The approval of muscle cars in American culture has finally reached full acceptance as evidenced by the University of California San Diego's offering a class on muscle cars. Yes, college students attending the prestigious USCD can learn about muscle cars and get college credit. It looks like the devil can buy those ice skates now.

The college was looking at ways to help freshmen integrate into college life and be introduced to additional faculty. When presented with this opportunity, Seth Cohen, Associate Professor of Chemistry, proposed a class on muscle cars. "The university requested one-unit seminar courses for freshman that would get faculty and freshman together to discuss topics of common interest," says Cohen. "Because the class would only meet for one hour a week for ten weeks, I didn't want to cover the complete history of the automobile. The muscle car era seemed like a good one to focus on for several reasons: the modern retro-styling comeback of the new Mustang, Camaro, and Challenger, the common environmental and economic pressures we are experiencing now and were experienced during the decline of the muscle car-emissions controls and gas prices-and the explosive growth in the classic muscle car market, driven in part by the baby boomers." Owning and restoring three classic Mustangs and his current project of a 1969 Firebird drove Cohen's individual interest in conducting the class. He attributes his love for cars to his childhood when his father would restore cars in the family garage and he would help. "My dad always took me to auto museums and car shows, from local events to Pebble Beach," recalls Cohen. But the best 'museum' was our garage."

Class enrollment is limited to 20 students, all freshmen and all full time UCSD students and about 1/3 of the class is female. "Their backgrounds are varied," says Cohen. "Some students are taking the class on a whim, and others are very knowledgeable about all kinds of cars. Some of the foreign-born students told me they wanted to learn more about American culture and other students have a family with classic cars-the class is a really great mix of backgrounds."

In addition to his classroom lecture, Cohen regularly brings in local muscle car experts to address the class and schedules mini-car shows with the help of a few of the local clubs. Author and Mopar Muscle contributor, Robert Genat, was brought in to discuss the history and evolution of the Hemi engine. The following week, the San Diego Mopar Club drove in breaking the concentration of those students trying to study on campus with the rump-rump of long duration cams in big displacement engines. At this class the students were treated to a side-by-side comparison of a 1966 Hemi Belvedere and a 2011, Dodge Charger R/T. Also in attendance was a wide selection of classic Mopars.

The car shows scheduled by Professor Cohen are especially interesting for the students. It gives them a first hand chance to see vintage Detroit iron along side modern muscle. As other students, not in the class, milled about the cars they expressed an interest in the school opening up the class to those students other than freshmen. My only question is: Why didn't they offer this kind of class when I went to school???