Whether we realize it or not, we are living in the late ’60’s all over again.
No, I don’t think there will be assassinations of notable figures or presidents.
No, your house does not cost 12,000-dollars.
No, we are not involved in another space race.
No, you won’t be able to get your hands on an Amazing Fantasy #15 comic debuting Spider Man and keep it in your attic for a half century.
And no, gas is not 25-cents per gallon any more.
However, despite all that has changed, we have hearkened back to a golden era of raw horsepower and ground-pounding torque. We no longer call them “Muscle Cars”, we refer to them as “Performance Cars” – same thing, different package.
We close the chapter on two great examples in the Dodge Viper and the Chevy SS. All orders for the 2017 Chevy SS were to be in before Valentine’s Day. The car that was once a Holden, then a Pontiac, and now a Chevy will disappear. It was the car that would not die.
The Chevy SS was always a slow seller, but its demise is a consequence of GM ending Holden production in Australia, not sales figures. If you want affordable, rear-drive muscle with a bowtie badge on the grille, you’ll have to buy a Camaro SS. You were doing that anyway because the SS just didn’t catch on in the marketplace like so many would have hoped.
Take heart, the SS and Viper do not spell an end of the market, it is just a leaner one. The Dodge Charger as the only affordable, V8-powered, rear-drive sedan sold in the U.S. Cadillac still offers the tire-scorching, 640-hp V-8 Cadillac CTS-V, but its base price is nearly $40,000 higher than the SS.
The Lexus GS F cannot be forgotten in this segment. With a powerful naturally aspirated V8, it is almost an anomaly among forced-induction competition. The German ‘Big Three’ all still offer ubiquitous amounts of grunt. However, it is all well out of range of the average consumer.
All of this is to say that the SS will be sorely missed by the few that recognized its charms. The Viper will leave an indelible mark on the performance market that no Corvette alone can delete. America had a pair of cars on its hands that went toe-to-toe with each other for more than a decade. Just like the muscle car days of old.
Adding to the sadness, it doesn’t seem Chevy has any intention of creating any special edition SS. What a shame. At least FCA did tell us about the demise of the Viper and even offering “last hoorah!” models, but telling someone you’re leaving is one thing. Coming home to an empty house is another. The absence of the halo cars leaves a hole in the lineup and our hearts.
Perhaps this is what young men felt like in the late ’60’s. Watching their plethora of heavy-hitters decrease. As times call for change and an era ends. The GTO was changing, The 455’s were on their last leg. The AMX and Superbirds had all but disappeared. I’m sure gearheads began, at this point, to relive the glory days and treasure their brand posters and jackets as they saw the end approaching. I don’t claim to be a prognosticator by any means. It’s just that with affordable muscle on the decrease, hybrids gaining ground and turbocharging and supercharging becoming a treat for the well-to-do, the cycle seems to be at its end.
Enjoy them while they last, boys and girls. Pretty soon, you’ll need a bidding paddle and a deep checkbook to relive this era. Unless you do what so many wish they would have done all those years ago. Buy it, hide it and treasure it.