DETROIT, MI (08.12.2015) – The roar is back. All this week, you can expect to see countless classic hot rods, muscle cars and other exotics cruising Detroit’s main drag as the Motor City gets ready for the annual Woodward Dream Cruise.
This will mark the 20th anniversary of an improbable event that took shape almost by accident when a small car club in the Detroit suburb of Ferndale decided to change things up. Rather than having its members park their cars for their annual gathering, organizers decided it would be more fun to cruise up and down Woodward Avenue. Word got out and almost 250,000 people lined the eight-lane boulevard to watch. In recent years, that has grown to as many as 1.5 million, with an estimated 40,000 to 60,000 classic cars cruising Woodward.
“It gets bigger and bigger every year,” noted regular Dream Cruise fan Bob Wissman, who recalled spending plenty of time riding around with friends in their Corvettes, Camaros and Mustangs as a teenager back in the 1960s.
What was originally a one-day event has grown every year, and thousands of classic cars turn out every evening in the week leading up to the official Woodward Dream Cruise, next Saturday. But while old muscle cars might have ruled the road when the Cruise began two decades ago, they have plenty of competition today.
If anything, there are more high-power muscle and sports cars on the road today than there have been in decades. Indeed, even mainstream vehicles, like a Honda Odyssey minivan, can be ordered with engines making power that would have put them in the performance category when the Dream Cruise first began.
“While the growing popularity might run contrary to conventional wisdom, consumers are continuing to show their appreciation for a part of American history and not steering away from raw horsepower to focus solely on fuel efficiency,” said Brad Smith, director of automotive statistics for Experian Automotive.
From a numbers standpoint, Fiat Chrysler can lay claim to being king-of-the-muscle-car-hill, however. And demand for its two Hellcat models, versions of the Dodge Charger sedan and Dodge Challenger coupe, are flying out of showrooms faster than a dragster getting the green light. Production is already sold out for these 707-horsepower monsters – the most powerful factory-built muscle cars ever – well into 2016.
Ford and Chevrolet, meanwhile, are scoring numbers they haven’t seen in years for their two rival “pony cars,” a battle that heated up last year with the launch of an all-new, 50th anniversary edition of the Ford Mustang. Chevy, which had held the segment lead for five years, hopes to retain momentum with the upcoming launch of an all-new Camaro coupe.
The good news is that today’s muscle cars can deliver both good fuel economy and great performance. Consider the 2015 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray. It can deliver up to 30 mpg on the highway yet still makes up to 455 horsepower, enough to blast from 0 to 60 in barely four seconds.
For those who don’t think that’s fast enough, there’s the 2016 Chevrolet Corvette Z06, which will get there in a mere 2.95 seconds, thanks to a 650-hp supercharged V-8.