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2003 L.A. Auto Show Preview

Follow Marty

updated 12/12/02

The New Year begins each year with a battle between Detroit and L.A. And oddly enough, it has nothing to do with Eminem and a West Coast posse.

For the past decade, Los Angeles and Detroit have warred over which show will make more impact in the first days of the new year. Usually, the L.A. show gets in the first punch by virtue of timing. And this year it’s no different – the Los Angeles show media days will be Jan. 2-3, with only a day to recuperate before the Detroit show begins in earnest.

The L.A. show benefits too from the timing dilemma between Detroit, Tokyo and Stuttgart and within the car companies themselves. For instance, you’ll see the Dodge Magnum concept in Los Angeles because Chrysler doesn’t want to crowd out the new Durango and other products set for a Detroit debut the next Monday.

Our latest information on the debutantes and newsmakers for the L.A. auto show follows. Stay with TCC until Jan. 2 as we update and add to this preview — and of course, join us from the show floor as we hit 2003 running.

2004 Dodge Magnum spy shot

2004 Dodge Magnum spy shot

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2004 Dodge Magnum
Shown here is the wagon-like Dodge Magnum. Or is it the Allsport? Both names have been associated with this newest entry to the station wagon …er… crossover segment. Even the name CrossRoads has been mentioned – but we believe that name may be referring to a closely related Chrysler crossover. Sources tell us this “crossover” will hit dealerships in the spring of 2004 as a mid-year introduction. As part of the lineup that will replace the Intrepid models, this tall (six inches taller than the current LH models) wagon will be available in rear-wheel or optional all-wheel drive, and will be powered by a Hemi V-8 with 300 hp. Our sources also tell us the grille is similar to but more macho than the current Stratus Coupe, with very obvious Ram influences.

2004 Pontiac GTO

2004 Pontiac GTO

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2004 Pontiac GTO
The revered Pontiac GTO nameplate is about to make a comeback to U.S. showrooms. But the GTO for the 21st century won't be built in the States — instead it will be a rebadged version of the Holden Monaro, a home-brewed muscle car from General Motors' Australian subsidiary. As the Monaro, it carries a 290-horsepower version of the LS1 alloy V-8, a six-speed manual or four-speed automatic transmission and the sort of rear-drive handling that will appeal to those for whom the GTO was such a hit all those years ago. We expect minor power and styling tweaks for the U.S. version set to debut at L.A.

2003 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution VII

2003 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution VII

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2004 Mitsubishi Evolution VIII
Mitsubishi has set out on an aggressive product schedule — and a new 276-hp version of the Lancer compact is high atop the enthusiast drool list. The Lancer Evolution scheduled for L.A may be joined by a new Galant, which goes on sale in the fall of 2003 as a 2004 model, or a Lancer Sportback, a five-door wagon meant to compete against the five door Ford Focus and Mazda Protégé5, which will debut in 2003.

2002 Scion bbX concept

2002 Scion bbX concept

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2004 Scion lineup
Toyota’s youth-oriented brand, which made a concept debut last year in Los Angeles, will show two production vehicles at this year’s show. The first will be a production version of the boxy BBX concept which, perhaps not so coincidentally, bears a strong resemblance to Honda’s new Element. The other vehicle hasn’t been pinned down, but both vehicles will start at around $18,000, says Scion’s new boss, Jim Lentz. Scion products will be built in Japan with only minimal variations in color and transmissions but will be available with a wide range of accessories, which will be retrofitted once vehicles are shipped to the U.S. Toyota hopes the division will reach 100,000 sales annually by 2005.


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