Sometimes you can’t really see something for what it is when you are in the middle of it.
Right now, we are truly in the golden age of high-performance cars, be they gasoline, electric or hybrid.
Who knows how long it will last?
The original muscle car era spanned from 1964 -- when Pontiac dumped a big engine in a midsize car (a V-8 in the Tempest) and created the GTO -- to the end of the decade.
Pontiac’s GTO ignited a horsepower and cubic-inch war that lasted until emissions regulations, oil embargos, high insurance rates and consumers’ desire for higher fuel economy killed the muscle car.
It’s taken awhile, but engineers have solved all the problems that prevented high horsepower AND good fuel economy. And they’re not done yet. More power is coming.
“I do not think we have reached the limit for power density in production engines for performance-oriented vehicles,” says Prabjot Nanua, General Motors’ global director for advanced and racing engine engineering.
“Advances in engine technology, computing power and control methods are enabling us to push the boundaries on the power density for performance engines,” he told Automotive News.
One measurement of engine output -- horsepower per liter -- shows how dramatically engineers have boosted performance.
Between 1968 and 1970, the heyday of the muscle car, you could buy a 426-cubic-inch Hemi engine from Chrysler in a number of cars. The 7.0-liter engine was rated by Chrysler at 425 hp. That works out to 60.7 hp per liter.