Recently, Danielle and I were taking an evening stroll on the Detroit Riverfront. On any given night, people are there fishing, biking, jogging, or taking in the views of Canada, Belle Isle, and the Ambassador Bridge. Standing by the lighthouse just past the Renaissance Center, we dove deep into a conversation about muscle cars.
Danielle grew up attending races at Michigan International Speedway when she wasn’t keeping pace with the rough and tumble likes of her father’s shop employees. She is the 3rd generation in a trucking company that helps keep a rural Michigan community alive.
I have never been fooled by her endless array of shoes, piles of designer clothing, or even her law degree. When a girl’s motto is “a little dirt never hurt,” you know she’s not afraid to break a nail.
Shortly after our conversation, I read the introduction to American Muscle Cars: Full-Throttle History by Darwin Holmstrom. Frankly, I’ve never heard a better summary of the what the muscle car stood for, but afterwards, I wondered if my girl and Holmstrom were somehow related. They both share a burning desire for something we are not likely to ever see again in American history.
In the 1960s, 75 million baby boomers hit the automotive marketplace. Their desire for speed was arguably fueled by cultural revolution at every turn; through political protests and marches, during musical movements and festivals; from landing on the moon and going to war.
And this is where the American muscle car would find its home.
Pontiac Chief Engineer, John Z. DeLorean, with Bill Collins and Russ Gee, bolted a 389 ci V8 onto a Tempest chassis prototype for the GTO. It took them 20 minutes. 20 minutes and the muscle car, one of the most iconic and memorable pieces of American culture, was born. American Muscle Cars: Full-Throttle History showcases these stories and others behind Detroit’s muscle, with stunning photography to match.
Darwin Holmstrom has written, co-written, or contributed to over thirty books on subjects ranging from motorcycles and muscle cars to Gibson Les Paul guitars. He is the Senior Editor for Motorbooks, who we partner with for this Book Garage series.
As far as I can tell, he is not related to my girl, despite them thinking so much alike.
Since 1983, Tom Glatch has contributed hundreds of stories and photographs to major collector Corvette, Mustang, and Mopar magazines. Glatch experienced the muscle car era firsthand with his 1970 Plymouth Duster 340.
He lives in southeastern Wisconsin with his wife and two children.
With my work in the automotive industry, I am constantly around new innovations and technology. So many vehicles today are marketed to the “connected” consumer. It’s not that performance is an afterthought – far from it. As Holmstrom points out in this book, many of today’s modern hot rods are much more powerful than anything from the muscle car era.
But it’s not about that.
For the person who lived during that time, a muscle car represents a significant portion of their life. For those who were maybe not alive then, a muscle car is a chance to experience the carefree, rebellious spirit embodied within that time. For Danielle and I, and the 689,000 others who call Detroit home, it’s a reminder we are still worth something as a city, even when the fires of preconception burn us.
American Muscle Cars: Full-Throttle History ensures an era, that despite being long gone, will always endure. One flip of the pages and you’re right back there, hearing that engine roar, breaking in those old seats, and burning up those tires.
Why? Because. That’s why.
*Carl Anthony is Managing Editor of Automoblog and resides in Detroit, Michigan.
*Last week on Automoblog Book Garage, we featured a book about the Shelby Cobra.