Cruise Inspires Pony Car Rumble
The Detroit News
By Josee Valcourt
Aug. 16, 2006
ROYAL OAK, Mich. – Woodward wasn't big enough Tuesday morning for two classic Detroit muscle cars that will soon roar back into showrooms.
The Woodward Dream Cruise provided the backdrop for the first salvo in a much-anticipated showdown between the Chevrolet Camaro and the Dodge Challenger.
To set the scene, the Chrysler Group was hosting a media event in front of Duggan's Irish Pub in Royal Oak. The automaker was showing off its Dodge Challenger concept muscle car and the 1970 Challenger that inspired it.
Without warning, a Chevrolet car hauler embossed with a massive bowtie logo and carrying two Camaros – the 2006 concept car and a 1969 classic – came rolling by, turning the head of media members.
Jason Vines, Chrysler's top PR
official, took the slow-speed Camaro drive-by as an invitation for a Dream Cruise rumble.
He (jokingly) called it a "wuss" move to haul the Camaros in a trailer rather than driving the vehicles by Duggan's.
Chevy spokesman Terry Rhadigan denied a turf war. General Motors Corp. has been showcasing the Camaros for days on Woodward as part of the Dream Cruise and they were en route to two GM events Tuesday, he said.
"We'll definitely do battle with them in the showroom in a couple of years, but right now this was more or less an opportunity to display the iconic brand," he said.
Both Dodge and Chevrolet have promised to build production versions of vehicles in the next couple years.
The muscle car tussle caught the attention of Jalopnik.com, a popular auto Web site, which likened it to a Sharks-versus-Jets feud.
"Chevy made a point of letting the Chrysler folks know that they were stepping on the General's turf … almost goading the Chrysler Group into a 'West Side Story'-like knife fight," the Web site said.
"It slowly passed in the right lane," Ray Wert, Detroit associate editor for Jalopnik.com, told The Detroit News. "It was quite possibly the greatest coincidence in the history of automobiles."
The modern-day muscle car battle reignited when Ford Motor Co. gave its 2005 Mustang a throwback design.
Dodge and Chevy entering the fray is a good for Detroit and the auto industry, Wert said.
"This is what the enthusiasts want," Wert said. "This gets their blood running. The baby boomers all want to push their pony car as being the best pony car among them all."
Vines agreed, but couldn't help taking one more swipe at his rival.
"It's healthy for Detroit and it's healthy for the industry," Vines said. "Despite the lameness of the GM stunt, it gets people talking."