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Old 01-19-2003, 07:33   #1 (permalink)
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Rumble in Detroit: Revved-up competition roars into the New Year

By THE EDITORS OF AUTOWEEK

We bumped into Chris Theodore, Ford’s North American product planning chief, at the Mini stand a little after the three-day press preview for the Detroit show finished.

Given the economic hard times, we told him, we were surprised by the show’s quality—and quantity—of new products and concepts. Especially with the uncertainty of war, we thought the car companies might have dialed back a little.

“There already is a war,” Theodore replied. “It’s right here on the floor. Everybody came out with guns blazing.”

There was intensity in his eyes and a demeanor we’d also seen in other faces, including those of GM’s Bob Lutz and Chrysler’s Dieter Zetsche.

The battle cry was heard in the roar of engines: Ford had the Mustang and 427, and was playing back the recorded sound of the GT on its stand. Chrysler woke up everyone with its Viper-engined Tomahawk motorcycle, while GM smoothly expressed its might with a Cadillac V16. And while luxury and performance cars stood guard center stage, the floor was filled with a fresh infantry of mainstream vehicles that will slug it out for sales supremacy this coming year.

A modest sales decline in 2002 and a more serious tightening of profit margins have manufacturers cutting costs in all but product development—the wise course, though not always the one Detroit followed in such circumstances. Resting on laurels isn’t an option, though: Add up each company’s sales expectations, as claimed in the press conferences, and America would have to absorb something like 25 million new cars and trucks this year. With real-world projections considerably less (16.2 to 16.5 million in ’03), the expression “rumble in Detroit” describes not only the sound of all the big engines—it also suggests a knife fight in the alley.

MOST SIGNIFICANT
FORD MUSTANG

As Mustang Sally pumped from the speakers and fireworks exploded overhead, young Bill Ford Jr. got his wish at the Detroit show: a red convertible with a throaty V8 and a great sound system. But that was a drop-top concept that had premiered a few days earlier in Los Angeles. Detroit's real showstopper was the stunning silver Mustang GT coupe concept, a thinly disguised preview of the next-generation 'Stang we'll drive by 2004. In this two-seat concept of the iconic American pony car, we get design cues from the best Mustangs of the '60s, combined with the best automotive technology of the 21st century. The Mustang GT coupe rides on the same rear-wheel-drive platform that underpins the Lincoln LS, Ford Thunderbird and Jaguar S-Type, and gets motivation from a supercharged 4.6-liter V8 producing 400 horsepower and 390 lb-ft of torque, linked to a six-speed manual transmission. The production model will retain the traditional 2+2 seating, but most of what the concept reveals will be available in some form in production. Mustang has integrated itself with the fabric of society-it's not just a car-guy thing, but an American one. Remaking an icon is never easy, so we think it's Most Significant that, with the company's centennial underway and the model's 40th anniversary in sight, Ford has finally got Mustang so very right again.
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My first car was a 67 Mustang Coupe, 2nd one was a 67 Cougar XR-7, 3rd one was a 66 Mustang Coupe. Why did I get rid of these cars for ? I know why, because I'm stupid, stupid, stupid.

My next Ford.....
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Old 01-19-2003, 07:36   #2 (permalink)
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BEST CONCEPT

FORD 427

With a goodly number of cool concepts to pick from this year, the Ford 427 made the best case for AutoWeek's Best Concept vote for a number of reasons, starting with that beast of an engine. With 590 horses on tap, the 427's V10 not only rekindles memories of the big-and-bad sedan's heyday of the 1960s, it shows that Ford is serious about putting power and performance back into its mainstay vehicles. The 427 also has a presence that's hard to achieve when set down on a show floor full of thousands of other vehicles hoping to catch your eye. It may not be as sensuous as the Forty-Nine that Ford showed off two years ago, or as instantly recognizable as the new Mustang it shares booth space with. But it commands your attention. Its bold black and silver chrome styling, its large swaths of uncluttered sheetmetal, its classy dark leather interior with touches of metal trim and contrasting stitching, its imposing front end and attention to detail make the 427 stand out-and make us beg Ford to be daring enough to build it.
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My first car was a 67 Mustang Coupe, 2nd one was a 67 Cougar XR-7, 3rd one was a 66 Mustang Coupe. Why did I get rid of these cars for ? I know why, because I'm stupid, stupid, stupid.

My next Ford.....
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Old 01-19-2003, 07:39   #3 (permalink)
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MOST FUN
ASTON MARTIN AMV8 VANTAGE

We've just now come down off our "Die Another Day" highs, watching the moves of James' trick V12 Vanquish with its optional missile launchers. Now with the Zagato DB7 limited run all bought up and paid for and the L.A. show's debut of the DB AR1 (American Roadster 1) also by Zagato (and also sure to be built in limited numbers for the happy rich), Aston Martin is finally showing off an honest-to-goodness third model line that could help pay the bills in Newport Pagnell. Aston Martin sold 42 cars in North America in 1994, 500 in 2002 and the AMV8 Vantage will take this volume to 2000 by '05 in North America alone. This is former BMW designer Henrik Fisker's calling card in his new post as design chief and board member at Aston Martin, and Chris Bangle could learn a thing or two from his former colleague's sensual lines. According to Fisker, the final production version will be identical to what we see here. Oh, joy of joys. The AMV8 Vantage's interior is bathed in perfect leathers with chrome hints through the dial binnacle and console. It was Fisker's goal to suck out every ounce of plastic possible, and it's a real challenge to find any at all. Meanwhile the car's architecture is Aston Martin's first dedicated aluminum spaceframe platform that will be put to extensive use in the future due to its flexibility of length and width, as well as its ability to accommodate engines from a big V6 to a V12. Weight of the AMV8 is kept to 3300 pounds. Possibly to be called the DB5 by its sales launch, its engine is a new 4.3-liter V8. Asking price in 2004 dollars will be a tick above $110,000. That's a lot of fun money, but the AMV8 Vantage is a whole lot of fun.
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My first car was a 67 Mustang Coupe, 2nd one was a 67 Cougar XR-7, 3rd one was a 66 Mustang Coupe. Why did I get rid of these cars for ? I know why, because I'm stupid, stupid, stupid.

My next Ford.....
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