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Ford's GR-1

Ford's GR-1 could replace the GT in 2007 and bring V10 power to the masses. GM and DCX are watching closely, each with their own lightweight V10 programs in the planning stages.

Detroit's high performance plans

Detroit's supercar showdown continues to simmer, with the Ford GT on the street, Chevy's "Blue Devil" 600-hp Corvette waiting in the wings, and DaimlerChrysler proceeding with its intention to build up to 50 ME-412s. However, signs indicate the heat could be turned way up.

Already Ford has shown the next generation in its arsenal: the Cobra and GR-1 concepts. While the Cobra didn't set the world on fire with its slab-sided, hooked-beak rendition of the 1960s classic, the GR-1—a modern reinterpretation of the Cobra Daytona Coupe race car—hit the sweet spot with potential buyers. The GR-1, like its Cobra sibling, is powered by a V10 rather than the GT's supercharged V8, heavily based on the GT's platform, and ready for production as a 2007 model. That is, if internal company politics don't kill the V10 and GR-1 before either has a chance to reach production. This is a very real possibility since the V10 and GR-1 were created outside of the mainstream development organization. Production of the V10 would harm the profitability of the supercharged V8, and neither the Cobra or GR-1 will see production in their current form without this engine. Consider the program dead if a third Ford performance concept debuts with a supercharged V8 in place of the V10.

If Ford's V10 dies, the investigational V10 programs at GM and DaimlerChrysler may die with it. Word out of Warren that the Gen 7 Corvette will be even more compact—about the size of Porsche's 911—seemingly makes a Gen IV V8-based V10 a moot point. However, a senior GM engineer slyly noted this would make the 2010 Corvette about the same size as Ford's V10 Cobra. He also stated, "What Bob [Lutz] wants, Bob gets," but wouldn't clarify if this meant the smaller Vette, or the V10 engine.

DCX engineers are looking at a Hemi-based V10 for the next Viper, an engine that also could be used in an expansion of the LX platform (300, Magnum, Charger), as well as a replacement for the antiquated 8.0-liter V10 now offered in full-size Dodge trucks. This engine also could find its way into an LX-based muscle car currently under investigation at the Pacifica Design Center. Conversely, the current V10 might continue under the Viper's hood until the model reaches the end of its lifecycle. With sales of the Viper down, DaimlerChrysler may decide it's better to use the 6.1-liter Hemi in its performance models, and let the Viper die a natural death later in the decade. Much depends on demand for the two-seater, the outcome of the muscle car design study, and the prevailing winds coming from Dearborn and Warren. —CAS