The medical definition of atrophy can be described as the wasting away of a muscle, due to non use or the loss of nerve supply. Some of us believe this can happen to muscle cars, as well as muscles in the human body. Here’s a few examples of muscle cars that most likely didn’t live on to suffer the atrophy inducing mediocrity of car shows, cruise nights, televised auctions, or languishing under a car cover in some collector’s climate controlled garage. The off-road muscle warriors shown here soldiered through the ranks of SCORE Class 6, the Baja 500 and 1000, and various other off-road races during the 1970s and 80s, living the most likely short but extreme life that a muscle car should.

You can bet they’ll be no Shelby’esque resto-mod for this early Mustang coupe. It probrably died a brilliant but dusty death somewhere in the deserts of California. photo credit race-dezert.com
No retail red paint and Yenko cloning for this 1968-72 Nova. photo credit race-dezert.com
The roof mounted wing, off-road lights, and fuel filler on this ’68 Cutlass would give today’s 442 fans fits of rage, not to mention the enlarged wheel wells. photo credit race-dezert.com
Here’s an early Barracuda at the 1971 Mint 400. Something tells me this ‘cuda won’t end up at a burger joint cruise night anytime soon, or ever, and that’s ok. photo credit race-dezert.com

Muscle car fans and restorers could easily wretch at the thought of these now sought after cars being subjected to the abuse of off road racing, but don’t shed too many tears for them. Whether it be through drag racing, road racing, oval track, or even off-road racing, every one that was sacrificed through the crucible of motorsport did it’s small part to cement the legacy of the muscle car, and make them the collectible treasures that they are today.

Rotten gas and rusty wishes,
Skip Cambre