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Wednesday 31st October 2012


SEMA HIGHLIGHTS

A Mazda for going round corners, a twin-turbo Mustang for straight lines and a supercharged Honda hybrid for 'eco' skulduggery


The Speciality Equipment Market Association is a very dry description for a show that celebrates all that’s wild and wonderful in the world of American tuning and performance. Suffice to say, this is not a show where talk of downsizing, hybrids and fuel cells takes centre stage. Which sounds like a refreshing change from ‘mainstream’ shows like Geneva, Frankfurt and Paris.

No replacement for displacement? Oh, hang on...
No replacement for displacement? Oh, hang on...
We’ve already had a look at the Hot Wheels Camaro and there’s a lot of talk of fast Ford GTs about too. In keeping with more traditional American tastes Ford Racing is showcasing a new Mustang Cobra Jet concept for all you straight line heroes out there. These are factory-built, off the shelf drag racers for quarter-mile enthusiasts to go out and prove themselves with, the new concept bringing things up to date with a twin-turbo version of the Mustang’s latest 5.0-litre V8. This picks up from the existing Cobra Jet with its more traditional 5.4 and belt-driven supercharger, itself high tech compared with the old-school 7.0-litre, four-barrel carb powered Cobra Jets originally sold in the late 60s.

The new engine might be down on displacement (sshhh!) but given that the 2.9-litre supercharger (yes, supercharger) can require as much as 100hp of the engine’s power on full boost turbos offer more bang for your buck and the ti-bladed, 150,000rpm units on the Cobra Jet are based on the turbo in the Focus ST. And, er, developed using expertise gained in the building of Ecoboost engines.

Let's have it then!
Let's have it then!
See it in action here.

So, yes, even at SEMA, even with a twin-turbo drag racer you can’t escape the eco thing. Oh well.

This slightly odd collision of speed and tree huggery can also be found over at Honda, where a further development of the supercharged CR-Z concept first seen last year is on display. There’s little in the way of hard facts, other than to say Honda Performance Development has “made enhancements to improve acceleration, handling and stopping by adding a sport exhaust, developing a sport suspension, designing wheels with high performance tires and adding sport brakes.” Last we heard the supercharged CR-Z was knocking on the door of 200hp, finally perhaps making good on the promise of the CR-Z’s looks. Now if they could just dump the battery pack and electric motors too… And perhaps avoid the temptation to sticker up Accord coupes like GT3 RSes too. Ew.

It's a GT3 RS! No, hang on, it's an Accord coupe...
It's a GT3 RS! No, hang on, it's an Accord coupe...
More back to basics fun over at Mazda meanwhile. The Super25 MX-5 is built to go racing, expanding on the track day focused Super20 previously seen at SEMA in various guises. A brace of lights on the nose are a clue but Mazda says the Super25 is built to go endurance racing. Much like Mazda does here in fact, occasionally with PH at the wheel!

Boasting the same ‘55’ racing numbers as the Le Mans winning 787b the Mazdaspeed press release spends a lot of time obsessing over the details of colour, trim and tuning upgrade parts – for example it apparently looks “handsomely poised on 17-inch Volk Racing T37 six spoke matte black wheels suited in BFGoodrich g-Force™ R1™ 225-45ZR17 tires” – there’s little in the way of hard facts on offer.

Racy little Mazda looks a whole lot of fun
Racy little Mazda looks a whole lot of fun
Still, looks like a bit of a hoot and it goes to show an MX-5 can hold its head high with no emotional (hand) baggage, even among twin-turbo, drag racin’ Mustangs.

We’ll spare you the beach cruiser Fiat 500 concept though…

 

 

 



More on the Cobra Jet Mustang here:

 

Author: Dan Trent
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