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2000 Los Angeles Auto Show
by Jim Bennett

Crossover Vehicles
High Image And Performance Vehicles
Evolutionary Vehicles
The Bottom Line

BMW's Z8 roadster is a 1950's classically influenced, modern design shown for the first time in America at the LA Auto Show. Sources advise it was patterned off of the highly acclaimed Z07 concept car . My first impression is that it is a Z3 on steroids - and then some. The car is being heavily promoted with the new James Bond film "The World Is Not Enough". Power for this light weight performer is derived from the potent and proven 400 HP V-8 M5 engine and achieves 60 mph in less than five seconds, with terminal velocity around 160 mph.

Audi's stunning TT roadster had its American coming out party in LA to an appreciative audience. It's a perfect example of a vehicle that is very suitable for the California Dreamin' machine niche market and then some. Based on the head turning, elegant design of the coupe back in 1995, co-developed by the talented Freeman Thomas (now Chrysler) and his design team for that year's Frankfurt Auto Show. It is now seeing production, while remaining faithful to the original concept. Great job.

Panoz is one of the few independent makers of performance hand built American automobiles and is debuting its new aluminum intensive, Esperante prototype. The graceful, classic European lines create a handsome profile. Power is provided by a 4.6 liter V-8, 32 valve Ford engine producing 320 horsepower.

The DeTomaso Mangusta sports car is back, for its American debut at a major auto show with a modern chassis and engine, plus a unique three position roof system. It's been over three decades since the original, beautiful Mangusta mid-engine coupe graced the LA show. Its body design has stood the test of time very well. The 2000 Mangusta combines new world technology and innovation with old world artistry. The design flexibility of the roof is clever by allowing a standard coupe configuration with the center roof section in place, a targa style with that section removed and the rear window raised and a completely airy roadster, with the rear window powered down. The price will be around $80,000 later this year.

Ford's "Bullitt" Mustang concept was extremely popular and created a major buzz among all age groups. Playing off the 1968 Mustang GT used in the famous Steve McQueen movie, Ford prepared a 2000 Mustang GT complete with Bullitt paint, special scooped hood, five spoke mag wheels and racing style, flip top fuel filler. A continuous video loop of the movie chase scene was played near the vehicle to complete the effect. Ford is considering a 2001 special "limited edition" of the Bullitt Mustang to head the top of their Mustang V-8 line up. Gentlemen, start your engines and be careful when practicing on hilly streets, since law enforcement will be diligent---especially in San Francisco.

Toyota showed two noteworthy Celica products, a convertible developed by Toyota Calty Designs and a racer model created by Rod Millen Motorsports, a well known aftermarket tuner and off road racer. This "bad boy" Ultimate Celica sleek racer is supposed to be on sale later this year and sports Recaro seats, a 500+ hp twincam turbocharged four cylinder engine, complete with roll cage. Impressive performance seems likely.

The Porsche 911 Turbo is a long time top performer and was debuted for America in LA, since this is the vehicle's signature market worldwide. It looks fabulous and promises low 4 second 0 to 60 times, top speeds nearing 190 mph with a 400+ HP engine. Visually, three large front air scoops, flared rear wheels wells and all-new retractable rear wing underscore that this vehicle is all business. A continuing classic, but still has a contemporary design that continues to work. Price is currently not available, but sources advise the year's entire production is already sold out.

The Rolls-Royce Corniche convertible is the world's most expensive and exclusive production car at around $360,000. If you have to know the exact price - you can't afford it. Volkswagen AG, its manufacturer, correctly chose a Los Angeles debut. Between the exclusive gated enclave of Bel-Air, selected areas of Beverly Hills, Brentwood, La Jolla and Malibu could acquire most of this year's 100 unit American allocation. The preferred color for this and other high value / high image products is said to be black.

Evolutionary Vehicles

Crossover Vehicles

Dated: January, 2000

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