In Los Angeles, it’s Muscle Car vs. Tesla, creating an ideological divide

Where I live in Los Angeles, a daily battle rages between the old and the new, loud and quiet.

There is roughly an even division in my community. On the one hand, Muscle cars like the Dodge Challenger Hellcat and the Camaro ZL1. And on the other, electric vehicles like the Tesla Model Y (the most popular new electric vehicle here) and the Model 3.

The muscle car represents the old approach to fast cars, electric vehicles the new one.

For me, it’s weird to have these two cultures juxtaposed. Cheek to cheek. Because the two belief systems couldn’t be further apart. And neither side understands the other. Kind of like the political divide in America.

Muscle car guys love noise. (Electric vehicles aren’t real cars to them.) The louder, the better. The Dodge Charger (or Challenger, take your pick) with its Hemi engine that shakes the windows is probably the best example of this. I know this because, until recently, I had an immediate neighbor who owned a Charger. And every time he started the engine, it was a small seismic event.

But I’m also surrounded * by Tesla owners. Four of my close neighbors have Model 3s, one now has a Model Y, as well as a handful of Chevy Bolts, Volts and BMW i3s.

In the larger community, as I said above, it’s roughly equal.

The acceleration track

This ideological divide is most apparent in the foothills above me.

I live in an area on the outskirts of Los Angeles that has a 3/4 mile stretch of four-lane highway that ends in dead ends in the foothills. Because it’s a dead end in a relatively sparsely populated area, it’s street racing heaven.

At night when I go up the foothills, I witnessed some muscle car drag races where they hit insane speeds. Remember, this is a residential area where people go out at night to walk their dogs and cross the street.

And the noise is cracking your ears.

But then, in the next moment, a Model 3 will pass by in silence. Then a few minutes later, a Model X.

The funny thing is that even though the Model 3 could beat a lot of these ICE cars in a 0-60, there are no drag races between Model 3 owners and (usually) not even a show of high speed bravado.

Will muscle car owners ever convert?

May be. But I have serious doubts. The very fact that electric vehicles are quiet makes them anathema to muscle car enthusiasts. And they are seen as geeks. Not for real men.

The upcoming Hummer EV and Tesla Cybertruck could convert a few married people to muscular SUVs and vans. But I wonder.

Ideologies are too far apart. The two will never meet.


* I drive a Chevy Bolt EV.

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