You may have noticed that young people are starting to wear jeans with holes across both knees, and that they leave the white thread hanging off the edges. You may also notice that quite a lot of those same people are walking in a pair of converse trainers. This is seen as the fresh, new look if your ideal night out consists of chilling with your mates at an Ed Sheeran concert in Glastonbury and letting your hair down once every fortnight.
Speaking of music, earphones: young people these days also prefer to listen to their upbeat tunes with stylised earphones connected to a white iPhone, and it wouldn’t be a huge surprise if songs by the freshest, most cutting-edge artist was playing on it. Which begs the question; are there any trends which are somewhat old fashioned?
The answer to that is yes. Converse trainers have been around for decades, and have never really gone out of fashion – unless you’re a tramp. And jeans with ripped holes have existed since the dawn of the Punk age of the 1970s (albeit, not exactly the same style). And as modern as Ed’s songs seem, he was inspired by names like Jimi Hendrix and Van Morrison. Again, quite old stuff.
Old cars on the other hand, tend to stay out of thought amongst today’s youth. It’s kind of mind boggling if you consider that loads of recent music videos and Hollywood films (especially with Tom Cruise) feature old classic cars in them. They’re obviously used as a style choice, but nobody gives a damn about them once the film closes.
This neatly brings me onto the old American muscle car which I had a one and only chance to experience, a 1970 Chevrolet Chevelle Super-Sport (SS). And straight away, it’s hard to ignore, because my god its sexy. I glanced at the front and shivered in galore, and the rear end almost made me faint of ooze. It’s tooth-grindingly pretty. Honestly, if you asked me to name the two most attractive things from America, it would be Cameron Diaz, and the ’70 Chevelle SS.
Once I stopped dribbling over the styling, I stepped inside to find that it’s an extraordinarily comfortable place to be. The seats are nice, squidgy cushions designed for long, continental trips across the sunny West Coast. But before I could get myself comfortable, the driver put his foot down…. and oh my…
The Chevelle raises your heart-rate to almost immeasurable figures, it really throws you back into your seat as you’re forced to lean back, starring at fast blurs of trees. This is all thanks to a heavily tuned 383ci Stroker V8, which churns out an estimated 400bhp and more torques than God would use to rotate moons! Then there’s the noise, oooh the noise.
The Chevelle not only goes like a stabbed tiger, it sounds like one too. At tick-over, it makes only the most sinister burble, which gives the impression that it’s got some relentless Al Pacino style attitude. Feather the throttle more and it rumbles like the tiger is snarling on a stick, but it’s when you put your foot down, where this engine really comes into its stride.
The low-tone rumble becomes the Norse God of thunder. It’s loud. Very loud. Imagine that tiger getting into a fight with Sir Tom Jones, that’s the kind of savage growl this car makes. It’s loud enough to make your ears feel muffled with sound and petrol, it’s fabulous! The whole car vibrates around you in perfect correlation, it almost feels like the engine is working within your body, not stuffed away under a well-hidden bonnet. It’s incredibly addictive.
(Now some of you more eagle eyed readers will say that this is a Malibu, and you’d be right. This particular car started out as a standard Malibu before getting the 383 Stroker swapped with an up-rated 3 speed auto, other mechanical bits have been changed as well to cope with the insane power and torque delivery. The owner has run a 1/4 mile time of 14.1 seconds, so while it isn’t a factory 396 or 454 SS, it might as well be one.)
Fast American muscle cars of the ‘60s and early ‘70s had a destiny: to set the quickest time for a 1/4 mile run. It was an obsessive game for car makers at the time who then published their times in advertising campaigns. Most Ford Mustangs were achieving times of early to mid 15 second times, then Buick with their ’69 Grand Sport would smash that record with late 14 second times.
Chevrolet on the other hand was capable of running the ¼ mile strip in just over 13 seconds with the Chevelle SS (LS6). And believe me, that’s amongst the quickest for a car of this type. To put it into perspective, that’s quicker than some sports cars you can buy brand new in a showroom, and this thing is from 1970! You could tow a house with this 383 car, and still do 0-60mph in just over 5 seconds, that’s how powerful it feels. The top speed may only be around 120mph (again, estimated by the owner), but muscle cars like this simply aren’t about top end performance, it’s how quick they are between sets of lights in thriving American cities, when the police aren’t looking…
There’s another thing which I love about this car; the way it makes you feel.
Just knowing that you’re gargling up the world’s resources in huge quantities is somehow satisfying. The sheer size of the car with it’s big, thirsty engine makes you feel more like a boss of the road. I don’t know what it is with old muscle cars, but they give you the impression that you’re in a commanding position compare to other drivers. As if you can laugh at the depressed peasant in his conservative, grey Audi, while you just stamp on the throttle in full smugness and leave him in your cloud of dust.
The cabin itself is much like most other American cars of the time, very minimalistic, yet with a nice retro aurora about them. The symphony of blue on the leather and dashboard is combined effortlessly with lovely period touches- especially the dials, the rectangular speedometer looks like it came straight from a hand-held radio. Then there’s the switches, they look as though they’re from a cold war fighter jet. It may not have a fancy screen unlike a modern car, but you’re guaranteed to have a damn site more fun in this old brute!
It’s not all perfect though, because the Chevelle goes through fuel like nobody’s business. If you were to drive from London to Glasgow starting with a full tank of petrol, if you pushed the throttle throughout the journey, you’d have to stop and fill up at Sheffield and just North of the boarder. Then there’s the availability of buying a car like this in the first place, the Chevelle was never sold in the UK, so you’d have to import one from elsewhere. And because they were never sold here, parts will be as scarce as a heard of unicorns.
And let’s be honest, despite how epic this car is, you could never use one every day. Never in the UK at least, due to the lack of parts for American cars. It’s the kind of thing you’d use occasionally if you were in the mood for annoying electric car drivers. You’d be mad to drive this high-powered muscle car in snowy weather, because that’d be almost certainly be as dafted as putting your head in a python.
But aside the faults, the Chevelle SS is a fabulous car. The only other way you’d be able to experience such extraordinary savagery is by fighting a bear with Dwayne Johnson. This car simply lets you escape from the cocooned, tech-infested stuff of today, and it takes you back to a time where cars weren’t meant to save the world, but to get around it with thunderous noise and a BIG smile on your face. It has character, soul, something which simply can’t be found in a modern car.
And that with it’s gorgeous looks, seductive sound and addictive power, makes this ’70 Chevrolet Chevelle SS one of the most lovable things I’ve ever experienced.