The past seven days of EngageSportMode have featured a number of confessions; my love for NASCAR, the fact I like Avril Lavigne (who is technically Canadian) and that sometimes I can be wrong.
Having been through all this, it’s probably worth noting that after so much discourse about products of the USA, I’ve never actually set foot in the home of the Star-Spangled Banner. I have been to Canada, and I’ve been to Niagara falls which borders right up against America. But I forgot to take my passport so thus stayed resolutely on the maple syrup flavoured side. Given this, why on earth do I have such a passion for US muscle?
In essence it all stems from just one car, and one TV show; the original Dodge Viper RT/10 and the original Top Gear with Jeremy Clarkson. Thanks to the wonders of YouTube, I can even recreate what that moment was like. The Viper was an unwieldy monster of a car, and yet special enough for even the most cynical of car journalists to fall for it. It is also, possibly, the only car to have ever made three-spoke alloy wheels look cool. A Ford Fiesta RS Turbo never looked as good as this:
I realise that I said how beautiful the Alfa Romeo 8C was a few weeks ago, but for a classic sports car shape you have to admit the Viper has it all. Long, low bonnet, swooping sculpted sides and fat wheels. The side-exit exhausts add an extra layer of both visual and aural drama to the mix. Being only around 8 years old, I didn’t care that the engine was based on a truck design, that the brakes were barely adequate and some suspension parts came from a pick-up. My only concern was that it’s motor packed a huge 8-litres, that it’d do 0-60mph in 4.6 seconds and didn’t even have a proper roof. All of that made it the coolest car I had even seen. It was also probably the only time I had a model car where the interior was identical in quality to the real one; check out the plastics.
To be honest, it doesn’t really matter. Nobody bought a Viper for the interior. They bought it because it represented a return to the crazed horsepower-hedonism of the late 1960s and early 1970s; which is where the second key factor in my love for American cars comes in.
I’m not usually a fan of 70s Art-House film, but one is different to most. Despite the fact Barry Newman is billed as the lead actor, it’s a 1970 Dodge Challenger R/T which is the real screen grabber in Vanishing Point. I remember watching it late at night on BBC1 back when I was still in school, and was star struck by how awesome the Challenger looked and sounded. The plot of the film passed straight over my head; for me it was all about the Dodge.
If you want to try to understand why that white Challenger R/T, then take a look at Audioslave’s video for their single “Show Me How To Live” which used massive portions of the film, spliced with additional shots of the band:
That, in a nutshell, is my reason for loving the Challenger, the Viper and most other US cars which favour huge, high-capacity engines over finesse and dainty interior fittings. It seems only right that we end American week as it started; with another massive fireball.