Although I much prefer the balmy weather of spring and early fall in Los Angeles, I must admit that November is a fine time for me as well.
Not only is it the month of my birth (Scorpios unite!), but it also offers Thanksgiving, my absolute favorite holiday, as well as the last big automotive event of the year in Southern California until March rolls around once again.
For those who don’t live here, or are otherwise not in the know, I am referring to the Los Angeles International Auto Show, held every year during the third week of the month.
Each annum, I make the pilgrimage all the way downtown to the Los Angeles Convention Center and see what shiny, new, four-wheeled toys the world’s manufacturers have to show off and subsequently sell the following year.
The past three years have unfortunately seen a drop off in the number of marques that have brought their wares to our fair city, owing, of course, to the coronavirus pandemic, and because automakers are increasingly relying on online content as opposed to events to show off their cars. 2022’s notable absences included both BMW and Mercedes, as well as exotic brands such as Ferrari, Maserati, Aston Martin, Lamborghini, and Fisker.
This year, those brands once again passed on the opportunity to attend. Perhaps even more shocking though, and of way more consequence to a review in the pages of Street Muscle Magazine, was the no-show of all Stellantis-owned brands, including Dodge and Jeep.
I was told by an acquaintance of mine who works for Dodge that this was the result of the company’s current transition from internal combustion, Hemi-powered road monsters, towards a future beginning late next year that focuses on hybrid and purely electric “E-muscle” cars. Apparently, nothing involved in that future was ready to show here, hence the brand’s absence.
Just because one of the Big Three producers of American performance wasn’t on hand, though, didn’t mean that there was a dearth of muscle cars on display. In fact, there were several brand new, and quite sensational vehicles on display.
Here’s the best of what I saw.
Of the manufacturers present at the show, Chevrolet definitely brought out its big guns. With no less than three significant muscle and sports cars on display, the brand garnered the most excitement and interest from the spectators in attendance.
The most important Chevy present was the new for 2024 Corvette E-Ray. Representing the Corvette’s first foray into hybrid technology, the E-Ray is an astounding car, packed with cutting edge technology and capable of hypercar performance.
At the heart of the E-ray lies a 6.2-liter LT2 V-8 internal combustion engine mated to a single electric motor and a bespoke 1.9-kWh battery pack designed specifically for the E-Ray. While the battery is rather diminutive, it is only because Chevy was uninterested in efficiency or EV range. Instead, the cell was developed for rapid charge and discharge. It produces 160 bhp and 125 lb-ft of torque, that combined with the ICE, results in a healthy 655 bhp.
This combination allows the E-Ray to hit 60 mph in a scorching 2.5 seconds and cross the quarter mile in 10.5 seconds.
Other notable equipment includes an eight-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission, the first all-wheel drive system installed in a Corvette, “eBoost”-assisted, carbon ceramic disc brakes with six-piston calipers up front and four-piston units in the rear, Magnetic Ride Control 4.0 shocks, 20-inch front and 21-inch rear wheels shod in 275-section and 345-section Michelin Pilot Sport rubber, and 3.6-inch wider bodywork than the standard Stingray, borrowed from the Z06 model.
And speaking of the Z06, Chevy brought along a stunning example of their Halo Corvette that was not for the bashful or faint of heart.
Underneath the show car’s gorgeous Sea Wolf Gray Tricoat-painted widened bodywork lurked a monster: the LT6. A flat-plane-crank, 5.5-liter, double-overhead-cam V8 engine that revs to 8,600 rpm and puts out an astonishing 670 ponies and 470 lb-ft of twist, the LT6 is the most powerful normally aspirated V8 ever dropped into a production vehicle.
All that muscle is routed through a TREMEC-designed eight-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission with a 5.56:1 final drive ratio and an electronic limited-slip differential. Magnetic Ride Control and a Driver Mode Selector featuring Tour, Sport, Track, and Weather settings are both standard equipment. Together, these niceties are good enough to propel the Z06 to 2.6 second 0-60 launches, 10.5 second quarters, and a 200 mph top speed.
The show car sported the Z07 Performance Package, which yields a huge, carbon fiber rear wing, deeper front splitter, front end canards, underbody strakes, unique FE7 suspension, ceramic brakes, carbon fiber wheels, and Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires.
The third muscle car Chevrolet brought was the final model year Camaro before the storied ride is retired after 2024.
A 2SS convertible dressed in Panther Black Metallic Tintcoat, this Camaro was outfitted with a special Camaro Collector Edition Package.
Aside from packing Chevy’s 6.2-liter, direct injection LT1 V8 good for 455 ponies and 455 lb-ft of twist mated to a 10-speed(!) paddle-shift automatic, the $6245 Collector Edition package comes with a dazzling array of add-ons. They include Camaro Collector Edition exterior badges, a steering wheel badge, special logos on the floor mats, a satin black center hood stripe, 20″ 5-split spoke black forged wheels with summer-only tires and black lug nuts, a sueded microfiber-wrapped, flat-bottom steering wheel, a black lower grille with gloss black inserts, a Carbon Flash Metallic front splitter, a sport rear spoiler, satin black outside mirrors, red-painted brake calipers, an LT1 hood badge, and carbon fiber instrument panel molding.
ZL1 models also get a visible weave carbon fiber rear spoiler, Mosaic Black Metallic front splitter and grille, a fuel filler door in black with visible carbon fiber insert, and a performance copper-free brake system when the package is selected.
Quite a way to send the Camaro off.
FoMoCo also brought their A-game to the LA Auto Show, with two very special Mustangs in tow.
The center of attention was the 2025 Mustang GTD Performance Supercar, as Ford nomenclature has it. A $300,000 competition-derived, street legal juggernaut, the GTD, co-produced by Ford and Multimatic, makes use of the discontinued Shelby GT500’s supercharged 5.2-liter V8 tweaked to output 800 horsepower, mated to a TREMEC eight-speed, dual clutch transaxle.
A dry-sump oil system keeps the powerplant lubricated during hard cornering, and Multimatic adaptive spool-valve dampers, along with an unequal-length control-arm suspension in front and a pushrod-style multilink setup in the rear, makes handling razor sharp on the street or the track.
Forged aluminum wheels come standard, but featherweight forged magnesium ones are an option and were fitted to the show car. Massive carbon-ceramic brake rotors hide behind whichever set of rims you choose, and dedicated cooling ducts on the fenders help cool the front rotors.
The exterior of the GTD features highly aggressive carbon fiber bodywork (the door skins are the only panels made of aluminum). Pressure-reducing vents in the front fenders and hood help reduce lift, and a carbon-fiber underbody that comes with hydraulically actuated, active front flaps will be available.
Perhaps the boldest exterior statement though is the massive rear wing, which will feature a hydraulically controlled, Formula 1 style, active drag-reduction system (DRS) to increase downforce when needed.
Expect the GTD to be built in very limited numbers, so if you like what you see, you should contact a Ford dealer soon, before the allocations are all snapped up.
While the GTD represents the pushing of the Mustang envelope for the future, the Dark Horse stands as the current top-of-the-line model.
The show car that Ford brought was draped in lovely Blue Ember paint that the world reveal car was wearing when it was first shown late last year, leading me to believe it might be the very same vehicle. Featuring a different front fascia from standard GT models, it was definitely one aggressive-looking pony car.
The Dark Horse, like the GT, makes use of a 5.0-liter V8, but modifications push output to over 500 bhp. The Dark Horse will also come with a bevy of standard performance goodies which include a standard TREMEC six-speed, bigger brakes than the GT, MagneRide shocks, a Torsen rear diff, Pirelli P-Zero PZ4 tires, and more.
An optional handling package will include a rear wing with Gurney flap, even more aggressive tires, stiffer springs, and thicker front and rear anti-roll bars to make the Dark Horse the most capable production Mustang ever.
A track-focused Dark Horse R, and a drag-oriented S model are apparently forthcoming later this year. It remains to be seen if Shelby versions of this generation Mustang will be made given the Dark Horse’s prowess.
THE KEVIN HART COLLECTION
A new display this year offered show visitors a close-up look at some of the vehicles belonging to one of Hollywood’s biggest car nuts: actor and comedian Kevin Hart.
Housed in an anteroom that used to be the location for Porsche’s display, there were several of Kevin’s rides on hand.
The first I encountered was a car I knew well: the SpeedKore-built 1970 Dodge Charger known as Hellraiser, designed by Sean Smith, whom I once spent an afternoon getting to know for an article I wrote about him a few years back.
Hellraiser sports a Mopar Hellephant crate motor good for 1000 bhp and 950 lb-ft of torque. This beast is backed by an HP90 transmission specially upgraded to handle that incredible output. Suspension is a custom setup designed by Detroit Speed, while brakes and wheels consist of units from Brembo and HRE respectively.
All of these goodies live underneath a custom exterior made entirely of exposed carbon fiber, while the interior is a completely custom one as well, provided by Gabe’s Custom Interiors. An astonishing car that truly defies categorization.
Another of Kevin’s cars on display that really caught my fancy was his custom 1987 Buick Grand National, named Dark Knight.
Once again conceived by Sean Smith, this car was built by Savaggio Design, and packs a turbocharged Cadillac 24v V6, with a TREMEC Magnum six-speed and a Centerforce DYAD clutch transmitting the power. How much power, you ask? Try 650 net at the rear.
In addition to the powertrain, Dark Knight features a considerable amount of custom metalwork, though it was done in such a way as to not call attention to itself, so that the restomodding is a subtle update to the original lines of the car.
A whole bunch of unique carbon parts, including the hood, spoilers, and mirrors lend the car a modern touch. Once again, Detroit Speed provided the suspension, while Brembo and HRE handled stopping power and rims.
The final one of Kevin’s cars that hit me where I live was “Money,” his 1966 Pontiac GTO convertible restomod. One of the most iconic muscle cars of all time, this ’66 was the subject of a build by Jason Pecikonis at Timeless Customs.
Wearing Nissan’s Mystic Emerald paint and a black convertible top over a custom dark green interior by Eric Thorsen at Timeless Customs, Money is truly one of the nicest restomods I have seen in quite a while.
Power comes from a 740 horsepower LT5 crate engine mated to a basic, GM 8L90 transmission, Money brings the noize with a custom Art Morrison G-Maxx chassis, Triangulated four-link 9″ Ridetech three-way adjustable shocks, Brembo 15″ carbon-ceramic rotors with six-piston calipers, and 20×11″ front, 20×13″ rear Forgeline GT3C wheels wrapped in low profile Michelin Pilot Supersport tires.
A seriously good-looking ride.
Other attractions at the show included a massive display of modded cars and aftermarket parts vendors in “The Garage” downstairs.
Everything from custom-wrapped hypercars to tricked-out Jeeps, Broncos, and slammed muscle cars were on display.
In particular, an achingly beautiful, metallic gray 1969 Camaro coupe restomod by AE Exclusive caught my attention, as did an immaculate, stock, Petty Blue 1970 Plymouth Superbird on display in nearby Kentia Hall.
Despite the absence of some of my favorite European sports cars as well as my beloved Mopar brands, the LA Auto Show was a success from the standpoint of noteworthy muscle car displays.
If I were running the show though, my first order of business towards setting up the 2024 version would be to use any and all leverage to get all the important automakers to come back. If they don’t, I could foresee trouble for the show moving forward. Los Angeles is the largest market in America for luxury and high-end automotive brands, and it behooves the manufacturers to display their cars so that the buying public can see and touch them.
I know I’ll be back next year to bring you all the show’s highlights, but will large numbers of people continue to attend as well if the cars they’re interested in are not in attendance?