Join Date: Jun 2001
Location: Catonsville, Md.
Performance On Display: Flexing Muscles In California
From The Detroit Free Press:
PERFORMANCE ON DISPLAY: FLEXING MUSCLES IN CALIFORNIA
Ford, Chrysler to pump up powerful new ideas at show
August 13, 2004
BY MARK PHELAN
FREE PRESS BUSINESS WRITER
Chrysler will unveil a 425-horsepower version of its hot-selling 300C sedan today, just hours after Ford Motor Co. reveals a stunning concept car that hints at its plans for future high-performance models.
The Chrysler 300C SRT-8 and Ford Shelby GR-1 fastback coupe concept will debut at the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance, an annual showcase of rare and beautiful cars that draws thousands of automotive enthusiasts to Pebble Beach, Calif., each August.
The 300C SRT-8 gets its power from a larger version of Chrysler's popular Hemi V8 engine. The new 6.1-liter Hemi generates 85 more horsepower than the 5.7-liter version the Chrysler Group currently offers in the 300C, Dodge Magnum, Dodge Durango and Dodge Ram.
"This caps a terrific halo on the 300," said Joe Phillippi, principal of Short Hills, N.J.-based AutoTrends Consulting. "It basically gives the Chrysler brand a four-door equivalent to what the Viper has done for Dodge's image." The two-seat Dodge Viper sports car develops 500 horsepower from its 8.3-liter V10.
A halo car is a vehicle that improves the image of an entire brand, having an impact far beyond its own sales.
The 425-horsepower 300C SRT-8 goes on sale in January. Chrysler has not said how much the car will cost or how many it expects to sell.
Ford has no official plan to build the sleek Shelby GR-1, which will be unveiled at Pebble Beach as a design study, which is a body shell that looks great but has no functioning parts.
On the other hand, "We're pretty serious about the possibilities" to build more cars like the GR-1 or the earlier Shelby Cobra roadster concept using the new Ford GT's architecture, Ford vice president for global design J Mays said. An architecture is a single set of components and structures from which a variety of cars can be built.
"Now we've shown two versions of Shelby vehicles using the same architecture," he said. "That starts to underline the fact that we're serious about this."
A production Shelby super car would likely cost considerably more than the GT's $139,995 base price, due to features like the 605-horsepower, 40-valve, DOHC, 6.4-liter V10 engine used in the Cobra roadster and envisioned for a running version of the GR-1 coupe.
"The GR-1 makes sense," Phillippi said. "Ford needs pizzazz given that the (upcoming 2005) Five Hundred and Freestyle are kind of dull.
"Ford needs to generate buzz, and this will do it. It will generate a lot of cover pictures on car magazines, and you can't buy that."
The Chrysler 300C SRT-8 will certainly exceed the $32,870 base price for the Hemi-powered 340-horsepower 300C on sale now.
The 300C model accounts for 47 percent of Chrysler 300 sales so far this year, a higher proportion than Chrysler expected.
The success of that powerful and profitable model is a tribute to the Hemi engine's prestige. Chrysler had expected to sell fewer V8 300Cs and more of the less expensive V6 models of the stylish sedan. Prices for V6 300s start at $23,295. All prices exclude destination charges.
In addition to its more powerful engine, the 300C SRT-8 will add a number of luxury features not available on other 300 models to justify a higher price.
Those features will include big, sporty 20-inch Goodyear F1 tires and forged aluminum wheels, larger high-performance disc brakes with Brembo calipers, sport seats, new leather trim, and a 180-m.p.h. speedometer.
Exterior differences will include modified front and rear fascias with air ducts to keep the brakes cool and a rear spoiler.
The new larger Hemi will almost certainly also appear in the Dodge Magnum sport wagon and the Dodge Charger sedan that debuts early in 2006.