FIR­ING UP

Chevy High Performance - - Front Page - Nick Li­cata

The fu­ture looks elec­tric, but gas-pow­ered mus­cle cars will al­ways rule the High­way to Hell

What does the fu­ture hold for us horse­power en­thu­si­asts? Will we con­tinue haul­ing ass on the high­way to hell or merge down to elec­tric av­enue?

So, you’re cruis­ing down the road in your hot rod or com­muter and AC/DC’s “High­way to Hell” comes on the ra­dio. You can’t help but crank it up when you hear that un­mis­tak­able gui­tar riff blast through the speak­ers. You turn it up to 10 be­cause it just sounds bet­ter that way—ac­tu­ally 11 if you hap­pen to drive a Tesla Model S. It ap­pears Tesla CEO Elon Musk is a huge fan of the movie This Is Spinal Tap. If you don’t get the ref­er­ence you need to down­load the movie or bor­row a friend’s DVD (re­mem­ber those?) right away. Trust me on this.

Re­gard­less of the high­est num­ber on your car au­dio’s vol­ume knob/ but­ton/touch screen, the song de­mands you play some air gui­tar then use the steer­ing wheel as a kick and snare drum for a few bars. From there, you a hit the throt­tle a lit­tle harder than you nor­mally would. It’s just what you do.

I’ve al­ways pic­tured the high­way to hell be­ing paved for kick-ass mus­cle cars spew­ing header flames while mak­ing an in­sane amount of noise and mas­sive clouds of smoke com­ing off the rear tires—big-ass rear tires, at that—with no sec­ond thought about the en­vi­ron­ment or be­ing “friendly” to it. Which begs the ques­tion: are elec­tric cars al­lowed on this fic­ti­tious hell-bound high­way? And would Tesla’s next gen­er­a­tion Road­ster, which claims to go from 0-60 in 1.9 sec­onds also be banned? Al­though that’s pretty damn quick, I say, “no noise, no smoke, no ac­cess.”

In all se­ri­ous­ness, I’ve been some­what blindsided with how quickly elec­tric car pro­duc­tion has ramped up in re­cent years. Part of my sur­prise is due to the quick demise of the EV1 we briefly en­coun­tered in the late ’90s. Thank­fully that ex­per­i­ment crashed and burned when those ugly two-seaters were re­called from the leasees and sent to the crusher. De­servedly so, if you ask me. I’m not sure a more unattrac­tive car has ever been built. That de­ba­cle took the con­sumer con­fi­dence in EVs back about 10 years.

Now, to­day, with the prices of bat­ter­ies drop­ping and the bat­tery tech­nol­ogy im­prov­ing, more at­trac­tive ex­te­rior de­signs, ef­fi­cient mo­tors, and lighter cars, GM—one of the world’s big­gest car­mak­ers—is back at it and has an­nounced they are work­ing to­ward an all-elec­tric, zero-emis­sion fu­ture start­ing with two new fully elec­tric mod­els by next year, and 18 more by 2023. I’m go­ing to have a hard time get­ting my head around an EV Ca­maro or Corvette. I can buy into a Volt (I ac­tu­ally lease a Volt as a com­muter) or Bolt, but it’s go­ing to take some get­ting used to driv­ing a Ca­maro with no ex­haust note, should they even con­sider pro­duc­ing one.

Al­though I have yet to get be­hind the wheel of a Tesla S P90D in “Lu­di­crous Mode” (yep, that’s a thing), or any mode for that mat­ter, I’m con­vinced that it has to be a pretty cool ex­pe­ri­ence. With that said, I have driven some of the bad­dest “con­ven­tional” mus­cle cars on the planet and I don’t need to tell you that the sound of a pissed-off V-8 wind­ing out at around 6,500 rpm adds greatly to the ex­pe­ri­ence. It’s a huge part of the at­trac­tion, which drew me into this hobby in the first place.

So, with the fu­ture look­ing quite bright for elec­tric car pro­duc­tion, what does all this mean for us oc­tanecon­sum­ing mus­cle car en­thu­si­asts as far as gas prices go? Ac­cord­ing to in­dus­try ex­perts, not much in the short term. Some an­a­lysts pre­dict it will be 2040 be­fore one third of the global fleet of cars will be EVs. And with Amer­i­can oil pro­duc­tion and im­port­ing from other coun­tries based on sup­ply and de­mand, it’s highly un­likely that we’ll see gas drop to 1970’s prices any time soon, or ever for that mat­ter.

So, with no stop signs or speed lim­its to slow me down, I’ll just keep haul­ing ass and “sip­ping” fuel in my 600hp sec­ond-gen Ca­maro on the high­way to hell with my stereo turned up to 10.

If only it went to 11.

RIP Mal­colm Young.

You in?

NLi­cata@en­thu­si­ast­net­work.com

Thank­fully, GM’s highly unattrac­tive EV1 is far be­hind us and the road ahead still looks bright for us mus­cle car en­thu­si­asts.

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