Return of the Clones?
2003 Auto Show Reveals Up-and-Coming Concepts
by Dale Malcolm
The buzzword (or buzz acronym, if you prefer) at this year’s North American International Auto Show in Detroit was DNA. The automakers were all talking about new models that have the DNA of a favorite car from the same manufacturer. There were many vehicles that fell under this category, including the new crossover vehicles that are a blend of a sport coupe and a four-wheel-drive sports utility vehicle. Many of these crossover vehicles may have the same shape and look, but they are very different under the sheet metal. My co-worker who attended the show with me remarked on the way home from Detroit that AMC/Jeep/Eagle had “crossover” vehicles as early as 1980. And, as I see it, the 1983 Eagle clearly provided some of the DNA for the Dodge Avenger Concept Vehicle.
An ancient proverb once said: “May you live in interesting times …” Well, the Detroit Auto Show showed that this year was certainly very interesting.
The Volvo XC90 Sport Utility Vehicle was named the North American Truck of the Year .
On the horizon, three high-end vehicles, the Maybach 62, Rolls Royce Phantom Production Vehicle and the Cadillac Sixteen Concept Vehicle, were introduced at an estimated price of more than $300,000 each.
Porsche displayed its Cayenne sport utility vehicle. (Maybe it will win the truck award next year.)
The New VW Beetle is now available in a convertible in the four original colors (tan, light-blue, yellow and orange).
Ford has a concept vehicle in the Model U with interior components made from soy and corn. Of course, I couldn’t help but wonder, do you trade this vehicle in or eat it?
While the new Pontiac GTO does not appear to share any DNA with the classic original, it has a specially tuned LS1 5.7-liter, V-8, aluminum-block engine, currently estimated at 340 horsepower, under its hood. The GTO is produced by GM’s Australian subsidiary, Holden.
Just as the Phantom has the detail market cornered, the Maybach (a new, ultra-luxury division of Mercedes) 62 is clearly a leader in modern comforts. The rear seating has built-in massage and full extension and recline features. The rear-set controls even allow the rear passenger to push a button to move the front seat forward and out of the way.
Rolls Royce’s attention to detail is apparent in the design of the Rolls Royce Phantom. The rear-coach door to the passenger compartment contains a Teflon-coated umbrella to cover exiting passengers.
The Pike’s Peak concept has some techno-gadgets you have to love. The door handle loops extend when the car senses an authorized key-holder approach. The passenger-side mirror has a camera that shows a view of the area around the right front wheel on the navigation screen on the dash for tight mountain roads like Pike’s Peak (hence its name).
Dale Malcolm is technical services supervisor with Dow Automotive/Essex ARG in Dayton, Ohio.
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