The same could be said for Chevrolet and Ford. The Camaro tallied 89,988 units in 1973, climbing to 282,571 by 1979. Whereas Ford's '73 Mustang sold 134,867 units in the last year of its styling cycle. Even the star-crossed '74 Mustang II sold 385,993 copies in 1974, and the new '79 Mustang registered 369,936. Just how much of this volume could have been captured by the Barracuda and Challenger can't be known, but it's a sure bet that sales for both cars would have been more than enough to justify their existence.

The decline and fall of Chrysler Corporation reads like a classic case of managerial incompetence by an undercapitalized, aging company erring at a critical and unforgiving time. "Chrysler doesn't do anything first," notes Car & Driver. "Instead, it carefully watches what everybody else in Detroit is doing, and when it sees an area of abnormal market activity it leaps exactly on that spot. Because it always leaps late-which is inevitable if it doesn't begin to prepare its entry into the market until someone else already has one-it tries to make up for being late by jumping onto said spot harder than everybody else." In the mid- to late-'70s, Chrysler failed to hit the right spots, and the only salvation was a government bailout.

When the '70s were over, the ponycar had survived, but two important nameplates-Barracuda and Challenger-were gone. If Chrysler had produced a new generation of E-bodies, the corporation's fate might have been kinder. The Barracuda and Challenger would not have saved Chrysler, but it's possible their sales could have softened the blows the corporation suffered in their darkest days of the late-'70s.