The early 1960s saw competition between the major US automakers on the nation’s racetracks rise to a fever pitch. Driven by the need to “race on Sunday, sell on Monday”, GM, Ford and Chrysler poured millions of dollars into engine development and support of racing teams. It was NASCAR that provided the main arena for these epic contests of speed and power, and the sanctioning body’s homologation rules meant that the cars and engines that roared down the straight-aways at Daytona could also be found on your neighbor’s driveway – albeit in very limited numbers.
Car styling through the years has gravitated between racing influences and tributes to the great automobiles of the past. Sometimes it’s both, a case in point being the 1990s Chrysler Concorde with its wide oval grill reminiscent of early 1960s Ferraris. The Prancing Horse has been evoked by other makes as well, such as the 1955 Chevrolet and its Ferrari-inspired grill. The current styling theme seems to be retro – with a vengeance. Some examples of the trend include the Chrysler PT Cruiser that recalls the 1930s, the Chevrolet HHR with its 1940s look and the new Ford Mustang that pays homage to the Mustangs of the late 1960s.
Between 1960 and 1972 Detroit created a class of amazing performance machines by placing large engines in smaller cars. The American Muscle Car was born and was celebrated in popular youth culture, inspiring Top 40 hits like The Beach Boys “409″, Jan & Dean’s “Little Old Lady from Pasadena” and The Ripcords’ “GTO”.