1999 Detroit Auto Show, Part I

January 4, 1999

January 3

PUMPED UP POWER WAGON Technology and styling put a new twist on the famous 1946 Dodge Power Wagon namesake. True to its rugged and powerful heritage — note the awesome 780 foot-pounds of torque on tap — the new truck shows that such strength need not carry an environmental price. The 7.2-liter I-6 turbodiesel employs direct injection and a sulfur-free Syntroleum "designer fuel," which make it one of the cleanest and most efficient diesels yet. The concept's 35-inch tires and towering 77-inch height give it a demeanor that makes even the '46 look a tad feeble. But inside, leather and wood show that even a Power Wagon can be comfortable and refined. - Ted Grozier

Dodge_PW_Debut

Dodge_PW_Debut


Photo by Joe Wilssens

 

CHRYSLER'S NO-COMPROMISE CITADEL Proving that efficient, high-tech hybrid electric vehicles need not be a compromise, the Chrysler Citadel is a blend of luxury sedan and SUV. It delivers ample interior space, comes with a healthy 320-horsepower engine, yet gets 33 mpg on the highway. The "parallel-hybrid" configuration uses a V-6 to drive the rear axle and an electric motor to power the front wheels. Benefits include regenerative braking, all-wheel drive, and battery charging during cruising. Power sliding rear doors incorporate the B-pillar, providing accessibility. The elegant interior is wrapped in tan and green leather with art deco aluminum and chrome accents.- Ted Grozier

Chrysler_Citadel_Debut

Photo by Joe Wilssens

 

EVOQ EVOKES CADILLAC'S FUTURE -- Cadillac's newest concept car is designed to evoke a sense of the future. Or perhaps one should say "Evoq." The 2-seat roadster was one of five futuristic prototypes GM rolled out Sunday during the first day of the North American International Auto Show. "GM must aggressively seek out ways to lead," said the automaker's chairman, Jack Smith. Clearly, Evoq is designed to lead Cadillac into a new era, one where it can stand tall against import competitors, such as Mercedes-Benz and BMW. The car's look is angular and somewhat menacing, with hints of fins that recall the Caddies of the mid-1950s. "It's the car Bruce Wayne would drive, not Batman," says one GM designer. The rear-drive, running prototype is powered by a supercharged version of the Northstar V-8 generating over 400 horsepower. Officially, Evoq is just a concept car, but inside word suggests it's unofficially been placed on GM's future product schedule. If that holds true, look for a production date of around 2003. Several details are still under study, including what materials would be used to build the Evoq. One possibility is lightweight aluminum, which could make this roadster the fastest car in its class. - TCC Team

Evoq_Front

Evoq_Front


Photo by TCC Team

 

HIP HYBRIDS HIT GM -- There are several other strong contenders among the GM concept vehicles that could make the move from prototype to production. One of the most likely to see a showroom is the Pontiac Aztek, a hip hybrid designed to meet the active lifestyle of Generation-X buyers. "Serious fun," is the way GM Chief of Design Wayne Cherry sees the Aztek. Then there's the Chevy Nomad. The name reprises the Corvette-based concept station wagon that GM introduced in 1954 and the '55-57 production version that has become a prized collector's car. "If you put the Blazer and a Corvette in a blender, the Nomad is what you would wind up with," says designer Christos Roustemis. The rear passenger door slides back like a minivan's, and the electrically-controlled roof over the rear cargo compartment retracts, yielding a cavernous hatch. "You can put anything in there that a small pickup truck would carry, only you've got a hot, sporty car for the weekends," Roustemis adds. - TCC Team

NAIAS_Aztek_1

NAIAS_Aztek_1

NAIAS_Chevrolet_Nomad_1

 

BUICK IS SKY HIGH OVER CIELO -- Designed for "romantic country roads, Buick's sporty four-door convertible, the Cielo, features dual, archlike, stationary roof rails that guide sliding roof panels which can retract into the trunk. The concept provides plenty of open air, while maintaining rollover protection. There also are roof-mounted air bags that protect back-seat passengers. And Cielo features a range of advanced electronic systems, including an onboard personal computer. The final entry in the GM package is the Oldsmobile Recon. This tall SUV-like hybrid recalls the hard-edged, deco styling of '30s industrial design. Among its features are a docking station for a handheld "personal data assistant," or "PDA," computer, and a rearview camera instead of a mirror. - TCC Team

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buick

 

SWEET AND SULTRY -- Where passion goes, can success be far behind? History should repeat itself at Ford which-finally-unveiled its eagerly anticipated Thunderbird concept vehicles, something that's been on the wish list of collectors for years. Yellow launched the wildly successful Volkswagen Beetle a year ago, a J Mays project before he joined Ford as design Veep in the Fall of 1997. Now, a classic T-Bird returns in a similar shade, which Mays refers to as the most optimistic of colors. This reborn Bird is a spiritual image of the original classic that won raves at its 1955 launch and never stopped appealing to a special generation of roadster fans. "Few vehicles are as much fun or have as much emotion wrapped around an American icon," said Mays. This time, the '50s styling cues on the front that include the same decorative hood scoop and "egg crate" grille, are married to some touches from the '60 and '61 T-bird versions, including a long, low-slung rear end with "afterburner" taillamps, according to Mays.

This is a deliciously good-looking vehicle, a retro roadster meant only for two, with no hint of the practical back seat that ultimately doomed the previous T-Bird to dullsville. It took two years without a T-bird on the market to wash away the sour taste. True to its inspiration, this new baby has a removable top done in hammered aluminum for the prototype with faux portholes on the side, just like the original. And there's none of Ford's more modern "edge" styling. Mays put the kabosh on contemporary when editing the new design. Blink now and it's Marilyn Monroe time, the heritage is that strong. This is a roadster meant for cruising. "This is about the good life," proclaimed Mays.

While he sidestepped talk of production, the new T-Bird will be cruising American roads sometime in mid-2000. Beneath the distinctive exterior, the new T-Bird shares the same base platform as the Lincoln LS luxury sedan and Jaguar S-type. Sources say production plans will run to around 25,000 or so units a year. Expect a price tag of around $35,000 on this V-8-powered luxury roadster. Ford is keeping some mystery in the project by not revealing engine stats, but while it's not designed to be a racer, the new Thunderbird won't be a wimp. - Martha Hindes

NAIAS_TBIRD_1

NAIAS_TBIRD_1

NAIAS_TBIRD_2

NAIAS_TBIRD_2

 

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