Monday, November 21, 2011

Ford and Chevy shootout, what we have to be thankful for

For anyone that is even remotely interested in the automotive industry and the pony car shoot out that has been going on in the past couple of years, I'm sure you have heard all the news of ZL1 and GT500 from last week.  Lets rewind a little bit and look what has happened in this pony car war and why we should be thankful of the situation.  Between 2003-2010 the Camaro was dead and the top spot was uncontested by the Mustang.  Dodge came out with the Challenger and its retro look was very appealing.  However, its hefty price tag much like its weight was a clear deterrent for sales.

2010 rolled around and the Camaro hit the market becoming an instant success, in fact in the last 30 months the Camaro has outsold the Mustang all but four months.  Since the Mustang was uncontested in the market, there was no real urge for Ford to increase the power.  With the Camaro (and Challenger) out now, Ford was forced to upgrade to stay competitive.  The 2010 Camaro SS (V8) was rated at 426 hp (manual) or 400 hp (automatic).  While the Challenger (SRT8) was rated at 425 hp and the Mustang at 315 hp.  The V6 Camaro blew the competition out of the water at an uncertified 304 hp.  The Mustang V6 had around 210 hp and the Challenger V6 was at 250 hp.  Chevy set the bar and Ford wouldn't sit long before updating their engines.

Ford Motor Co. clearly had to address what the Camaro was offering.  2011 came around and Ford had new motors, the Mustang GT (V8) offered 412 hp, however its lighter weight allowed it to be marginally faster than the Camaro SS (V8).  More interesting was Ford's V6, which was rated at 305 hp, just one horse power more than the 2010 Camaro V6.  However, in 2011 Chevy had their V6 engine (the LLT) SAE certified at 312 hp, once again beating the V6 Mustang.

2012 marks yet another large leap for Chevrolet.  The Camaro ZL1 will hit markets Spring of 2012 as a 2012 model year.  The ZL1 is rated at 580 hp and 556 tq.  The power is produced from a super charged 6.2 liter V8 engine, similar to that from the Cadillac CTS-V.  However, in my opinion that is not the best feature of the car.  The ZL1 comes standard with the third generation of magnetic ride control, similar to that of the CTS-V.  The magnetic ride control, along with other suspension upgrades allowed the Camaro ZL1 to achieve an amazing time around Germany's Nuremberg Ring in just 7:41, putting it in super car territory.  Thus making its main competition (Ford's GT500) just another dot in its rear view mirror or so everyone thought.

However, Ford Motor Co. would not let Chevrolet take the gold medal so soon.  Just one day after Chevrolet released pricing for the Camaro ZL1 (just shy of $55,000) Ford released that the 2013 GT500 will have an amazing 650 hp and 600 tq, which is 70 more hp and 44 more tq than the ZL1.  This blew up internet automotive websites instantly.  There were a lot of people saying the Camaro has been beaten even before it hit show rooms.

Last week at the LA auto show, only a few days after Ford's announcement of the 2013 GT500, Chevrolet's marketing team issued a challenge to Ford Motor Co.  Both Ford and Chevy would take their respective cars, pick a driver and see who's car was faster around Germany's famous Nuremberg Ring.  Unfortunately Ford declined the offer, whether it was because of fear that the GT500's power would only show itself in a straight line, rather than a road course or not we may never know.

I think everyone needs to take a step back for a moment and look at what's going on here.  This is an amazing time in the American automotive industry.  We have not seen muscle car rivalries like this since the late 1960's and early 1970's.  Competition breeds improvement, and when this happens the consumer is the ultimate winner, gaining better cars for the price.  I think every automotive enthusiast whether you're a Chevy, Ford or Dodge guy (or girl) needs to be thankful of what's going on right now, especially during a time when the economy is suffering and the American automotive industry was all but dead a few years ago.

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