3 American Performance Cars

Bear with me as I step back in time to formulate what I believe are three terrific American built performance cars: the Ford Mustang, the Dodge Challenger, and the Chevrolet Camaro. Currently, only the Mustang is in production with the Challenger coming back by 2009. GM hasn’t committed to building the Camaro just yet, but the company is likely to make a decision in ford_mustang_shelby_gt500_f1_10favor of the car and its sibling, the Pontiac Firebird, by this summer. So, what is it about American performance cars that set them apart from the rest? In one word: muscle. Read on as I compare and contrast these three vehicles and share with you my feeble attempts to explain the culture behind the cars.

So, you think I forgot the Chevy Corvette and Dodge Viper when talking about performance cars? No, I did not. Both models are performance cars as well as race cars. On the other hand the Mustang, Challenger, and Camaro are mass produced performance cars with muscle. There is a difference in the way a typical race car handles, rides, and performs vs. a muscle car.

Typically, a muscle car was a coupe version of some of the larger cars that were pervasive on U.S. highways in the 1960s and 1970s. The Mustang and Camaro, however, were designed separately [although they both heavily borrowed parts from other models] and these “pony” cars were a category all to themselves. For comparison’s sake, they join the Dodge Challenger, a performance version of Mopar cars of its time. All three were compared by critics of that time and all three will once again be compared in a few years when production has been ramped up.

Ford Mustang -– Step back in time with me to April 1964 to an era when America was heavily involved in the space race, Lyndon Johnson was president, and General Motors ruled autodom. Ford, for its part, had been nipping at GM’s heels for years, but the failed Edsels of the late 1950s had cost the company dearly. Still, it was the time of the New York World’s Fair and Ford used the fair and television technology to promote its newest offering, the Mustang. A 2+2 coupe borrowing parts from the Fairlane and Falcon, the 1964 ½ model was the first one sold and is widely credited with being the best introduction of a new vehicle ever. With a V6 engine standard and V8 optional, the all new Mustang quickly broke sales records and has been a hot seller ever since. Indeed, with the introduction of the “retro” look Mustang in 2005, the car once again has spawned interest in the muscle car segment as both DaimlerChrysler and General Motors craft competing models of their own.

Dodge Challenger -– After the success of earlier muscle cars including the Dodge Charger and Plymouth ‘Cuda, the Dodge Challenger was launched as a 1970 model. The car borrowed heavily from the ‘Cuda although the sheet metal was Dodge Challengersomewhat different and the wheelbase was stretched by a couple of inches. Because the muscle car era was in decline at the time of its introduction, the Challenger lasted only five model years before it was cancelled. The concept Challenger currently on display at many auto shows is based on the 1970 design and is the talk of message boards and blogs across the nation. Look for Hemi powered engines as being favored by many owners; the car is likely to share some technology with the current Magnum wagon and Charger sedan.

Chevrolet Camaro — GM was asleep at the wheel when the Mustang came out. It took nearly three years before the company could respond and when it did the Camaro and Pontiac Firebird were the result. Although both cars sold well over the years, neither one could match the Mustang’s sales levels and by the time the last cars were sold in 2002, production dropped to a trickle. Still, the end of the Camaro after 35 years has stirred renewed interest in the name and thanks to the retro Mustang, the entire muscle car category is growing once again. Look for a 2010 Camaro to be the first Camaro since Camaro2002; a ragtop version is also being considered.

So, just who can be expected to purchase a muscle car these days? People just like me: middle aged men who grew up with the original models. In addition, a whole new generation of younger drivers tired of the “me too” look of so many of the compact cars out there. Muscle cars of today are so much different from earlier era cars as they incorporate the look of the originals while harnessing today’s technology. Thus, fuel savings will be decent without sacrificing performance: a true win-win situation.

No, I cannot wait to see a Mustang, Challenger, and Camaro lined up at a traffic light waiting for the light to turn green. A new muscle car era is upon us and for that I am very excited.

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10 Tips for Driving Safely

So you’ve just financed your own car from Car Credit Tampa.  Congratulations!  That’s a great purchase that should last you for years to come.  It doesn’t take luck to keep your car in one piece.  Rather, it takes safe driving and proper maintenance of the car.  Here are just a few tips to make sure that you and your car remain healthy and in one piece.

1. Wear your seatbelt.

You’ve probably seen the commercials and the signs that state in no uncertain terms, “click it or ticket”.  The police have been cracking down recently on seatbelt use.  This, however, is not the reason you should wear your seat belt every single time you’re in a moving car.  Drivers who wear a seatbelt are two and a half times more likely to survive a crash than drivers who don’t (1).  So to make sure you’re safe, make sure to click it.

2. Buckle in your kids.

As important as it is to buckle up yourself, it’s even more important to buckle in your little ones.  One study found that when the driver was wearing a seat belt, children in the car were buckled up 94% of the time. When the driver was unbelted, children were buckled up only 30% of the time (2).  Any little bump can distract you from driving, and it only takes a second to get into an accident, so it’s very dangerous to have the kids unbuckled and climbing over seats or sitting in your lap.

3. Don’t text and drive.

Texting while driving is responsible for nearly 25% of all accidents, and is about 6 times more likely to cause an accident than driving intoxicated.  It makes you about 23 times more likely to crash and is the same as driving blind for 5 seconds at a time.  And yet, about 80,000 drivers at any given time across the country are texting and driving (3).  This is why you have to be vigilant and drive defensively and without distraction.

4. Avoid drowsy driving.

Sleepiness causes impaired reaction time, judgement and vision; problems with information processing and short-term memory; decreased performance, vigilance and motivation; and increased moodiness and aggressive behaviors.  Driving while you’re drowsy can be a dangerous action.  To avoid accidents, you should get adequate sleep, schedule proper breaks (about every 100 miles or 2 hours on long trips), drive with a companion, and avoid alcohol or sedating medications. (4)

5. Don’t multitask.

Driver inattention is involved in about 80% of crashes (5).  Drivers will do anything from eating lunch to checking email while they’re driving, and it can be a very dangerous combination. Focus on your driving and on driving defensively, and you could avoid potentially fatal accidents.

6. Be aware of the world around you.

Not everyone on the road is in a car.  You should watch for pedestrians, cyclists, and motorcyclists.  These people have much less protection than you do, with your seatbelts and the car around you.  You should also watch for vehicles that are bigger than yours, such as tractor trailers and 18 wheelers.  These vehicles have very large blind spots, so if you can’t see the driver, remember that he can’t see you.

7. Don’t drive under the influence.

Almost every 90 seconds, a person is injured in a drunk driving crash (6).  Every day in America, another 27 people die as a result of these crashes (7).  Driving while drunk or on drugs is unbelievably dangerous and is one of the leading causes of accidents and death in the nation.  So remember, always have a designated driver with you, to keep yourself and others safe.

8. Don’t speed.

Many people in the US seem to think that speed limit signs are just suggestions.  But speeding is the third leading contributing factor in crashes, occurring in 33% of them.  Speeders are often in a rush, not paying attention, or they just don’t think they’ll get caught.  13,000 people die each year because of speeding (8).  So remember, that sign is there for a reason, so slow down!

9. Pack an emergency kit.

No matter how safely you drive, sometimes stuff happens.  Cars break down, tires pop, and you could get stranded.  That’s why you should have a well-stocked emergency kit in your vehicle.  There are any number of kits you can buy, but it’s just as easy to put one together on your own.   You can take a look at our Emergency Kit Checklist on what to put in your emergency kit here at CarCreditTampa.com.

10. Keep up proper car maintenance.

Possibly the most important thing you can do to be safe on the road is make sure that your car is taken care of.  Your owner’s manual will tell you how often you should take care of the various aspects of your car, so make a schedule based on that.  Remember, you should keep up your tires (making sure they’re properly inflated and the tread is strong), your oil (you may not need to change it as often as Jiffy Lube says – again, check your manual), your windows (making sure nothing is cracked or broken), your brakes, belts, and battery (checking for wear and tear), and the fluids (power steering, transmission, coolant – all are vital and could be responsible for major problems if they’re leaking or empty).  Car Credit Tampa offers a limited maintenance agreement with every car that they sell that will take care of all of your car’s needs for up to a year after you buy from them.  It’s just another great thing about buying from a financing company like Car Credit!

References

  1. “Statistics Prove Seat Belts Save Lives.” Insurance Journal News. N.p., 8 Feb. 2007. Web. 23 Apr. 2013.
  2. Cossman, Ron. “Impact of Primary Seat Belt Laws on Motor Vehicle Deaths among Mississippi’s Youth.” Academia.edu. Mississippi Health Policy Research Center, Mar. 2004. Web. 23 Apr. 2013.
  3. “Texting and Driving Statistics.” Texting and Driving Statistics. TextingThumbbands.com, n.d. Web. 23 Apr. 2013.
  4. Drowsy Driving. National Sleep Foundation, n.d. Web. 23 Apr. 2013.
  5. Hamilton, Jon. “Multitasking In The Car: Just Like Drunken Driving.” NPR. NPR, 16 Oct. 2008. Web. 23 Apr. 2013.
  6. Blincoe, Lawrence, et al. “The Economic Impact of Motor Vehicle Crashes 2000.” Washington, DC: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 2002. NHTSA FARS data, 2011.
  7. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration FARS data, 2012.
  8. “Dangers of Speeding While Driving.” Chucker & Reibach. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Apr. 2013.

Limited Maintenance Agreement

Keeping up proper maintenance of your car can be a hassle.  That’s why Car Credit Tampa takes the guesswork out of it for you.  With their new Limited Maintenance Agreement, Car Credit will take care of the basic needs of your car so you don’t have to worry about it.  For the first year that you own your car, Car Credit Tampa will:

  • Change the oil and the filter every 6000 miles or 8 months, whichever comes first
  • Inspect your brakes, including replacing brake pads and/or drums, resurfacing or replacing brake rotors and/or drums, rebuilding or replacing brake calipers, and rebuilding or replacing the brake master cylinder, every 6000 miles or 6 months, whichever comes first
  • Inspect your belts every 6000 miles or 6 months, whichever comes first
  • Give your car a tune up at any time within the 12 month period, and will replace spark plugs, ignition plug wires, coils, and fuel filters as needed

This agreement lasts for a whole year after you buy your car from Car Credit, and covers you even after accidents up to 20% of the value of your vehicle.  And the best part is that it comes with every car that Car Credit sells, so you never have to worry!