Golden age of muscle cars is now

Despite strict emissions limits, concerns about climate change and unpredictable gasoline prices that would make a ’60s hot rodder pull over and weep, Detroit”s modern performance cars could run rings around the classics. And they’re surprisingly affordable when compared with price tags of some exotic cars with similarly high-performing engines.{{more}}

“Back in the 1960s and ’70s, we were looking at 300-, 325-horsepower engines. Now you’ve got 500-, 600-, even 700-horsepower,” said Ken Gross, an automotive historian, museum consultant and journalist. “Never in my lifetime did I think I’d see the day when I could drive a 700-horsepower street car.”

Even the least powerful of today’s sporty cars — say a base V-6 Chevy Camaro, Mustang or Charger — could probably out-corner most 1960s muscle cars, which were renowned for their ability to accelerate, but not to turn or stop.

“We are living in the Golden Age of the performance car,” said Matt Anderson, curator of transportation at the Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village. “The cars from the 1960s and ’70s were good cars, but basic. Not as fast or sophisticated as today’s cars. With new technology, improving fuel economy and reasonable gasoline prices, there’s no end in sight.”

Fiat Chrysler’s Dodge Hellcat engines cram 707 horsepower into the Challenger coupe and Charger sedan.

The 2016 Chevrolet Corvette ZO6 produces 650 horsepower and accelerates to 60 m.p.h. in 2.95 seconds. Watching one launch has more in common with the Millennium Falcon shifting into warp drive than the Corvettes Chevrolet sold when muscle cars and “Star Wars” were new.

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