The Next Big Thing? - Out With Rice, In With American Muscle

Discussion in 'OT Driven' started by TriShield, Dec 1, 2005.

  1. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

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    Catching the Next Wave: Will High-Tech Muscle Squeeze Sport Compacts?

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    Today's return to muscle comes in many shapes and sizes, like the Unique Performance Stallion, above.

    BOB GRITZINGER and RICHARD S. CHANG
    Published Date: 11/28/05

    Sport compact tuners are taking over the world.

    That’s the unmistakable conclusion you might reach after gazing upon miles of aisles of tricked-out tuner cars, over-the-top parts and wild accessories at the recent Specialty Equipment Market Association show in Las Vegas.

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    There’s one problem: People with ears closest to the thrumming ground think you’re wrong. They think the wave of sport compact tuning that washed over America in the past decade may have crested and is receding from its high water mark.

    Yes, Honda is back. It is reclaiming lost ground with a new Civic that should help Honda secure it as the darling of the tuner world. But Volkswagen is in the mix, showing a full range of concept “R” tuner cars at SEMA, laying claim to its tuner birthright that predates the Japanese imports. Wasn’t the Beetle America’s original tuner import?

    But the distant—and growing—rumble that is drawing everyone’s attention is nothing less than the resurgence of modernized muscle cars.

    At SEMA, the wild $427,000 Baldwin-Motion Camaro Super Coupe, above, represented the extreme side of this trend. But one does not make a trend: Plenty of other mainstream examples were on hand, such as the latest Shelby Mustangs from Unique Performance, and manufacturer entries such as the Pontiac GTO and Solstice, Ford Mustang and GT500, and Dodge Charger that signal a return to muscle.

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    “There’s definitely a swing back to ’60s-era muscle cars—with today’s technology,” says Clay Dean, General Motors director of small and midsize car design. A SEMA veteran, Dean has been trend-spotting at the tuner show since 1985 and witnessed the rise of sport trucks, the return of street rods and the upsurge of sport compact tuners. Each trend is marked by a similar search for a brand identity that carries emotion and power, says Dean. The swing to ’60s automotive icons is more of the same, he says.

    “People want to stand out, and their rediscovery of ’60s muscle is a return to a time when brands were strong—to when people knew what Chevy stood for,” Dean says.

    The trick, says trend spotter Rob Tregenza of Minneapolis-based Iconoculture, is to convince consumers to catch the wave, instead of pushing them into it. For North American automakers, steeped in selling in volume, cashing in on their natural advantage in muscle cars will depend on how well they emulate the sport compact manufacturers and supporting tuner companies of today.

    “Consumers want to go to niche—they want a ‘mom and pop’ brand that’s unique,” Tregenza says.

    Success for big automakers like GM may lie in establishing separate brands for enthusiasts, and giving brands free rein to create what the market demands. Performance-based entities, like GM Performance Division, Ford SVT and Chrysler Street and Racing Technology, may be seen as too cozy with the parent to win the battle for buyers.

    “The manufacturers are in, but do people buy it—is it authentic?” Iconoculture’s Tregenza asks.

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    Chrysler, with its tuner-friendly and affordable 300C, Dodge Magnum and Dodge Charger, and its wildly successful Hemi engine, may have a leg up on the competition when it comes to latching on to the muscle movement.

    Ralph Gilles, designer of the 300, returned from SEMA and reported to his boss, Chrysler design chief Trevor Creed, that the show was loaded with tuned 300Cs and Chargers.

    “And we didn’t pay for any of them,” notes Creed, referring to the common industry practice of financing “dollar cars” for tuners. “The trend is happening on its own,” says Creed. “People are saying, ‘You’ve given us the traditional American car back—and it’s affordable.’”

    Does the rise of muscle mean the end of sport compacts? Judging by the preponderance of the latter represented in SEMA’s 2055 booths, along with the huge dollars all those tuner parts and accessories represent (a $31 billion industry) it’s more likely sport compacts will run side-by-side with muscle cars for the foreseeable future.

    Jarod DeAnda, youth marketing manager for Meguiar’s, the voice of Formula Drift, and PR man for Gumball 3000, says we’re living in a “mash-up” culture, where consumers demand creative control over products. The result, notes Tregenza, is a youth culture that can “mix and mash products before they even get into production.”

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    Mash-up can best describe what’s going on in the tuner world right now, says DeAnda. “It’s a mash-up of different global influences, from drifting and JDM (Japanese Domestic Market) styles to California tuning style to motorsports to hip-hop to skateboard culture to graffiti art. It’s really all over the board right now, and young tuners are pulling from all sources.”

    Need proof? DeAnda’s drift car displayed at SEMA was painted by Kal Kustoms, a company known for airbrushing low riders and drag cars. “What’s funny is [my car] offends the core drift dudes,” says DeAnda, “but if it was a single color like a gray, it would be JDM, which is funny.”

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  2. psykosis

    psykosis Go placidly amid the noise and the haste

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    I'm all for it!
     
  3. psykosis

    psykosis Go placidly amid the noise and the haste

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    btw, they have a Saturn Sky on display at the local dealership. I really like that car. And there is a good write-up on the SRT-8 Jeep GC in the newest autoweek...
     
  4. RyceONE

    RyceONE OT's Resident tC Expert

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    it'll be true for a couple of years... but ricing is still gonna take place... even with these new entries from american car companies. hell those cars are going to be the new civics and integras.
     
  5. 95YJ

    95YJ Guest

    i lke the new charger :wackit:
     
  6. TheScatman

    TheScatman It's the summer of Scatman

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    You are not Trishield
     
  7. fėnrir

    fėnrir New Member

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    turbo sedans FTW
     
  8. Ruination

    Ruination New Member

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    If only GM would make a new RWD platform and bring back the Camaro...
     
  9. SeaMack99

    SeaMack99 OT Supporter

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    It would be nice
     
  10. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

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    Solstice and Sky will have to do for now. Hopefully they will make a new Camaro out of those. If not you can always get a Mustang or a Challenger.
     
  11. GBlansten

    GBlansten OT's Bean Doc OT Supporter

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    Keep the rice and the American muscle. It's teutonic motoring for me.
     
  12. Hobie1

    Hobie1 No longer self-employed & now hating life

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    as well as chrysler bringing back a two door with a manual available, charver 'cuda, whateverthefuck.

    The heads on the hemi are badass, I'd like to see that motor in something that can rival the 98-02 ls-1 f-bod in the street/strip scene.
     
  13. Hobie1

    Hobie1 No longer self-employed & now hating life

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    Challenger? :eek3:

    Pics ???
     
  14. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

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    You must have missed all the threads on the new Dodge Challenger...
     
  15. Ruination

    Ruination New Member

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    I can't wait for the Sky, that thing looks awesome. I've always been a GM guy, never liked Mustangs, and only a select few Mopars from back in the day :hs:
     
  16. psykosis

    psykosis Go placidly amid the noise and the haste

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    sexy. gimmie an SRT-8 that looks like this...

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  17. 97venge

    97venge New Member

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    trishield is my internets hero
     
  18. Ruination

    Ruination New Member

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    I hate the new Charger. The old school ones are the only way to go.
     
  19. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

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    Official unveiling this January at NAIAS.
     
  20. LocoStrange

    LocoStrange New Member

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    I always like the looks of the Firebird more than the Camaro
     
  21. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

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    It should be released Spring 06! :noes:
     
  22. psykosis

    psykosis Go placidly amid the noise and the haste

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    lord willing, I'll be there. I'll have vids posted asap afterwards...
     
  23. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

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    Dizzam! :bowdown:
     
  24. Ruination

    Ruination New Member

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    I've liked some Camaros more than Firebirds, and some Firebirds more than Camaros. I'd just like to see both of them make a comeback :cool:
     
  25. LocoStrange

    LocoStrange New Member

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    And I am all for the revival of muscle cars, but I still think the Import "ricers" are still too strong to beat the Muscle cars fans. Not to mention, you will always have those, in my case, those V6 stangs thinking they can keep up with my V8
     

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