2004 Detroit Show, Part III

January 5, 2004



2004 Detroit Auto Show Coverage (1/4/2004)


Shelby Strikes Back

Don’t head for the showroom yet, but odds are looking good that the Shelby Cobra will be back in all new form in the not too distant future. Forty years after he first teamed up with Ford Motor Co., Shelby has renewed his relationship with the number two automaker, and the first product of that partnership took a bow during an auto show dinner Sunday night. Think of it as a “minimalist” muscle car, said Ford’s director of design, J Mays, “No roof, no side glass, no radio and, thank God, not a single cupholder.” But the reborn roadster does boast a 6.4-liter V-10 that, in normally-aspirated trim, puts out 605 horsepower and 501 lb-ft of torque through the car’s 19-inch rear wheels. That’s enough to launch it from 0-60 in under 4.0 seconds and deliver an ungoverned top speed of 190 mph. If that’s not enough, a supercharger  could “easily hit 700” hp, according to advanced product chief Chris Theodore. Like its crosstown competitors, Ford officials insisted that their new supercar is “just a concept,” but they didn’t work very hard to convince the crowd. “We built the Ford GT a year after we showed the concept,” conceded Mays, and we built the Mustang a year after we showed you that concept. You do the math. How much would a product Cobra add up to? Definitely less than the $139,000 Ford GT, and more likely in line with the Dodge Viper, in the $80,000 to $90,000 range, it appears. In production, Ford would likely add roll-up windows and a very basic, removable soft-top.


Mustang Madness Hits TCC

2005 Ford Mustang with Bill Ford

2005 Ford Mustang with Bill Ford

Enlarge Photo
TheCarConnection learned firsthand how much interest there is in the new Mustang when it posted the first complete story about the production pony car Saturday night. It took three hours for the site’s servers to recover. What design chief J Mays called “The soul of the Ford Motor Co.” will take on a new look for 2005. Or an old look, if you prefer, the ’05 boasting a retro, ‘67 design but a very modern chassis, the first time that’s been reengineered since 1979. Initially, buyers will be offered two engine options, a 202-hp V-6 and a 300-hp V-8, both starting at under $20,000. A variety of packages will follow, including a new Mustang GT and the top-line Cobra. The new Mustang’s twin-binnacle interior also borrows liberally from the past, while making use of modern materials and new technology. That includes an instrument display system that lets an owner choose what color lighting to use.


Cloudy Crystal Balls

Things weren’t quite as bad as everyone expected in 2003, but industry leaders seem to fear sounding too optimistic about 2004. The general consensus appears to be that sales for the new year should top 17 million. “The only question,” according to Joe Eberhardt, Chrysler Group executive vice president-global sales, marketing, and service, “is by how much?” The traditional industry forecasting tools just don’t seem to work anymore, added Ford Chairman Bill Ford. That’s likely the result of what he dubbed a “hellaciously competitive” market where incentives seem unbound by gravity. And unlike past years, where rebate-fed sales booms were followed by sharp downturns, there seems to be little “pull-forward” effect these days. The presidential elections could play a factor in the economic recovery, industry officials noted, but so could the fear of terrorism, said another insider, pointing to the recent string of international air flights canceled because of security concerns. Not surprisingly, the carmakers most bullish, also have strong new line-ups for the coming year. “With all our products,” said Eberhardt, “we’re confident about 2004.”

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