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A 'LIFE ON MARS' MOMENT AT THE SHOW

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 Sat, Nov 22, 2008

By: The LACar Editorial Staff

LIFE ON MARS AT THE LA AUTO SHOW Finally, an LA Auto Show I Can Like By Brian Kennedy I go to the LA Auto Show every year with the same naïve expectation: that when I get in there, the place won't be full of jellybean look-a-likes, but svelte sexy beasts with Coke bottle shapes like the 1967 Pontiac Tempest I drive most days. Actually, my hope is more explicit than that. What I wish is that it would be 1967, period. That what I'll be able to look at is a collection of brand-new Chevys, Fords, and Dodges that just came out of the showroom in a day when the president is named Johnson. In other words, I want the impossible - a time machine.

2010 Mustang Impossible, my eye! This year's LA Auto Show is chock full of cars that say it's the 60s, and if you keep a sharp eye out, you can speed past the Japanese tin and the green-ish junk and just focus on four models: The new Challenger, the Mustang, the Camaro, and the Pontiac G8. If you can pull this off, and you're like me, you'll leave saying that you've just seen the auto show you always wanted to see. Taking them from the top, the Challenger is everything you hoped it would be when you saw the concept car. It's a dead ringer for the 1960s model; it's fast as heck, and it's relatively cheap. If you've got any sense, you'll bypass the V6 model and go for the one with the 5.7 liter Hemi. Forget the larger 6.1 liter engine. It's around $45 grand all decked out. The 5.7 liter model, the R/T, can be had low-$30s, and it looks every bit as good and will be plenty fast enough to get you to work on time.

Camaro Black Concept The Mustang, I'm sad to say, is new for 2010 and a disappointment. While the current generation mixes 60s design elements wonderfully, the new one curves the headlight area and the tail area and has a kick-up over the rear tires that looks, frankly, like it was designed by the same person who designed the Challenger. Note however that it's still a technically virtuoso performance by Ford in every respect, and a car worth buying and driving. I'm rendering a personal opinion on the styling here. If you like it, go for it. I have a relatively new Mustang, and I have had nothing but good service from it for 58,000 miles thus far. And it's fast and loud and always a great drive. The Camaro is behind ropes at the show, so you can't paw it over like you can the other cars mentioned here, but boy, would you like to when you lay eyes on it. It's a delicious hunk of musclecar fatness, a chunky badboy with nothing but speed on its mind. Forget the "Is it properly retro?" debate. The car has little insets on the flanks that say "1960s" and an overall proportion that is right for the ethos of a musclecar.

Dodge Challenger The front end may have one too many angular elements (not might, actually - does. Why can't they just quit when they're ahead?) but that's not going to stop me from visiting a Chevrolet showroom for the first time in fifteen years when this car comes out. (Warning ahead to the salesperson who gets me: try to rip me off, treat me like I'm stupid, or give me attitude, and I'll never ever ever in my life ever again give you one second's praise or write a positive story about you. Treat me like any other customer, but think of us ALL as opinion leaders.) And finally, the least-new of the group but a very nice offering indeed is that new Pontiac. They call it G8, and it is aggressively styled but subtle enough for the mature amongst us. If you've been considering a sporty-type GT four-door, and you want something fast and with rear-wheel drive, this might be your ride. Did I just say that? Not the "buy a Pontiac" part. The "rear-wheel drive in a Pontiac" part? I did. Now why would I do that? Because Pontiac has finally awakened from its front-driver junk night of the living dead and put out a car that a car guy might actually find satisfying to drive. The styling harkens back to nothing, but it works on its own. It's a car that you can imagine yourself driving, but more, it's a car you can see yourself spending your Saturday afternoons washing, making sure you got every inch perfect each time.

Pontiac G8 GXP It's not 1967. That's too bad in some ways (because if it were, I'd be at the used car lots buying up Shelbys and Mustang 2+2s), but it might as well be, because these four offerings are car guy's cars of the old-school variety. So go to the show and look at the new VW CC (you'll be sorry), or gaze at the Mini E (you'll be tickled), or take in the Honda CRZ (at least your mother loves you, kid) if you must. But when you're done fooling around with the new Millennium's sorry excuses for cars, make the four-corners tour of Chevrolet, Pontiac, Dodge, and Ford. You'll swear you love cars again.

The Mustang's new interior For LA Car's comprehensive report on the LA Auto Show, click here.

 

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