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This article is from our archives and has not been updated and integrated with our "new" site yet... Even so, it's still awesome - so keep reading!

Published on Wed, Oct 27, 2004

By: The LACar Editorial Staff

© All photographs copyright LA CAR

ANAHEIM REACHES CRITICAL MASS ALL THE KEY ELEMENTS COME TOGETHER AT THE 2005 CALIFORNIA INTERNATIONAL AUTO SHOW Report by REED BERRY, JOHN GRAFMAN, ROY NAKANO & ZORAN SEGINA The California International Auto Show (CIAS) in Anaheim, California started out as a small-scale, dealer-organized show to help move some car sales in the local Orange County and Long Beach communities. Over the years, the CIAS grew and grew, but worldwide introductions of automobiles were always few and far between. This year, the CIAS went through a major morph for the better: Three worldwide production model introductions, four North American production model introductions, one USA production model introduction, sneak previews of several SEMA show vehicles, a sneak preview of a North American production model, and one North American concept car debut.

Chrysler debuts the 425 hp 300C SRT8 What happened to cause all this commotion in Anaheim? To paraphrase a popular sound bite from the Presidential elections, the California International Auto Show is simply the right show at the right place at the right time. As the first auto show of the model year, the CIAS is held at the most ideal time - i.e., to coincide with most of the year's new car introductions. Moveover, the show is held in a top-notch venue - the recently remodeled and expanded Anaheim Convention Center. Last but not least, it's held in the center of the automotive design community. With all this going for it, it was just a matter of time before the CIAS hit critical mass. The General Comes To Town The first clue that we're not in Kansas anymore arrives as General Motors ushers the journalists out of the main convention center and into an indoor stadium area (with the help of some Boy Scout troopers). With a layer of dry ice smoke covering the floor and spotlights overhead, the venue has all the trappings of the Ice Capades. Instead of Michelle Kwan, however, out comes Bob Lutz, Chairman of GM North America, in a 2005 Pontiac GTO.

GM's Bob Lutz introduces the new Pontiac Grand Prix GXP Pontiac In addition to showing off the more powerful 2005 GTO (increased to 400 hp) Lutz is on hand to introduce (on screen) a new sport utility vehicle: The 2006 Pontiac Torrent. The Torrent is followed by a live introduction of the 2005 Pontiac Grand Prix GXP - a high-performance sedan equipped with more refined interior appointments, new exterior fascia, a sport-tuned suspension, and a new 5300 5.3 liter V8 (LS4) engine producing an estimated 290 horsepower. It's the first V8 in a Grand Prix in 17 years. Pontiac estimates that the Grand Prix GXP will deliver 0-60 mph performance in approximately 6 seconds.

GM's Lutz, Cowger & Doherty introduce the new Hummer H3 Hummer We soon realize Lutz is not the only big gun from GM. After the Pontiac presentation, Lutz is joined by Gary Cowger, President of GM North America, and Susan Doherty, the new general manager for GM's Hummer Division. Lutz, Cowger and Doherty proceed to host the world debut of the Hummer Alpha - an alpha-personality truck version of the original H1 - and the Hummer H3 - a smaller, shrink-wrapped version of the popular and controversial H2 sport utility vehicle.

Gary Cowger on the new Hummer Alpha H1 The 2006 Hummer H1 Alpha features GM's 6600 Duramax diesel engine - making it the quickest H1 ever. The 2006 H3 is powered by a 220 horsepower, five-cylinder engine. Unlike the thirsty H2, however, GM is hoping that the H3 will be able to return mileage in the 20 miles per gallon range. GM is also hoping that the H3 will still attract those enamored with the Hummer. Judging by the response from the Boy Scout troopers on hand, GM should have no trouble selling the H3.

Hemis converge at Anaheim's Sonic drive-in

HEMIs Come Home To Roost Just when we think that no one can top the GM presentation, the folks at Chrysler usher us all into vintage Chrysler products from the 1950s, '60s and '70s - all powered by Chrysler HEMI engines. It turns out that Chrysler put out a call to all HEMI owners in the locale to assist in this event. The destination? The sole Sonic drive-in restaurant in Southern California, which just happens to be in Anaheim.

HEMI owner Gene Buell escorts LA Car

So, here we are: A caravan of HEMIs - Chargers, Road Runners, GTXs, Super Bees, 300s, and more - converging on Anaheim's Sonic drive-in, which has otherwise been closed off to the general public. Once there, we all gather in a circus-like tent, while Chrysler brings out their latest HEMI - a 425-hp 300C SRT8.

Sonic girls strike a pose Although there's been some debate about whether the new 300C has truly hemispherical combustion chambers, there's no question about its performance capabilities. The SRT8 adds an additional 85 horses to the 300C, improves the four-wheel independent suspension rear-drive vehicle even further, and tops it off with a special appearance package - both inside and out.

More HEMIs

Still more The Chrysler 300C is destined to be a collector car. It's already big with the rap star crowd (DUB magazine had their own version of it on display). It will likely become the modern-day equivalent of the early 1960s Chevrolet Impalas - i.e., the foundation for future lowriders. However, the SRT8 will, undoubtedly, be the most collectible 300C of them all. - Roy Nakano

Chrysler introduces the SRT8 World Premiere of the Saleen S281SC Mustang When the blue cover is pulled off, the first overall impression is what a good-looking rig the Mustang is. For most of its forty-year existence the Pony has always striven to be handsome, although there existed dark periods. Among many permutations of the initial 1964 Mustang design, some have captured our imagination better than others.

2005 Saleen Mustang The pronounced jaw of the car on the podium contains state-of-the-art bi-functional Xenon/High-Intense Discharge headlights, but somewhere between the long hood, short rear deck, and especially the ribs on the quarter window, one can sense a steely blue-eyed resolve of Detective Lt. Frank Bullitt, fastening his seat belt and ready to make a U-turn on Army Street in San Francisco. The legendary nine-minute chase sequence that is the granddaddy of them all, would have been significantly shorter if Lt. Bullitt had in his hands the Saleen S281SC Mustang. The 1968 GT390 Fastback was a powerful car with its 335 bhp output. But in 1968 there was no way to shape the Mustang for the optimal aerodynamics. Thirty-five years later, the lower front grille opening, the hood vents the rocker panel skirting, the rear spoiler and the rear diffuser on the S281SC come straight from the results of the wind-tunnel testing and a development of the S7, a Saleen supercar.

And, of course, the engine. A cursory peek under the hood reveals remarkably little - i.e., it is hard to believe that within this quite ordinary looking setup breathes an Integrated Twin Screw Supercharger that will, at seven pounds of boost, provide the 4.6 liter engine with a neck-snapping 400 horsepower and 420 pound-feet of torque. Each horsepower has to carry 8.87 pounds of the car's curb weight. The top speed was not provided, but slowing the beast down should be easy. A set of 12.4 dual piston vented discs in the front, and their 11.8 single piston counterparts in the rear should suffice. Need to stop faster? How about optional 14-inch four-piston slotted and vented discs up-front? The S281SC benefits from the 2005 total makeover of the Mustang, adding six inches to the wheel base compared to the 2004 model. The front seats are powered every which way, including lumbar support and manual back seat rake. The three-spoke steering wheel offers more than a passing resemblance to the one held by Lt. Bullitt. The rear end of the car is particularly appealing with ribs on the facsia, squarish headlights and the twin square exhaust pipes in the center. No wonder Steve Saleen designed this side of the S281SC with so much care. After all this is the side that other drivers will see the most. - Zoran Segina

Ford also had the Shelby GR-1 concept car on hand

Jaguar Just to prove that you can never have too many Jaguars, the X-Type premium compact line expands with the addition of three new models for 2005. Making its U.S. debut at the California International Auto Show...the X-Type Sportwagon, Jaguar's first-ever production wagon. The Sportwagon combines sleek styling with impressive load-carrying capability. With both rear seats folded forward, you'll have 50 cubic feet of cargo space. A retractable cover keeps your cargo secure and hidden from view. The Sportwagon is designed to be practical while retaining the comfort and torsional stiffness of the X-Type Sedan.

Jaguar X-Type Sportwagon Check out the aggressive styling of the new X-Type Sport. Designed to appeal to a more performance-oriented consumer, the X-Type Sport features a 3.0-liter 227 horsepower engine and a cable-shift mechanism for smooth, precise shifting. An automatic transmission is standard but I would choose the five-speed manual transmission that is available as a no-cost option. A lower spoiler brings the car closer to the ground and dual exhausts give the X-Type Sport a powerful look. Feeling a little decadent? Slip into the driver's seat of the X-Type VDP, the luxury addition to the X-Type line. The interior features burl walnut veneers as well as a wood and leather trimmed steering wheel. The leather seats and head restraints are outlined with color-contrast piping. The exterior of the VDP features chrome accents and rain-sensing windshield wipers. Under the hood, a 24-valve 3.0-liter engine will take you from zero to sixty in a mere 7.1 seconds. - Reed Berry

Infiniti M45/M35 If the team at Nissan's upscale brand marketing department is looking for a new mascot I will have to suggest Buzz Lightyear. The often-used line of this fictional character works perfect with their latest release, "To Infiniti and beyond"! How perfect! With the release of the new Infiniti M45 and M35 the sky is now in reach of the mortal man. A not too distant relative of the Q, the M has the right parts and a down to earth price, so we hope. While the Q is in the big leagues, and the G is for the most part an entry-level, near luxury, sport sedan, the M should take up the slack in their product line. With base motor's 3.5 liters turning out 280 horses and the 4.5 a stirring 340, these might be the nemesis to the competition that Infiniti has been long overdue in offering. The M has size, good looks and sophistication including the lane departure warning technology currently available in the Nissan FX. The new M sedans should finally be coming into its own. I will expect the other luxury brands response will be rather, shall we say, animated. - John Grafman

Lexus LF-C concept car

The 2006 Lexus GS A picture is worth a thousand words. With that in mind, we've showcased a few from the 2005 California International Auto Show's press preview of October 27, 2004. The show continued on through October 31, 2004, at the Anaheim Convention Center. You can get more details from the CIAS home page.

Chrysler's ME Four Twelve concept car

Volvo displays an XC90 made entirely of Lego pieces © All photographs copyright LA CAR

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