• 7

American Muscle is the theme of this year's SEMA show. Usually a single automaker is honored as manufacturer of the show and enjoys a little extra exposure during the week. With this theme, however, all three Detroit auto companies are celebrated. Muscle cars, their impact on American culture and the current resurgence of American iron dominated the discussion at the keynote luncheon on Monday. With a current Mustang and the Camaro and Challenger concept vehicles parked just off the dais, a panel of six industry experts talked about the renaissance of high-powered vehicles and the legacy of speed that was born in the '60s. Motor Trend editor Angus MacKenzie (far left in photo) was the moderator. Included on the panel were (left to right):
  • Pat Schievoni, Ford designer
  • Dan Webb, designer and car builder
  • Ralph Gilles, vice-president Jeep/Truck & Component Design, DaimlerChrysler
  • Tom Hoover, "godfather" of the Hemi
  • Thomas Peters, director of design, GM
  • Al Oppenheiser, GM designer
Favorite muscle cars of the panel included Shelby GT 500, 428 Cobra Jet Mustang, Z/28 Camaro and Hemi Cuda. They laughed at the competitive atmosphere of the '60s and the vicious horsepower wars. Then came the oil embargo, insurance crisis and concerns over pollution. "The environmental issues were inverse proportion to horsepower," said Oppenheiser, who designed the Camaro concept. "Today there is a balance between horsepower and emissions."

The '80s generated laughter as Gilles said motorsports was the "one thing that didn't go away" and MacKenzie noted that trucks were the only vehicles igniting any passion. "We listed to bad music and wore bad clothes," added Webb, trying to explain the onslaught of boring vehicles in that era.

Hoover said technology spurred the muscle car resurgence and will spawn a new generation of enthusiasts. Schievoni agreed and sees "real growth" in muscle cars for the next 15 years. Added Gilles: "Technology like stability control allows anyone to drive a 400-horsepower car."

In closing, Hoover suggested that designers "keep the door cracked just a little bit for a sleeper approach," acknowledging his preference for fast motors in unsuspecting bodies. To which MacKenzie responded: "More engine, less car; it's the '60s all over again!"

I'm reporting this comment as:

Reported comments and users are reviewed by Autoblog staff 24 hours a day, seven days a week to determine whether they violate Community Guideline. Accounts are penalized for Community Guidelines violations and serious or repeated violations can lead to account termination.

    • 1 Second Ago
      • 8 Years Ago
      JJ: I'm well aware of SEMA and the advantages of having numerous choices of cars and customized fittings instead of only one generic car for everybody.

      My own car is proof of that:

      • 8 Years Ago
      It'll be nice to see the end of this "SEMA" show or whatever it is that glamorizes plastic crap that silly people slap on cars that don't matter these days.

      Good that all these SEMA related articles and the photos of cars and trucks that would be better left as originally designed might finally end.

      With respect to the "American Muscle" theme, the dimbulbs on that panel should know that the muscle car days of the past are long gone. Those folks are living in the past while Toyota, Honda, et at eat their lunch.

      And this rant isn't meant to bash domestic cars which are improving at GM, DCX, and Ford. These American (or partly American) companies don't need any extra plastic add-ons to spoil the newer sophisticated styles that might finally increase sales of domestic cars.
      • 8 Years Ago

      You doubt that's a real SEMA vehicle?
      A SEMA-inspired Trabant, no less?

      Shame on you!

      By the way, it's AppleWorks, not photochop via Photoshop.

      I thought it was pretty good for the less than 5 minutes it took to make that.


      • 8 Years Ago
      iQuack....that's a bad photochop. Anyone with enough sense like me would be able to tell that that's a photochop.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Do you even know what SEMA is Iquack?

      It stands for Specialty Equipment Manufacturers Association and its a 31 billion dollar a year industry.

      Sure the stuff you see here about it can be silly, but SEMA represents WAY WAY more than just silly customized vehicles from ALL the major manufacturers (Yes even TOyota and Honda have cars at SEMA). Sema represents everything from companies like 3m's auto products to wheels, tires, aftermarket shopsm etc and what have you.

      So next time you spout off... might want to do some research friend.

      Besides if a panel of designers want to talk about muscle cars, who cares? Its not like they're saying all cars need to be muscle cars. IF everything in the auto industry was just about practicality we wouldn't have half the cars you see on the road. There'd only be one car and thats what everyone would drive, like in the days of the MOdel T and well... you see where we are now.
      • 8 Years Ago
      The correct spelling of the Ford Designer listed is:

      Pat Schiavone
      • 8 Years Ago

      This is how you do muscle cars america, wake up!