Classics. What makes a classic? Is it predetermined? Is it pure chance?
Or is it good marketing? While the 302 had a much longer life span (and will be reincarnated in the 2011 Mustang) the 289 has stood the test of time as a true American muscle car classic.
Think about it. Rarely do I converse with someone at a car show who regales me in tails of their long gone 302 (of 5 liter for you ’80’s brats). Yeah, yeah, there are a few of us who long for the chance to play with a late ’80’s Mustang (I’ll take mine in convertible) and tweak that sweet 302. But we don’t talk about it the same way someone reminiscing about a 289 does. Listen intently next time you’re at a testosterone filled bench racing (or cruising) session. Stories of the 289 are told with more passion, more fervor, and more emotion.
I think sometimes more credit has to be given to good marketing (and product naming) than to whatever product or technology is being sold. Think about Chevy’s venerable 409. It had a very short lived hurrah but what kid whose dad listens to oldies doesn’t occasionally walk around singing “she’s real fine my 409”? I know my kids do. While the 409 itself is relegated to history, a few hot rods, and mostly resto jobs its namesake is a permanent fixture in pop culture and lives as though it was a driving force in automotive history.
Here’s to all the cars, engines, transmissions (“rock crusher” anyone?), and whatnot that continue to live in our hearts regardless of their status in the real world. Here’s to the memories that a great marketing department and, in some cases, an even better engineering department gave us.
I know you’ll think of a few classics so let’s hear what they are. Share them with us and help bring back old memories of our own and benefit from the sharing of yours. And why not close shop tonight with a little trivia question. I referenced a “rock crusher” above, let’s see who remembers what piece of automotive legend I’m referring to. Keep on roddin’!