Motoring: Detroit houses hidden gems
Credit: NAUMAN FAROOQ
The all new Equus Bass 770 screams classic muscle car with design elements that make one see shades of Mustang, Camaro and Charger in one awesome package.
The State of Michigan is not dead, you just need to look a little bit harder to find the best it has to offer. The same applies to the auto show Detroit hosts annually.
While all the big manufacturers have their displays in the main auditorium at COBO Hall, look around and you'll find some hidden gems in the basement and foyer, stuff like the Equus Bass 770.
At first glance, it looks like a beautifully restored and updated 1967 Ford Mustang Fastback. A closer look reveals that it is something else altogether. The Equus Bass 770 is an all-new vehicle that has a unique aluminum chassis and body — it's just styled to look like your favourite muscle car from the '60s and '70s. You'll see elements of the Mustang, Charger and Camaro all rolled elegantly into one vehicle.
The design details continue when you open the door. The interior looks retro, but has modern gadgets, and is trimmed in the kind of leather upholstery that an original muscle car owner can only dream about.
The performance is dream, too. Under the hood is a supercharged 6.2L V8 taken from Chevrolet (LS9), which is good for 640 hp and 605 lb-ft of torque. That means it should move like a muscle car, but thanks to its modern chassis, it should also handle like a proper sports car. The Equus Bass 770 might be the perfect American speed machine, but it's not cheap — prices start at $250,000.
If you want similar performance in a vehicle that looks nothing like a classic, then you might be interested in the Falcon F7, designed and built by Falcon Motorsports. This is a company that specializes in making components for race and road cars and decided to do their own vehicle. The F7 features an aluminum and carbon-fibre chassis which — in the case of the show car — housed a mid-mounted 7.0L V8 taken from Chevrolet (LS7). Falcon recruited Lingenfelter for tuning this normally aspirated motor, which is now said to produce 620 hp. No official performance testing has been done so far, but you can expect it to be fast.
If you want an F7 with the LS7, you'll need to part with $229,000.
What if you have a Fisker Karma, but are having issues with its complicated powertrain, and getting no support from the bankrupt automaker?
Not to worry, Bob Lutz will come to your rescue, for a price. The former GMexecutive has partnered up with Gilbert Villarreal to start VL Automotive, a company whose entire business model is based on taking existing Fisker Karmas, ridding them of their hybrid powertrains, and fitting Chevrolet LS9 motors in their sleek bodies.
The conversion cost is $100,000 — or if you don't have your own car to supply, VL will sell you a complete car for about $200,000.
Roughly 1,800 Fisker Karmas were produced, and while not everyone would want to turn their hybrid into a supercharged V8 sports sedan, Lutz hopes to convince the majority of owners. He has already sold two units of the VL Destino in Dubai, and will probably attract more buyers in the land of sunshine and cheap gasoline.
At the 2014 North American International Auto Show (NAIAS), VL showed a concept called the Destino Red; which was simply a Fisker Karma Sunset concept with new paint, new interior trimmings and new bumpers. Since Fisker never put the Sunset into production, this concept will remain a one-off.
All of the three car companies mentioned in this article are based around Detroit, proving that there is still innovation and enthusiasm running strong in the “The Motor City.”