Autobytel Editor-in-Chief Michelle Naranjo’s love of cars started at an early age as the daughter of auto enthusiast parents who painted the front door of her childhood home to match the color of her dad’s orange 1975 Ford Bronco. Through the years, she’s test driven and reviewed hundreds of vehicles but nothing comes close to eliciting the glint in her eye like the one she gets when talking about an American classic with a throaty engine under the hood.
Rose Mayer of Autobytel and her beloved Dodge Challenger "Rose Rage." (Photo: Business Wire)Naranjo isn’t alone. She and a host of other Autobytel staffers share their passion for American muscle, along with their favorite photos, in a special July 4 th feature entitled American Muscle Cars & Autobytel: Vintage or Modern, We Love Muscle. “Hands down, the American muscle car era was Detroit’s heyday and it’s been virtually impossible to replicate,” said Naranjo. “Back then, cars made people really feel something…that raw emotion of American spirit, of pride of ownership. There’s nothing like being behind the wheel of a classic—the way it jumps off the line, the way it rules the road, right down to that distinct smell of raw gas and rich exhaust. For me, it’s about as American as you can get.” Naranjo says that while not entirely the same experience (citing, in particular, the missing heavy-on-the-choke aroma with that glint in her eye), Detroit’s present day versions of American muscle—the Ford Mustang, the Chevy Camaro and Corvette, and the Dodge Challenger, Charger and Viper—certainly come close to resurrecting automotive yesteryear. “We’ve driven and written about all of them and they’re exactly what you’d expect from the automakers that are American car culture—built on iconic design and performance cues with completely modern materials and technologies,” she said.