Never Stop Driving #15: Long live the muscle car

The biggest news, in my eyes, during the barrage of announcements and product reveals at The Dream Cruise and Monterey Car Week, was Dodge’s Charger Daytona SRT concept.

I’m posting a photo here just so you can see this stunning design. It’s sleeker than before, aggressive but not a bully, and has just the right nostalgic seasoning. I really want to drive it.

The future of electrified muscle: Dodge Charger Daytona SRT Concept
I dig this. Stellantis

You probably want to know if the Charger Daytona’s got a Hemi. It does not. Concept cars like the Charger are typically wild interpretations of future models that suggest upcoming features without promising them. In this case, however, the next Charger will most likely be an EV. Chrysler—sorry, Stellantis—will continue to build Hemi-powered muscle cars for another year.

Among car enthusiasts, there’s a lot of hand wringing over the change to electric propulsion. I’m not sure where I land on this topic. I love a good V-8 howl as much as anyone and own a five-oh Mustang with Flowmaster mufflers mostly for the engine note. On the other hand, muscle cars have traditionally excelled at sprinting from stoplight to stoplight. In that arena, EVs are killing it. What kind of muscle car gets smoked by a Tesla?

Electric cars were a common conversation topic in Monterey last week. The affluent crowd that swarms the Monterey Peninsula each August is geared toward machines of the past yet very open to EVs, probably because most of these folks don’t need to rely on one as their sole transportation source. I’m seeing more articles like this one from the NY Times that highlights what I’ve long heard on the street: The non-Tesla charging infrastructure stinks, as the few available chargers often don’t work.

If that Charger Daytona was the biggest news from last week, then my vote for the spirit of car week goes to Matthew Morillo of Pacific Grove, California. I met him during a Concours d’Lemons event in Seaside, California, a few miles from the Pebble Beach Golf Course, the day before many of the world’s most valuable cars were on display at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance.

Lemons is a celebration of the mundane, the anti–car show where you’ll see the best examples of the worst cars and oddball and creative vehicular interpretations. The joy of the event is that nothing is taken seriously—the point is to gather, hear some stories, and laugh with like-minded car nuts. I “judged” with Jason Cammisa and Ray Evernham, a job that is, like everything else, part of the joke because entrants are encouraged to bribe judges. Morillo’s Chevy truck was included in our group.

Matthew Morillo grilling and making friends at his custom truck
Matthew Morillo grilling and making friends at his custom truck. Todd Kraemer

His bribe was a delicious sausage sandwich cooked on a grill that slid out from the truck’s side, one of many custom artistic modifications he personally installed. Morillo cooked during the entire event, delivering free sandwiches to anyone nearby, which brought strangers together in appreciation of free pork. He said he often parks the truck at a nearby beach, fires up the grill, and cooks for everyone. To me, his sense of community, of cars or trucks as a gathering point, was heartwarming. We gave him a well-deserved award.

That Saturday morning Lemons show was my favorite part of a car-packed week. We exhaustively covered Monterey, from auction results to the Concours itself. Head over to and here’s a page that has everything from Monterey.

Since I’m here to curate for you, here are a handful of my favorites:

Also, don’t miss the new video series we launched with Larry Chen. In this first episode, he travels to Japan to visit “the greatest drift garage in the world.”

Labor Day is one week away! Get out and enjoy the last days of summer.

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