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Is It Late 1969?

Camaros, Mustangs, and Challengers and even some four door, rear wheel drive sedans have over 300 hp under the hood. Government regulations loom that will likely make such new cars impossible in just a few short years. Is it late 1969? Yes, but it might also describe 2009.

The 307 V8 in the 1973 Camaro packed only 115 hp. Many car nuts wake up every day wishing they could roll back the clock and put their lifetime earnings into buying nearly every car model produced in 1969. A new Camaro convertible cost less than $3000 back then!

So I am wondering if I should rush out and buy up 2009 cars with 300 hp. Will a 2015 Camaro have less than 100 hp or Flintstone style leg holes?

Yes, new 300 hp cars cost around $30000. The median, US family income in 1969 was $9433 so families back then could have purchased three cars and maybe had a little money left over for necessities like income taxes. Today’s $50000 median income would not even buy two new 300 hp cars.

Maybe the best advice is to wait a few years and hope those 2009's become good used car deals. It is a little risky to wait, but remember the used car opportunities during that 1980 gas price bubble when some people rushed to trade in their 1969 Chevelles on new Chevettes. There is also a chance that new exotic technology will someday make possible 300 hp cars capable of meeting government regulations. 2009 Camaros might be traded in on new 300 hp electric Camaros.

I have not forgotten about global warming and the cost of gas. Cylinder deactivation, 6 speed transmissions, and other tricks let some new 300 hp cars get relatively good mileage. Every energy usage choice has trade offs. Are you going to burn cooking oil in your diesel Mercedes? Every gallon of cooking oil will cook at least five pounds of french fries. So what poor slob is going to eat five pounds of french fries for every 20 miles you drive? If every commute to work requires eating five pounds of fries then we will soon need 300 hp just to handle passenger weight.

Will gas mileage really matter at all in 40 years? If gas continues to increase at the current rate of 50% a year then in forty years today’s $4 gallon of gas will cost more than $44 million! A 2009, Pontiac G8 might be able to go 25 miles for $44 million and a 2009 Prius hybrid might be able to travel 50 miles for $44 million. I am guessing both cars will not leave the garage very often.

Tom Taylor,
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