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1966 Batmobile - Auto News and Events

Gearhead News

Photography by Courtesy Of The NHRA

Anyhow, at January's Detroit Auto Show, Dodge showed the Magnum SRT-8, a concept car that's rumored to be an only slightly disguised version of a rear-drive sport wagon that will soon enter production. The looks are obviously influenced by Dodge trucks, and we think they're attractive in a muscular American way. More interesting is the chassis underneath that uses A-arms in front, a multilink independent system in the rear, four-wheel disc brakes, and big 20-inch wheels.

Most thrilling of all is the powerplant-a supercharged version of the 5.7L Hemi V-8 that's currently being installed in Ram pickups. The Whipple blower on this monster boosts output from the normal 345 hp up to a muscular 430 hp. Frankly we don't expect the iron-block Hemi to make it under the new rear-drivers' hoods with or without a blower. Instead we hear it will be an all-aluminum Hemi with a reduced-mass reciprocating assembly and higher compression ratio making nearly 400 hp in naturally aspirated state. However, we fully expect the Mercedes-designed five-speed automatic behind the Hemi to be there in production.

A look at the Magnum's interior shows a mix of new stuff, Dodge stuff, and Mercedes stuff. The sound and navigation system is swiped straight from the current Mercedes line (so is the turn signal stalk), the ventilation controls are pure Mopar, and that shifter and other controls look brand new.

The fact that the Magnum is a wicked cool looking wagon is a plus, but it's the rest of the machine that has us thrilled.

Fascinating 427
It's obvious that the same numbers mean different things to different car guys. Say "427" to a Chevy guy and his thoughts turn to Rat-powered Corvettes or the awesome Camaro ZL1. Say it to a Ford guy and thoughts turn to the titanic powerhouse motor from the mid-'60s that powered Carroll Shelby's awesome Cobra and the brick-like '65 Galaxie to NASCAR glory. The 427 concept vehicle shown by Ford at this year's Detroit auto show was intended to evoke memories of that Galaxie, and it does so surprisingly well.

The bent bars crossing the car's nose framed by large vertical headlamps and the general blockiness of the body are reminiscent of the square-cut '65 Galaxie, though the '65 was never this muscular looking. Ford calls the look "almost sinister," but that's wrong. It's just clean and upright, and hopefully it will inspire some better looking Ford sedans in the future.

Power for the 427 does, in fact, come from a 427ci powerplant (that's 7.0L in euro-speak). In this case, it's a version of Ford's Triton V-10 with siamesed 95-millimeter bores and four-valve cylinder heads. Ford claims a paranormal 590 hp for this engine that, despite the extra cylinders, weighs in about 70 pounds less than the 5.4L, 32-valve V-8 used in the '01 Mustang Cobra-R. What are the chances of the 427 V-10 becoming a regular production item? Absolutely subterranean.

Ford Gambles On a New F-150
Ford sells about 800,000 new F-Series pickups every year. It's the best-selling vehicle on Earth. It's the source of much of Ford's profits. When they redesign it, they risk everything.

Ford is rolling the dice big-time with the all-new '04 F-150 due to go on sale later this year. However, the old F-150 (introduced as a '97 model) will stay in production at the base trim levels to keep prices down.

There's nothing really startling about the new F-150, but its obviously been refined to the Nth degree. That's one better than the Mth degree.

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