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2005 North American International Auto Show (NAIAS)
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Click here to open the slideshowThe usual cold, dismal Detroit weather couldn’t weaken the anticipated excitement on the opening day of the 17th annual North American International Auto Show (NAIAS). The two trends for 2005 were visibly revealing themselves as ‘Green’ and ‘Power’. NAIAS has continually stunned the media and public alike with magnificent concepts over the years and didn’t stray from that course yet again.

General Motors opened the long schedule of press conferences with what seemed to be the strongest Hybrid development program available in the industry. Hybrid technology has evidently become a team effort as GM announced their affiliation with Daimler Chrysler in designing the “Two Mode Full Hybrid” System used in their new Sequel Concept; a revised version of the previous Autonomy Hybrid Chassis. Chrysler introduced the new Viper-derived Firepower and the Jeep super-utility truck concept suitably named Gladiator. The Chrysler group have previously shocked the media the past two years with the extreme Tomahawk and ME Four-Twelve concepts, leaving one franchise to remain; Jeep. The Hurricane Concept roared onto the stage with its twin 5.7L engines as only a Hemi duet can. The articulating wheels then proceeded to rotate this oversized sand-box toy several times on its own axis. The only turning radius of zero to ever enter our specifications.

Ford began their first conference with a convertible version of the new Mustang design, and a revised Harley Davidson F-150. Following moments behind was the redesigned SportTrac concept and a technology-loaded ‘vault’ on wheels branded SYNUS. A thunderous exhaust note amidst towering pyrotechnic flames aptly introduced the latest generation Shelby GR-1 Concept, in spectacular polished aluminum. The Sunday releases continued with a 500+ horsepower Lexus Supercar, the official U.S. debut of the Mercedes-Benz smart franchise, the Volkswagen Ragster Beetle, and Nissan’s Azeal sports coupe concept. The day’s schedule concluded with the Acura RD-X sport-ute concept, an updated Audi Allroad Quattro, and two freshly designed concepts from Saturn; Aura and Sky.

Monday began early with a visit from the Orange County Choppers crew and their Lincoln LT themed motorcycle, alongside the new colour-coordinated LT truck. MOPAR fans have been patiently waiting for the return of the Dodge Charger and were finally treated to the latest in Dodge muscle design. It drove onto the stage concealed by a NASCAR Charger shell which was then transformed by the pit crew into a production ready 340 hp Hemi-powered four door sedan. Porsche’s latest 911 design was officially welcomed to North America, as well as the similarly redesigned Boxster, followed by the national introduction of the BMW M5. Infiniti presented the Kuraza SUV Concept while crowds were gathering for the global presentation of Ferrari’s ultra-fast convertible. The Superamerica is a 575 variant with the world’s quickest opening roof; perfectly mated to the world’s quickest open two-seater. Honda finished up the morning with the company’s first production truck; the Ridgeline.

Ford supplied box lunches to the automotive media as they entered Cobo Arena once again for their international franchises new products. Land Rover showcased the Range Rover Sport; the result of their first-ever concept presented last year as the Range Stormer. Jaguar’s executive conceded to their poor sales results of 2004, but then proceeded to present a completely new curvaceous two door concept; the Advanced Lightweight Coupe. It was visibly obvious that its outline spawned from the current Aston Martin lineup. GM had no secrets left to hide. The media and industry executives in attendance were given ear-plugs in preparation for the only Chevrolet unveiling of the show. LeMans Team driver Ron Fellows skillfully piloted the thunderous new C6-R Corvette onto the stage, followed by the latest upgrade to the C6 design, the 500hp Z06.

Subaru revealed their first crossover vehicle Monday afternoon. The B9 Tribeca is intended to be “the next logical step for Legacy and Outback” drivers moving up. The Raider pickup truck and latest Eclipse design were proudly displayed on the Mitsubishi stand, ready for their 2006 sale date. Mazda closed out Tuesday with two crossovers; the production Mazda5 and a new concept. The MX-Crossport Concept displays strong styling cues from the RX-8 sports car coupled with the athleticism of an SUV. While Tuesday is traditionally a much quieter day, Saleen managed to draw a sizeable crowd to view their S7 replacement; the massively powerful 750hp S7 Twin Turbo.

NAIAS Press Preview Days attendance appears to grow each year; however the amount of introductions noticeably dropped from previous shows. Press information was also limited in comparison to events of the past, which meant eBay auctions were slow for those attendees looking to sell off some kits and trinkets. NAIAS once again presented itself as one of the largest media events of any kind in the United States. With a wide variety of concepts released this year, our lenses were continuously drawn towards the mechanically marvelous Hurricane. It’s massive amount of power and ingenious drivetrain layout had journalist’s heads shaking in disbelief from the moment it hit the stage.

Our entire photographic team was in attendance for the three press days with thousands of photos snapped. We struggled, to reduce that inventory down to our 225 shot slideshow, and unfortunately for some of the image-hungry readers, we succeeded

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Report and images by Rob Clements and Wouter Melissen for Ultimatecarpage.com.