"American performance was a contradiction in terms," Mackenzie says. "You now have the Camaro, Mustang, Charger, Challenger and the Cadillac CTS-V with a manual transmission that are genuine, authentic American muscle cars with a level of performance that guys back in the alleged golden era of the '60s and '70s could never have even dreamed about."
3. A broader paint palette
There's a reason why even Ford's compact Fiesta and Hyundai's upcoming Veloster sports coupe look like Walker's lime Eclipse from the first film: Factory paint before The Fast and The Furious was pitiful.
"Manufacturing's gotten more flexible in terms of allowing people to do paint and trim options together," Mackenzie says. "Toyota drove the industry to a standardized mouse-gray interior because it was cheap and easy to do, but now Chevy has a new Malibu with a dark color pattern in a black or in a brown because customers are bored with gray."
Ford's palette for the Fiesta's exterior has nine colors, and even that seems a bit conservative. Automakers such as Audi are known for offering European customers a color-wheel's worth of choices for their rides. Struggling, once-bankrupted U.S. automakers are playing catch-up and making street-worthy colors and tricked-out trim a key portion of their sales pitch.
Chrysler's 300 C has a performance version where black chrome wheels are an option, as is a satin finish instead of chrome and two-tone leather. Chrysler's Fiat 500 has 14 exterior colors and 12 different interior color patterns, which Mackenzie says can add up to 500,000 different variations based on colors and options.