Introduction of muscle cars in the late 1940s
uscle cars were not so much a part of American culture as they were a part of it. Perhaps muscle cars are so ingrained in American culture because they embody the purest of American ideals: liberty. Controlling a muscle car’s raw power and speed provides an unparalleled sense of liberation. The world becomes one enormous race track behind the wheel of a muscle vehicle; there are no checkered flags or pace cars, just open highways as far as the eye can see. You can go wherever you choose and get there with the strength and speed you need. Following the introduction of muscle cars in the late 1940s (or the early 1960s for you Pontiac GTO enthusiasts), every American automaker began producing their own model. Early racing circuits were dominated by muscle cars, which redefined what it meant to have a true performance vehicle. Muscle cars continue to define American culture and what it means to be free in today’s world.
“Pontiacs, Oldsmobiles, Buicks – manufactured by General Motors”
– bill morris –
Muscle cars revolutionized American culture, particularly movies. Classic flicks like Bullitt and Smokey and the Bandit would not be the same without muscle vehicles. Although many people believe Steve McQueen was the star of the 1968 film Bullitt, the real star was the 1968 Ford Mustang G.T. That Mustang was half of the movie’s action. Steve McQueen was fantastic, but no picture is complete without a spectacular automobile chase. Frank Bullit, McQueen’s character, would not have been able to catch anyone if he was driving a 1968 AMC Gremlin. The vehicle pursuit between McQueen’s Mustang Fastback and the hit men’s 1968 Dodge Charger in Bullitt was even hailed as one of the most influential chases in American film.
Burt Reynolds’ character “The Bandit” races across Texas in Smokey and the Bandit, eluding Sheriff Justice’s pursuit (Smokey). If Smokey had been driving a 1977 Buick Regal Landau instead of his famed 1977 Pontiac Trans Am, there’s no doubt he would have captured the Bandit. Movies about vehicles would be dull if they didn’t have muscles. Smokey and the Bandit would have been a 96-minute snooze fest about Burt Reynolds’ mustache in a world without muscle cars, rather than the brilliant film it is today. Muscle cars are responsible for many of Hollywood’s successful films. After explosions and Meagan Fox, the number three reason why fans watch Michael Bay’s Transformers movies is to see the latest muscle cars in action. Despite the fact that Meagan Fox isn’t in the newest Transformers picture, Dark of the Moon, Hollywood certainly has its priorities straight. And no one has ever expressed an interest in seeing the latest Fast and Furious film because of its well-structured plot and complex characters. People want to see movies like Fast Five and Gone in 60 Seconds because they want to see some of the best vehicles chase money can buy.
Simply put, muscle cars reignited interest in the automobile industry. Cars were simple before the mid-twentieth century when the first muscle cars were introduced: they were just another tool to carry you from one place to another. Cars were utilitarian and no more thrilling than a horse-drawn carriages. Sure, race cars were thrilling, but they couldn’t be driven at will. Muscle vehicles, on the other hand, revolutionized everything. Automobiles were fashionable, and people began to customize and personalize them to suit their personal preferences. From special tires to racing stripes and decorations, muscle cars have spawned a whole aftermarket automotive sector. Muscle cars like the 1964 Pontiac GTO are responsible for the American infatuation with the quickest and strongest car. Muscle cars have not only influenced but also defined American culture.