The Muscle Car: Europe’s Secret Love

America Land of the Free, and Home of the Muscle car

The muscle car has always screamed AMERICA! It speeds along with a brash exterior, rock music playing on the radio and a McDonald’s wrapper in the passenger seat; it is a symbol of freedom from the land of the free and the home of the brave. But the muscle car never really worked in the rest of the world. It was too big and too brash to ever really be taken seriously alongside cars like the Mercedes SL or the Porsche 911, those are sports cars, from the much more serious Germany. Us Europeans have always been rather snooty when it comes to our cars, we sneer at the Corvette as it rumbles down our high streets, we mock the Mustang as we pass in our much more sophisticated Jaguars and BMWs.

Are we all Just Secret Americans?

The muscle car has now made its way over Europe though. The Mustang and the Camaro are sold in the UK, and the cars selling better are not the more European styled 2.3 litre eco muscle cars specifically built for the European market. No, it’s the full fat American cheeseburger 5.0 litre V8. Maybe secretly we were always envious of the Americans, they are free spirited bunch not afraid of a laugh over a few beers, We Europeans always saw ourselves above all that, we’d hold cocktail parties where the wine would flow freely as we spoke of the opera and critiqued a new concerto from some unknown composer. Meanwhile, secretly deep down at the back corner of your mind, you longed for the release of a V8 rumble, the smell of burnt rubber, the glaze of a freshly made doughnut.

The Sales Reflect the Truth

Now, I’m not saying that secretly all us Europeans want to be American, we just want to be free to laugh at ourselves, to grab a beer and smoke tyres. Which is why when the Mustang came over here in 2015, we leapt at the chance to get over our prejudices of this car – that they were cheaply made and wouldn’t corner – and accepted for what it was: a fun car. The Mustang has now become the best selling sports coupe in the world, a car we no longer make fun of as it passes, we now admire its aggressive good looks that remind us of those 60’s American summers, we urge for the roar of the V8 engine, and now America it seems has listened and made a car we want, we crave, we have to have it. The queues are now back to being out of the showroom and down the street.

Nine Times out of ten we’d Still Take the European car

The problem with the muscle car though is the same as owning a classic British sports car, something like an MGB or a Triumph Spitfire. They are fantastic for the two days in June it doesn’t rain, but the rest of the time they annoy the hell out of us. A certain ex Top Gear presenter put it best I think, European cars over the last 10-15 years haven’t gotten faster, they haven’t gotten safer, they’ve got more refined. The Mustang, the Camaro, even the Corvette, they shake, they rattle and are horribly uncomfortable on long journeys, whereas your comparable European car will waft you to your destination in absolute comfort. So yes America we do like your cars, but only part time, the rest of the time we’ll stick with our friends in Germany, our Mercedes, our BMWs, our Audis. But for those two days in the year when its not raining, and the suns out, bring on the Stetsons, burgers, and Budweiser. We’re going for a drive.

Follow me on Twitter: @jimafred

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