Muscle vs JDM vs Euro: A History Of Car Rivalries In America

There are many kinds of rivalries within car culture, Subaru WRX STI vs Mitsubishi Evo, Chevy Camaro vs Ford Mustang, etc. However, the rivalry that is the most prevalent across the world is the rivalry of Muscle vs JDM vs Euro. For the uninitiated, Euro cars are sports cars made in Europe, JDM is a term used for Japanese sports cars (more specifically made for the Japanese Domestic Market), and Muscle is a term used for American cars with a V8 engine, because Merica, THAT’S why! Let’s look at the history of this rivalry in America specifically.

It wasn’t until the 1950’s after World War 2 that European sports cars became prevalent on American roads, and even then, a majority of them were too expensive for the average man to buy and keep on the road. There were British roadsters and coupes and the Mercedes 300, but the average American man was busy hot rodding 32 Ford coupes. However, the VW Beetle and Van was exception to the rule, they were more for the working man than a Jaguar coupe. These cars were and still are very popular all around the world. Oh, and how can I forget the Porsche 911? The Porsche 911 with it’s engine in the trunk sure gave American sports cars a run for their money.
Around 1970 is when Japanese cars started infiltrating American shores in big numbers, and they became more popular during the course of the 70’s when emissions laws and the rising price of oil ended the muscle car era. By 1980, both Europe and Japan had a good market hold on America with both economy cars and sports cars.

The 1970’s introduced the Toyota Celica, Datsun 240Z/280Z, Mazda RX3 and the Datsun 510, sports cars that took a different approach to driver enjoyment than a big block Dodge Charger. In my opinion, 1970 was the year that the American car industry had it’s pedestal position in the American car market challenged by imports. The hot hatch also debuted in the 80’s with the VW Golf and the During the 80’s the Japanese sports car market started to grow considerably with the Toyota Supra, Mazda RX7, Toyota AE86, and some Honda performance cars in the later part of the 80’s… and then the 90’s came. Many consider the 90’s to be the best time for the Japanese sports car. Mazda Miata, Nissan Skyline, Acura NSX and the Mark 4 Toyota Supra are just some of the great Japanese sports cars that came to life in the 90’s. BMW came out with the M3 in the 90’s as well, and the BMW coupe in my opinion is the quinsential European sports car, with Volvo’s as a close second.

The Fast and the Furious series added gas to the fire of the already burning sports car rivalry in America, and through the 2000’s and up until now in 2016, the sports car rivalry shows no signs of stopping. Muscle vs JDM especially seems to be the strongest rivalry because both opposing camps have opposing ways to make a car go fast. Muscle cars use old school techniques like fat tires and big engines to get around a track quicker while JDM cars use fancy technology, nimbleness, turbochargers and high revving engines to do them same thing.

In the end, this rivalry is both a positive and negative aspect to the car community. Such a rivalry encourages innovation and improvement of both driver and car and there’s nothing like a little healthy competition. On the other hand, it can divide and cause infighting among the car community when we should be uniting. It’s ok to have some competition but don’t take it too far.

This content was originally posted by a Car Throttle user on our Community platform and was not commissioned or created by the CT editorial team.


Dan Dominé

Your post kind of ends like a cliffhanger. You need to add a conclusion like “Why this rivalry is both positive and negative for the car community ?”

Apart from that, nice post !

05/13/2016 - 19:43 |
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Nice conclusion !

05/13/2016 - 20:25 |
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Antonio 3

And then the LS swap came in, and everybody lived happy forever and ever

05/13/2016 - 20:40 |
8 | 4

Very well writen!

05/13/2016 - 21:51 |
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05/13/2016 - 22:06 |
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Cool article but the M3 came out in 1985 not the 90s

05/14/2016 - 00:29 |
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The thing is the rivalry isnt most prevalent across the world, its only prevalent in the US. The rest of the world doesnt have muscle cars.

In the UK and across europe muscle cars or only imported rareities, the fact is muscle cars arent very practicle on euro roads, they only really work in the US.

05/14/2016 - 09:25 |
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Dat Incredible Chadkake

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

You’re forgeting straya mate, utes with V8’s doin burnouts and canada likes muscle cars too

05/14/2016 - 18:28 |
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