Detroit’s big and new classic muscle car.

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Detroit’s big and new classic muscle car.

When the oil price soared, muscle cars in the 1960s and 1970s hit the coast with their oversized engines and racing stripes. But in Detroit, some are calling for a new golden age for muscle cars.

RACHEL MARTIN, host:

Muscle cars in the late 1960s and 1970s represented the last golden age of American cars. You know, the super engine, the racing stripes, the prime minister lee in the “duke of hazard”. These cars are a symbol of American style, strength and masculinity. They are also unreliable, unmanageable gas guzzlers. But now the muscle car is back. NPR’s Sonari Glinton took part in a fun trip to relive the fantasy of his middle-aged “duke hazare”.

SONARI GLINTON, online: in the journalist’s handbook, it says that if you’re going to do a story about a muscle car, you have to start a muscle car. So helping me drive a muscle car is Micah Muzio, who works with Kelley Blue Book. How about mika?

MICAH MUZIO: that’s good. In fact, if you want to choose a muscle car, I think you’ve found the right car.

GLINTON: so this is the dodge Charger SRT, right? So we’re going to go into it, and you’ll tell me why it’s special.

MUZIO: well, it’s not just an SRT. This is a HellCat. It’s a legend, and it’s amazing because it’s just a big discount on the market. This is – there’s an extreme muscle car here.

Greenton: so, how would you describe a muscle car?

MUZIO: well, I think the key to muscle car is strength, and it’s all powerful. There are 707 horses under this hood, which is a lot. I mean, if you’re driving a Honda civic, you’re going to be 100, and – you know – 25,130. So it’s much more than that. It’s more powerful than you might drive. Not to threaten you, but this is – it will travel at 204 miles per hour, zero to 60 or less than four seconds. This is the absolute beast of a car. It sounds crazy.

(car engine)

MUZIO: yes, that’s the staff. Do you feel it?

GLINTON: why do I need this?

MUZIO: what do you mean, why do you need this? This is the focus of the muscle car. You don’t need that, but you have it.

Well, we’re on a very quiet street, there’s nothing in front of us, it’s a perfect place to try a little full throttle. We’ll make it official – three – two countdown, take a break, stop the gas. When you feel uncomfortable, you take off your feet. Good?

GLINTON: it’s uncomfortable in three seconds.

(laughter.)

MUZIO: ok.

GLINTON: ok.

MUZIO: three, two, one, go.

(car modification)

GLINTON: wow.

MUZIO: we are.

GLINTON: winter blue mackerel.

WADE GOODWYN: now, when Micah teaches you how to burn rubber and regain your youth, you may want to know why these muscle cars are so popular. There are three words for ya – quick and angry.

(movie voice, “fast and rich”)

PAUL WALKER :(like Brian O ‘conner) I want you to get out of here. You will have to jump.

Unidentified female :(as a character, screaming).

GOODWYN: before Sonari started warming up, he talked to Tim Kuniskis of dodge.

TIM KUNISKIS: well, the whole “fast” franchise is amazing for us. And when it fits perfectly, that’s something you can do, like we do marketing for movies. So why do we spend money on a movie? Because it has a lot of dodge products, and it’s the perfect fit between the movie and our car. So both help each other.

Linton: you know, everybody is chasing young people. You seem to be getting them.

KUNISKIS: if you look at the demo, we’re the youngest demo in the entire industry. I think the average industry is 51 now, and we’re 44. So we are attracting a very young population and we are very pleased with that.

GLINTON: are we in the new golden age of muscle cars?

KUNISKIS: this is the age of muscle cars. It’s blasphemy for me because I have a long history of muscle cars. But this is the age of modern muscle cars.

GOODWYN: at the same time, back to dodge HellCat, apparently Sonari is getting more and more nervous, Micah Muzio and Kelley Blue Book are in the driver’s seat.

Greenton: Tim Kuniskis says where we are actually is the golden age of muscle cars. Do you think he is right?

MUZIO: oh, yes, 100%. You can say that the ’60s or’ 70s were a golden age, but it relied on nostalgia. Objectively speaking, this is a better time for muscle cars. For example, I don’t know if you’re – are you ready?

GLINTON: I think so. So let’s do that.

(car modification)

GLINTON: wow.

MUZIO: we’re going to make some hard brakes. Can you smell it? This is the tire.

GLINTON :(laughter).

MUZIO: that’s a tire. It gave our lives for the good times.

GLINTON :(laughter) oh, my god. Sonari Glinton, NPR news.

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