Amid the crash and burn of General Motors ( GMGMQ), the Detroit carmaker said goodbye to its Pontiac brand. Any tears shed had less to do with cars for sale today. They were a reaction to the history behind the makes and models. The 1964 Pontiac GTO kick-started the era of the muscle car, setting the stage for full-throated, supercharged monsters of steel and chrome. In its oil-slicked wake came the Ford ( F) Mustang, Chevy Camaro, Pontiac Trans Am, Ford Torino and Hemi-powered Plymouth Barracuda. Those leviathans feasted on asphalt for about a decade. Then they either disappeared or were redesigned beyond recognition.
But now, one by one, muscle cars are coming back. One should wonder why. There is a new Camaro on the streets and new Mustang models on lots. The Charger has also been resurrected, courtesy of Chrysler. It's true, of course, that these are classic cars and true pieces of Americana. After all, no one is demanding the return of the AMC Gremlin. And, yes, sales thus far are pretty good. In May, the month it was released, the Camaro outsold Honda's ( HMC) Insight, a hybrid, by nearly two to one. The trend continued last month, with Camaros selling 9,320 units. Ford sold 7,632 Mustangs. That may have more to do with the initial "cool" factor than any long-term trend. For younger drivers, smaller cars -- with greater maneuverability in urban environments -- are more desirable. They want technology and gizmos. They want an engine that is state-of-the art and an interior to match. They want TomToms ( TMOAF.PK) and Garmins ( GRMN). They want Bose ( BOSE) speaker systems, built-in MP3s and Apple ( AAPL) iPods and Sony ( SNE) DVD players, for when they have to keep the kids occupied. They care more about the environment than blowing away the guy next to them when the light turns green.