1 Man Helped Create 4 of the Most Iconic American Muscle Cars (And 1 Legendary German Brand)
If you’re anything like us, you probably remember the early Dodge Viper as one of the most exciting cars ever made. You celebrated the return of the Camaro as a truly modern muscle car, and find joy in powerful V8 models like the modern GTO and Pontiac G8. If it’s not American muscle you’re into, maybe it’s the exciting line of BMW M Performance cars. Either way, we all have one man to thank for that series of bedroom wall posters, and his name is Bob Lutz.
The original Dodge Viper bred a new generation of American muscle car
Creation of the original Dodge Viper might be one of the few American muscle cars on this list singularly attributable to Lutz. Born as a wild-eyed vision of what a performance car could be, the Viper was designed to push the limits in every conceivable direction.
Originally drawn up with both V8 and V10 engine options, Lutz always wanted the V10, simply to stand out from a series of other V8 American cars. He got his wish, and the 400-horsepower 1992 Dodge Viper remains one of the most memorable cars ever created.
The 2010 Camaro marked the return of the American muscle car
While the fourth-generation Camaro was a bit of a ho-hum super coupe, the modern version of this American muscle car was born from a different mindset. Originally conceived in 2006, a global recession delayed the Camaro’s return until 2010. Unlike the Mustang and Challenger, the new Camaro didn’t completely lean on its 60’s era for styling. Instead, it featured an angular design that blended modern sensibilities with retro touches.
Revival of the Pontiac GTO
Okay, so this one is a little less exciting, but the modern Pontiac GTO is still a feather in Lutz’s cap. It was Lutz that lobbied GM to bring the Australian Holden Monaro to the U.S. in an effort to keep the Pontiac brand alive. But the GTO never lived up to American muscle car standards. The 5.7-liter V8 was lackluster at 350 horsepower and 365 pound-feet of torque, and the rounded styling fell flat when compared to the classic muscle car designs of the Mustang and Challenger.
Yet another Australian import, the Pontiac G8 picked up where the GTO left off. Rather than a two-door coupe, the G8 was a four-door sedan based on the Holden Commodore. It featured more standout styling than the soft curves of the GTO, and the available 6.2-liter V8 provided 415 horsepower and 415 pound-feet of torque.
Sold from 2008 to 2009, the G8 was Pontiac’s last gasp at capturing the American muscle car-loving public. As great as this high-powered sedan may be, it wasn’t nearly enough to keep the Pontiac ship afloat.
BMW M Performance
Before Bob Lutz was busy churning out high-octane American muscle cars, he was in Europe helping BMW in the early 70’s. As the head of marketing Lutz pushed BMW to create a Motorsport division. The original aim was simple – beat Mercedes-Benz. In doing so, the M Performance company was born, and the rest is history.
One of the most important figures in automotive history
It’s not often that executives earn legendary status, but Bob Lutz has the resume to join the conversation. With so many enthusiast cars to his name, we owe a wealth of our current car culture to one guy named Bob.