As we head into the heart of the holiday season and get ready for the upcoming new year, hopefully you’ve spent time with family and friends, or are looking forward to doing so. It’s also a good time to reflect on how much improved this year was over the last. A disastrous 2020 and 2021 really made me appreciate 2022 and being able to get back out to some shows to check out the latest muscle car builds while also appreciating a few that have been around for some time. While out and about I noticed a few fresh builds showing some diversity and old-school personality taking a road less traveled—more like a road not driven on since the ’70s. As I was taking a lengthy walk around the NSRA Nationals (just kidding, I was riding in a golf cart) this past August, I noticed a little less LS and a few more small- and big-block builds under the hoods of classics, paying homage to the past.
I’m not saying modern engines or the Pro Touring scene are dwindling by any means, as that style is cruising along just as strong as ever. Owners of these rides pretty much dominate most local get-togethers as they still enjoy getting behind the wheel of a vintage car that behaves like a late-model hot rod.
With that said, I couldn’t help but notice a few more tunnel rams, carburetors, GMC blowers, and stack injection than in years past. It was a refreshing sight that totally took me back to Southern California 1976.
Are the modern-engineered and sensible builds stepping aside for a new wave of cars dedicated to the scrappy ’70s? It’s hard to say, but I’m totally digging it–raised white-letter tires, ladder and slapper bars, cars jacked up in the rear (it’s all good stuff), elements that certainly don’t do much for handling but do a great job of pouring on the nostalgia aesthetics. Heck, all this retro muscle car stuff inspired me set my Pandora station to the ’70s and rock some vintage REO Speedwagon–not the ’80s ’Speedwagon, but the late-’70s stuff.
So, by repaving a road to a muscle car era 50 years in the past, it opens the door to another direction to take within the muscle car hobby. I tend to refrain from calling anything a “trend,” but I’m hopeful this old-school resurgence catches on.
I say bring it on! Bring on the Cragar S/S, American Torq Thrust, slotted U.S. Mags, and anodized Centerline wheels. Let their 15 inches of glory ring loud and proud.