The cars we loved.
We live in a time when we can experience the past and present with startling clarity and fidelity. The films of childhood that seemed small and fuzzy then, are today sharp digital restorations re-issued to DVD and Blu-Ray. The past never looked so good.
It’s long been my assumption that people old enough to have owned an original Mustang or Camaro when it was new in the 70s might have seen the car through rose colored lenses in retrospect. In reality, many powerful muscle cars hated sitting in traffic and were not always comfortable and certainly were not Zen cabins of serenity on long trips, but they were fun.
But what if you could have the best of the muscle car era in a modern package? That seems to be the premise behind the restoration or re-creation of muscle car lore. The Big Three have created new Mustangs, Chargers and Camaros that are arguably better than they were at their pre- digital historic peaks. A few small car builders have gone a step further and tried to capture the era in other ways, complete with retro styling cues in a package that somehow looks familiar, yet new.
Companies like Year One or Restore A Muscle Car have used familiar cars and re-engineered them giving them modern mechanicals on a classic body shell. Equus is a small Rochester Hills, Michigan based company that has an altogether different approach on the modern muscle car. The unfortunate name suggests Hyundai’s flagship car or worse a line of fishing poles. Despite the name aside, a truly interesting car emerges that rivals any Eleanor Mustang re-creation.
At first glance the Bass 770 looks like a late 60s Mustang Fastback. On closer inspection, it becomes apparent that this is no crude live axel pony car, but a composite of 60s era muscle car design cues remixed in a pony car-like shell. While the rear and sides are clearly Mustang inspired, the front recalls Mopar classics like the Charger or Barracuda. Equus managed to resist the exaggerated styling cues of the Eleanor Mustang (from the remake film Gone In 60 Seconds), despite both being inspired by the design of the 1967 Fastback Mustang.
While the 770’s design inspiration comes clearly from past, underneath the fancy composite retro shell is very modern technology. It starts with an all-aluminum supercharged V8, the centerpiece of an aluminum frame. The 6.2 liter engine comes directly from the recently departed Corvette ZR1. With 640 hp, the 770 moves its 3,640 pound heft to 60 mph in the low 3 second range. The aluminum and carbon fiber lined body helps reduce flex and aids in stability should you want to approach the 770’s top speed of 200 mph.
For the moments when the road curves, a fully independent suspension helps with stability on unflattering road conditions. Moving the 6-speed dual-clutch transmission to the rear of the car improved the front to rear weight ratio, so that tail happiness of the past is better controlled. Of course with all that power wagging the tail is as simple as dropping the clutch and stepping on the gas.
In addition to being a brut, the 770 was intended to be a comfortable GT cruiser. The interior, almost lush by Mustang or Challenger standards has its share of leather surfaces with soft touch plastics and chrome accents, all tastefully executed to remind you what $253,000 can buy. The full instrumentation offers analog and digital readouts complete with a LCD screen to monitor GPS and disc based entertainments. Overall the cabin offers a hint of luxury that’s tempered with a hybrid of classic and modern ergonomics.
The 770 looks best in black, but comes in 9 other colors. In addition to exterior color choices there are 6 interior “Series” choices that determine any number of seat/interior color combinations. Very little has been published in the automotive press about the 770, despite it being available for at least a year. The car itself was over six years in the making.
For the moment the 770 is only available as a hard top coupe with a manual transmission. That could change with demand according to a Equus spokesman (most likely the addition of an optional automatic would come before any drop top). Top or topless, the 770 is attractive. Unfortunatly its way out of the price range of the average consumer. For lottery winners and loaded nostalgia lovers who won’t commit to either Chevy, Ford or MOPAR camps, the 770 offers a bit of each in a package much better than anyone could have remembered.