Two V8 muscle cars flex their pecs
Back in the day, size really did matter. And in the country where food is routinely served in buckets and many meals are actually bigger than your head, then supersizing was the only way to go. But now we have in Europe smaller, smarter, forced-induction engines that do it all without the epic emissions. However, there’s not much to replace the sound of a big V8 breathing in and bellowing out, and providing the sound track this time are the Ford Mustang and the Chevrolet Camaro.
To get the whole experience, you’ll want a left-hooker, and the Camaro obliges. The Mustang, as befits a world car, can be had as a right-hand drive, so we have both left and right covered. But would you really own either of these and drive them on British roads? The Ford has a dealer network and even the Camaro has an official dealer, Allan Motors in Sutton, so neither is out of the running in reality.
But what would you get? True, both cars have been modernised and they’re both a reasonable distance from the far more primitive ancestors, but neither of these is for the person who wants electric motors, or turbochargers or clever valve gear. They’re perfect if you want a socking great V8, a 5.0-litre in the Ford, a 6.2-litre in the Chevrolet.
That means the Chevrolet makes 447bhp and 455lb ft as opposed to the Ford’s 416bhp and 391lb ft. And it’s the Camaro that sounds by far the more impressive, even if some of this was down to the optional sports exhaust. Where the Camaro has that lovely ragged rumble, the Mustang sounds more sort of windy without the sort of noises you really want and expect.
It’s also the Camaro that really gets a prod on as the revs rise, pulling like a bucking bronco for the redline, where the Mustang acts like it’s been gelded as it approaches the redline. And it’s the Camaro that, at first, seems to have the edge on handling – although neither are going to be bothering European saloons in this regard any time soon.
The Camaro dives in harder but as weight mounts it starts to struggle to get the back end to follow suit. Overall it feels like it might do something drastic, even though it didn’t. The Mustang by comparison is more straightforward, being slightly vague going in and then sort of sloppy in an optimistic kind of way as you barrel through the turn.
Inside the Ford backs that feeling up, with a retro cabin that you suspect may not be deliberately retro, but is actually a bit tacky and not that tactile.
To our surprise the Chevrolet looks and feels much more up to date, built with decent materials and actually quite a sound design, particularly to the dashboard. If you called it premium you shouldn’t actually get squirted with chewing baccy.
In the end, either of these would be great fun under the right circumstances. Threading down a narrow B-road on a wet night would not be the right circumstances, nor would many others. And that goes double for the Camaro, since, like the Mustang, it’s a wide car and being on the ‘wrong’ side of the cabin just makes things more nerve-wracking on occasion.
But for the occasional sunny blast either of these would be a hoot. However, if you’re after the gen-yoo-wine experience, with the soundtrack to match, and the rear wheels smoking like the 12-gauge, then it would have to be the Chevrolet Camaro.