Mustang, Camaro and Challenger

Posted by  //  August 6, 2015  //  Articles

Ford – Chevrolet – Dodge… when it comes to Modern Muscle cars that we can relate to our youth… these are the players that have stayed the test of time and are taking the lunch money from those who never lived in that glorious time of no limit horsepower and speed.
Years past we had competitors such as Pontiac, AMC and Plymouth. There were backyard brawls over who had the best or baddest.  Sometimes the battle was on the street or highway where the winner was determined by first to finish. Sure, the street was the wrong place for that kind of test but tell that to a bunch of teenagers with no fear and a need for excitement.
Enter the Law! Lights flashing, sirens screaming they came up from behind and it seemed like they were ghost who just appeared out of nowhere. Foot hard on the gas pedal, seat belts unhooked and you tried…  yes you tried to out run the police but they were ready.   Some of those behind the badge grew up where you were and had the new hot police specials to take you down! Dodge Polara… 440 Magnum. Plymouth Belevedere with the 383. Perhaps it was the AMC Ambassador with a 390 that showed you no mercy and demanded you give up… and you did!
On the rare occasions you did start to pull away and thought you were home free… enter Motorola. That little box of wires and tubes turcked into the dash could easily thwart the biggest, baddest engine you for Detroit could build.
Using that two way radio was the last straw, as it seemed like an army of Police Cars were everywhere, and they all wanted YOU.
Fast forward to the 80’s 90’s and today! Police still have the fast cars and of course Motorola to help keep the excitement of today’s youth at bay.
We still have Challenges, Chargers, Mustangs and Camaro’s to drive off the dealer lot and create the feel and fun like we had “back in the day,” and so does Johnny Law…. Remember the SSP Mustangs? They chased Porsches for a living… and that made many a “rich boy” very unhappy!
Today the Law Enforcement are enjoying a resurgence of Performance Pursuit Vehicles… from Ford Crown Victoria’s, Mercury Maraurder’s and Mustangs to the Dodge Charger’s and Chevrolet Camaro’s and Tahoes….yes Tahoe Police Vehicles to Match the Ford Explorer Police Units!
How fast can fast go? Well, the Mopar Boys (Aka the Dodge Brothers) are 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.

Back in the Day…guys like Richard Petty where taking the Dodge and Plymouth names around the winners circle. Today Richard Petty and his Team at Petty Enterprises are taking the NEW Dodge Challengers and creating unique statements that become instant collectible that can run or shine with the best of them. But those Petty Boys are not limited to the Mopar line. The Ford Mustang has been touched by Petty Blue and some amazing machines are being created that you can take on the road…or the strip!
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 had 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. As the Pony wars “re-ignited” the Camaro nameplate was revived again on a concept car that evolved into the fifth-generation Camaro. The “new” Camaro was built on March 16, 2009. Some new design changes were introduced along the way keeping the body fresh, but the new ZL1 introduced for 2014 was the killer of the day producing 580 hp and keeping the “old school” dream alive.
Of interest is that many feel that GM never should have killed the Pontiac Brand. To that point, some of the aftermarket builders have created a NEW FIREBIRD that is based on the latest Camaro platform. The styling is true the history of the Trans Am and certainly makes you thing that GM should build it for the masses.

Only one of the “Big Three” has been able to keep their Pony car 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 made the 2014 model a 50th Anniversary Edition!
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 it was time for an all new Mustang… and the Fox Body was born. This new Mustang created a whole 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 which keeps this battle fresh year after year.

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.
There have been a few people that have asked me why the Chevrolet Corvette was not part of the battle and to answer that we must remember that the Corvette was a two seat sport sedan for the early years and in later years grew into a world class super car that is better suited to a battle between the likes of the Dodge Viper, Ferrari and Maserati.
Mustang, Camaro and Challenger… all three have been historic pace cars and continue to this day to be affordable for the young and old alike.   These three Pony Cars are truly the basis of what most people think of when they are discussing American Muscle Cars then…and now.    Back in the day, each manufacturer regardless of brand had created some amazing vehicles and a few less than loved cars.   Today they are classics.  They are Muscle Cars. They are… our history and our legacy of what the world would come to think of as “American know how!”
Regardless of what 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.
Hopefully, this is a legacy and value that we will pass that passion on to our children. Perhaps giving a niece or nephew a “wild” ride that will inspire them to not only remember that ‘crazy” uncle years from now but will serve to spark an interest in our car shows, restorations and desire to go cruising on the way to get ice cream.

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: and or find them on Facebook!
This article was written and contributed by guest writer, Bill OGorman, Cortland NY.

Leave a Comment

comm comm comm