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American supercars flex their muscle in Detroit


January 21, 2014

Some of the big V8s and curvy American bodies on display at this year's North American International Auto Show

Some of the big V8s and curvy American bodies on display at this year's North American International Auto Show

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One of the themes of this year's North American International Auto Show that we noticed enough to call it a small trend was the prominence of the American super sports car. From established icons, to luxury muscle cars and from muscled-up green cars to radical boutiques, there were a lot of big V8s and curvy American bodies in Detroit.

2014 Falcon F7

First revealed as a concept at NAIAS 2011, then as a production model in 2012, the Falcon F7 wasn't a brand-new debut, but we (and we're guessing many readers) haven't heard all that much about it lately. And despite having a couple birthdays under its belt, the design was still one of the most eye-catching at the show.

Built in Falcon's Holly, Michigan HQ, the F7 flaunts a distinctive carbon-Kevlar body draped atop an aluminum-carbon-Kevlar monocoque chassis. As those materials hint, the car is quite lightweight, tipping the scales at 2,875 lb (1,304 kg). That allows the 620-hp, 7.0-liter LS7 V8 to send it rumbling to 60 mph (96.5 km/h) in 3.3 seconds before topping out around 200 mph (322 km/h).

We could do without the brown-mustard leather trim, but the overall interior is quite inviting. The instrument panel and center stack angle inward to wrap the driver in their own personal command center. The carbon fiber trim and standalone billet-surround gauges are nice touches.

VL Destino

At last year's Detroit show, we heard all about Bob Lutz's plan to re-engine Fisker Karmas with Corvette V8s. It's a not-so-green spin on the green car. After all, the Karma is too damn expensive and pretty for a hybrid powertrain.

VL Automotive didn't follow up this year with anything quite as headline-worthy, but it did show a convertible concept it calls the Destino Red. Outside of the sliced-through roof and loss of rear doors, the main update of note is the Stingray's LT1 V8 joining the last-generation ZR1's supercharged LS9 as an engine option.

While the Destino looks great as a bright-red, hard-top convertible coupe, the new concept car seems to be more of a "don't forget about us" move than a legitimate preview of the future.

"We had hoped to be in retail production by now, but a five-month interruption was caused by the reorganization and restructuring of Fisker Automotive which is a major supplier of some structural components and some body panels," VL co-founder Gilbert Villarreal explains. "Pending resolution of the bankruptcy proceedings, we will continue to negotiate for those parts in tandem with development of VL Automotive's own fabricating operations which make front and rear facias, roofs, trunks and hoods."

We missed VL's press conference at the show, so the photos are of the Destino from last year's show.

Equus Bass770

Because it was a brand-new debut from a new name, the Equus Bass770 earned its own entire article, but it fits in so nicely here, we'll give it a quick recap. Like the VL Destino and Falcon F7, the Bass770 draws heaps of power from a big GM V8 – a 640-hp 6.2-liter supercharged LS9, to be exact. Unlike those cars, it's not trying to look exotic or cutting edge; it's trying to look half a century old. The Bass770's look was inspired by muscle car originals from the 60s and 70s, and Equus has strived to keep it true to that style. The car weighs a good bit more than the F7, but it packs comparable 3.4-second 0-60 and 200-mph performance potential.

Corvette Z06 and SRT Viper

Two originators of high-powered American exotics also had a little something to say in Detroit. Chevy led the way with the latest "most capable" Corvette ever, the 2015 Corvette Z06. The all-new supercharged 6.2-liter LT4 V8 is the first supercharged engine to ever grace the bay of a Z06, bringing with it an estimated 625 ponies and 635 lb-ft of torque. Thanks to its cylinder deactivation technology, that engine can return miles after miles of efficient highway cruising, quickly kicking into full-performance mode whenever the driver demands. Slap on the Z07 performance package, and the Z06 can best the 2013 ZR1 around the track.

SRT didn't have anything as substantial as a new performance edition, but it drew attention to the Viper with an ultra-loud "Stryker Green" color option, which will be available starting next month. It also debuted the new GT package, which includes Nappa leather seats, five-mode electronic stability control and two-mode Bilstein DampTronic Select suspension.

About the Author
C.C. Weiss Upon graduating college with a poli sci degree, Chris toiled in the political world for several years. Realizing he was better off making cynical comments from afar than actually getting involved in all that mess, he turned away from matters of government and news to cover the things that really matter: outdoor recreation, cool cars, technology, wild gadgets and all forms of other toys. He's happily following the wisdom of his father who told him that if you find something you love to do, it won't really be work. All articles by C.C. Weiss

I wish the provincial government would do away with our 'front license plate' requirement as this would ruin the lines of most of these fine- looking chariots.


@Pelotoner .. I agree, it's as easy as having a "no backing into parking spaces law" like we have hear in Florida, my 95 conv. vette has a nice smooth bumper and looks cool. the tag on the front looks fugly, on most all cars.

Jay Finke

Yup. We are all guilty of being hot rodders.

Ed Campbell

So saddened by the loss of Fisker. That was to be my first new car after my career change in two years. I hope Tesla keeps up the good fight (and stops catching fire), as they're my other option - and still a fine auto!

On the extreme other hand, GM has built the first 'Vette that I really like since the latter half of the '60s. All the power, soul and body of a cost prohibitive Italian - what's not to love. Y'know - except burning all that gas to tap all that glorious power ;-) It's ok to have a stonking monster track weapon if you normally drive a plug-in, right?!

Vince Pack

@Pelotoner I completely agree. It is one of the biggest sources of irritation for me.

Red Bike Master

@Red Bike Master I second the motion. But you need to remember the front licence plate is a very good target for Lidar. I.E. that plate will stay.


Yep, agree with all the front-number-plate haters here. And for Goodness' sake, isn't it high time they just had wireless transponders instead of number plates at all? What century is it we're living in, somebody remind me (or DVLA / DMV)...

dalroth5 the sporty muscle, especially the SRT Viper. Wish I had the money to but one.

As for the required front license plate, I never put one on and have yet to be given a citation on the vehicle I currently own (almost 10 yrs. old). Told my car dealer many times (in writing, too) to make sure whoever does the dealer prep to NOT drill holes for the front plate---that it would be a deal breaker. As mentioned, they are ugly and completely ruin the design lines of nice looking vehicles.

Marco Corona

Here in Tennessee there are no front plates. The cars look so much better.

I lived in CA 35 years and I knew several people that got tickets for no front plate. It is also a good excuse to pull over a car to see what they come up with as far as the driver goes or other possibilities.


So the Equus Bass is a late 60s mustang body with a 69 firebird style grill. There's using cues, and then there's using off the shelf repro bodies.

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