Born after the T-bird but before the birth of the muscle car, the pony cars are the cars on the top of my dream car list. Ford’s Mustang, Plymouth’s Barracuda, Chevy’s Camaro, Pontiac’s Firebird, Mercury’s Cougar. AMC’s Javelin, and my favorite, Dodge’s Challenger. All were a part of the pony group, which is defined as a small bodied care with a large engine. The muscle cars that came after had larger bodies and larger engines and were therefore faster.
It was 1958. Three years earlier, in 1955, Ford invented the T-Bird as the competitor to the Corvette. With two seats and a streamlined body, it was the first sports luxury car and it far surpassed Corvette sales, 5 to 1. It’s appeal was to a young generation just returning from the war and enjoying all the hedonism life had to offer at those times, conservative as those hedonistic activities may have been (common, it was the 50s). But in 1958, Ford Motors decided all cars should have 4 seats; all cars should be able to fit a family. So, the T-Bird changed from a 2- seater to a 4-seater. The extra 2 seats attracted an older, more family-oriented customer, and abandoned the young, adventurous, and sporty customer. But this customer was still there and Ford didn’t want to dessert them. So, the Ford Mustang was created. Although it wasn’t the first pony car – the Plymouth Barracuda came out 2 weeks prior – it is attributed as the first and it’s where the group derives it’s name – a mustang is a type if pony.
After the Mustang inception, all the other American car makers came out with their version, their competitor to the mustang.
What I love about all these cars is that it just doesn’t get more American. The deep roars of their engine soothe the ears more than any European or Japanese rice burner. Those Europeans, they don’t even know right from left; they drive on the wrong side of the fucking road! How are they capable of designing a car.