Get your motor runnin’ Richard Armitage

By far my most favorite question asked of Richard Armitage at the Into the Storm Premiere was Abby’s question about what American muscle car he would choose for a day of open road with no speed limits…



It warmed the little gearhead corner of my heart to hear him immediately pop off a response.  The Mustang is a solid choice, perhaps the most dependable and iconic of the pack…the 2015 model marks the advent of sixth style generation in the Mustang’s fifty year history with Ford.   One of my favorite pictures of my parents shows them leaving for their honeymoon in a 1965 Mustang convertible that looked a lot like this one…

I wonder whatever happened to that car...I'm pretty sure it was a loaner so they could ride in newlywed style.

I wonder whatever happened to that car…I’m pretty sure it was a loaner so they could ride in newlywed style.

It’s a sweet ride for sure, and the new models boast some pretty impressive specs, but I think Mr. Armitage might have been a tiny bit hasty.  Maybe a few more test drives are called for, because despite all Mustang’s merits, Ford ain’t the only name in Detroit muscle baby!  I have a few favorites to submit for consideration.

Don’t let all of the classical tradition chatter fool you.  Before I left home for Latin and libraries, I was a Midwestern girl who grew up in hearing distance of a race track that ran modified street stocks on Thursdays and drags on Saturdays.  The sound of a V8 never ceases to give me a little tingle.  I suppose that I shouldn’t have been surprised when I saw something that looked a lot like this in my parents’ driveway on prom night.

My senior prom was in 1986 BTW

My senior prom was in 1986 BTW

It was a 1972 Chevy Nova.  Where it wasn’t covered in grey paint primer, it was olive green.  I was none too happy to learn from my date that my formal gown and I would need to crawl over from the driver’s side since the passenger door was still welded shut from its recent racing days.  Finally situated, miraculously without ripping anything or snaring my big 80’s hair, I was silently grumbling and wondering what I had seen in the 6’4″ golden boy who had picked me up for prom in this heap of s#%t.  Then he started the engine.   Rrrrrrrr.  I would say it purred, but like lions, 350 horsepower V8 engines do not purr, they rumble.  It’s a rumble that you not only hear, you feel.  I felt it under my toes, where they sat on the quivering floorboards, and all the way up to my newly tingling tummy.  Date took one look at me and nodded sagely, “She’s a 350,” before he took his foot off the brake and respectfully did *not* shoot driveway gravel all over my increasingly concerned looking parents.  Nope, he was a smart date and waited until we were about a half mile away before he showed me that 350 V8’s not only rumble like lions…they roar like them too!  (Incidentally, that moment turned out to be the best of the night – prom is so over rated!).

Looking back, I realize that Date’s Nova was a tangible expression of a fondness for auto muscle that had been planted in my impressionable youth by a 1969 Dodge Charger.  Maybe you’ve seen it somewhere before?

That's the one...

That’s the one…

The General Lee.  The 69 Charger Bo (John Schneider) and Luke (Tom Wopat) Duke raced around Hazzard County Georgia evading the long (inept) arm of the local law on the CBS series The Dukes of Hazzard (1979-1985).   Now, I suppose it could be argued that I was more taken with the drivers than I was with the car…and in that, I was far from alone I’m sure.  So says a recent Auto Trader ad campaign aimed clearly at me and my ilk:

However,  a brief consultation with my in house gearhead advisor, a chat peppered with talk of “383 Magnums, 426 hemis and wait, that’s after ’71…,” resulted in his agreement that while the Mustang is solid, the Charger, then and now, is the more muscular muscle car.

Chevy doesn't make the Nova anymore, so I threw in a Camaro for good measure.

Chevy doesn’t make the Nova anymore, so I threw in a Camaro for good measure.

It kind of makes me wonder how much of muscle car Richard Armitage we might have seen had Paul Walker not died so tragically.

Get out on the highway,

but drive safely Armitageworld!

32 comments on “Get your motor runnin’ Richard Armitage

  1. Servetus says:

    I learned to drive in a V8 (1968 Cutlass Supreme two door hardtop) and I feel the same way about that engine under my foot. Amazing, amazing feeling. Mmmmm.

    • obscura says:

      I haven’t been in a car like that in a long time. There is just something really sexy about all of that leashed power.. or is it me?

      • Servetus says:

        Me either — since, I’m guessing, approximately 1990. I drove that car through hs, and it was around after that, and then my dad sold it to someone who used it for ice racing. I don’t think it’s just you.

        • Leigh says:

          I know it’s not just you. I learned to drive in a 1965 Mercury Marauder,, 390 iron V8 back when most of Nevada had no speed limit. It did purr, but then it wasn’t a race car, just sublimely comfortable and powerful. Since then, I have driven some fine machines, but I really loved my Dodge Daytona..

          • obscura says:

            Ohhhh the Daytona (an offshoot of the Charger) was such a fun car…my cousin had one in the mid 80’s -five speed, T-top. (Turned out to be a bit of a lemon, but era that was a rough patch for Chrysler)

  2. guylty says:

    A thoroughly “American” post – proms, muscle cars. Almost exotically so. Loved reading this, Obscura, especially for your prom night recollection. “Big 1980s hair” LOL. I remember it (from our American exchange partners :-P). And I’ve learnt something about cars, too. I must say that Dodge Charger is sexy. But if a Mustang has Armitage in it, I am afraid the Mustang would be sexier…

  3. Marie Astra says:

    Reblogged this on Obsessive Behavior and commented:
    I told my colleague who has a Mustang, about RA’s love of the car. He said I could borrow it sometime when RA is in town to drive by and impress him. What do you think? ;))

  4. kelbel75 says:

    my father in law had a Chevy Nova that he and my husband were supposed to rebuild(the red,white & blue bicentennial one) but had to get rid of it due to financial problems; my husband still gets all dreamy when he mentions it. I really liked the new mustangs at first but now they are everywhere (and in every bright color imaginable), I think I’m leaning more toward the charger now. I don’t drive anything fancy but I do drive a stick shift b/c I like to feel the road under my feet. people look at me funny when I say that but I think you know what I mean 😉

  5. katie70 says:

    My friend back in the day oldest brother had a Chevy Nova that we would all pile in and go into there town for the night cruising. Back when you would not go broke doing such things.

    The new Dodge Charger I have heard from Mr. 70 who drives one for work says there not like the old ones use to be, there awful in snow, tend to get suck easy. He hates the ones for work.

    My first car was a 1980 Pontiac Sunbird, a stick shift that Mr. 70 taught me to drive, I really liked driving it and the stick shift. You are right about being hard to find these days. The WWII jeep is a stick but I don’t know if any of the boys will get to drive it or not. I have not drove it, so who knows.

    My BIL was big into muscle cars when I first started dating Mr. 70 and still has a couple not in running order, in fact one of them Mr. 70 did the body work for it ( use to work in auto body).

    • obscura says:

      I think in part, Dodge recently retooled the Charger into a sedan, replacing the coupe with the Challenger, but the things that make a good muscle car, don’t generally make a good everyday car. I suppose in an increasingly competitive market, they are trying to minimize the number of models. The Hellcat is rolling out for 2015…a new Charger coupe retailing at $60,000…sounds like a summer only car 🙂

      It’s a big commitment to keep those old cars in good condition…especially in this region…road salt is not a friend!

  6. Leigh says:

    I keep imagining Richard in a Mustang heading out of NY in the early morning, headed for Vermont and New Hampshire. *sigh* It’s good to dream.

  7. wydville says:

    I know you’ll all shout me down but, speaking as a fellow petrolhead, I’m not sure I totally trust Richard’s taste in cars. What did he buy when he had his first dose of proper money? A vintage Jag? A TVR? A done-up MG? A second-hand Porsche? Or even an elderly Aston or Gilbern? Nope. A brand-new, 3-series, four-doored, dark grey Beemer forgoodnessake. Sorry, but screams of boring practicality and total lack of romance and imagination. I bet (this is where you all jump up and down, hands reaching for my throat), he has no idea about American muscle cars and said the first thing that came into his head.
    Still love him!

    • obscura says:

      You are totally safe here! 🙂 Honestly, I was delighted that he could name even one off the cuff. He may even have driven a Mustang since standard issue models are common enough in rental car fleets for a day of open road and there is plenty of open road not terribly far from Detroit. Even after doing the Dream Cruise, I wouldn’t go so far as to suppose that he has a clue about the relative torque and HP comparisons between a Chevy 303 or a Dodge Hellcat engine (vroom!). Although, it *is* rather fun to contemplate what Mr. Story Research might have experienced had the Fast and Furious project gone forward. 😀

      • Servetus says:

        Mustangs are also common enough in American film and tv — both in general, seeing them without names — and specifically identified as such — that many people who watch a lot of tv and film are familiar with the car. It’s one of the most iconic, recognizable American cars, fabled in song and story.

  8. My first car in 1978 was a used 2 door chocolate brown 1971 Cougar XR7. It was sleek and low to the ground. I was in college, living at home and commuting. So I needed a car. And this car spoke to me. I still miss it.

    • obscura says:

      That model is like a perfect blend of past and future…the front end with the square headlights is a prequel to what Mercs will become, and the shape of the rear is reminiscent of the 60s models. It’s kind of poetic really. Thanks for that! 🙂

  9. […] Storm, Richard Armitage responded to a question about Detroit autos which led me into a foray on American muscle cars and my fondness for the Dodge […]

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