5 Concept Sports Cars
By Paul Anderson
Every December and January, auto exhibitions open up across North America. For the average man, these shows are met with excitement not for the new Ford minivans or Dodge pickups set for release, but for the latest innovations in auto-making.
These come in the way of concept cars : futuristic vehicles that highlight what car companies can create when not held back by any restrictions. Some are prototypes that will become part of a carmaker's fleet in years to come, while others are simply an engineer's dream come true and are never destined for the assembly line.
Either way, concept cars are a lot of fun to look at so without further ado, here are five of the most recent and interesting sports concept cars.
1- Ford Cobra
The same group of engineers and designers that created the Ford GT was assigned to a fun experiment, dictated by executives at the American company: come up with an edgy concept roadster, with both modern and retro touches. In just five months, the quick-working team did just that, showing off their Ford Cobra to the world at the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in Detroit, in January 2004.
The Cobra boasts both the sleek exterior and muscle under the hood that one would expect from Ford. The engine is a 6.4-litre V10 and, most impressively, is able to produce 605 horsepower and 501 pound-feet of torque. Unlike other concept cars, which are mostly attractive shells that can barely be driven off the lot, the two-seater Cobra is already capable of reaching 100 mph. Controlling this power is a six-speed manual transmission topped by a cool billet shifter.
Despite all this power, however, it's the body that's getting all the attention. The rounded headlights and hood, and short rear harkens back to Ford's old days, while the silver paint job and chrome rims represent a modern look. Designers did not only focus on the Cobra's outside, either. The interior features carbon-fiber sports seats, a clean, simple console and a Formula One-inspired steering wheel .
Ford is hoping the Cobra will attract both nostalgic drivers who enjoyed the old GT models and new, young professionals looking for Dodge Viper-like performance and a new look. If the demand is there, it is reported that Ford will actually mass-produce the Cobra and put it in showrooms in the next five years.
Distinguishing Feature: The Cobra has no rearview mirrors; instead the driver uses small cameras mounted in the interior and a display screen on the interior mirror to check blind spots. This proves to be a very convenient and interesting change.
2- Chrysler ME Four-Twelve Prototype
More typically Lamborghini than Chrysler, the ME Four-Twelve is anything but conventional. With the news that close competitor Ford was releasing a revamped GT (the Cobra) at the NAIAS, DaimlerChrysler could not resist coming up with a concept car of its own. In many ways, the ME Four-Twelve trumps the Cobra and is a true supercar.
Check out the following specs for proof. The engine, a 6.0-liter 12-cylinder linked with 4 turbochargers, is a true monster, generating 850 horsepower and 850 pound-feet of torque. Chrysler boasts that the ME can go can go a quarter-mile in 10.6 seconds at a speed of 142 mph. Finally, the top speed of this aerodynamic brute is reported to be a mere 248 mph.
To control the ME, and its 20-inch rear wheels, Chrysler installed a seven-speed transmission and impressive Formula One shifting paddles on the steering wheel to change the gears. With all the speed this car is capable of, Chrysler has also insured safety. The body is built with carbon fibers and aluminum -- materials that protect well in accidents. And the suspension is double wishbone, like many of today's minivans.
Of course, none of these interesting facts would matter if the ME did not have a heart-stopping design. The car has a low, flat exterior, cool rear spoiler and crazy headlights. The intakes on the sides are nothing to sneeze at either. On the inside, the bright dials, rounded vents and high-quality upholstery make the ME quite luxurious.
Finally, I bring you great news. DaimlerChrysler has announced that the ME Four-Twelve is a true prototype , meaning the company plans to produce this road-worthy concept car as early as the summer of 2004.