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Detroit sees a future for muscle cars

Old 01-09-2007, 09:46 PM
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Default Detroit sees a future for muscle cars


Detroit sees a future for muscle cars
By Micheline Maynard

Tuesday, January 9, 2007
DETROIT
One of the Ford Motor's showcase concept cars is the imposing Interceptor sedan, with its big wheels and a burly front end that suggests an armor-plated battering ram. Lest anybody miss the point, it becomes clear as the car rotates on its turntable for a rear view. There, in brushed aluminum block letters, the license plate reads: MUSCLE, with the "U" and the "S" in red and blue.

It's a license plate that could be shared among many other car companies at the auto show here, particularly those from Detroit.

Others models include the Chevrolet Camaro convertible concept car and the next-generation Dodge Viper, with a V-10 engine that generates 600 horsepower, 90 more than the current version.

The bold, aggressive look shows up in many other Detroit products, even more mainstream ones, including the Dodge Avenger sedan, and the new Chrysler Town & Country minivan, with a front end that echoes the urban look made famous by the 300C sedan. Even the Ford 500 family sedan got a makeover this year that included side vents like those on race cars.

As Detroit automakers try to find a winning game plan to reverse their sliding market share, it's clear from the cars on display at the North American International Auto Show here that they are playing a game where they have a distinct advantage over their Asian and European competitors nobody, after all, can design the American muscle car look quite like American car companies.

"It's absolutely legitimate for American producers to reach back into their rich heritage," said Robert Lutz, vice chairman of General Motors. The appeal of Detroit's classic cars also goes well beyond American shores, he added.

"Even middle-aged Chinese remember seeing secret photographs of Buick Rivieras and Camaros and Mustangs and they thought, 'Whoa, communism is good but this looks even better,'" he said.

Lutz, perhaps more than any other executive in Detroit, has pushed this strategy and design direction. The sculpted sides and roof stripes on a bright orange Camaro convertible instantly bring to mind the Camaros of the past.

A short walk away is the latest incarnation of the Dodge Viper, which almost single-handedly revived interest in Chrysler a decade and a half ago, thanks to a design championed by Lutz, who was then the No. 2 executive there. This Viper looks even more like another Detroit classic, the Chevrolet Corvette.

There is a good chance some of these cars will be on American roads in a few years. General Motors has already announced plans to build the Camaro hardtop, while Chrysler plans to build the Dodge Challenger, which it showed as a concept car last year.

Chrysler already has a proven track record with at least one of its muscle cars, the Chrysler 300 sedan, a hit with urban buyers from the moment it went on the market three years go. Though its initial buzz has faded somewhat, the model still managed flat sales in 2006 despite a spike in gasoline prices that caused sales of Chrysler's sport utilities vehicle sales to plummet.

Ford's Mustang, meanwhile, was a rare bright note for the company, which is facing one of the deepest financial crises in its history. Mustang, reincarnated in 2004, rose to 166,530 sales last year, up 3.5 percent.

The Mustang provides the underpinnings for the Interceptor, whose gutsy, low-riding stance immediately says gangster a look reinforced inside with its brushed aluminum and black interior.

"That can only be an American sedan," said Mark Fields, president of Ford's operations for the Americas. "It's got a rawness to it that is really what we're known for."

In case anyone might miss the point of the car, a fleet of Mustangs, in red, white and black are parked nearby. Ford plans to turn out a new Mustang every ye
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Old 01-09-2007, 10:20 PM
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Default RE: Detroit sees a future for muscle cars

I agree they should offer a few muscle cars since there is an audience; however, they better keep trying to do better with their more mainstream cars. If this proves to be a popular market, you can bet your boots the Japanese are going to join in on it. They need to keep improving their mid-sized cars, they need to seriously improve their compacts (especially in the fuel mileage department), they need to strive to be number one in each category or else they will be last if don't.

BTW, now the Viper is going to offer 675hp in a special model. The horsepower wars are gettting hirer than ever.
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Old 01-10-2007, 02:41 PM
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Default RE: Detroit sees a future for muscle cars

"Indeed, to younger buyers, classic cars might well be something like the Acura Integra, Honda's original entry"

who considers any honda a classic car? i am 18 and know that honda is no classic car
but i hate hondas. i don't know why, but i do
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Old 01-10-2007, 02:50 PM
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Default RE: Detroit sees a future for muscle cars


ORIGINAL: erz5005

"Indeed, to younger buyers, classic cars might well be something like the Acura Integra, Honda's original entry"

who considers any honda a classic car? i am 18 and know that honda is no classic car
but i hate hondas. i don't know why, but i do
Good question. There is nothing Japan has ever made that I consider a classic. The only "classics" I see are rusted Accords that look much worse in their old age than their domestic counterparts.
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