When 19-year-old rising regional Mexican star Kevin Ortiz made enough money to buy the car of his dreams, he didn’t waffle on picking a model: “A Corvette LS2,” he says. “It’s a car that pulses on the road. I always wanted it.”
Ortiz is one of a growing number of young Mexican acts forgoing European luxury brands for American muscle-car classics. Ford Mustangs and Camaros, often vintage, are regularly popping up in visuals from Luis Coronel and Remmy Valenzuela, who’ve topped Billboard’s Top Latin Albums chart, as well as Jorge Valenzuela and Ariel Camacho. And the trend has expanded beyond Mexican music. New York bachatero Prince Royce put a Mustang in the video for his hit “Darte un Beso,” while Puerto Rican rapper Wisin and Royce’s “Tu Libertad” features several American muscle cars.
“Lamborghinis and Ferraris are like cereal-box toys — they don’t attract as much attention,” says Omar Torres, who, as creative director of Del Studios, has overseen videos for Gerardo Ortiz and Coronel. “When you sit down with artists, you realize they’re attached to the muscle.”
Former Ford executive Art Hanlon, who once ran the company’s Mexico operations, attributes the popularity of American muscle cars among young Latin Americans to NASCAR, which launched in Mexico in 2005. “They like them because they’re doing so well on the NASCAR track,” he says.
Then, there’s the personal connections. Director Danny Hastings (Kevin Ortiz) had a Camaro growing up in Panama, while Regulo Caro’s first car in Mexico was a 1990 Mustang. The latter’s label, Del Records, gave him a 1968 Camaro that he plans to show off in his next video.
“Classic muscle cars have a story behind them,” says Coronel, who whisks away his love from an overbearing father in a 1968 Mustang GT 500 in his “Escapate” video.
But mostly, boys need toys to toughen up their image. “You can’t have a video where the guy is crying and everything is soft,” says Terrero. “And when you think of edginess, you think muscle cars.”
This story first appeared in the Jan. 17 issue of Billboard.