What with so many newsworthy offerings from Bentley, Audi, BMW, Jaguar, Porsche, Mercedes-Benz et al, one could forget almost that the LA Auto show is taking place in the United States. So, what have the Americans brought to the table?
Well the car we most wanted to see was the Chevrolet Chaparral 2X. Chevy has been teasing us with imagery of the famous ‘Jim Hall’ Chaparral racing cars like the 2F (pictured above) and we were expecting something which echoed the cars from the Sixties which raced (usually very successfully) with Texas licence plates on them. As bizarre as the Chevrolet Chaparral 2X ‘Vision Gran Turismo’ (pictured below) looks, there’s no sight of the Texas plates and no outward sign that it had any Chaparral genealogy to it. We’d hoped for a thundering, masculine racing machine and ended up with what looks like a zero-emission eco-marathon concept car. Bit of a disappointment, really.
Not-so disappointing was the sight of the Dodge Challenger Hellcat with its 707hp V8 (below) and the Charger Hellcat for those who prefer to do their blacktop-peeling with improved access for rear-seated passengers. It surely won’t be long before specialist importers bring a few here to the UK. Capable of 11-second quarter mile times and costing – get this – under £38,000 (list price in the US) it must be one of the performance bargains of all time. Most certainly not to be messed with in a traffic light scramble.
Mind you, the Challenger isn’t having things all its own way in the pony car stakes. Ford has wheeled-out its new Shelby GT350 Mustang and judging by the reaction so far from across the pond it will be a hit. Having been outsold by the Camaro for almost every month since its launch in 2009, the signs are that Ford is finally hitting back. With the GT350 they’ve even employed such wizardry as a 180 degree crankshaft which endows the car with over 500bhp and 8000rpm. Also, the general consensus is that its looks are way improved over the regular Mustang.’ Whether we’ll get the GT350 over here in right-hand-drive is yet to be seen.
With Dodge and Ford making waves with their Pony Cars and Chevrolet not bothering, it’s up to Cadillac to keep GM’s end up in the performance department. You have to feel for Cadillac sometimes. It’s been six years since they built a genuine BMW M5-beater in the CTS-V (eclipsing the Bavarian’s Nurburgring time in the process), but do we Europeans care? Apparently not. The LA Auto show has seen the launch of the twin-turbo, 455bhp ATS-V (Cadillac’s smallest car, pictured below). With M3-humbling horsepower and no speed limiter the Caddy is said to be capable of ‘over 185mph.’ Like the Corvette it promises to kick sizeable chunks of European ‘ass’, but unlike the Corvette we probably still won’t care.
Finally, a look at the American scene wouldn’t be complete without an SUV, and to that end we bring you the Lincoln MKX Concept. Ford’s premium brand is reported to have been struggling lately and this is reckoned to be its first ‘global SUV’. I reckon the hope is that it can crack China, in which case Ford had better hope that the monster East Asian market has a penchant for vehicles with something of the ‘Klingon Warship’ about their front-end treatment.