Imagine, in only 13 years (2025) every new car on the road is required to maintain an average mpg of 54.5. In today’s market alone, the most efficient non-hybrid vehicles sit at around 35-40mpg, while the top range Prius squeezes out just enough juice to reach 54 mpg. Neither of which, meeting future emissions standards.
While most of the Al Gore-worshipping, penguin-hugging hippies see this as a step forward into a greener world, and money-grubbing Government Motors lawmakers see this as a huge chunk of change back into their wallets, us muscle car people see this as, well, the end. The end of the muscle car.
But let’s backtrack for a second. Defined, the muscle car is “any of a group of American-made 2-door sports coupes with powerful engines designed for high performance driving.” Most usually bearing a powerful V8 and a rear-wheel drive setup. Often cited as the first muscle car, the 1949 Oldsmobile Rocket 88 was just the first of many in a long line of pure-bred American muscle that continues on today.
Since it’s American roots, the muscle car spanned into racing and new and emerging markets such as South Africa, Australia, the UK, among others, who greeted these gas-guzzling monsters with open arms.
But now, as hybrid vehicles flood the market, and government officials are cracking down on automakers such as Ford, GM and Chrysler over stricter fuel efficiency laws, surviving budget muscle cars like the Mustang, Camaro and Challenger will be the first to fall at the feet of CAFE standards.
The Mustang, in order to meet requirements in Europe, must shrink down in size by 2015 and Ford officials have all but confirmed the use of a 4-cyldiner EcoBoost engine for the base, while possibly maintaining a V8 option.
The Camaro, making an appearance back into the market in only 2009, will also fall in line with the Mustang as Chevrolet looks to introduce a 4-cyldiner base option most likely previewed by the Code130R concept.
The Barracuda, which has yet to be officially confirmed by Chrysler, will most likely take the place of the monstrous Challenger in 2015, shrink it down, and use a turbocharged inline-four base with a V6 and Hemi V8 still likely.
So, as lawmakers continue to tighten the noose on each one of these automakers, the big three are looking to make their new “sports cars” available by 2015 complete with a more efficient 4-cylinder base engine and a lighter, smaller body. We knew thee well, sweet muscle car.