The NASCAR Stock Car has a lot of history. The term stock car means a car that has not been modified since it was built in the factory. Back in the 1940s and 50s, the original stock cars were simply regular cars that were racing on dirt tracks. Throughout the years, the term stock car has changed meaning because the cars that are seen on the tracks today are modified to reach speeds of over 200 miles per hour.
There are different types of NASCAR cars that race. The three different types are categorized by the league. There is the NASCAR Cup Series, the XFINITY Series, and the NASCAR Gander RV and Outdoors Series. All three series use different types of cars. The Cup Series and XFINITY Series use traditional racing cars with the Cup Series cars being larger and heavier than the XFINITY Series because the XFINITY Series is the minor league for the Cup Series. The Truck Series uses modified pickup trucks rather than a modified stock car. All of the different series require different modifications to be made for the car to be allowed to race. Although the original meaning of a stock car was it was unmodified, they are now modified in different ways to race in different leagues.
The most recognizable stock car is the one that is used in the NASCAR Cup Series. The stock car has gone through six generations of modifications. Generation 1 was when the cars were taken off the factory lines and were raced right away. This was in 1948 right when NASCAR was created. They would take these stock cars from the factory and race them on dirt roads and eventually paved oval tracks. Not long after NASCAR started, the racers quickly wanted these basic cars to drive faster, so they started to make modifications to the cars to allow for a faster and smoother ride.
In the 1960s NASCAR finally made its first big jump by entering Generation 2 by finally modifying the stock car. These cars still had many similarities to the original factory cars but had enough modifications to know that it was meant for racing. Buick, Chevy, and Plymouth were very popular car brands during this time. For the most part, in Generation 2, the cars were modified on the outside, but not many changes were made to the engine.
In Generation 3, the cars began to look more rounded with a focus on increasing the speed of the car. The brands that succeeded during this period were solely Chevy and Ford as in 1985 the only cars to win races were those two brands. Buick and the older brands began to fade out of competition as the cars are now being modified more than ever.
Once the 1990s hit and Generation 4 began, in NASCAR the cars looked nothing like the original stock cars and were now being built to optimize the aerodynamics of the vehicle and not the looks of the vehicle. This was a time when the term stock car lost its meaning as the focus was only on the speed and not the traditional looks of a stock car.
In Generation 5, the cars continued to break stock car traditions as they added a large spoiler to the back end of the car and rounded the front of the car. This was a very dangerous time for NASCAR because these cars were not liked by many. This resulted in the generation only lasting from 2007-2012, as the car brands quickly noticed that these looked nothing like stock cars and a change needed to be made.
Generation 6, which began in 2013, is the first time in a long time that NASCAR cars looked like stock cars. Chevy, Toyota, and Ford are the current leaders in racing as they are manufacturing stock cars that are modified, but still look like they were just driven out of the factory. Many NASCAR fans were disappointed with the lack of resemblance the cars have had to stock cars during past NASCAR generations. Generation 6, which is the current generation, finally gave many of the critics what they wanted as the NASCAR stock car has been returned to the unmodified look just like they used to race back in the mid-1900s when Plymouth and Buick were manufacturing NASCAR stock cars.
Generation 7 is expected to be on the way in the coming years and the car brands will be tested to see if they will continue in the past generation's footsteps to continue to the legacy of the original and unmodified stock car.