One of the themes of this year's North American International Auto Show that we noticed enough to call it a small trend was the prominence of the American super sports car. From established icons, to luxury muscle cars and from muscled-up green cars to radical boutiques, there were a lot of big V8s and curvy American bodies in Detroit.
2014 Falcon F7
First revealed as a concept at NAIAS 2011, then as a production model in 2012, the Falcon F7 wasn't a brand-new debut, but we (and we're guessing many readers) haven't heard all that much about it lately. And despite having a couple birthdays under its belt, the design was still one of the most eye-catching at the show.
Built in Falcon's Holly, Michigan HQ, the F7 flaunts a distinctive carbon-Kevlar body draped atop an aluminum-carbon-Kevlar monocoque chassis. As those materials hint, the car is quite lightweight, tipping the scales at 2,875 lb (1,304 kg). That allows the 620-hp, 7.0-liter LS7 V8 to send it rumbling to 60 mph (96.5 km/h) in 3.3 seconds before topping out around 200 mph (322 km/h).
We could do without the brown-mustard leather trim, but the overall interior is quite inviting. The instrument panel and center stack angle inward to wrap the driver in their own personal command center. The carbon fiber trim and standalone billet-surround gauges are nice touches.
At last year's Detroit show, we heard all about Bob Lutz's plan to re-engine Fisker Karmas with Corvette V8s. It's a not-so-green spin on the green car. After all, the Karma is too damn expensive and pretty for a hybrid powertrain.
VL Automotive didn't follow up this year with anything quite as headline-worthy, but it did show a convertible concept it calls the Destino Red. Outside of the sliced-through roof and loss of rear doors, the main update of note is the Stingray's LT1 V8 joining the last-generation ZR1's supercharged LS9 as an engine option.
While the Destino looks great as a bright-red, hard-top convertible coupe, the new concept car seems to be more of a "don't forget about us" move than a legitimate preview of the future.
"We had hoped to be in retail production by now, but a five-month interruption was caused by the reorganization and restructuring of Fisker Automotive which is a major supplier of some structural components and some body panels," VL co-founder Gilbert Villarreal explains. "Pending resolution of the bankruptcy proceedings, we will continue to negotiate for those parts in tandem with development of VL Automotive's own fabricating operations which make front and rear facias, roofs, trunks and hoods."
We missed VL's press conference at the show, so the photos are of the Destino from last year's show.
Because it was a brand-new debut from a new name, the Equus Bass770 earned its own entire article, but it fits in so nicely here, we'll give it a quick recap. Like the VL Destino and Falcon F7, the Bass770 draws heaps of power from a big GM V8 – a 640-hp 6.2-liter supercharged LS9, to be exact. Unlike those cars, it's not trying to look exotic or cutting edge; it's trying to look half a century old. The Bass770's look was inspired by muscle car originals from the 60s and 70s, and Equus has strived to keep it true to that style. The car weighs a good bit more than the F7, but it packs comparable 3.4-second 0-60 and 200-mph performance potential.
Corvette Z06 and SRT Viper
Two originators of high-powered American exotics also had a little something to say in Detroit. Chevy led the way with the latest "most capable" Corvette ever, the 2015 Corvette Z06. The all-new supercharged 6.2-liter LT4 V8 is the first supercharged engine to ever grace the bay of a Z06, bringing with it an estimated 625 ponies and 635 lb-ft of torque. Thanks to its cylinder deactivation technology, that engine can return miles after miles of efficient highway cruising, quickly kicking into full-performance mode whenever the driver demands. Slap on the Z07 performance package, and the Z06 can best the 2013 ZR1 around the track.
SRT didn't have anything as substantial as a new performance edition, but it drew attention to the Viper with an ultra-loud "Stryker Green" color option, which will be available starting next month. It also debuted the new GT package, which includes Nappa leather seats, five-mode electronic stability control and two-mode Bilstein DampTronic Select suspension.