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2003 Chicago Show, Part III


2004 Ford SVT Focus

2004 Ford SVT Focus

2003 Chicago Auto Show Index by TCC Team (2/10/2003)

COSWORTH COMEBACK

Look for a comeback of Cosworth, the British performance operation once closely associated with Ford of Europe. “Officially,” said Ford Motor Co.’s top muscle maven, John Coletti, “I can’t say anything.” But unofficially? First, Ford and Cosworth have inked a deal to produce new engines for Indy Series racing. And it’s pretty apparent the Cosworth name will eventually adorn some Ford products. But don’t expect it to become a high-volume badge Ford slaps on just anything. “The Cosworth brand is intended for very serious machines,” Coletti stressed, which must “put a lot of horsepower down.” When might the Cosworth badge reappear? It could be several years, other Ford sources caution.

HOT CARS R US

2004 Ford SVT Focus

2004 Ford SVT Focus

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In the meantime, look for an increasing assortment of high-performance products from Ford’s Performance Vehicle Group, and in particular, its premium Special Vehicle Team, which will be at the center of this expansion, added Coletti. He noted that “over the last 10 years, SVT has grown from a kind of skunkworks operation…to an integral part of the Ford Motor Co.” Volumes are already on the rise, and should keep growing, Coletti said, with vehicles like the three-door SVT Focus, which is getting a new special European Appearance Package that includes sporty black leather Recaro seats. There’s also a 10th anniversary version of the SVT Cobra on the way and, appropriately, Ford intends to build just 2003 of them.

LIGHTING STRIKING AGAIN

2004 Ford SVT F-150 Lightning

2004 Ford SVT F-150 Lightning

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Promising power of “500-horsepower-plus,” Ford rolled out the concept version of its F-150 Lightning pickup already shown in Detroit at McCormick Place on Thursday. The big truck uses an unusual “SuperCooler” system to draw some extra punch out of its supercharged 5.4-liter V-8. A traditional intercooler uses a separate, air-cooled radiator. Instead, the SuperCooler uses the Lightning’s air conditioning system to chill a small storage tank of coolant to about 30 degrees Fahrenheit, resulting in an even denser air charge during peak acceleration. According to Coletti, it “acts like a nitrous (oxide) injection system,” generating an extra 50 to 60 horsepower. And that, Ford claims, should help maintain Lightning as the world’s fastest production pickup.”

DODGE WANTS TO RAM THE COMPETITION

2004 Dodge Ram SRT-10

2004 Dodge Ram SRT-10

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Being king-of-the-truck-hill may be the conventional wisdom at Ford, but DaimlerChrysler’s Dodge division is all about “defying convention,” declared marketing czar Jim Schroer, as the new Ram SRT-10 screeched onto the stage. The production version of the high-performance Ram pickup first shown a year ago, it boasts a V-10 engine lifted whole from the two-seat Dodge Viper sports car. That should be enough to launch the Ram SRT-10 from 0-60 mph in “a hair over five seconds,” and take it all the way up to a 150-mph top speed. Developed by Chrysler Group’s new Performance Vehicle Operations, Schroer insisted it will grab the mantle of “world’s fastest truck.” But it is also “nimble and agile,” he emphasized, reflecting the attention paid to its suspension. The truck rides on 22-inch wheels, and features a six-speed manual also lifted from the Viper, but with a custom Hurst linkage and shifter. The SRT-10 not only weighs in with 500 cubic inches, 500 horsepower and 525 lb-ft of torque, but a full 508 watts of audio power delivered through a dozen speakers and a 10-inch subwoofer. “The only thing not included,” added the glib Schroer, “is the insurance payment for your neighbor’s windows.” Look for production of somewhat more than 2000 of the trucks annually, following its introduction late this year. Company officials wouldn’t provide a final price, though sources suggest it will be “in the range” of $50,000.

 
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