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Car Enthusiasts Will Look Back at the Early 2000s Like the 1960s

If you’re interested in cars, you surely know that the 1960s are well regarded as something of a heyday of the automobile. The muscle car era was in full force, with incredible competition producing some truly amazing cars that are still fondly remembered today — the Split Window Chevrolet Corvette, the Camaro, the Dodge Charger and Challenger, and of course the Ford Mustang.

The 1960s also gave us some amazing European vehicles: the famed “Pagoda” Mercedes-Benz SL, the most collectible Ferrari models in existence, and some of the humble beginnings of BMW and Volkswagen. We all loved the 1960s — and I think they’ve returned, at least a little bit.

The return of the 1960s, in my view, was the early- to mid-2000s. I haven’t really tried to pinpoint the exact years I’m referring to, but I think someday, we’ll look back on this era as another major peak in the history of the automobile, with truly amazing cars that probably won’t be replicated for years to come — if ever, given the advent of hybrid and electric vehicles.

Exactly what cars am I talking about? Well, we had the death of the manual transmission in this era — so I’m referring to stick shift exotic cars like the Lamborghini Muricelago, the Porsche Carrera GT, the Ford GT, and the last few 3-pedal Ferrari models like the F430 and 575. We also had big, screaming, naturally-aspirated or supercharged engines — cars like the aforementioned few, plus the Ferrari Enzo, the Mercedes SLR, and many others.

And those were just the exotics. This was also the era of some icons that everyone loved: the Ford Panther platform was still in production, giving us the Crown Victoria and the Lincoln Town Car. We also saw the rise of the Chrysler 300C. And this was BMW’s finest era, too — the one that gave us the E39 M5, the Z8, the M Coupe, and many other highly popular BMW models that are starting to appreciate in value, even though they aren’t even 20 years old yet.

Indeed, this was a special time in the car world — and it came just before the arrival of electric and hybrid cars that seems poised to change how cars exist. Admittedly, I think this change is largely a positive one: electric cars are simpler, they’re more environmentally friendly, and in many cases, they can be faster than their gas-powered counterparts. But they aren’t the screaming, exciting, stick-shift gas-powered cars that really reached their high water mark in that special era at the beginning of the 2000s. 

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  1. Mid 2000’s will definitely be the time to remember to Nissan/Infiniti. The FM Platform with the 350Z, G35 Sedan and Coupe, the M35/45 and the FX35/45. Those were some great cars for the time, too bad the second generations were just OK and then just left to rot for nearly a decade on the market. 

  2. I would argue that we’re currently in the throes of the 2nd great age of muscle cars, just before electric vehicles take over.  The ZL1, the ZO6, the Hellcat, the Demon, the latest high performance iterations of the Mustang, etc..  These are the highest HP rated vehicles in automotive manufacturing history sold right to the public.  Those earlier 2000 models were more like the mid-late 1950’s/early 1960’s before the lid was blown off the muscle car era.  Either way, these are good times to be a car enthusiast.

    • Really the market will dictate what will happen short term. Long term the regulations will probably kill them off assuming another Democrat gets in office. Not saying its a bad thing, just more regulations. 

    • Perhaps with Muscle Cars because you can still get them in stick, but I think the Early 2000’s was the end of an era of Manual, minimal electrical interference exotics.

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Doug Demuro
Doug Demuro
Doug DeMuro writes articles and makes videos, mainly about cars. Doug was born in Denver, Colorado, and received an economics degree from Emory University in Atlanta. After graduation, Doug spent three years working for Porsche Cars North America. Eventually, he quit his job to become a writer, largely because it meant that he no longer had to wear pants. Doug’s work has been featured in a... Read More about Doug Demuro

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