American Muscle by David johnston

Muscle. Thick, rippling, bulbous muscle. Like concrete rubber stacked upon a skeleton. Striations riddling an anatomy chart, representing strength, contraction, force, movement, both potential and actual. The dressing on a frame, the housing, the lifeforce that gives motive power to the wishes and demands of the mind. I love muscle.

I love all kinds of muscle, including the kind that purrs, that roars, that makes inhuman noises. I’m not talking about the kind made of flesh, of actin and myosin filaments running in opposition. No, I’m talking about the kind of muscle made of steel and glass that glistens and belches smoke. I’m talking about “American Muscle”.

For those not familiar, “American Muscle” is the term given to American cars produced in the mid 20th century—“muscle cars”, as they are often called. They were inefficient gas-guzzling machines, more about ego and flash than efficiency and smoothness. But they were beautiful. They represented raw, unadulterated power. Granted, many European cars would beat American muscle cars in a competition of overall speed, but that’s not the point; if the American muscle car lost the race and could talk, it would say, in a thick Jersey accent, “Yeah, but I looked better losing than you did winning, so who cares?” While the European car sits as a beautiful work of art, a piece of fine-tuned machinery that functions like a math equation, the American muscle car would scoff at such a description as pretentious, and would instead roar through sheer force of will, through overly-large engines and tires, through a bulky metal frame that served no discernable purpose other than to “look cool”.

The American muscle car is like the bodybuilder of the vehicle world.

The muscle car embodies everything that was great about being a kid (or maybe an eighteen year old male—or maybe a thirty year old male—all essentially the same thing, as I’m coming to discover). It’s all noise and speed and awesomeness. It is often purposely uncomfortable, stripped down to chunks of clunky steel with minimal upholstery and accommodations. It is sheer might and horsepower and thumbing one’s nose at society, authority, convention. It is pure ostentatiousness. It is rude. It’s a brute. And it is soooo cool.

I always had the underlying subconscious belief that there should be a direct one-to-one correlation between performance and appearance—smart people should look “smart”, and if you look “slow”, you should be slow. I think that’s why kids are attracted to the bodybuilding physique (and for proof of this, just ask yourself why all children’s toys are versions of He-Man and G.I. Joe with hyper-inflated chests and arms): we tend to believe that if something looks strong, chances are it is strong, in mind, body, spirit, action, and every other conceivable facet. Part of the process of maturation—or, more appropriately, the disillusionment of growing older—is learning the unfortunate fact that appearance and reality are not always aligned. But dammit, life sure is cooler when they do line up.

To that end, I want my fast, menacing cars to look fast and menacing. I don’t want spherical globules of angle-less plasma spilled onto a set of rubber tires; nor do I want the current trend of (literally) cubes on wheels, that are worshipped as “kitsch”. If only I were trendy or cool enough to give a flying fuck.

I want hard right angles and pointy parts, fenders that abruptly terminate into grills, with panels butted up against one another. I want a vehicle that rumbles down the road looking like an uncaged animal waiting to strike at prey. An engine that idles so slowly—the knock-knock-knock-knock, as the entire cars shakes from side to side—that it lets the driver know every second exactly how dangerous it is. I want a weapon of a vehicle, something that will slice through asphalt like a knife through warm butter—and not the smooth, kind blade of a chef, but the jagged, rugged edge of a hunting knife. I want a car with attitude and appearance match speed and handling. I want anything but subtle, subdued, suburban. I want atomic hellfire with an exhaust and dual headers, with chrome spilling out of tailpipes and from beneath the hood. I want a car that is so cool it requires a nickname, or better yet, a girl’s name, because you love it, because she’s your baby, and because if you take care of her then she’ll take care of you.

Monster trucks, Dukes of Hazard, Hot Wheels, Big Wheels—I want linear motion, decisive and assured—a car so blazingly uncontrollable that only a beast of a driver, just slightly more blazing and uncontrollable, would dare try to tame it.

“Real cars don’t power the front wheels, they lift them”.

And you better believe Raven will be riding to school in this, with me at the helm:

-David A. Johnston



David Johnston - TEAM Warrior WithinDavid Johnston is the founder and lead trainer of TEAM Warrior Within.  You can also listen to him weekely on the GEARD Up podcast. ( ) David works with clients ranging from the everyday person just trying to lose weight and get healthy, local and national bodybuilding and physique competitors, to IFBB professional athletes.

David lives and breathes all things related to physique transformation, and has devoted nearly half of his life to passionately studying and educating himself to be the absolute best at what he does. His intensity in the gym is matched only by the passion he gives to his clients.