There is something about the Pony(1) car for a lot of american males, particularly baby boomers. Mustangs, Camaro’s and Firebirds, in our youth we walked by them on the way to school and said to ourselves one day………
Unlike, Corvettes, Porsche’s, the average working guy could buy this car.
The Pony car segment peaked by the late sixties, every American auto maker had a Pony car except Chrysler. Mustangs and Cougars, Camaros and Firebirds even American Motors had two with the Javelin and the AMX. In 1970, Chrysler introduced the Dodge Challenger and its corporate twin the Plymouth Barracuda.
As families grew larger automakers made the midsize car sporty. Families chose the mid size Chevy Chevelle/Malibu , Ford Torino Mercury Montego and a host of other nameplates from the AMC Matador to the Oldsmobile Cutlass over the Mustang and Camaro.
In 1970, Ford sold 230,000 Mustang’s, down from 1969. Chevy sold nearly 126,000 Camaros and in it’s first year, Dodge sold 76 thousand Challengers slighty more then the smallest of the big four auto maker, American Motors and its Javelin.
By 1974 the Pony car was dead, only the Mustang , Camero and Firebird were left. Newly required emission control made the newer models consideraly slower than out going models. By 2000, the last pony car standing was the Mustang.
There has always been a demand for used Pony cars, someone somewhere in any town america is restoring a Mustang or Camaro.
1970 Ford Mustang can be found for under a thousand dollars and restored, 1970 Mustang sells between 5, to 30 thousand dollars. 1970 Camaro’s from a thousand and a fully restored selling between 5 to 52 thousand. A 1970 American Motors Javelin averages 18 hundred with a fully restored AMX version just sold at an Arizona Auction for 78 thousand. A rusted out no engine 1971 Dodge Challenger sold for 7400 on e-bay last year, with the average price of a fully restored selling from thirty five thousand to 5 million dollars.
Today Ford and Chevy continue to dominate the pony car market, with the Chevy Camaro being the top seller.
In auto circles, the current rumor is Chrysler will stop building the Challenger by 2014 and replace it with a smaller Fiat pinned Barracuda.(another iconic name)
Will lightening strike twice? With the old models commanding prices higher than any 1970-1971 Rolls, Mercedes, or nearly any car for that matter. Could the current Dodge Challenger become a collectible? No one knows.
I love the car, what was true in 1970 is true today, current Mustangs and Camaro’s handle better and get better gas mileage but to my eye, the Challenger is the better looking car. If I had the space and an extra thirty grand, the Dodge would be my Sunday car. A collectible, who knows? Which reminds me, I have to buy a lotto ticket.
1. Pony car is an American class of automobile launched and inspired by the Ford Mustang in 1964. The term describes an affordable, compact, highly styled car with a sporty or performance-oriented image (Wikipedia)