PH BLOG: WHY US MUSCLE STILL RULES - FOR NOW
harris muses that the new-school US muscle car war is both brilliant and worrying
Last week I spent a few days in New York, in the two latest exponents of rear-tyre vapourisation - the Camaro ZL1 and the Mustang GT500 - and they posed more questions about the future of fast cars than expected.
The fascination lies in Ford's ability to sell a fully-warranted, 670hp coupe for £35,000. Dearborn's choice not to take the bailout back in 2009 can clearly be seen in some of its most recent offerings: this and the wonderful showroom-Baja exercise called the Raptor spring to mind. The irony is that Ford and GM have always been involved in one vast, corporate shadow-boxing match, so the nationalised General Motors - supervised by a government attempting to wean the population away from its oil obsession - has been forced to retaliate: with a 580hp Camaro! You couldn't make it up.
And so, just three years after the death of the American motor industry was predicted, when we all thought the muscle car was dead, the US is in the middle of a horsepower war on a scale not seen for decades. It's fantastic. And worrying.
Like a cricket bat at its very best - just before the splice fails and it shatters in half - this glut has the whiff of a final hurrah for affordable weaponry. Is legislation in the US about to outlaw these dinosaurs? Have power outputs become too big? (For the record, I don't think so.) And what will it take for a pressure group or three to get frothy at the 2015 GT500 and its 890hp? Possibly quite a lot in the land of the free, because wherever I went in the ZL1 and the GT500, they made friends on a scale that makes Ferraris look B-list around Maranello. People simply love them.
There are other worrying noises coming out of Ford's SVT operation - mention of the word Nurburgring. I cannot think of any statistic more meaningless for a muscle car than a 'Ring lap-time. Sure, they should be able to knock-out a few laps now and again, but rumbling along and occasionally painting the road black is an almost tantric state of mind that must on no account be interrupted by people wittering on about Flugplatz. The two are not compatible.
You'll have to watch tomorrow's video to learn more about both cars. As you can tell, I like these machines. They are the antidote to the electronic sports car. Long may they continue oversteering at every possible opportunity.