The Mustang ain’t no muscle car, and your truck is not a coupe

“RES IPSA.” When Clarence Thomas joined the Supreme Court in 1991, the media used a variety of colorful phrases to describe him. “Corvette ZR-1 owner” was not one of those phrases, but it did apply.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://www.hagerty.com/articles-videos/articles/2019/11/06/mustang-aint-no-muscle-car-and-your-truck-is-not-a-coupe

I enjoyed this article.
I have a suggestion that will make it much easier to blur the lines between the classes of vehicles: give more weight to its function than its form. That way, a high-powered Mustang used competitively is both a sports car and a muscle car. A humble Corvette that tears up Nurburgring is indeed a super car. Yet either of these cars can provide the comfort to be considered a GT for a ride across Michigan from Detroit to the Sleeping Bear Dunes.

The Mustang through its first three generations, the Barracuda through its first two generations, and the Camaro through its first two generations were compact sedans with sportier, 2+2 body styles. That’s what I think of when I hear pony car. The current Mustang, Camaro and Challenger are all based on much larger sedans and playing in a much more expensive arena. Muscle cars, also known as supercars, were intermediates with large displacement engines from full sized cars. Whatever the current Detroit coupes are, they don’t embody the meaning of previously used terms. Personal Luxury GTs?

A Mustang CUEV is a Mustang like the Bahamas are in India.

Current Mustang wheelbase is within inches of the original. Mustang IIs were the shortest, Fox bodies live in between. If it is two-door, short deck, long hood and not more than a few inches longer in wheelbase than an original (or current) Mustang it is a pony car.

New Challenger is basically a shrunken muscle car. It and the Charger are not pony cars.

While domestic makers are/have cancelled them all… there was quite a few rwd compact and subcompact sporty cars (“hot hatch”) for a bit there. Subaru and such keep that going.

Miata remains the truest example of the classic British sports car… which the original Vette aspired to be (and probably hasn’t been since gen 1).

Using the names wrong has a long precedent though. Look at how specific coach builders were in the 20s and 30s about town cars, phaetons, limos and such, and the way 50s American cars became “hardtops” when B pillars were removed.

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Loved the article, channeling William Safire for the automotive crowd. Its probably a lost cause but keep up the good.

How does the Oxford dictionary define the terms? Just finished watching “The Professor and the Madman” a movie about the true story of the creation of the Oxford dictionary. Mel Gibson plays the professor who took on the task of creating the dictionary, and Sean Penn plays the role of the “madman” (Dr. William Minor), a schizophrenic civil war surgeon who saved the endeavor from failure. The task was to read every single document ever written in English to ferret out the definition of every single word and how the definition evolved over time. I think even Mel Gibson’s character (Scottish professor James Murray) would have joined Dr. Minor in the mental institution when if they had to deal with modern day auto descriptions.

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I visited the GM Heritage Center yesterday with SAE and was reminded of the term ‘hardtop convertible’ which really referred to a sedan with no B pillar. How was that ever a ‘convertible’? All it did was usher in the era of vinyl roofs, thankfully gone from every modern vehicle except a poorly cobbled hearse.

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Magical words. Like Ford’s use of “Military Grade Aluminum”. All aluminum is military grade.
99% of aluminum in a recycling center is military grade, beer cans, foil, and used ford fenders.
“Military Grade Aluminum” is nothing more than a marketing ploy. Why doesn’t Ford refer to the actual military specifications of their touted “Military Grade Aluminum”?

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Mr. Baruth is correct. Words matter, and most folks don’t care; or aren’t educated enough to realize. Both verbal and written communication are becoming a lost art. I worked 36 years for a Fortune 500 company; it was a regular occurrence for me to look at an email and comment that it looked like Tarzan wrote it.

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Fluid definitions are the result of those who write advertisements, which are meant to generate more money. It all boils down to the great USA value of greed. There are, of course, unintended results. Confusion being at the top of the list with miscommunications being second. I went shopping to replace my Hi-Fi amplifier. Nobody knew what I was talking about and they kept trying to sell me a “Receiver”. In my world a receiver is something I plug into my amplifier. An amplifier amplifies and a receiver receives. That’s not complicated. Most games are now called sports. Professional baseball is a game played by highly paid entertainers, in no way can it be called a sport, however, to say that baseball is not a sport will rock the self image of those sportsmen, who partake of this game by watching it on TV. My car, a Porsche 356B, has been put in a lot of different judging categories at car shows, including Exotics and Tuners.


"Once the whole world has been bullied and cajoled into the purchase of pillbug trucks, auto enthusiasm as we know it now will be limited to the people willing to fix old cars, the same way that literacy was mostly limited to the clergy during certain periods of European history".

Nice article, but I would like to add: You are assuming that we (the future car guys) will even be ALLOWED to drive those “old cars” on the road legally when this time of Henry Ford’s “Make them all black” level of automotive variety returns to the modern world.
As even Ford pronounced a short while ago, “… soon, all of our vehicles will be autonomous and Ford will own every one of them” meaning to me that self driving cars, of only one or two models/designs for the efficiency of manufacture, that you probably lease the rights to use one of (not the same one every time either) when you need them, will probably be THE way private transportation will be accomplished in the future. This will first happen in decent sized cities where the 5G network and other necessary infrastructure has been installed to make hands-off driving “safer than any human can accomplish, for your own damn good, whether you like it or not” of course. As this technology improves, it will sprawl to the more rural areas as well.
It’s bad enough that even semi-new vehicles come with “safety features” that cannot be easily bypassed “for your own good”, even when one actually HAS the driving ability/skill to use the now forbidden maneuvers to possibly save their own life under extreme circumstance.
For example, the last 2 of my personal Ram 1500 4X4 pickups (2013 & now 2016; 400hp Hemi engines in both) have come with a “yaw control” which quite frankly is REMARKABLE on how well it functions. Even on glare ice and even when I do everything within my power to get the truck to slide sideways/fish tail, the yaw control will not allow that vehicle to get more than about 15-20 degree off of center before automatically straightening itself out! BRAVO to whoever designed that system for Dodge! But, I HATE YOUR FLIPPIN’ GUTS!
This “safety feature” almost caused me to TOTAL my 2013 Ram the first winter day I drove it when I first discovered its’ existence while I was trying to have my normal MI. winter-driving-fun of fishtailing my truck through the freshly fallen snow. Then, when I contacted the dealer/Dodge to ask how this feature could be disabled, they informed me that it was not possible (even the dashboard mounted Traction Control button only covers wheel spin, it is not linked to the Yaw Control). So I thought to myself, being a long-time driver of high performance vehicles, a controlled “spinning the car out” IS an option that I HAVE used before, both on the track and even in my daily driver, to prevent bad things from happening to me. I’ve even used these skills simply to get out of tight spots where a 17-point U-turn was the only other option.
Due to society degrading to the lowest common denominator which in this case means poor drivers who, like my dad did for me as part of my driver’s-ed experience, were never taught how to do donuts in wet or snow covered parking lots and recover the car to straight and true, even when the back end of the car decides to go one way while the front end says something completely different.
OK, P.C. rant off now, but my point is that even the definition of CAR itself will likely change in the future. If they even call it a “car”, it will be a boxy/ugly (but relatively spacious) low-carbon emitting “thing” which shows up at your door a few minute after your 5G enabled refrigerator hears you talking with your significant other about needing to leave the house soon to go to the government mandated gender (all 27 of them) acceptance training.
Sorry if I have offended anyone here… But, GET OVER IT! LoL…


Pigeonholing anything is rarely a worthwhile endeavor. It’s better to be flexible and open minded. Time to move on.

All aluminum is not military grade. Beer cans and airplanes are not made from the same stuff. Nor are f150’s. Keep it simple, try Google…

I agree with everything you said, especially the use of the word “pillbug.” They DO look like pillbugs, which is one reason I am hanging on to my honest-to-Henry, V-8 powered, truck-chassis Mercury Mountaineer. And my Z51 Vette and my F-150 pickup and my Focus ST. A car for every purpose, although so far the ST’s purpose seems to be making me drive like Charlize Theron in the Italian Job remake.

Still working on the e-brake slide parallel parking, though.

OK, all that said, I fear you are tilting at windmills. Lovers of the English Language, from Chaucer to Steinbeck to George Will and beyond, have fought against the Dumbing Down of our speech to no avail. It’s going to get worse.


Beer can bodies in the US are typically made from series 3000 aluminum while the tops are made from series 5000 for the added strength. Ford uses series 6000 for some of the body parts of the F150.
The military uses both series 7000 and 5000 in the Bradley Fighting Vehicle.
Yes, I Googled it. :slight_smile:


This is a great article and reflects my own thoughts. So many times I’ve heard myself say to someone, “Be specific, call things by their proper name!” Using proper nomenclature in the garage easily separates the car enthusiast from those who just want to traverse from one destinations to the next . :+1:t2:


Coupe, sedan, roadster, phaeton, limousine and on and on. The nomenclature has been very blurred. But a Mustang with a 427, 428 or 429 was most certainly a muscle car; however, depending on the body, it could also be a coupe, a convertible or a fastback.

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A question that has vexed me for some time now, is the “difference” between a roadster and a convertible. They both have tops, but one is fixed to the car and has wind-up windows, whereas the other has a removable top, and some sort of windows that are removable. I’m seeing that the terms are used interchangeably, and wondering which is correct. I associate roadster with a car that has no fixed top and no wind-up windows, and convertible with the other. What would be the “correct definition” if any???

rrapam, I think you wanted a “tuner” to go with your amplifier. The great receivers of the 1970s were amplifiers and tuners combined.

Congrats on your 356B, a great car no matter how else it is categorized. Coupe or convertible? And don’t forget, Porsche messed with us with the “Targa” in 1966.

I’ve never believed that any car weighing over 3,000 lbs. could be called a sports car.