Published in The American Poetry Review Volume 43 No. 3
There is a horsepower war going on now that is much more intense than the first great war, fought largely on American soil by the Big Three from the mid-60’s until the mid-70’s, in what is also known as the Muscle Car War. This is the war that produced the legendary Pontiac GTO, Plymouth Roadrunner, Dodge Charger, Shelby Mustang and Olds 4-4-2. Celebrated in song and film, they define an era that still has a powerful pull on the American imagination. Today, these cars often bring six and seven figures at auction (at a recent Mecum auction, a 1969 Boss 429 Mustang sold for $417,000; Hemi ‘Cudas routinely sell for more than a million). They continue to define a kind of raw machismo in movies like The Fast and the Furious and TV shows like NCIS and Burned. That first horsepower war was ended by the oil embargo that resulted in long gas lines and high gas prices. It was the first time Americans had to pay close attention to world gas prices. The power-robbing regulations of the Seventies essentially killed the performance car market for almost two decades. Just ask anyone who drove a late 70’s Corvette.