2006 Detroit Auto Show Index by TCC Team (1/7/2006)
GT500 No Secretary’s Car
2007 Ford Shelby GT500
Accompanied by much fanfare — and video clips of reckless Hollywood car-chase-style driving, Ford’s Americas
president Mark Fields drove onto the stage in the new GT500, accompanied by legend Carroll Shelby. Fields drew from Shelby
history when he affirmed that the new GT500 “is no secretary’s car.” With a 5.4-liter supercharged and intercooled V-8 making a monstrous 475 hp and 475 lb-ft of torque—a full 175 hp more than the Mustang GT—the Shelby pushes its power out through a heavy-duty six-speed manual transmission. The GT500 carries SVT powertrain badges, with the cast-iron block from Ford’s modular V-8 family paired with the same alloy cylinder heads, piston rings, and bearings as used in the Ford GT supercar. To accommodate the larger engine, the hood has been domed up, with various airflow tweaks. From a distance, the bulge is only obvious if you’re familiar with Mustangs, but the most obvious GT500 differentiator is the white Le Mans-style striping that runs the length of the car. A retro-look (though non-functional) Cobra gas-cap emblem marks the rear fascia.
The rear suspension remains a solid-axle setup, though the geometry has been tweaked (and adapted from racing) to accommodate the extra power. Braking is aided by huge 14-inch Brembo rotors in front, and there are grippy 285-width tires in back. Inside, front seats get more lateral support, among other performance upgrades.
Most notably, Fields also assured that the GT500 would be affordable, with prices “starting in the low 40s.” For people who want the most performance for the money, that’s great news. —Bengt Halvorson
Preview: 2007 Ford Shelby GT500 by Marty Padgett (1/7/2006)
Channeling the Shelby magic once more.
Shelby Already In Short Supply
The limited-production GT500 muscle car is expected to be in short supply from the day it’s launched. However, Ford plans to auction off the first Cobra at the upcoming Barrett-Jackson Auction, in Phoenix . The proceeds will go to Shelby ’s charity for children with heart problems.
Ford Reflex: Small is Big
2006 Ford Reflex concept
Small cars are supposed to be cheap, stripped-down alternatives to a used car. At least that’s the way most American motorists have come to look at the subcompact and minicar segment. But Ford hopes to change that perception with the reveal of its Reflex concept vehicle. With its sleek and sporty shape, set off by a pair of gullwing doors, Reflex is anything but your typical econobox. The interior features a pair of mesh seats up front and an unusual “love seat” in the rear. It provides room for a full-size adult or two small kids, noted Ford Design Director J Mays. Under the hood, a diesel-electric powertrain provides a reasonable quick and fuel-efficient ride, with the Reflex getting up to 65 mpg in city driving, while launching from 0-60 in less than 7.0 seconds. “Small is big,” suggested Mays, and Ford’s show car could hint at what’s to come from the U.S.
While plans have yet to be firmed up, senior Ford officials hint that they have several small car prototypes in development. They’ll need to move fast, however. A variety of other automakers, notably including Toyota , with its new Yaris, and Nissan, with the Versa, are targeting the so-called “B-car” segment. “There must be something there,” suggest Nissan Division General Manager Brad Bradshaw, “because everyone is going there.” The big challenge is convincing American motorists to cough up the cash. Toyota ’s approach, with Yaris, is to offer up a moderately-equipped car at a price a cash-strapped student can afford. While Ford has yet to determine where in the B-segment it will go, it appears likely it will try to reach higher than mere entry-level, where profits have traditionally been elusive. “We’re not in this business to lose money,” said Ford exec Mark Fields, head of U.S. operations.
Industry Betting on 17 Million in 2006
What with the threat of rising oil prices and general economic uncertainty, industry leaders are sounding unusually clear about what the New Year holds for the U.S. automotive market. While more than a few industry leaders fear sales could slip by several hundred thousand units in 2006, most corporate forecasts call for relatively flat sales compared to last year’s 17 million market. “We’re into conservative assumptions these days,” said General Motors Vice Chairman Bob Lutz. That’s understandable considering the automaker’s current financial problems, while it’s equally obvious why the forecast is far more upbeat at on-a-roll Toyota . “The economic fundamentals are good,” asserted Jim Press, the automaker’s top American executive. And with lots of new product and plenty of incentives, he envisions the U.S. market rising by perhaps 200,000 units over the next 12 months. As for Joe Eberhardt, Chrysler Group’s top marketing executive admits forecasts have a way of being notoriously wrong, so he says, “I’ll take what I can get.”
GM Down but Not Out, Lutz Affirms
“We have perceptual problems, reputational problems,” acknowledged General Motors vice chairman Bob Lutz, “wounds probably self-inflicted over 30 years.” So one of the automaker’s biggest challenges is to simply convince skeptical buyers to check out new GM products, such as the Buick Enclave crossover unveiled at the Detroit show Sunday. But as the automaker turns out more new product – about 20 this year alone – Lutz said he believes things “will turn for us.” In a conversation at the GM display, Lutz sounded like a man hoping the glass was half-full. The automaker has seen the worst, he suggested, adding that “It’s precisely when your numbers don’t look good that companies get on the stick.” The septuagenarian executive said GM’s current morass reminded him of the situation faced by Chrysler when he was president there in the late 1980s, just before its big turnaround. Perhaps, but Lutz declined to say whether he expected GM to post any improvement in its slumping market share anytime soon.
2006 Detroit Auto Show, Part I by TCC Team (1/8/2006)
Car and Truck of the year, Lexus LS has eight speeds, Enclave concept.
2006 Detroit Auto Show, Part III by TCC Team (1/8/2006)
Hyundai HCD-9 Talus, Santa Fe, and the death of the five-day car.
2006 Detroit Auto Show, Part IV (1/8/2006)
Nissan's next steps, Benz GL-Class, GM hybrids.
2006 Detroit Auto Show, Part V by Bengt Halvorson (1/8/2006)
Honda Fit, Ford Edge, and more from Bill Ford.
2006 Detroit Show, Part VI by TCC Team (1/9/2006)
The new face of Lincoln, Mazda Kabura, Infiniti G35 and MINI Clubman.
2006 Detroit Show, Part VII by TCC Team (1/9/2006)
GM planning big price cuts, Aston Rapide, Volvo C30, XK pricing.
2006 Detroit Auto Show, Part VIII by Bengt Halvorson (1/9/2006)
Jeep Compass, Toyota Camry, Nissan Sentra and Urge.
2006 Detroit Auto Show, Part IX by TCC Team (1/10/2006)
Camaro by the numbers, Acura RDX, Jaguar gets Ford help.