a handful of gasoline powered dinosaurs, fueled by dinosaurs, on the roads. Though the car of tomorrow will be infinitely better than those of today, enthusiasts will still love the cars of old. And I’ll be one of them.