Collector’s Car Insurance: American Pony Cars
The term pony car is often used interchangeable when defining an American muscle car and while the two share many common characteristics, there are very distinct differences among them. In fact, unlike the American muscle car, there is actually a widely agreed upon history and widely held set of standards when it comes to the American pony car. The term American pony car describes an affordable, compact, highly styled car with a performance-oriented image.
Most auto enthusiasts and historians accredit the true origins of the American pony car to the launch of the Ford Mustang in 1964, which was one of the first mass produced sports cars designed to balance affordability, style and performance. While Ford wasn’t the only automaker noticing the rising public interest in accessible performance vehicles, the Ford Mustang set the standard when it comes to defining the pony car. In fact, most accredit the name “pony cars” to the 64 Mustang’s debut of the now iconic stallion logo.
Unlike many auto classifications, there is significantly less debate surrounding what it takes to classify a vehicle as an American pony car. Here are the classic criteria:
- Two-doors, four passengers
- Styling that includes a long hood, short deck, and open mouth
- Built with mass production parts
- Affordable base price with a variety of available upgrades
- A high powered, V6 or V8 engine
After the initial success of the 64 Mustang, many competitors quickly emerged endeavoring to match its combination of performance, style, and affordability. While mustang remains one of the most iconic pony cars to date, the Chevy Camaro and Dodge Challenger have also risen above the pack in the pony car race. Other classic American pony cars include the Pontiac Firebird, AMC Javelin, and Plymouth Barracude, however production of these vehicles was limited and they eventually phased out.
One key benefit of the pony car lines for American automaker was their ability to appeal to younger drivers and generate brand loyalty among customers. In 1970 Car and Driver reported that while very few pony car drivers bought a second, around 50% chose to purchase another model from the same auto manufacturer when it came time to get a new vehicle.
Much of the pony car class’s popularity can be attributed to their prominence in popular television and film, especially during the 1970s and 1980s. Their lifespan however was somewhat short lived as by the late 1970 buyers were moving away from the pony cars, either toward smaller compact cars or toward larger, more rugged models. Declining sales and the growing popularity of rear-wheel drive vehicles, light trucks and sport utility vehicles ultimately led to the demise of many of the iconic pony cars, such as the Pontiac Firebird.
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