Swadetorial: Why I really don’t care what anyone thinks about …..

I have a confession to make.

As most of you know, I love Saabs. But even though I love Saabs, I also have an interest in other car companies. The ones I’ve mentioned most on this site are Alfa Romeo and Porsche. I’ve owned a couple of Alfas in my time and I definitely have either/both the Porsche 911 and/or 928 on my automotive bucket list.

But there’s more. I also have a soft spot, small as it is, for a good muscle car.

I knew a guy back in the late 1980s. He was probably in his early 20s and his parents owned a fast-food shop that a girlfriend of mine used to work at. They made great steak sandwhiches, by the way. I didn’t even have to state my order. I’d just walk in the door and Steve’s mother would nod in my direction and get the bacon on the grill. Great times.

Steve’s family were Greek and no-one did muscle cars in Melbourne better than the mediterraneans. Steve, young as he was, had a bright yellow Dodge Challenger from the early 1970s. The thing was big, loud, and it just gleamed. He’d done one hell of a job putting that car together and I can’t imagine the amount of money he must have spent on it.

When it came to cars that we could never afford to buy (i.e. most cars) my mates were mostly into Mustangs or early Aussie Holdens. I had a big soft spot for Burt Reynolds’ Screaming Chicken, but the car that really got my juices flowing was Steve’s Challenger.

Fast forward to today and the Big Three (such as they are) have a renewed pony car war going. Ford have had an updated Mustang for a while now. Chevy have the new Camaro and Dodge have a new Challenger. A few days ago, Dodge also announced the 2012 Charger SRT8, which is the car that piqued my interest in writing this piece.

There’s something about modern Dodge vehicles that really interests me. I know they don’t sell as many of them as what Ford and Chevy sell of their pony cars, but for me, they’ve still got that certain something. It’s most likely the flat-out aggressive looks.

To my eyes, the Mustang looks like it’s trying to be a hip, sophisticated version of it’s former self. The Camaro looks like a cartoon version of its former self. The Challenger and the Charger? They just look like they’d kill you if you glanced at them the wrong way.

They shout blue collar toughness, which is what muscle cars were all about. I could well imagine successful executives buying Mustangs and Camaros to get in touch with some glory days they may or may not have been part of. A Challenger buyer is getting something – and saying something – a bit more honest and earthbound to me.

The new SRT8 Challenger has 470hp.

There’s a new Camaro with 550hp and you can buy a Shelby Mustang with the same 550hp output.

The way we live here in blogland – constantly comparing one car to the other on the basis of numbers on a virtual page and the odd image – this would suggest to you that the Camaro and Mustang would be the better choice because they have more grunt. Sales would suggest that and reviews of the respective motors would probably suggest it too.

And I couldn’t care less. Based on my own brief in-person sightings of all three and my own historical leanings, I’d take the Challenger any day of the week.

It has perfectly sufficient grunt for my needs but more than that – it speaks to me about what a muscle car should be and it touches a spot in my own personal history. I don’t think I’ll ever add a muscle car to my garage, but if I were inclined to do so, I’d happily cruise around with my arm leaning out the window and Prince The Boss cranking out Born to be Wild while I scoped out the local talent competition.

The Dodge Challenger is my pony car of choice and I couldn’t give a damn what anyone else thinks about it.

——

Everyone’s got their opinions, whether they be well-founded or not. It’s what matters to you that’s important in the choices that you make.

Worry not that commenter X thinks the 9-5 wagon might be difficult to reverse. Have you ever owned a car that you haven’t got accustomed to the proportions of? I haven’t, and I’ve had to reverse down some pretty curly driveways in my time.

Your work colleague’s opinion about Saab’s future prospects? Who cares? It’s your taste and preference and more importantly, your judgement that matters.

Don’t fret about commenter X2’s concerns about this, that or the other. Check it out for yourself and either get comfortable, or move on.

I’ve really enjoyed sharing the stories of people who have recently bought new Saabs here at SU. Of course, they have an investment in the car and are more likely to be happy with it. But personally speaking, I’ve found every one of those stories to be genuinely brimming with satisfaction over these vehicles.

And that’s what’s important.

The only stamp of approval required with any vehicle purchase you consider….. is your own.

Saabheart
Guest
Saabheart
5 years 7 months ago

Once again, well put Swade.

I agree, at the end of the day, the only one whose opinion on your car really matters, is yours.

Also, I’m a Challenger fan myself because although I wasn’t around for the glory days of these muscle cars, it seems to capture the essence more than the competition. It just looks so tough. It’s a mopar thing.

Mark
Guest
Mark
5 years 7 months ago
Enjoyed reading your thoughts. I appreciate the history of the pony cars and loved the styling of those vehicles in the sixties and seventies before they either went away or got silly. I’ve never personally felt inclined to purchase one. These new vehicles have renewed the passion for muscle cars here in the states, but there is always a small market for these vehicles. I’d disagree a little bit with your assessment of the various models. I think the styling of the Mustang is the best of the lot. It conjures up memories of the old Shelby Mustangs and has… Read more »
Hans H
Guest
Hans H
5 years 7 months ago

Interesting reading.
I myself have a soft spot for 60’s Mercedes-Benzes and – also – the american muscle cars. Disturbingly, it’s the Corvette (circa 1969) that keeps coming to haunt my fantasy. I think it’s too much, but still, there I am staring at another one.

My bucket list includes a Mercedes-Benz 300 SEL 6.3. Apart from all the Saabs, of course 🙂

Michael
Guest
Michael
5 years 7 months ago
Totally agree, Swade! I love those simple and honest cars too. They may be unconvenient, unpractical, not safe and hard to drive, and, Mark, of course they’ll probably maneuver and curve much worse than modern cars, but you just feel good driving them, you feel them and enjoy. Those cars are not trying to hide anything, to compromise, they are pure and honest. There may be no airbags or soft plastic, or bumpers designed with impact safety in the first place, which is very unsafe, but you get the leather, wood, metal and glass, which feel so much better and… Read more »
Michael
Guest
Michael
5 years 7 months ago

And I wish Saab could someday build a car which is extremely simple, affordable and fun to drive. A modern Sonnet, maybe? 🙂

jof
Guest
jof
5 years 7 months ago

It is my first SU comment, although I am a regular reader, but I have to:
“Well done, Steve!” I wouldn´t write it better 🙂
PS: Porsche 928 looks absolutely great!

matsvbg
Guest
matsvbg
5 years 7 months ago

I thought the new Mustang was awsome when it came out….now that has faded since I like both the Challenger and new Camaro better…..but….If I had the money to buy any american car I wanted….then there’s something about the waistline of the 68-69 Firebird/TransAm that always makes me look twice….

Anders
Guest
Anders
5 years 7 months ago

We’re talking muscle cars and you don’t mention the superbird? 😀 I on the other hand have a thing for old le mans racers like the p330 and other outrageous styled machines. Its a shame we don’t make the cars like that anymore 🙂

Smithy
Guest
5 years 7 months ago

Well, I don’t turn down cars because of what brand they belong to. I have a lot of favorites and Saab is amoung these, mainly because they’re so “Nordic” in their approach.

I had a thing for Spykers even before the Saab deal, hoping to own one in a near future.
It’s about making the right kind of profitable progress…

The SLS AMG and the R8 are both tremendously beautiful as well. I’d love to see Saab come up with something in a similar class.

74stingray
Guest
74stingray
5 years 7 months ago

But personally speaking, I’ve found every one of those stories to be genuinely brimming with satisfaction over these vehicles.

And that’s what’s important.

The only stamp of approval required with any vehicle purchase you consider….. is your own.

I could not agree more… It was funny to see the horror GASP! when my friends heard that I bought a older Corvette… and it was BROWN Metallic , not red, white or silver…. oh the insanity.

nixschel99
Guest
5 years 7 months ago
Well spoken matey, When I moved to Florida, I got myself a Dodge Ram Pick-up 😉 Why? Simply because I fell in love with it. Working with a bunch of Texans at that time didn’t help either. Got me the title European Redneck. I grew up wth Britains finest. Drove my first miles in a Bentley T2 and in Dad’s Daimler DoubleSix. He bought a 900 Turbo as a toy, I fell for it. We may be grown ups, but we’re boys deep down inside. I love the grunt of a huge V8, simple as that. Totally PC incorrect, but… Read more »
till72
Guest
till72
5 years 7 months ago

There is a wise saying:

Men always stay kids, only the toys get more expensive.

ivo 71
Guest
ivo 71
5 years 7 months ago

It actually goes like this:

‘The only difference between men and boys is the size of their shoes and the price of their toys.’ Author unknown. Sounds like Mae West, though.

Mostly, the shoes are left out and the saying is often made a bit more ambivalent by referring to ‘the size of their toys’.

Ivo

saabdude
Guest
saabdude
5 years 7 months ago

+10 😀

Thylmuc
Guest
Thylmuc
5 years 7 months ago

Aaaaaaah, now we we now what you will be after, when having shut down SaabsUnited! About 4 weeks left.

Sorry, couldn’t resist. The end always depresses me 🙂

Toby
Guest
Toby
5 years 7 months ago

Swade, good work-this article is like a christmas present…I very nearly bought and hooked a Roush Mustang (like Hirsch are for Saab) they sort out the aged suspension so sharpen up the tail happy cornering, oversteer etc AND and bolt on a MASSIVE supercharger. just one in plain blue or black no fancy stripes….but no, I must wait for that new 9-3 🙂
these cars sure get you thinking though…its a lot of car for not much money-but the technology is well …not there…and I like the traditional european sports agility too.

Toby
Guest
Toby
5 years 7 months ago
Dan
Guest
5 years 7 months ago
Love the article Swade! My Dad had a ’69 Charger 440 RT/SE – dark green with a white stripe on the trunk. It is an emotional car that still inspires me. Like Saab, these are cars for people that don’t need to look around at their neighbors for approval to own what they like. Dodge did a much better job bringing back the Challenger than they did with the Charger – the rear lights a classic. A 4-door Charger just doesn’t cut it, but the market dictated and it is kind of funny seeing Charger Police Cars here in the… Read more »
Tompa
Guest
Tompa
5 years 7 months ago
Jan Åke has a passion for Porsche, so I can say nothing against the most eager Saab enthusiast of the world, named Steven Wade, like other cars besides Viggen´s, 9-3 X´s etc. Most of us here have other favourites besides Saab and that is OK. They are often cars of different thinking and a totaly different style. But I guess most of us like the different and the cool. I like Porsche, not because they are the best of the best in sportscars but because of the 911…. Looks the same and some models are exactly as MAD as the… Read more »
Arild
Guest
5 years 7 months ago
I got a Porsche Boxster. Last year I sold my Saab 9-3 in June and had to wait until September to get my new Saab 9-5. And so I used the Boxster all summer. By August I was sick and tired of the wind and engine noise and hard suspension. When I finally got my new Saab 9-5 it felt like a paradise compared to the Boxster. But now, after the Porsche has been parked in the garage for five months, I start to long for summer and my Porsche! 😀 So I love both my cars, but I can’t… Read more »
cincy
Guest
cincy
5 years 7 months ago

What a timely post. I saw the new Charger a week ago at the Washington Auto Show and it was the first car in a long time that has piqued my interest as much a Saab does. The car is confident, bold, and not ashamed of being a bad a@@ american car. Uniquely american as much as Saab is just…unique.

Rob in Loudoun
Guest
Rob in Loudoun
5 years 7 months ago

I came of age in the early 80’s and by then the Big Three muscle cars were sad imitations of their former selves. I never caught “muscle car fever”. Rather, I remember going to see my first SAAB with my father and I was hooked. I remember the full book brochure the dealer provided that explained in intricate detail about all of the unique technical aspects. I was impressed that everything about the car seemed to be thought out and rational.

I agree with you Swade about the 928 – make mine a Guards Red S4.

Ned
Guest
Ned
5 years 7 months ago
Great piece! I also have a soft spot for American muscle cars, and when I visited Australia, I was happy to see the muscle car flame burns Down Under as well. For looks and “vibe,” I also think the Dodge models nail the essence of the originals, and they’re immensely cool. But the 2011 Mustang GT with six-speed manual is really tough to beat. I drove one a couple of months ago, and it’s miles beyond the crude machines of the past. Despite the live axle rear, it feels like a thoroughly modern sports coupe, with a decent ride, great… Read more »
Troy S.
Guest
Troy S.
5 years 7 months ago
A great article to wake up to! My love of totally impractical, gas guzzling muscle cars began with my very first vehicle when getting my license at 16. It was a 1953 Ford F-100 pickup truck. With the help of my dad, we droppped it, threw in a 351 Windsor and painted it fire engine red. I grew up in a small american town that had a “cruise” every Friday and Saturday night, not unlike “American Graffiti”. Albeit was the 1980’s. I felt like a rockstar. My first mucle car was a dark green, 1968 Mustang fastback with a 302.… Read more »
Stan
Guest
Stan
5 years 7 months ago
My wife owns a 71 Olds Cutlass convertible that she bought in high school (late 70s) and has held on to it ever since (note how I say it is “her” car, even though we’ve been married for 15+ yrs). It can be a pain because I don’t work on cars and, with a car this old, you kind of work your way through fixing things only to start over again as prior fixes begin to age. Luckily, the parts are cheap, and the mechanics like to work on it. Believe it or not, one of the reasons I fell… Read more »
jc7222
Guest
jc7222
5 years 7 months ago

Ok It’s high time for Saab to build a true muscle car! LOL JK

900pur
Guest
900pur
5 years 7 months ago
I have always asked myself, why an Aussie doesn’t simply buy himself a nice Holden V8 and puts the pedal to the metal. But personal taste and preferences aren’t always easy to explain – and they don’t have to, either. The simple way is not always the best way. I have always liked American Musclecars, most of all the ’68 Charger. I built up an Opel Diplomat V8 instead (a car that was never sold in the US or Oz), it had a Corvette block combined with an European chassis. After that one, I drove a Dodge Ram Pickup. By… Read more »
reggaebob
Guest
reggaebob
5 years 7 months ago
Swade I love this post. I see many of our readers have our soft spots for other makes, and this holds true for me as well. Saab is (and will continue to be) my top choice in cars, but I do have other makes im partial to. Since small I have always loved the solidity, engineering and craftsmanship of Mercedes-Benz. I, like Hans H, have a huge love for the 60s-era cars, and at one point had a 69 300sel 6.3 (but the body was totally rotted out, so i was unable to drive it and ended up donating the… Read more »
Ted Y
Guest
5 years 7 months ago

I really understand. Everytime I look at my 63 Studebaker Daytona Lark I think how I would love to turn it into an R2 Super Lark and do this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=00nC7Pd0Ql0
I get a lump in my throat every time I watch.
Turns a better time in this one (copy/paste): watch?v=s98NDUZal_Q

tcastaldi
Guest
tcastaldi
5 years 7 months ago
I couldn’t agree more Swade, very well said. I currently own a 2007 9-5, my previous car was a 2006 Chrysler 300C that was totaled out in a wreck a couple years ago. The Hemi was awesome, but didn’t love the gas mileage. I still miss the car, but I am enjoying the performance and economy of a turbo charged 4 cyl. my 9-5 is a perfect balance of performance and economy, but I do miss the brute force of a powerful V-8 now and then. All said, SAAB and Chrysler are my 2 favorite brands. 2 totally different philosophies… Read more »
jc7222
Guest
jc7222
5 years 7 months ago

The Saab secret car to be revealed soon is a muscle car! LOL

I love Saab, Porsche 911 Turbos, and GM. I would love to own an Alfa Romeo one day but, they are not currently sold in the U.S.. I used to love them back in the 80s.

GerritN
Guest
GerritN
5 years 7 months ago
Bucket list…..exactly. As you turn fifty you quickly figure out that, on average, you have a little over 30% of life left. Your fifties are a big danger zone as far as mortality rates go. So, I figured that I wanted to have some fun in the sun before I die and got me a Porsche Boxster. Thanks for your editorial Swade, it definitely makes me feel less of a traitor. All in all I think that many of the regulars here are car lovers, only a few are Saab fundamentalists. If given enough money we would quickly fill our… Read more »
jimmy
Guest
jimmy
5 years 7 months ago
Muscle Cars! what fun! My first car was a ’66 Chevy Caprice coupe, top of the line chevy luxury sporty coupe with the optional 427 big block with a four speed and posi. Gobs of torque (460 ft lbs) meant that if my passenger wanted to change the radio settings all I had to do was mash the gas and they could not reach the radio! My next car was a ’70 Z/28 –Hugger orange with black stripes and the 360 hp 350 LT1 and 4 speed. The perfect drift car, tire shredding donut machine. Spent lots of time going… Read more »
saablife
Guest
saablife
5 years 7 months ago

Swade,

Loved your post. My buddy had a 2010 Challenger SRT8 which was a “beast of burden.” Tremendous thrust but the huge proportions made it quite difficult to maneuver especially in the mean streets of Miami (especially in the rain with hydroplaning rear wheel drive).

By the way (I am a Boss fan) I think you were referring to Springsteen’s “Born to Run.” “Born to Be Wild” is Steppenwolf.

RS
Guest
RS
5 years 7 months ago
We love our torque and hp don’t we. I know the question has come up here hundreds of times before during the past few months, but I’m just wondering why can’t we get the best of both worlds? Saab driving characteristics and significant power (for those who are willing to pay for it) in one package? I personally don’t like or cannot afford owning one car for every mood. The day I feel ‘too old’ I’m getting myself a tuned Hayabusa on the spot. (talking about performance right there). I simply cannot believe development of two bigger engines (diesel and… Read more »
Gunnar
Guest
5 years 7 months ago

Challenger was such a let down. Talk about all show and no go – that car looks hot but man did it suck to drive. Chevy Camarro – based on a Holden platform – was actually fun to drive AND looked cool. Same goes for Mustang.

matt
Guest
matt
5 years 7 months ago

I have to agree with you about the newer camaro. It does look kind of ugly. Far more fond of the older one (mainly because I have a 69′ in my garage). The challenger looks nice, turns my head every time I see one go down the road. If only someday I could get my hands on a porsche 959…

turbin
Guest
turbin
5 years 7 months ago

Amen Swade.

Neil
Guest
Neil
5 years 7 months ago

“But there’s more. I also have a soft spot, small as it is, for a good muscle car.”

*In my Boss Hogg voice, “Ha Ha! Son of a gun, I KNEW you had it in ya’!

Jeff
Guest
Jeff
5 years 7 months ago

This Dodge love post reminded me of the commercial I just saw them release which makes fun of Mercedes-Benz and all other car companies offering up virtual, twitter, or any other retarded ad campaign. It’s about driving, and these cars do deliver the goods. It used to be that the panels didn’t quite fit flush, or there were a few trade offs here or there, and granted there still are, but they’re getting so much better that I can see these new pony cars if styled correctly offering a legitimate performance alternative to European brands. Crazy times these are.

maanders
Guest
maanders
5 years 7 months ago
They also have a radio commercial out now where it says if you want to get a taste of what it is like to drive the new Challenger, to roll up your windows, turn up the radio…..and then they play that great exhaust note as the Challenger is put through its paces. Sure, it is kind of silly, but at a visceral level it goes back to when we were kids and pretended to be driving a big muscle car by making the sound effects. 🙂 I have to say, I would not buy one as I do not have… Read more »
Red J
Member
5 years 7 months ago

Swade,
I didn’t want to say nothing on this post, because muscle car are not my kind of cars,
on the other hand, I love films like the new one from Nicolas Cage, Drive Angry. 🙂

etienne
Guest
etienne
5 years 7 months ago

One car that I really Like it the mid 80’s was the Holden Commodore who comes to the 24h of Francorchamps, the size (from an european view) and the sound of this car was just Amazing!
I even seen this car in Rallycross…against Volvo 240Turbo, sierra Cosworth…and the Saab 900T16! Great memories

Jeff
Guest
Jeff
5 years 7 months ago

Here’s the problem with the Challenger: it’s gigantic. Muscle cars are supposed to be, at their cores, little cars with giant engines. The Challenger is only worth anything with that giant 6.1l “Hemi” (it’s not really a hemi engine, Hemi is nothing more than a brand name now). At least with the Camaro and Mustang are fun with the non-stupid-expensive engines (ok, the Camaro isn’t much fun with the V6). The V6 Mustang with the track pack is especially entertaining. Of course, like you said, none of that should matter to you.

Gunnar
Guest
Gunnar
5 years 7 months ago

The last DVD that I bought two weeks ago was “Vanishing Point” from 1971. Barry Newman as Kowalski in a white Dodge Challenger R/T. Fascinating.

turbin
Guest
turbin
5 years 7 months ago

Big favourite of mine despite the subtle overclocking of the flimspeed and his ability to seemingly find an extra couple of gears in the box at some points. Also the car smashed at the end was a camaro with plain steel wheels, because a Challenger was too valuable to waste. Cars were supplied by Dodge and at least the camera-car still exists. Mostly 440ci cars, though in the movie it’s implied that it’s boosted.

Gunnar
Guest
Gunnar
5 years 7 months ago

+1 😉

900_S
Guest
900_S
5 years 7 months ago

I would’ve spewed my drink all over the computer screen, had I been drinking something while reading “Swadetorial” 😀

I agree that the Challenger is the best reborn muscle car, though I wasn’t a BIG fan of them to begin with… but yes, Dodge got it right.

I’m more of a first-gen Camaro guy, myself.

Makes me wonder how a modern 900 would be received by consumers and critics. Looking forward to more information about that “new 900” picture from Red J!

GerritN
Guest
GerritN
5 years 7 months ago
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