AMERICAN MUSCLE CARS IN QATAR
Three iconic American automobiles tell a story of changing cultural needs and public perception.
Amid the post-WWII boom in car ownership, fueled by growing prosperity and a surge in oil production, automobile manufacturers noticed a new trend. More and more car owners, especially younger ones, were modifying their vehicles to get more speed and power out of them. Along with the growing popularity of the hot rod scene, this convinced American companies such as General Motors and Ford to begin designing and building a high-performance vehicle that would appeal to young consumers. The muscle car was born: a fast, mid-sized vehicle with a large V8 engine, extended hoods, a low-profile cabin, and lots of horsepowers.
The 1960s and 70s witnessed an increasing supply of American automobiles in Qatar that reflected changing cultural needs and aspirations of the country and its people at the time. American muscle cars quickly became one of the main attractions of the era.
Fast forward more than half a century later, and the fascination with American muscle cars has evolved in line with the increasing global move to go green. Manufacturers are turning out a line of redesigned, low-emission sports vehicles that are changing the public’s perception of what a muscle car can be—fast, yes, but environmentally friendly, too.
American Muscle Cars in Qatar is sponsored by Mawater Gallery
Presented as part of the Qatar-United States 2021 Year of Culture
The Qatar-United States 2021 Year of Culture, sponsored by ExxonMobil, is an annual international cultural exchange designed to deepen understanding between nations and their people.
CARS ON VIEW
PONTIAC FIREBIRD TRANS AM SPECIAL EDITION 305 TURBO 1981
The Pontiac Firebird is a classic American sports car with lots of power and a striking design. Launched in 1976 as a high-performance rival to the Mustang, it continued to be manufactured until 2002.
The Firebird gained popularity among Qataris after it appeared in the movie Smokey and the Bandit (1977), sparking sales to skyrocket locally. The car on display features the iconic ‘Screaming Chicken’ hood decal, the largest and most recognizable graphic in automotive history. Locally, the ‘Screaming Chicken’ was called a falcon, reflecting the importance of falcons in Qatar.
Pontiac was initially known for its brand of sedans, however, by the 1960s it had gained acclaim for its fast, sporty muscle cars, including the GTO, Firebird, and Trans Am.
OLDSMOBILE 4-4-2 1968
The Oldsmobile 4-4-2 was initially produced in 1964 through to 1967 and was purely a performance package that could be added to the F-85 or Cutlass midsized Oldsmobile lines. The 4-4-2 numerals indicated that the car had a four-barrel carburetor, a four-speed manual transmission, and dual exhausts. With stellar sales and growing interest in the muscle car class, Oldsmobile wisely decided to put the 4-4-2 on its own model in 1968.
With the muscle car era at its peak in 1968, the Oldsmobile 4-4-2 was sometimes overlooked simply because there were few on the road in comparison to some of the more popular muscle cars of the time. Regardless, the car was commonly believed to offer the best balance of drive and performance of any muscle car. It was regularly spotted at car races, with the grey-stripes-on-red-body being a local favorite.
CHEVROLET CORVETTE 1972
The Chevrolet Corvette is a two-door, two-passenger sports car widely known for its performance, distinctive fiberglass bodywork, and powerful engine. Since its launch in 1953, the car, with its elongated hood and iconic logo, has gone through eight generations of models, designated C1 through C8. The 1972 Corvette C3 was the last to feature both front and rear chrome bumpers, a shiny egg-crate grill, side-fender grills, and a removable rear window.
A genius promotional campaign popularized the Corvette on a national level – and many Qataris studying in the U.S. became equally fascinated with the car. At the height of the ‘race to space’ era and the Apollo program in the 1960s, Chevrolet made sure astronauts were seen behind the wheel of a Corvette by letting them lease the sports car for as little as $1 per year.
While the Corvette started as a sports car, by the C4 generation car enthusiasts had begun to call it a muscle car because of its high horsepower and tuning capabilities.
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