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Posted by  //  August 4, 2014  //  Articles

50 years of Pony Cars…. are you ready for more?

The last few years we have seen a resurgence of American Pride. Flags are flowing in the wind and the Red White and Blue… are colors that still run true!

But… the winds of change are blowing once again! Ford, Dodge and Chevrolet are each drawing a line in the sand… but it is the finish line and we wait to see who crosses first.

The Mopar Brand has a Pony banging at the gate with 707 hp called Hellcat. Subtle design changes help keep the package fresh and hot for 2015. Videos abound the internet and rolling smoke from the burnouts are filling the minds of young men and woman who just can not wait to shred a set of tires for themselves.

Guys like Richard Petty, are taking Dodge Challengers and creating unique statements that become instant collectible that can run or shine with the best of them. The first Dodge Silver Challenger was produced in 1959 and from 1970 to 1974; the first generation Dodge Challenger pony car was built using the Chrysler E platform, sharing major components with the Plymouth Barracuda. Created from 1978 to 1983, the second generation of Dodge Challenger was a badged and engineered Mitsubishi Galant Lamboda. The third, and current generation, was re-introduced in 2008 after the Challenger name had need dormant for 25 years, has been a worthy rival to the evolved fifth generation Ford Mustang and the reintroduced fifth generation Chevrolet Camaro.

The Chevrolet Camaro has been manufactured by General Motors under the Chevrolet brand, classified as a pony car and as a muscle car. Originally, the Camaro went on sale on September 29, 1966, for the 1967 model year and was designed as a competing model to the Ford Mustang.  Now, the Camaro also shared its platform and major components with the Pontiac Firebird, which was also introduced for 1967. Four distinct generations of the Camaro were developed before production ended in 2002. The nameplate was revived again on a concept car that evolved into the fifth-generation Camaro. The latest Camaro version production started on March 16, 2009.  Some new design changes were introduced along the way keeping the body fresh, but the news on the street was that the ZL1 introduced for 2014 was the killer of the day producing 580 hp and keeping the “old school” dream alive.

Only one of these three has kept their nameplate alive through the good and bad times….the Ford Mustang. Initially based on the platform of the second generation North American Ford Falcon, a compact car and was introduced early on April 17, 1964.   Because of that introduction date, the early 1964 cars have been dubbed as a “1964½” model by Mustang fans which makes the 2014 model a 50th Anniversary Edition! Throughout the United States there have been celebrations, events and road trips that celebrated this event.

The 1965 Mustang was the automaker’s most successful launch since the Model A.  The Mustang has undergone several transformations… but what could only be described as a major redesign, the sixth generation, could be the one put the Mustang over the top for the current generation of Americans. The Mustang created the “pony car” class of American automobiles-sports car-like coupes with long hoods and short rear decks, and gave rise to competitors we have listed here and a host of others. The AMC Javelin and the revamped Plymouth Barracuda just to name two.  The Mustang is also credited for inspiring the designs of many import coupes that still try to chip away at the success of America’s favorite Pony Car!

In the mid 1970′s, the “gas crisis” gave pause to the Pony Wars and the Ford Mustang went on a diet. While the Mustang II platform was hailed as the best chassis ever, the public and sales almost brought the venerable pony to its knees. In 1979 the Fox Body was born and with it a new love and invigoration that not only brought the Ford Mustang the freedom it needed to run down the competition… the vibrancy of the sales caused the Dodge and Chevrolet to enter the race once again.

For 2015, the new Ford Mustang will leave the barn and roam free and run side by side generations of Mustangs. There are some who decry the change… just as they did with the Mustang II… and there are those who welcome the change with open arms. The new, yet familiar lines are crisp and fresh.   The chassis and suspension are all new. One thing is certain. The Pony Wars are far from over and a victor is yet to be decided even after all these years.

Regardless of the future the future may hold for these veterans of the street and strip… we already know the past, and we embrace it. We protect the past with a passion that only those who have “been there, and done that” can. We will pass that passion on to our children.

Classic body lines, big motors and fast footed cars of that the “Big Three” that raced on Sunday and sold on Monday will be cherished for years to come.  Driven and enjoyed as they were meant to be… at car shows, racetracks and Sunday drives with our families.

So…. here we are. Welcome to the 2015 model year of the automobile. An American Passion that we share with the world. As we settle in and sit squarely in the drivers seat, we place the key is placed in the ignition. The starter engages and the motor comes to life. The smell of spent fuel mixed with the morning air makes you smile and you depress the clutch, apply the gas and the shifter in first. You look over at your passenger, and you just smile.

You know that as soon as the clutch is released… it will be the start of another great day.

We ask you to get out and enjoy the feel of the road and the wind in your hair. To take your partner (and yes, the kids) for a drive. Remember to wave and smile back at those who watch you go by. People always feel good seeing how much fun you’re having and regardless of whether you are driving a time “machine” from the early years… or you just left the dealers lot with a modern memory… smile, nod and wave. You may be making a memory for someone else that will last for years to come and keep the desire to drive just for the fun of it…. Alive!

Take your “time machine” old or new out to the Cort-lanes Bowling Center on Tompkins Street for the Tuesday Nite Cruise in… or head over to the 7 Valley Street Rod Car Show at the Cortland Citizens Park (see websites for a schedule of events). Get in your cars and drive them…all years, all brands and of course all models…just drive and create a memory and fun times that will last for the entire family!

For more information see the following websites by local clubs: cnymustang-allford.com and 7valleystreetrods.com.

This article was written and contributed by guest writer, Bill OGorman, Cortland NY.

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