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2005 Los Angeles Auto Show, Part III Page 2

Jaguar Celebrates Victory

2005 Jaguar XK Victory Edition

2005 Jaguar XK Victory Edition

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Last year was a difficult one in many ways for Jaguar, which has scaled back expectations and announced the closing of one of its British assembly plants. On the other hand, the automaker got consistent confirmation that its efforts to shore up quality are paying off — moving to the third spot in J.D. Power’s Initial Quality Survey and ranking highest American European brands in Power’s Customer Satisfaction Index. Jag also celebrated its fourth consecutive victory in the Trans-Am Road Race Series. And to honor that performance, it unveiled the XK Victory Edition. The limited-edition model will debut in June and feature such niceties as four unique colors, choice of 19-inch chrome or 20-inch BBS race wheels, big Brembo brakes, a built-in navigation system, and a Bluetooth system for handsfree cellphone operation. Look for a price tag around $75,000.

Where Are The Japanese?

Once one of the nation’s biggest and most important auto shows, the annual L.A. gathering has faded a bit in recent years. Public attendance remains enormous, but automakers have been shifting their resources — in the form of product previews — to the Detroit auto show that is staged later in January. Los Angeles Auto Show organizers were able to pull together a modest dozen or so unveilings this year, but there were some notable gaps in the offerings. Not a single Japanese manufacturer held a news conference during the two-day media event, with South Korea’s Hyundai the only Asian brand. Privately, officials from several Japanese makers said they were embarrassed by the lack of involvement that, ironically, helped put the spotlight on such domestic brands as Ford, Chevrolet, and Dodge. But the North American International Auto Show in Detroit is expected to draw at least ten times the news media turnout next week, they explained. The L.A. show isn’t likely to gain much more traction until autumn of 2006, when it moves to a new November date, positioning itself closer to the beginning of the new model year.

Saleen Serves Up A Bigger S7

2005 Saleen S7 Twin Turbo

2005 Saleen S7 Twin Turbo

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“Just a few years ago, 500 horsepower was considered extraordinary. Today it’s commonplace,” noted Fred Blount, vice president of sales for Saleen, Inc. While “commonplace” may be a bit extreme in itself, there are now at least 20 cars on the road that break the 500-hp barrier, according to a count by TheCarConnection, with more coming. So what is a respectable supercar, such as the Saleen S7, supposed to do? When it launched in 2002, it was the only street-legal car in the exceed that barrier. Now the upgraded Saleen S7 Twin Turbo will remain tops in the domestic category by adding twin turbochargers giving it a big boost for 2005. The S7 Twin Turbo edition is rated at 750 hp and 700 lb-ft of torque. Other changes for the new year are meant to improve the car’s downforce and handling, as well as the ergonomics of the interior.

Spyker Takes Beachhead in L.A.

Dutch car builder Spyker announced its presence today at the L.A. Auto Show. The manufacturer of the exclusive hand-built sports cars is displaying the C8 Spyder and the C88 Double 12S, the street version of the 2003 Le Mans car.

The rear-wheel-driven C8 range has an aluminum Audi V-8 engine with 400 hp and 354 lb-ft of torque, mated to a six-speed manual. A limited-slip differential and ABS are standard. The Spyker C8 Spyder has a top speed of 187 mph; that of the faster Double 12S ranges between 187 mph and 215 mph, depending on engine output. All cars are hand assembled, and custom built to individual specifications of the buyer.
Spyker has presented its car(s) during the Pebble Beach Concours weekend in the past three years and will participate in the 12 Hours of Sebring this year. The company has ten dealers in the U.S. —Henny Hemmes

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