Tuesday, January 10, 2006
We just can't wait for
yesterday to get here!
We want hood rings, too, though.
THE FUTURE. If the headline sounds snide, sorry. It's sincere. We're foursquare behind Detroit's retro binge. It could be their salvation, just as turning its vision directly toward the past rescued Harley-Davidson from the ash heap of history. Here's what Popular Mechanics has to say about the Dodge Challenger concept car:
Not just a two-door version of the Dodge Charger, this Challenger concept car makes no excuses for looking like something out of Dodge's ponycar catalog from the 1970s. Design cues include "pure, minimal signature lines, an air-grabbing grille and bold colors." Mechanicals are just as retro for the Dodge line: "mega horsepower" and rear-wheel drive. Physical differences of the new Challenger versus the original include a 6-in. stretch in wheelbase and a 2-in. wider body overall. And if the number of comments we've received from Mopar nuts here at PM.com over the past six months is any indication, DaimlerChrysler management better not screw up the production version of this car or there's gonna to be hell to pay.
You can't have old-time muscle cars without old-time muscle car wars. Sounds like they're coming back, too:
The musclecar wars have returned. This Camaro concept is a direct response by Chevy to Dodge's Challenger concept. Yes, another retro style to whet the appetites of younger buyers--and those old enough to remember what the streets were like back in the day. The Chevy concept sport coupe holds a number of surprises under the new/old sheetmetal. For one, an independent rear suspension, something unheard of in days of yore when a solid axle was the final drive of choice. A six-speed manual harnesses the 400 horsepower of the small-block aluminum V8 engine. But when all that power isn't needed, displacement on demand cuts fuel consumption to a point where you get 30 mpg during highway driving. Inspired by the original late-'60s Camaros, the Chevy folks would love to see this latest Camaro go into production. But so far, no corporate commitment.
And how long do we have to wait for the ragtops... the day before yesterday?
Chevy better get busy. They've been a day late and a dollar short for a long time now.
We hope all the Detroiters are paying attention because we've got some nominations for additional retro models we're sure would be a huge hit in the era of boring aero-baked-beans that's turned most cars into Japanese Beetles. Savor the possibility of these beauties updated and brand new in your local showroom:
The REAL Pontiac GTOThe ridiculous suppository Pontiac is currently calling a GTO has to go. Don't care if it's fast. It's an ugly, generic loser. NECESSARY FEATURES for the new production model: pistol grip shifter, vinyl seats, cheap radio, blackwall tires, STP decal.
This was the first, and regardless of what anyone says, it's been all downhill ever since. NECESSARY FEATURES: headlight grilles, whitewalls, chrome-rimmed cockpit, and shark-tooth front end.
The Cadillac Spaceship
The truth is, deep down inside, everybody wants one of these. Always have. This is America at her flamboyant, exuberant, and vulgar finest. NECESSARY FEATURES: All (although it would be okay if this time Cadillac included a suspension.)
The Buick Battleship Convertible
The only car ever modeled on the face of Winston Churchill, but American as a half-pound cheeseburger. NECESSARY FEATURES: bulldog eyes and grille, wide whitewalls, pneumatic power accessories, and those big chrome tits out front. (Oh, yes, he did. We'd bet on it.)
The Lincoln Marque
They got it exactly right this one time, then stank up the highways with decades of derivative, rococo abominations. Time to admit past mistakes and get on with the serious business of yesterday. NECESSARY FEATURES: All. (We're not kidding, you esthetically challenged goons at FoMoCo. This is your last chance.)
The Chrysler Walnut-Panelled Library
The children may not know this, but long, long ago, before there was fake wood, there was real wood, and they used to put it on cars. Some cars. It would heal something deeply broken in our culture if we did it again. NECESSARY FEATURES: Wood. You got it? WOOD. And the wide whitewalls, of course. You're allowed to include a CD/DVD player but the fascia had better be made of WOOD.
The Mercury B-17
Fighter planes weren't the only glamorous flying machines in the old days, you know. There were also heavy bombers, called flying fortresses, with room for a whole bunch of guys wearing leather jackets and sidearms. Maybe if we had them again it would put a little spine back into the metro-sexual followers of our age. NECESSARY FEATURES: split windshield, plenty of dials and things on the dashboard, and room on the front cowling for original nose art.
The Chevrolet UFO
Back then, people used to believe in flying saucers for a reason. They could be anywhere, everywhere, and things were a lot more fun as a result. Let's return to those thrilling days of yesteryear. Now. NECESSARY FEATURES: Alien-eye tail lamps, inter-dimensional drive, and crap hanging from the rearview mirror.
The Plymouth Rattlesnake
For a long time there was only one real cop car, a pit-viperish sedan made by Plymouth that sat coiled and ready to strike from the side of every highway and byway in the land. It had no interior options, but it could cruise all day at 140 mph. It's better not to let the cops have them anymore because they've got more than enough enforcement tools to make our lives miserable. But why can't we have them? NECESSARY FEATURES: 440 V8, 4-barrel Carter thermo-quad, true dual exhausts, metallic brakes, police pursuit radials, Koni shocks, 3:23 rear-end, drilled hubcaps, spotlight, vinyl seats, and hand-cranked windows.
Ford Motorized Convertible Hardtop Transporter
Lexus, Cadillac, and Mercedes act like the convertible hardtop is a technology they just dreamed up in their 21st century labs. Nope. The original was far cooler, and we need it back. NECESSARY FEATURES: two-tone paint, whitewalls, and lots of whirring and clicking solenoids.
The Studebaker Modern Art Cruiser
Yes, cars really were better looking back then. And Raymond Loewy was the best of all designers. NECESSARY FEATURES: All.
The Chevrolet Hero
So it wasn't safe. That's why anyone who drives it is automatically a hero. The hell with Nader. It's where he's going anyway when his long cruise is done. This car is fun. Nothing gets sideways quicker under every sort of driving condition. You'll love it. If you have the guts. NECESSARY FEATURES: X-frame, swing arm independent rear suspension, carbon monoxide heater, rear-engine, violent oversteer. And NO AIRBAGS OR SEATBELTS, you chuckleheads. Don't spoil this ride.
The Mother SUV
Some of you nuts are still going to want to drive your tippy, top-heavy SUVs. But if you have any style, this is the only way to go. It's not for nothing that the American milkman was fabled for his sexual prowess. He's a vanished breed now, but here's his ride. See if you can live up to it. NECESSARY FEATURES: aluminum racks, glass bottles, and white paint.
THE Pickup Truck
The current fad for making pickup trucks look like 18 wheelers is just sad. Even the manufacturers have forgotten what a pickup truck is and should look like. Here it is. NECESSARY FEATURES: All. No miscellaneous crap, either.
The Optional Truck
For everyone who can't be satisfied with THE Pickup Truck, there is this, the Optional Truck. It's perfect for the one-man army that some men used to be. NECESSARY FEATURES: Four-wheel drive, wall-smashing bumper, cast-iron grille-and-headlight guard, concrete suspension, and fold-out windshield. Only men need apply.
Well, those are our suggestions. If Detroit could muster a lineup like this, all that gloomy talk about Chapter 11 at GM, Ford, and Chrysler would get trampled underfoot. We guarantee it.