Since I’ve been visiting the annual auto show in Detroit since 1988, I feel inclined to offer my opinions of some of the highlights, but please allow me to qualify my title. I’m an Midwestern old car guy. New cars have always left me wishing they were old cars, so I’m (by a hair) unqualified to deliver reports of the world’s latest and greatest. Additionally, my Michigan roots have fostered a relative disdain for anything lacking big-three branding. I may appreciate cars from abroad, but I’m unlikely to buy one, regardless of its American content. Finally, I hate SUVs. With that being said, away we go on a surprisingly evenhanded jaunt around Cobo Center! ***Warning–This post will be picture-intensive***
I’ll begin with what was perhaps the most sensational new car of the show, the Ford GT. It’s striking, but in a little kid’s Countach on the wall way. My prediction is that it will look equally dated 20 years from now. In the meantime, it was the obvious showstopper, with throngs of people almost visibly drooling over its incongruous flanks.
Underneath its carbon fiber skin, its Ecoboost V6 is somewhat controversial, but with over 600 horsepower and a ticket to world homologation at races like the 24 Hours of LeMans, complaints tend to get lost in the wash. Like it or not, “EcoBoost” is Ford’s new mantra, so it makes sense to use a proven engine that is currently propelling several Daytona Prototypes to high-profile victories.
As if to accentuate the over-the-top virility of the new GT, and give a knowing nod to its origins, Ford brought an original to display. Still one of the most heart-arresting race cars of all time, its timeless, understated beauty is everything that the modern one is not.
In fact, the Ford GT from 10 years ago featured lines that were obviously influenced by the original. It wasn’t an outright forgery, but that is only obvious when the two are parked side-by-side. That the original design was forward-thinking enough to still look fresh 40 years later is a testament to its beauty. As a result, this GT is worth even more today than it was new, one of the few modern vehicles to actually appreciate.
On a nearby stand was the Shelby GT350R, Ford’s new Z/28 fighter, with a flat-plane cranked 5.2-liter Coyote-based V8. As is typical with any storied nameplate, the new Mustang is polarizing. I like it, but sometimes wonder if Ford took too evolutionary a step with it. It’s also too heavy.
Nearby, to make me feel at home, was a ’65 GT350R, which today is certainly more valuable than the new one (but also far less capable).
Over at the Acura stand, the production NSX revolved in a ravishing red, obviously upstaged by the GT. I like it.
For a supercar, the NSX is actually quite subdued, lacking some of the evident aerodynamic frippery of the GT. Cleanliness compels.
Over at Mazda, the new MX-5 Miata rocked a lurid red-orange pearlescent hue. Give me a helmet and an autocross event and I’ll be right back. Even though the Miata remains true to its original purpose, it has not escaped the creeping bloat that hamstrings many long-running nameplates. Park one side-by-side with an original and it’s obvious.
From what I’ve read, the Alfa Romeo Spyder that was in concurrent development (and based on the Miata platform) is now a no-go. Alfa just can’t get a foothold in the States, it seems.
While on the subject of Alfa, the 4C was on rotating display with some vintage racers that I couldn’t effectively photograph. They also had, arguably, the prettiest models of the event, because the Italians always bring the flair. Many pundits have declared the 4C a modern work of art, but I’m not entirely sold. It’s tall, wide, and short, but still attractive.
This is the Mini Superleggera concept. It only looks like a Mini from the front.
From the rear, it looks more like a Valiant XNR concept with Union Jack taillights. The modern Mini is a nonstarter of a topic as far as I’m concerned, but this concept is one that stopped me at the Mini display for perhaps the first time.
Over at the Chevrolet stand was the new Bolt concept, which is fully electric. Not that I’ve paid much attention, but journalists were hailing this as a Tesla competitor. Uh, OK. Someone, somewhere must be drooling over this, but the crowds weren’t exactly pressing in for a closer look.
Luckily for me (a man whose natural odor is car exhaust), Chevy also displayed their new Z06 convertible. The Z06 makes me wonder if the horsepower pendulum hasn’t swung too far in the other direction. Is is responsible to unleash 600-700 horsepower on a public whose capabilities as drivers is based on their incomes? Hypocritically, I wouldn’t mind driving one, but I’m a public employee and its near-$100,000 price tag is just a hair out of reach.
Compared to Chevy, Buick didn’t fare as well, in my opinion, for several reasons. First, can we stop just rebadging Opels and shipping them to America? They’re nice as Opels, but this car underscores the idea that Buick no longer has any identity at all, not even as a car for the elderly. Second, please give the car a name that can be defined as an English word. Cascada? Isn’t that a laundry detergent? Finally, yuck. I’m not sure anyone in the world could make a convertible more bland than this. It is innocuous.
Buick also introduced the Avenir concept (is that a brand of cheap jewelry?), which is a little more intriguing (is that an Oldsmobile?) than the Cascada. It has a bit of boattail in the rear window and trunk area, but it would be nicer as a two-door with a Riviera badge. Unfortunately, people just aren’t buying big two-doors these days, so I understand why it’s not.
With that being said, the Cadillac stand showcased one of my favorite new cars, the ATS-V coupe. The last generation CTS coupe was dramatic, but its rear end was so comically gigantic that I couldn’t quite buy in. This one’s a beauty. It’s understated in appearance, but outrageous in twin-turbocharged power. Regarding the color…it’s a matte white, and I’m sure it’s an expensive extra cost option. When did having a car that looks like you slapped a coat of primer on it in the garage become fashionable?
Regardless, if I didn’t spend all my money on old cars, I’d likely buy one of these (a year old) or a new Mustang. At first, I thought they were too plain, but after seeing them in person a few times, I was hooked.
Nearby, the new CTS-V conceals a Z06 engine under its matte bonnet. The CTS sedan is attractive, too. A coupe may be better, but it’s unlikely to happen.
As the poster child for the more money than driving ability crowd, here’s the new Challenger Hellcat engine. At 707 horsepower and roughly 20 miles per gallon, it really is an achievement.
I’ll finish off with a few global entries. This Jaguar F-Type is one of the most seductive new cars on the planet, but it’s still hippy and girthy compared to an original E-Type. Modern safety equipment and amenities are nice, as is a large tire contact patch, but it all has to fit somewhere.
On a less expensive note, I’ve admired the Scion FR-S since they were introduced. Considering that I could get a nice V6 Mustang for the same price, however, it wouldn’t exactly be on my purchasing radar. Still, one of these on Brockway Mountain Drive in the Keewenaw Peninsula would equate to a pleasant day.
Godzilla, as he often attempts to do, will bring an end to our proceedings. The Nissan GTR Nismo is perfect for a quick getaway, even if it isn’t quite my style. The North American International Auto Show is an extremely crowded event, but one not to miss, even if only to reaffirm one’s love for outmoded forms of transportation.
I was Born in 1988 but I’m an old car guy too so I’m hardly one to judge modern cars either, and yes SUVs are tumors I refuse to accept the existence of.
I love the Ford GT, It’s the first time since at least the 90s that I’ve seen a car debut that dropped my jaw in awe. The 05/06 was really a tribute car, it had about as much actual racing pedigree as an 05/06 Taurus. I loved it, I thought it was fantastically detailed but that’s what it was, a trophy(much like a Countach really, which I also love). If the new one finds racing success as Ford plans I could see the design become timeless(inline with Enzo’s famous quote), there’s a few details I already love like the turbine taillights – which as an aside would be AWESOME if they trickled down the Ford lineup.
Other thing I love about the GT is the surprise, I had no clue it was happening, there were fake teasers on the internet immediately after the last one ended production and in recent years there’s been ZERO rumor, so “Holy Crap!” I exclaimed when I saw it debut…
…Which brings me to the NSX. I’ve been aware of the new NSX nearly since I graduated high school, that’s 2006 to you and me, and it’s pretty much exactly what was described by the press by proxy of Honda way back then, and it seems like I’ve been aware of how it looks for at least 3 or 4 years, so, Meh. I’m really not all that impressed by hybrid supercars in the first place, so take my opinion with a grain of salt if you like, but to me that car is a complete boring stale non-event. I also don’t like the subdued nature of it, it’s technically great apparently, but boring, like the Audi R8
The GT350 I prefer the standard version of to the spoiled and Carbon Fibery R version, and I’m actually growing to hate the restyle after seeing it in person, I actually initially liked it(I know, I’m the only one lol) The GT350s flared front end helps the bluntness of the nose from what I can tell so I like that model, the back is the S550’s pretty side, also ironic since that was the genuinely hideous end of the 10-14.
The Buick is pretty neat, I agree about it being a 2 door but it doesn’t matter, it’s a GM and with few exceptions GM sucks at making concepts adapt to production.
Oh! I love the Hellcat. Not because of the obvious power and whatever, in fact I think having 700 horsepower on a street car is stupid and pointless(agreed about the Z06). No, what I like, if you look closely at that pic, the engine is PAINTED ORANGE!!!!. Halleluiah! Finally after 30 damn years of black and grey (as the efficient purposeful German cars are)an American automaker used COLOR on an engine again!
Nothing else really grabs my interest though. The Alfa has some pretty points, but and this is a serious BUT, it looks waaaay too much like another Lotus Elise derivative, and it seems like every small mid-engined sports car since the Elise debuted has looked like that(due largely because most are in fact derived off it). I believe they’re calling the targa top version the Spider btw, which is utterly ridiculous. It’s as much a spider as a 1968 T top Corvette is a Convertible.
Nice GT Mustang and of course the GT40 is beautiful, Avenier is a mid range Sentra Pulsar from 20 years ago not the sort of moniker for an upscale car like a Buick ok so the spelling is different but it still reeks of a cheap used import Jappa to me. I like the Jag but the rest of it is meh, I like classics, sorry about that .
Thank you for this reaffirmation of my love for outmoded forms of transportation.
I’m 56, and a southwestern old car guy. That new F40 is hideous, but the originals look fine as usual. The new Mustang is ugly on top of ugly. Actually the base V6 is not that bad, but does not look like a Mustang. For being an old car guy, I have to admit I likes the 2005-2014, with vent louvers on the rear quarter windows. Compared to the originals, it was to high and to narrow, but I’ve seen a lot worse. I see the NSX has those awful black wheels, but nothing, even changing the wheels could make it look good. It is nice to see a Corvette WITHOUT those horrible black wheels. I see the GTR also has those ugly wheels. I sure hope they are a fad that will soon be gone. You can’t tell the tires from the wheels, especially after they get some brake dust on them. And no doubt all these cars have enough computing power to run the Starship Enterprise.
There are just so many things I hate about new cars. Looks to begin with, though they are not all this ugly. many are just generic shapes with no style. I think I prefer that after seeing these. I never had a picture of a Lamborghini Countach on my wall when I was a kid. Mostly hot rods, and a brand new Corvette, 1974 I believe, my favorite year.
After the hideous looks of some new cars, including some more mainstream models like the Nissan Murano, Juke, and Cube, next comes computers, of any type. They do not belong in cars. Ditto for EFI, any type of emissions controls, and any safety features except seat belts. I removed the lap belts from the drivers seat of my ’64 Ford. My states seatbelt laws only go back to ’72. Yes I am increasing my risk, and will probably eventually put them back, but it is so satisfying to be able to drive without them, like in the old days, not have to go to emissions tests, and be able to control the car with manual drum brakes and manual steering. and not staring at a bomb in the steering wheel that could go off anytime. Imagine surviving an accident, then being killed by an airbag. My Ford has survived for 50 years, and should easily make it another 50 years, if it isn’t taken out by someone texting while their car goes it’s own way.
Obsolete does not mean it isn’t any good, it just means it isn’t made anymore.
Do you think disk brakes have proven themselves?
What really makes no sense regarding seat belt laws and older cars is it’s legal to remove them but if they are still installed you can get a ticket if they are not used.
That’s absolutely ridiculous. Safety features don’t belong in cars? Airbags are unsafe? Your blissful ignorance of reality is astounding. OK, you might not like computers in cars. Fair enough; I disagree with you on that count, but you’re certainly entitled to your opinion. However, safety is where I draw the line. Fundamentally, what most drivers want in a car is efficient and reliable transportation from Point A to Point B. Generally, with few exceptions (such as yourself), they would like to get there in one piece. Apparently, you would like to deny them that luxury.
Suggesting that cars would be better with drum brakes and without “any safety features except seat belts” is terribly misguided and would endanger every single driver on the road. Drum brakes have clearly been proven inferior to disc brakes in every possible way. My dad used to have a ’66 Impala with drum brakes. When he was living in Houston, there was a large rainstorm and water got into the brakes. He couldn’t stop the car, putting everyone around him in grave danger of being plowed into by a 3,500 pound wrecking ball. It’s an experience he and 99% of the population would never like to occur again. There are no such problems with disc brakes. They stop shorter and more consistently, and don’t impede your driving enjoyment at all.
Ditto with airbags. I can’t believe that in the year 2015, people still believe that airbags kill more people than they save. “Imagine surviving an accident, then being killed by an airbag.” That’s absolute bull, I’m sorry. How about this: “Imagine not having an airbag and DYING in an accident.” That’s the reality. It’s estimated that airbags have saved over 30,000 lives in the United States since they began appearing in cars. Also airbags don’t “go off anytime.” Do you really believe that? They actually only deploy in a crash; I guess you didn’t know.
It’s one thing to be wrong, but to willfully want to put others in grave danger is sad and inexcusable.
(Apologies if I went slightly overboard in this rant, it’s just that I see this unfounded fear of safety far too often and I’m terribly annoyed by it)
Don’t think I’m agreeing with JYD because I’m not.
Are drum brakes themselves the problem or is it the size and maintenance requirements of 1960s era drum brakes that is the problem?
Many over the road trucks still have drum brakes at all four corners. Air actuated yes, but drums nonetheless.
Drum brakes are inherently inferior to disc brakes. With heavy use, heat builds up in the drum of the brake, causing it to lose effectiveness and experience brake fade – a problem which disc brakes lack. Also, as I noted previously, when you drive through a puddle, drum brakes will fill with water; thus, when you next apply pressure to the brakes, they press against the water instead of the drum, leading to brake loss.
Since drums are cheaper than discs, it’s more cost-effective for large trucks to have drum brakes. At any rate, they certainly can’t stop nearly as well as conventional passenger cars, even when you factor in their weight.
My thoughts also; just seeking some clarification. 🙂
Your rant is on point. You’re dealing with tinfoil hat-level shit here.
When driving my ’63 Ford with its four-wheel drum brakes, manual transmission, and zero power assists, it does require my full involvement. It truly is a joy to drive as the experience cannot be duplicated by anything currently made.
My ’63 still has its two lap belts from the factory and I use them. Why? There is a little quirk about the steering column that concerns me – it won’t collapse in a wreck the way it will in newer cars. I don’t see much advantage in being impaled on a steering column. I’ll take my chances with an airbag, but that’s just me.
I wouldn’t worry about the steering column collapsing when the rest of the car will do that just fine.
Sorry man, but I like being able to breathe. Thank god you aren’t in charge of anything, else we’d be choking on smog like L.A. decades ago, or China today.
“My Ford has survived for 50 years, and should easily make it another 50 years, if it isn’t taken out by someone texting while their car goes it’s own way.”
Yeah, so what? Tens of millions of other Fords didn’t survive.
” Imagine surviving an accident, then being killed by an airbag. ”
you wouldn’t survive the accident. the notion of old cars being hefty tanks of steel is a myth. The sheet metal might have been thicker but the design of the structure paid little heed to the safety of the occupants. Instead of crumple zones to dissipate crash energy and a rigid passenger cage to stop intrusions into the cabin, you had a “rigid” frame which would just buckle uselessly and a body which would collapse and crush you.
Old cars were unreliable junk. You’re just all doe-eyed over them because they’re what you grew up with.
I love old cars and I didn’t grow up with them. I also don’t think they’re unreliable junk. More quirky than new cars? Sure. On the other hand, they are inherently unsafe, and foregoing safety and emissions standards obviously wouldn’t and shouldn’t work.
New cars are good for me because we do have a cleaner environment so I can be one of the relatively few goofballs enjoying my old “junk.”
I saw a video on you tube where Tiff Nidel tested a Smart for2, they remotely controlled the car and ran it up to 70 mph against a cinder block barricade. The passenger cell survived almost intact but as Tiff pointed out the theoretical passengers would probably have not survived. Because of the effect of the deacceleration forces on the human organs. Drive a new “safe” car and leave a good looking corpse.
Are you implying an older car would have done better? I’m not quite sure where you’re going with this…
you’d be hard pressed to survive a 70 mph crash in any car.
you’d be hard pressed to survive a 70 mph crash in any car.
+1 There’s a big misconception these days that newer cars are safer, therefore one can drive faster in safety. NHTSA tests are conducted at 35-40 mph, crumple zones have an end point, it’s like bottoming out a spring, when that happens the rigid body has a tendency to buckle, shear and do all sorts of nasty things that might not be good for occupants, just as old cars could/would. This is the reason race/rally cars have large multipoint cages built into them, with drivers/navigators in multipoint belts, helmets and braces.
In the defense of old cars though, some were better than others, just because nhtsa tests weren’t conducted doesn’t mean all old cars are death traps, many are, of course but if everyone who got into an accident before the 1970s died in it there’d be a lot less people here today. Newer cars are better than all of them regardless, but I really am not at all nervous about driving old iron.
Right. Emissions controls are the price of being able to drive and not poison everyone else. And EFI and computers are the price of having emissions controls and a driveable engine simultaneously (to say nothing of adequate power and decent gas mileage). Ever driven a mid-70s car? I have, and it’s not pretty.
Very nice article. As a fellow Midwesterner – I’m from the state that refers to Michigan in the parlance of our immortal OSU football coach; “that state up north”, I share many of your same views on these cars. Perhaps the only one I would slightly disagree with is the Avenir – even not being a GM fan, I thought it was a very elegant design.
And being both old, and an old car guy, I appreciate the Valiant XNR reference.
That Mini front end looks exactly like the ’02-’05 Thunderbird.
There’s nothing miniature about a new Mini, and that strange dorsal-finned Mini show car indicates they will be getting larger still. Each one of those massive wheels takes as much space as all four of the 10″ wheels from the original 1959 Austin Mini. And yet the interior holds half the number of passengers. Ugh.
There will be a smaller variant of the Mini.
I’ve read that too, a cooperation between BMW and Toyota.
“That Mini front end looks exactly like the ’02-’05 Thunderbird.”
I thought the very same thing.
Yup, while I’m not exactly an old car guy (and actually quite a big Subaru fan), I found myself agreeing with most of your assessments. I rather liked that Avenir concept, but good lord, can’t they use a decent name for it? LeSabre? The aforementioned Riviera? They brought the Charger back with four doors, I see nothing wrong with breaking from tradition and bringing this back, too. Although there are still names like Elektra, Park Avenue, and… Roadmaster? Hey, why not?
I like the new Mustang. I heartily dislike the new GT40 or whatever they’re calling it. Overwrought doesn’t even begin to cover that awful design. But it’ll be a hit or whatever, enough of the ‘right people’ (whoever they are) are drooling over it. Are they only drooling over it because someone told them to? That’s my feeling about that car. It’s only a hit because someone said it was, and then everyone else was like, “Sure, a hit, yeah, we’ll follow you without doing any critical thinking about it at all.” I actively dislike that car, whereas I really, really love the ten-years-ago Ford GT. There was something genuine and really cool about that one that this new one just doesn’t have.
Where Harley Earl’s mantra was “add more chrome,” whoever was responsible for that “Shelby” 350 must have kept saying “add more angry.” Yuck.
The penchant for angry, “badass” car faces is rampant among stylists now. As if Road Rage needed encouragement.
It’s true! “Angry” is the new styling idiom. I suppose the objective is to scare other drivers off the road. I think it all started with the 2003 Kia Optima, with its long sharp teeth! OOOOH! Look at me! Get out of my way or I’ll bite you!
$120 a month? I’d be hesitant to give $120 for that outright!
Proposed grill for 2018 Mustang….
That Mini rear-end has the Buick dorsal fin Paul was looking for last week…
“Cascada? Isn’t that a laundry detergent?”
Actually, that would be a dishwasher detergent. 🙂
Suzuki has some really strange model names: in my opinion, two of them – if read quickly – look similar to other products’ brand names: Vitara looks like the name of an erectile dysfunction drug, and Kizashi looks like the name of a breakfast cereal.
Buzzdog: Kizashi is Japanese for “sneeze”.
I’ve been a car “fan” for at least 55 years (other kids got guns, I got cars when visiting toy stores) and kick myself for not attending the NAIAS the times I have been in the area….but modern cars leave me cold. I have the impression that new cars are just high priced multi-media ….cocoons.
That said, I prefer the base/ V6 Mustangs, the NSX looks better than the many “artist’s renderings” that preceded it, the MINI has long ago passed the point where it was “true to it’s roots” (a 4 door HARDTOP!!!!), but, but, I disagree about Buick. Sure, they are Opels, and ironically the Opel brand is dying a slow death in Europe but the Cascada is actually a fairly decent car….better than the Chrysler Sebring or Camry Solara.
That leaves the Chevy Bolt….a car I would much rather own than a Chevy Spark EV or a Prius C.
I currently own a 97 Civic 2 door with 270,000 miles on it (I bought it used but suspect the engine/transmission/and perhaps even the clutch are original to the car) and I haven’t seen a new car in years that could replace it.
Opel is dying a slow death in Europe ?
No way, they’re getting billions to develop new models and engines in the upcoming years. Opel (and the identical Vauxhalls in the UK) is GM’s only brand in Europe, since they stopped with those Korean Chevrolets (formerly known as Daewoo) in Europe.
Opel is doing pretty fine these days.
I know the brand Avenir as some very good cycling accessories (seats, seatposts, lights, cyclometers, etc.)
I love all the whining about the turbo V-6 in the Ford GT. Lets see: The engine just won the 24 Hours of Daytona, its legit for LeMans, and, most importantly, V-8’s are dinosaur engines. Keep them in the stone tools category with the Camaro’s, Mustang’s, Challenger’s and Charger’s, and other vehicles for people who are desperate to ignore that its 2015, not 1965. I applaud Ford for having more imagination than sticking yet another V-8 in a performance car.
Due to the cost of developing an automobile, there are no Chevrolets, Buicks, Cadillacs, Opels, etc. anymore. There are GM cars, designed in various countries and sold under the best nameplate for that market. Sorry. That’s reality, and its not going to change. I seem to remember that Chrysler was doing the same thing starting back in the 1930’s (a couple of body sizes, a couple of engine variants, different front ends for each brand) and nobody ever complained about a Dodge being an overdressed Plymouth.
Hellcat: Pure candy for the stoplight-drag-can’t-go-around-a-curve crowd. I’ll take one of the Scion/Subaru sports cars anyday. I love curves, and am bored with straights. Especially ones that are only 1/4 mile long.
The MX-5 Miata is supposedly no heavier than the predecessor models, which, in itself is a wonderful accomplishment. Yeah, physically bigger, but given our obsession with how well a car can crash . . . . . . . .
See this is what irritates me about the Ford GT discussion, I’m in the camp praising the use of the Turbo V6, because EcoBoost is Ford’s new thing and what better way to show it off than a Supercar? But I’d hardly call the V8 a dinosaur any more than the V6, which is an inherently flawed and compromised configuration compared to a straight 6 or 90* V8. Twin turbos can be bolted to ANYTHING and be called modern if those are the qualifier.
” It’s tall, wide, and short, but still attractive.” Gotta love those tall wide and short ones.
Reminds me of that song:
“There’s too many fish in the sea, too many fish in the sea
Short ones, tall ones, fine ones, kind ones
Too many fish in the sea”
Thanks for the post, and, as someone said above, the affirmation of my own bias.
Tall is a bit harsh really, you will struggle to find more than one or two lower cars on the market. I agree the styling is too much Lotus, not enough Ferrari, perhaps that will improve when it is refreshed.
It is a strange car to build though, very expensive but other than the carbon fibre chassis (no small thing obviously) nothing that special. I would have thought a more mainstream sports car would serve Alfa better when they are trying to reestablish themselves.
The Alfa 4C sounds like it has a lot of interesting technology in it, but the styling does nothing for me either.
Seems to be a case of trying to out-cartoonish the prior effort for the GT40 et al. Then there is the plain-as-dishwater Cascada dish-soap-boring Buick….. A convertible should engender excitement and desire, not yawns. Come on, GM-Buick, you can do better! And Skylark, Electra and Riviera aren’t tainted monikers among those who would consider a purchase should it come to market.
the fun thing about the GT reveal was how thoroughly it upstaged the NSX. Honda’s vacillating over the past several years- “will they or won’t they, what will it be, it’s vaporware”- didn’t help them at all.
The NSX is too generic. Front looks OK but not great, cabin looks like a basic $20K coupe, rear end is bloated. The original NSX was also a bit dull compared to its competition, but it was a much cleaner and purposeful design.
I hate the trend of gigantic grills. That Mustang looks awful.
The GT40 is interesting. Kind of gimmicky with the flying buttresses but very unique. I think it works.
There is nothing wrong with Countachs either. They still look great 40 years later IMO. And no, I didn’t have a poster of one on my wall. I had it on a Trapper Keeper.
You know, I still think the original Countach looks great, but by the late ’80s, its original shape was hidden by scoops and spoilers…too Miami Vice at that point. Of course, it was the ’80s Countach that made it to the kids’ walls. I’m sure I had a poster back then.
The Federalized versions were the worst, seems like every 85-89 Countach has them and they look like they came from go carts. I was never fond of the flared and Testarossa inspired rocker stakes. I think the original European spec flared fender versions were quite attractive though, more so than the original original lp400.
I am like you, Aaron. Every time I go to the new Auto Show my field of interest shrinks more and more. I am intrigued by the new MX-5 Miata (says the guy who is getting to know a first generation version).
Syke makes some interesting observations on the EcoBoost V6 vs. the “dinosaur” V8. And I have no doubt that the EcoBoost is capable, having had some success in racing. However, from all I hear, in the real world the car gives you V8 fuel mileage with the V8 performance, but with anticipated repair bills for failed turbos that V8 owners have never had to deal with. Sometimes the low tech tool that doesn’t break is better than the high tech tool that does.
If you drive an Ecoboost with a heavy foot, yes you will get V8 mileage. However when you are not driving hard, hauling, etc you get better mileage. My 1989 Probe GT was the same way, that’s par for the course with turbos.
But yes I’m also leary of long term durability. The GT is one thing as no supercar is cheap to maintain. Would I buy a 10 year old Ecoboost pickup with a direct-injected twin turbo? I’m not sure. Will it be worse than the record of the 5.4, with its troublesome spark plugs and cam phasers? Or GM’s AFM and oil consumption problems with the 5.3? All modern engines seem to have rather expensive problem areas.
“All” engines have serious problems? Can you tell me which ones don’t?
That’s not what I said. Point is that turbocharged or not, modern engines have a lot of expensive parts and complex engineering so it’s not a given that the Ecoboost will be less reliable or more expensive to maintain.
the people who complain about the fuel economy drive like idiots. I’ve taken note when riding along with these people; their driving style is “stomp on the gas until I have to stomp on the brake.”
Ask them, of course, and they’ll say they drive “gently.”
I’ve had no problems handily beating the sticker mpg in any Ecoboost/downsized GTDI or hybrid vehicle I’ve driven.
In their defense, people drive like that because that’s generally how one needs to drive a cheap econobox to keep up with traffic other than mail trucks, and if you learned to drive in one(as most people of driving age probably did) their upgrade to EcoBoost probably is comparatively gentle.
I was smart, I started with a torquey V8 car, all my friends got base Civics, Hyundais and Kias(when the latter two were still horrible) and they all drive like you describe now, and yes, bitch that their economy isn’t what they expected. Me, I can get well over the EPA rating in anything I get into, learning to economy drive a V8 does wonders for pedal restraint, especially when that V8 symphony coming from the exhaust is so tempting.
Well stated, JP.
I had a Chevy Cruze as a rental recently and was pretty impressed with its solidity. Unfortunately, as the driver, I felt like I’d been embossed into an egg crate. If the Bolt brings back airiness in small cars, then I’m all for it.
Nothing goes together like Nuts and Bolts. 🙂 Whether my hardware pun refers to sanity or manliness, I will leave up to you.
With these arctic temperatures, I’ve gone more of one while the others have gone into hiding. Or something like that… 🙂
I completely agree about the claustrophobic feeling of the Cruze. One of the least spacious interiors of any car I’ve driven. It gave the sense that if I was involved in an accident, I would become one with the car.
All new cars seem to have high beltlines and huge A-pillars for safety. Unfortunately, good visibility and safety run along parallel lines!
All the better to sell you the new safety package with rearview camera and proximity detectors. All for only $3000!
True! I found the low ceiling height, combined with the curve of the roof, significant contributing factors as well.
This is why I think another take on the “one box” style for small cars is a good idea.
Thanks for the tour Aaron. I didn’t like the Ford GT initially but seeing it more I am impressed by the way they have incorporated a lot of the traditional styling cues in a fresh way. They couldn’t do another ‘copy’ of the original after all, brilliant though the 2005 car was. The flying buttresses disguise the really radical ‘tunnels’ between the engine bay and rear wheels that would otherwise look like a LMP1 prototype, it will be interesting to see if it works on the track.
The new Mustang has a kind of angry Aston look to me, I find it amusing that there are a lot of comments that it doesn’t look like a Mustang and a lot that it didn’t change enough. I look forward to seeing them later in the year.
They should have called the Avenir a Riviera and shown it with 2 doors, even if there is no intention to build it. At least the styling should be a good look for Buick even if the grille looks like a Mazda. The Cascada may be boring but it should work for the target audience.
The Bolt is interesting, almost like a European mini MPV which is good for interior space. I can’t quite get a feel for how large it is from the photos, it could be anything from Honda Fit size to C segment wagon size – hopefully the latter.
Nice overview Aaron. I haven’t been to this show since about 1990, when I was a student in Windsor.
I decided what I liked there the most was the VW Fox, which would be the most useful for getting around. Never bothered going back.
As I’ve said new cars are transportation, and old cars are interesting. In my life these are separate worlds.
I love the new Ford GT, but like you, I’m not sure how well it will age. The 2005 GT, on the other hand, still looks as fresh as it did a decade ago, to say nothing of the timeless original.
I was sick of hearing about the new NSX (you can find “next NSX just 3 years away” press releases going back to 2005), but I’m finally warming up to it.
Nice shots, Aaron! Of course Id like to see more Hellcat pics. Granted, Ive seen everything on that car inside and out like a gajillion times…but it just doesn’t get old to me.
Im with the ‘I want new cars to be more like the old ones’ set. I like the modern retro theme. But most modern cars look like electric shavers to me. That ATS-V is one exception. LOVE that bodystyle and it irks me to no end that Chrysler hasn’t responded with a 300 coupe along those lines.
I couldn’t get a good shot of either Hellcat. They were swamped by people and it was just a case of tight quarters!
Well, Im not surprised by that. The Hellcat has generated nothing less than a frenzy of interest for Dodge. Reminds me a lot of all the buzz when the Viper and ’93 Ram debuted.
I was at the Canadian International Autoshow (Toronto) last night. it wasn’t too busy. I got pics of probably the same red Hellcat Challenger, including one with myself in the driver’s seat. 🙂 There was also a Hellcat Charger on a turntable.
New cars have always left me wishing they were old cars,
We old buggers, who went to the show at Cobo 45 years ago, remember when the old cars were new. We wandered around and checked out the Boss 302s, Mach 1s and Goats, then took a look at VW bugs, because VW always had the most interesting demonstrations at their stand.
In recent years, when I took a look at a Stang or Challenger or Camaro, I was in line with other white haired, pot bellied old guys. Is that because we are the only ones interested, or the only ones who can afford the outrageous prices demanded for those models now?
I like the looks of the Cascada, and have no problem pronouncing it. The downside is that it’s built on the Astra platform, which is due for replacement next year. With a new platform coming that soon, the Cascada in the US may be a one year and done orphan, like the Saturn Astra. If I want a ragtop, I’ll probably take a look at an Audi instead.
“In recent years, when I took a look at a Stang or Challenger or Camaro, I was in line with other white haired, pot bellied old guys. Is that because we are the only ones interested, or the only ones who can afford the outrageous prices demanded for those models now?”
Not sure where youre located, but when I see any of these 3 cars out on the road SOME are piloted by boomers re-capturing their younger days. But I see an awful lot of these piloted by fellow Gen-Xers and even Millenials. When I was in HS in the late 80s/early 90s, it wasn’t uncommon to see a few pristine old muscle cars in the parking lot…the prices hadn’t hit idiot levels just yet, and where was a young gearhead going to look for performance? Brand new Fox Mustang or F body? Only if you had a rich daddy. Lowered minitrucks? No comment. But a Duster, Nova, Chevelle, or even a Challenger with something decent under the hood COULD be had.
Unless you have mega-bucks and can afford a high end Audi, Corvette, Porsche, BMW etc the 3 pony cars are still the best game in town. And while theres a prevailing perception of ‘young people don’t like cars’, that really is bogus. Back in the ’60s not everyone had a hi-po muscle car, as this forum will confirm. The same core group of gearheads always was there. Nowadays some may go for imports and tuners, but Detroit muscle is still what many really want.
” Back in the ’60s not everyone had a hi-po muscle car, as this forum will confirm.”
yeah, this is what I wish I could get people to understand. some have this idea that American streets in the ’60s and ’70s were filled with SS396 Chevelles, Boss 429 Mustangs, Hemi ‘Cudas, and the like. And that’s only because those are the cars people have tried to preserve.
The cars most people actually drove- the Chevy Biscaynes, Ford Falcons, LTDs, Plymouth Valiants, etc.- nobody gives a crap about and have all been sent to the rust pile of history.
I’m under 40 and I own a Mustang GT.
This was the best report on the show I’ve seen anywhere because your honest photographs give a much better idea of what the cars actually look like than others have.
I must step up to defend the new MX-5, however. It is shorter than even the original NA Miata from 25 years ago, only about 250 pounds heavier, and all in all about the least bloated modern car available. I don’t love the front end styling and probably wouldn’t fit in it any better than in my NA, but Mazda deserves special plaudits for what it has achieved here.
I agree that the Miata is probably truer to its original intent than just about any other vehicle. I just mentioned it because even it seemed to get bigger with every iteration.
I think it was last week that there was an article on here about the new Miata, and there was a picture with all four generations side-by-side. When you say the new one is shorter than the original, do you mean height or length?
I meant shorter as in length; as far as height, the new ND Miata will be just .2 inches higher than the NA, if the numbers given on Wikipedia are correct. (The ND is wider than the NA, however.)
Being a big person who also sometimes gets nervous about the traffic that towers over my NA, I have mixed feelings about these numbers, but it’s nice to see an automaker bucking the trend of making a new model bigger than what it replaced so buyers would “grow” into it. It’ll be interesting to see how their gamble pays off!
Very nice auto show write-up. Good photos too, hard to do at a busy show. Agree about the GT40, and also wonder if it will age as well as the original. I liked the statement about the back of the Mini Superleggera concept: “…looks more like a Valiant XNR concept…” Not sure about the rest of the car, or if Mini should even be the ones doing that (borrowing from Exner), but a good observation. At least both of these had some eye pleasing styling elements. It seems like so much of what we’re seeing lately (at so many of these shows) is an almost vulgar “look-at-me” race to the bottom, styling-wise (perhaps especially with trucks). Designers have always tested the limits. But the great ones- like Earl, Mitchell, Exner, Loewy, Giugiaro- created things of beauty as well. Really good and timeless styling just seems rare these days.
Nice post and pix from the big show. I’ve lived in Michigan for 16 years and keep saying that every year I will go to the Detroit show, but never do. Ah well.
I’m an old car guy, but I like new cars too. I’m a long time fan of the Art & Science Cadillacs, and the CTS-V and ATS-V are right up my alley. I really like the CTS, and a new one would be fantastic. But a CTS-V coupe would be great, as I don’t have to worry about hauling other people around so much these days.
WRT to the new NSX and Ford GT, they look like the cousins of a Lamborghini. In fact, many of the contemporary supercars look like cousins of Lamborghinis, as they share the same overall shape. I really appreciate things like the Viper, Corvette and the Mercedes SLS with their engine forward designs. While they’re truly throwback designs, at least they’re distinctive. That being said, I await the arrival of the mid-engine Corvette along with all of the other faithful.
I don’t understand the hate on the Cascada. I like the fact that GM is wising-up to the fact that they can sell their Opel cars here, even if they are disguised as a Buick. Buick and Opel have a long relationship in the US, and there’s no good reason why they can’t capitalize on it. Now, if they’d only bring over the Adam! My wife really wants a MINI, but I can’t fathom owning a FWD BMW. I love the Fiat 500, but she thinks it too small. I could go for the Adam as an alternative to either and actually one I would prefer…
Agreed on Buicks being Opels – no problem there for me. Something about the Cascada reminds me of the “bad old days”, like mid-80s GM, though. Seems like a car that would compete for lack of sales with the already unsuccessful Volkswagen Eos and already out of production Chrysler Sebring convertible.
Wow that sure is a big auto show and makes Portland’s seem small. I agree with you and I too mainly checked out vehicles from the Detroit 3. Found out last weekend that the current generation Silverado still has a terrible rear bench in its Extended Cab and that the new F-150 still has a comfortable rear bench. Found out some other things as well like how the Hyundais/Kias still smell bad inside and Chrysler has some good models available.
Thanks for the walk-through of the show and your impressions, Aaron.
Mini Superleggera: Since it’s not a car that would generally interest me, I’ve never clicked on a weblink to a story about this car, so the only photos I’ve seen of it until now were of the front. Before I even read your text, I saw the taillights and thought “British flag”. I also agree about the XNR look, which is neat but nothing like I’d associate with a Mini.
Avenir: French for “the future”, which I think makes it a pretty neat name and fitting for a concept car. The car itself doesn’t look too bad either.
Chevy Bolt: It’s not supposed to be a competitor to the current Tesla, but the upcoming less expensive Tesla model that Elon Musk is promising. If they manufacture it, GM should change the name… possibly MilliVolt? 🙂
ATS-V: I agree completely that the back of the CTS coupe looked too big. The large expanse of sheetmetal in the rear quarters made the rear wheel look small. I also think the matte white paint on the ATS-V is cringe-inducing. Rat-rodders rubbing off on the mainstream?
I really like the Avenir! I could do with a little less sculpting on the sides, but past experience has taught me that this type of bodywork rarely looks as pronounced in person. I just saw a BMW i8 out on the street for the first time a few weeks ago and it’s amazing how much more “normal” it looks out in natural light.
I like the Miata but I think I’ll probably grow to like it even more over time. I really love the basic shape and roundness of it.
The GT350R looks ridiculous (in a bad way), and I like the regular Mustang a lot. I’m actually surprised that Ford is willing to put their name on something this silly and over the top. This is the type of thing I’d expect to see as a one-off at a SEMA show or something like that, designed to appeal to 17-year olds. Reminds me of the 2001 Cobra R in that respect. I do like the Ford GT with the same exact kind of scoops and airdams and whatnot. It looks less ridiculous there, somehow.
The Mini “XNR” is interesting, very classic roadster shape with more modern proportions. I keep thinking it might look a lot better if it wasn’t constrained by Mini design language, though. It’s too bad they can’t just call this an Austin-Healey Sprite and make the requisite changes.
I’m neutral on the Chevy Bolt. There’s a lot about it that I like, but I also feel like there are a whole lot of obvious “BMW i3-lite” styling elements there, even on the interior, and that’s kinda lame. I don’t think anyone sees it as a Tesla competitor, but it’s supposed to be close to the Model S in range. That’s impressive considering most EVs are at roughly half of that right now. The next LEAF is supposed to get 200 miles on a full charge, too.
I’m not a fan of the recent bloated over powered over priced cars with oversized wheels. I don’t even like the new mustang anymore. Loved it when it first came out, but it wore off in about 1 month. Literally.
The only car that I really like that I’m not getting tired of quickly is the Subaru BRZ. It is slightly underpowered, slightly overweight, and slightly overpriced but is about as close as there is right now to my ideal car. If I was in the market for a brand spanking new car I would look for aftermarket ways to boost the power and reduce the weight of a BRZ and then try to justify the cost. Until they start making a smaller 2500 lbs Mustang which more resembles the original GT350, I think the BRZ is going to be my favorite. I really wanted to like the mustang.
There is no one looking at the Avenir besides a guy in his 60’s. Gotta tell you something.
Yup, it’s a Buick. I’ve gone to the Chicago Auto Show every couple years, debating going this weekend but, meh. Every year I walked through the Buick area it’s a few older people and little else, even when they put the cardboard Tiger Woods cutouts by their cars 10-15 years ago there wasn’t that much attention. Why that division still exists I’ll never know
I saw my first Alfa 4C the other day. In the half-light I initially mistook it for an Exige (must be getting old). Makes a beautiful noise. Is just so obviously FUN for the driver. Not many current cars give that impression.