So, you’re cruising down the road in your hot rod or commuter and AC/DC’s “Highway to Hell” comes on the radio. You can’t help but crank it up when you hear that unmistakable guitar riff blast through the speakers. You turn it up to 10 because it just sounds better that way—actually 11 if you happen to drive a Tesla Model S. It appears Tesla CEO Elon Musk is a huge fan of the movie This Is Spinal Tap. If you don’t get the reference you need to download the movie or borrow a friend’s DVD (remember those?) right away. Trust me on this.
Regardless of the highest number on your car audio’s volume knob/button/touch screen, the song demands you play some air guitar then use the steering wheel as a kick and snare drum for a few bars. From there, you a hit the throttle a little harder than you normally would. It’s just what you do.
I’ve always pictured the highway to hell being paved for kick-ass muscle cars spewing header flames while making an insane amount of noise and massive clouds of smoke coming off the rear tires—big-ass rear tires, at that—with no second thought about the environment or being “friendly” to it. Which begs the question: are electric cars allowed on this fictitious hell-bound highway? And would Tesla’s next generation Roadster, which claims to go from 0-60 in 1.9 seconds also be banned? Although that’s pretty damn quick, I say, “no noise, no smoke, no access.”
In all seriousness, I’ve been somewhat blindsided with how quickly electric car production has ramped up in recent years. Part of my surprise is due to the quick demise of the EV1 we briefly encountered in the late ’90s. Thankfully that experiment crashed and burned when those ugly two-seaters were recalled from the leasees and sent to the crusher. Deservedly so, if you ask me. I’m not sure a more unattractive car has ever been built. That debacle took the consumer confidence in EVs back about 10 years.
Now, today, with the prices of batteries dropping and the battery technology improving, more attractive exterior designs, efficient motors, and lighter cars, GM—one of the world’s biggest carmakers—is back at it and has announced they are working toward an all-electric, zero-emission future starting with two new fully electric models by next year, and 18 more by 2023. I’m going to have a hard time getting my head around an EV Camaro or Corvette. I can buy into a Volt (I actually lease a Volt as a commuter) or Bolt, but it’s going to take some getting used to driving a Camaro with no exhaust note, should they even consider producing one.
Although I have yet to get behind the wheel of a Tesla S P90D in “Ludicrous Mode” (yep, that’s a thing), or any mode for that matter, I’m convinced that it has to be a pretty cool experience. With that said, I have driven some of the baddest “conventional” muscle cars on the planet and I don’t need to tell you that the sound of a pissed-off V-8 winding out at around 6,500 rpm adds greatly to the experience. It’s a huge part of the attraction, which drew me into this hobby in the first place.
So, with the future looking quite bright for electric car production, what does all this mean for us octane-consuming muscle car enthusiasts as far as gas prices go? According to industry experts, not much in the short term. Some analysts predict it will be 2040 before one third of the global fleet of cars will be EVs. And with American oil production and importing from other countries based on supply and demand, it’s highly unlikely that we’ll see gas drop to 1970’s prices any time soon, or ever for that matter.
So, with no stop signs or speed limits to slow me down, I’ll just keep hauling ass and “sipping” fuel in my 600hp second-gen Camaro on the highway to hell with my stereo turned up to 10.
If only it went to 11.
RIP Malcolm Young.
Photos by Nick Licata