DETROIT (AFP) – Ford and Honda stole the spotlight Monday at the Detroit auto show with the debuts of two hot new supercars, reviving long-absent favorites: the legendary GT and the Acura NSX.
While muscle and speed were abundant at the premier US car and truck exposition, little could measure up to the dazzle from the sleek track-ready-but-street-legal rockets from the two big automakers.
The unveilings marked a new stage for the US industry, symbolising a “full clear” from the more austere commercial-production focus automakers had after the 2008 economic crash, when things like circuit-ready supercars were seen as expensive excess.
The GT immediately won glowing approval from car enthusiasts who flooded social media to proclaim what one called on Twitter “delicious.”
The car sports buttresses behind each door creating two wind tunnels that Ford designers say are as aerodynamically functional as they are elegant architecture.
Speculation was rife that Ford, reviving the GT after a 10-year hiatus, would take the 600-plus horsepower car to Le Mans when it comes into production next year, to mark the 50th anniversary of the victory of Ford’s original supercar, the GT 40, at the iconic French circuit.
But Ford chief executive Mark Fields was coy when asked if the new GT would race in France.
“We have nothing else to talk about besides just presenting this great looking car,” he said.
Fields called the GT the embodiment of Ford’s most advanced efforts in lightweight materials including aluminum and carbon fiber, high-power-and-fuel conservation in its engines, and aerodynamics.
“We looked at how we were driving innovation through the company,” Fields said. “And we said to ourselves, let’s have a showcase where we can highlight that innovation and technology in a really dramatic way.”
Honda, meanwhile, revived the long-missed NSX, the Acura supercar originally driven by champion driver Ayrton Senna in 1989 and which still has fan clubs around the world.
But it sets itself out as a hybrid racer, with a 550-horsepower twin turbo-charged V6 engines combined with three electric motors that Acura says gives it “zero delay acceleration.”
“It’s just bada#*… in a luxury kind of a way,” Mike Accavitti, Honda senior vice president and Acura general manager, told a throng of reporters.
“It not only lives up to the legacy of its predecessor, it’s the stuff that our dreams are made of,” purred Accavitti.
The Acura NSX will hit the streets later this year at a price beginning $150,000.
Mark Vaughn, industry expert at Autoweek, said the two debuts hark back to the golden age of cars.
“Wouldn’t that be great to put these two pure GT race cars onto the track,” he said.
Such cars are not particularly profitable for automakers, “but they get people talking about them,” he said.
The introduction of the two gave a boost to the glamour quotient of the annual North American International Auto Show, after opening with car and truck of the year awards going to the Volkswagen Golf and Ford’s new aluminum-body pickup truck.
The lowest gasoline prices in six years, steady economic growth and low interest rates for buyers have moved the market somewhat away from fuel conservation and that was evident at the Detroit show, where the push for electrics and hybrids was mainly evident at GM’s Chevrolet division and Hyundai.
Chevrolet offered an updated version of its electric Volt that has more power and better mileage. Meanwhile it unveiled the Bolt concept plug-in electric, sporting a 200-mile (320-kilometre) range, competitive with the luxury electric Tesla Model S at less than half the price – $30,000, GM says.