There are plenty of car guys (and car gals) who look to the 1960s as the good old days of automotive high performance, the days when cheap gas and Detroit’s army of tire-melting V8s reigned supreme.
Of course by the mid 1970s a variety of factors (insurance hikes, emissions regulations and oil embargoes) conspired to put an end to the party for what seemed like once and for all.
Well, it’s been about 30 years since the onset of those dark days and, in the words of John Fogarty, it’s like déjà vu all over again.
World War III is being fought as we speak. Not on the battlefield, mind you, but on the city streets, backroads, Interstates and racetracks of America. Japan, Germany, England, South Korea, Italy, the United States and Sweden are just some of the nations that are waging this war, the war to end all horsepower wars.
These days, there is simply no shortage of avenues through which gearheads can indulge in the art of rubber vaporization.
Want a pickup truck that will humiliate that pesky neighbor kid’s Camaro? Try the 500 horsepower Dodge Ram SRT-10 on for size. Want an AARP- approved full size sedan that will get you to bingo night faster than anyone else? The 265 horsepower Toyota Avalon should do the trick. Or how about a small station wagon for your favorite college grad/speed freak? A 227 horsepower Subaru WRX will get the job done and then some. And if you absolutely demand the style and status that can only be had with a German luxury land yacht, but want to be able to jump to super hyperspace warp drive at the push of a pedal, the Mercedes-Benz S65 AMG will catapult you to the country club in record time with its insane 604 horsepower twin-turbo V12.
Yes, kids, these are the real good old days. Not only do today’s supercars haul posterior like nobody’s business, but they will also out stop, out corner, out comfort and out environmentally-friendly any big-block beast from the full-blown arms race of the ‘60s.
There are, however, some burning question that remain: How much longer can this madness last? Is this era of piston-pumping, tire-shredding euphoria doomed to fizzle out like the one that preceded it?
Well, sadly, yes it is. They say all good things must come to an end, and the battle for boulevard bragging rights will be no exception.
Oil supplies are slowly but surely drying up, and developing superpowers like India and China are developing greater thirsts for the stuff.
Increasing pressure placed on automakers and consumers by the blue state fun police to act in more “politically correct” manners has begun putting the squeeze on many. And, once again, insurance rates are slapping people on the wrists, particularly if they drive one of these turn-key cruise missiles.
So what should we do? My advice is simple: Enjoy it while it lasts. Eventually we’ll all wind up piloting our own touchy-feely, fuel cell-powered toaster on wheels.
But in the meantime, get out there and live a little, people. There’s no rewind button for life, so seize the day and open a can of vehicular whoopass before it’s too late.
Tom Anderson, a sophomore journalism major, is arts editor of the Campus Times. He can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.