2005 New York Motor Show
John LeBlanc at the show:
With only three honest-to-gawd concepts introduced (Scion t2B, Nissan Sport, and some thing that looked like a dentist's chair from Toyota), combined with the Geneva show in March unveiling most of the stuff car zealots are really interested in (Aston V8 Vantage, Audi RS4, BMW M6 and 3 and 7-series, Lexus IS, and Mazda MX-5), this year's New York show didn't exactly knock anyone's socks off.
Carmakers' offerings were focused more on future production models and the occasional City That Never Sleeps Celebrity Sighting. (Virgin mogul Richard Branson in a Volvo spacesuit was interesting...)
Domestic carmakers continued to roll out sport-utility-vehicles by the bucket-full. The Chevrolet TrailBlazer SS, Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8 and Commander, and Ford Explorer Sport Trac Adrenalin were all introduced against same day announcements of a weakening US economy, primarily fuelled by rising petrol prices. Go figure!
Adding to this economic news, days before the New York show, General Motors' brass decided to cancel development of North American versions of their large, rear-drive Zeta platform to allow the company to focus on the launch of its new full-size SUVs in 2007. Reportedly, this platform was to produce the Pontiac G8, the next GTO, Buick Velite, and potentially the next Camaro.
Oh well, there's always these:
Ford Shelby Cobra GT500 Mustang
Ford wants the rumours of the death of its in-house speed shop, SVT, to be put to rest with this car. Legendary racer and multiple organ transplant recipient Carroll Shelby was on hand to show off the GT500's 5.4-litre, supercharged vee-eight that unofficially makes 450bhp and 450lb.ft of torque. In addition to the 2007 Explorer Sport Trac Adrenalin, also on the Ford stand at New York, expect future SVT versions of the Fusion and Focus.
On sale: June 2006
Price: US$39,900 (est.)
Future competitors: BMW M3 V8, Chevrolet Corvette Z06, Nissan Skyline GT-R, Pontiac GTO.
Dodge Enforcer & Charger SRT8
So, how do want your 425bhp rear-drive saloon? In a nice black-and-white motif with accenting cherry rack and bumper bar? Or how about all tricked out in give-me-the-ticket-now red, with attention grabbing hood scoop and rear wing? Or a 0-60mph acceleration time of about 5.0 seconds? Like the Chrysler 300C, Dodge Magnum and new-at-New York Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8, the SRT folks have dropped the 6.1-litre HEMI vee-eight into two versions of the Charger: Uniform and plain clothes. This was like having the Joker and Batman being introduced at the same time.
On sale: Autumn 2005
Price: CDN$46,000 (est.)
Future competitors: Ummm...
Only The Donald could out-Trump Bob Lutz; exactly what happened at the XLR-V introduction. The on-stage gimmick about Trump picking up his keys for his new DTS limo only took away from the legitimate upgrades made to the lacklustre cooking XLR. As in the same 440bhp 4.4-litre supercharged vee-eight that's found in the STS-V, bigger brakes, recalibrated magnetic shocks, 19-inch wheels, and much-needed material upgrades in the cabin. By the way, you can add the XLR-V to your list of "0-60 mph under 5.0 second" cars.
On sale: January 2006
Price: US$85,000 (est.)
Future competitors: BMW M6, Jaguar XK-R, Maserati GranSport, Mercedes-Benz SL55 AMG.
Nissan Sport Concept
Introduced while a bunch of graffiti artists worked in the background on-stage, like the Azeal concept shown at Detroit in January, the Sport was designed by the Nissan studio in Michigan and is pointed directly at Scion customers. Looking like something you would build in Gran Turismo, this is one of Nissan's most belligerent designs, picking up cues from family members like the Murano and the 350Z.
On sale: 2007, or never. Expect the next European Almera to draw styling cues from it.
Price: CDN$19,000 (est.)
Future competitors: MINI Cooper, Scion tC.
Chevrolet Malibu and Malibu MAXX SS
Chevy's idea of a muscle car for the family is a little different than Dodge's, eh? I thought it couldn't get any worse than Chevy sticking an SS badge on the hoary ol' front drive Monte, but the Malibu and Malibu Maxx SS are a new low in badge theft. With "upgraded" power that can be found in standard Altimas and Accords all day long, the 240bhp vee-six just doesn't cut it. When your biggest claim is the "segment('s)-largest 18-inch flangeless wheels", you know you have a lame duck on your hands. And then they rolled out the TrailBlazer SS... oh yeh!
On sale: Autumn 2005
Price: CDN$35,000 (est.)
Future competitors: Dodge Charger RT, Ford SVT Fusion, and Pontiac G6 GTP.
Enjoy the stories and photo galleries below.