rowdy vs calm 1957 tri five chevy

Should your car be bar-fight rowdy or Sunday-school tame?

Some cars are ready to brawl, others are focused on cruising in comfort.

The history of hot rodding traces back to post-war America and young soldiers returning from combat. These brave young men took their mechanical knowledge from the service, along with surplus military parts, and applied it to their own projects, sparking the need for speed leading up to the muscle car era. This was also a time when there were few regulations to define “street legal,” granting even the rowdiest of race cars eligibility for a Friday night cruise down main street.

Laws have changed, but raucous street cars still exist. With the plethora of performance aftermarket options, it has never been easier to add power and noise to your car of choice. But should you?

Kyle: Keep it between the lines

When it comes to modified cars, there will always be those who go absolutely over the top in their build. Massive camshaft lift, tiny mufflers, stripping out all the sound insulation. Just bare essentials and nothing else. Sometimes it’s warranted. If you want to be the quickest street-legal car, that’s one thing. To have no mufflers just because you like the sound makes no sense on an average muscle car. Bucking, high-idle, “I-can’t-have-power-brakes” camshafts aren’t designed for street duty, and choosing to run one on the street doesn’t look cool. It just makes it look like your car won’t stay running.

Maybe I’m a bit of a curmudgeon when it comes to this, but if you wake the neighborhood on an early-morning parts run, you’re just a jerk. You might have the coolest car at the track, but the general public hates your guts. Do you really enjoy having hearing damage? Vibration that could shake a James Bond-approved cocktail on the transmission tunnel? Look, I enjoy a rowdy car as much as the next car person, but trying to live with all that just to run errands around town is ridiculous.

Brett: Life is short, party on

Sure, features like air conditioning, quiet mufflers, and smooth idle might be nice for a car that you drive every day, but when it comes to your weekend ride, I say anything goes. Owning a collector car isn’t a left-brain decision to begin with; it’s one of passion and an illogical affinity towards an inanimate object. I see no need for fun-dampening concessions in the name of sanity if the choice to own such a vehicle is already irrational.

There’s always the chance you might be “that guy” to those who don’t understand of our strange car culture, but that annoyance typically lasts all of 5 seconds before their minds drift back to grocery lists and Snapchat filters. So go ahead and build that 8-second, turbo-twin turbo brawler that you’ve been dreaming of. Or the too-stiff-for-the-street, 9000-rpm road racer that’s stolen your heart. Open header calling your name? Make it happen. After all, if you’re going to own a car that makes as much sense as an ’80s Schwarzenegger action movie, you might as well go full-Commando.