White Hot for 2000
Frosted tips, the rise of .com, and a raw perspective of the world, these were the ticket for mechanical performance and image 18 years ago...
For many of us the year 2000 does not at all feel like nearly two decades burned away. Y2K fears never materialized and the world never missed a beat. Nu Metal began to rise as the soundtrack to fang-flashing pilots of cars fast once more. A new chapter in the big three rivalry got hotter as engineers saved the world with air-friendly horsepower. Even California with its restrictions began enjoying emissions legal performance in quantity reminiscent to 1960s culture. While we reflect on this stone in the long path of automotive history, here are some icons we grew up with when our automotive interests were just beginning to light.
2000 Chevrolet Corvette
same as the hero image.
Corvette was bib-deep in the spoils of LS engine brilliance. Two years after its introduction, the 5.7 liter LS equipped with an SFI fuel injection system put down 345 quartets of hooves and a nice 350 foot pounds of torque. The C5 was covered in a previous piece and struggles today in the fight to overcome a geriatric stigma. Those power numbers may only be a bit over V6 territory, but this was and remains a sweet budget-friendly package. The LS is almost infinitely modifiable and of course it's got trademark Corvette handling characteristics. Available in four speed auto or obligatory 6 speed manual transmissions, C5 remained a cruising or road-course bruising machine. It is all of this and a pretty star for music video cameos.
2000 Dodge Viper ACR
Designed to be faster, better handling, and just as intimidating, the Dodge Viper ACR (American Club Racer) is pure thunder. Not a tractor, but capable of pulling out in almost any gear, 460 bitten horses galloped heavily through each of the six manually stirred gears. Few examples of American automobiles encapsulate such absurdity as Vipers with 8 liters of V10 just clearing throat at 170 mph. It was all about the raw thrill which is what eventually killed Dodge's sporting offer. Lacking safety, federal snake wranglers constricted it out of existence in 2017, but what a ride. Few teenage males didn't recognize this bulging face as the Playstation hit "Gran Turismo" so planted a new generation's seed of enthusiasm.
2000 Ford Mustang SVT Cobra R
*Image: Mecum Auctions
Here's the Mustang that puts the 'smack in Godsmack. SVT put together what was then the fastest factory Mustang to ever terrorize suburbia. 5.4 liters of violence consistently pulls 385 horses to sixty mph from dead zero in under 5 seconds. In snake on snake battles the Cobra R could rock with Viper all the way to a theoretical 170 mph top speed. With suspension and braking components by Bilstein and Brembo, two revered brands, this is a track'stang before track day bros ever knew who they were. The body kit looks a bit overdone because all of the real punch doesn't need sprucing. Let's just leave that as a point Captain Camaro could always grind away at stoplights. To the sixteen year old boy counting beard hairs like cigarette machine quarters, this had to be the closest thing to sex on wheels. SVT's Cobra R might not be remembered so much by today's youth, but it is the Mustang with a raw edge few dare tread upon anymore.
2000 Ferrari 360 Modena
If there was ever a car to win Al Gore a presidency, Ferrari built one. Forget daily driving because this 3.6 liter V8 guzzles more combustible fluid than a disgruntled mall Santa. Expect about 10 mpg city and a lengthy 15 mpg between highway pulls. At more than double the price of a base Dodge Viper, the $138,000 dollar Modena sacrifices displacement and power. As reported on MotorTrend, 400 horsepower peaks at a screaming 8500 rpm and a rather underwhelming 276 ft lbs of torque pops off at 4750 rpm. But it's a Ferrari and just look at that signature red coat... While power numbers and efficiency prove potent Kryptonite against American offerings, there's a seductive nature to these Italian lines that no other land can perfectly replicate.
2000 Camaro SS/Z28
I know this is neither a Z or SS, but it was impossible to find a large enough image of a car in totally stock form. The shape is the same and a lack of graphics does little to take away the effect. If you do find an example unmolested you've still found a winner. Slightly de-tuned because a new age couldn't erase GM's favoritism toward Corvette, 5.7 liters of LS1 still pounded out about 310 horsepower in Z28 trim and 320 with the SS package. Torque clicked off at 335 and 345 foot pounds respectively. Rocking a lame face introduced in 1998, Camaro was an even greater plastic wonder with panels fitting like a Revell SnapTite model. Chevy must have used the good glue because speeds over 140 mph couldn't rip the car to shreds. There was a brutality in the soon to be dead Camaro that youngsters just relished. It rumbles, it shrieks, it actually turns, and it begs to be thrashed. If you were in high school during this time, a Camaro was the car of varsity football captain meatheads that never failed to score weekly dates. For all of that, few mint examples remain in public.
2000 Lamborghini Diablo
Another pro-Gore automobile ( 9mpg city/ 13 highway), this wedge at least thumps the pavement with a solid hammer. A true heavyweight with 5.7 liters of V12 howling in any moon phase, 530 horsepower and 445 foot pounds molded a marvel of its day. Everyone recognized the doors that open skyward as icons sporting gold-framed shades exited dragging fifty pounds of gold chains through a sea of screaming fans. If you wanted to be famous someday, it was hard not to see yourself in a Lamborghini. We're looking at the last days of truly visceral motoring before sound deadening and button altered exhaust notes took over. The word "raw" could be used forever as it's a term so true. A Diablo is not the most beautiful creation ever, looking like little more than a refined Countach to seasoned eyes, but who can argue with the POWER?!.
2000 Ford SVT Lighting *F150, but with muscle.
Perfect for any Texas ranch, the Ford F-150 was enjoying a 23rd consecutive year of unsurpassed popularity among big-three truck consumers. Then SVT parked one next to their Cobra R and got evil with it. The Lightning was not new, but certainly a hot truck capable of stupefying Chevy Thunder groups. Like the Cobra R, SVT planted a 5.4 liter V8 soul with a "lesser" output of 360 horsepower. A supercharger provides spectators with exciting noise and drivers with a lip-peeling shove of boost. This photo is not fake. Because the Lightning is more capable than previous performance trucks, anyone can haul a load of earth then get their inner John Force out in celebration of a job well done. White collar business in technology was booming in 2000 and this is the working class hero the heart of America needed.
2000 Plymouth Prowler
A car sold on looks alone, the Prowler satisfied boyhood desires our fathers had in the 60s. This was the hot rod successful men wanted to impress beach babes on summer Saturdays. Neither fast or practical, Prowlers at least deserve recognition as Plymouth's best final shot before curtain drop in 2001. It's like Plymouth saw the meteor coming and got out just in time. Certainly not hot rod is the 3.5 liter V6 wheezing forth 253 horsepower. This is good for a V6 of the day, but it doesn't belong in a vehicle made to look like a high octane bullet. Even worse was the price tag north of $40,000 when you were buying a body and little else. Yet the Prowler made a great halo which still glows today among us nostalgic folks who can always think up what could have been. It just looks like a sleek future the public had anticipated and to actually exist, well that was just rad.