Having a huge engine is a status thing, I believe. Almost every kid wants some huge Detroit iron with an engine big enough to fry a chicken over every cylinder. In small towns, when there was nothing to do, you could always get a bunch of yahoos together and have a race (until the police showed up).

I used to have a Pontiac GTO with a 350 engine and a full race cam. It sounded like it was going to stall all the time, but it was monsterously fast. The fastest I ever went was better than 150 miles per hour on a lonely Texas highway. Thank God there were no suicidal armadillos that day.

When you're a kid, you have to "one-upsmanship" the other guy. Showing up with an economical car would get you laughed at. The only thing you would be good for was to make the beer run.

When you get older, economics and family expenses kill your need for speed. All of the guys I would race with would never even think of speeding around with their kid in the car. Detroit muscle gets replaced with Japanese aluminum, fastback Mustangs get sold to other kids for Toyota station wagons or hatchbacks.

I still drive that killer GTO in my dreams, though.