The weather is cold and snowing.  Temperatures are well below freezing and the steam is billowing from the manhole covers in the streets.  Ahhh, Detroit in January!  But, never mind the conditions outside, the atmosphere inside Cobo Hall is hot and vibrant.  The European industry might still be sluggish, but North America is back and roaring on all 8 cylinders.  Fuel prices are low, but Corporate Average Fuel Economy targets remain high and are looming on the horizon.  Trucks are selling fast – the bigger the better; SUV’s and CUV’s are selling in every possible size and permutation.  There are 700+ horsepower, 200 mph supercharged cars at affordable prices; there are electric cars; hybrids and even ‘almost ready for prime time’ fuel cell concept cars.  It is chaos out there.  Just the way we like it.

Hang on for a quick ride (in 6 parts…) through the good, the bad and the ugly as we cruise the first big auto show of 2015.

Starting with the North American domestic manufacturers, Ford made a good deal of noise (literally and metaphorically) with the stunning new GT, plus a Shelby GT350  version of the Mustang and a Raptor version of the new aluminum-bodied F Series pick up – all displayed in an interesting shade of dark blue.

The GT is clearly designed with racing in mind and the plan is to be at Le Mans in 2016 to take on Ferrari again in celebration of the first Ford GT40 victory 50 years before.  The car looks a bit too long in the wheelbase (a function of engine placement for the twin-turbo V6 no doubt), but overall the result is dramatic and even at an expected price in the $150 to $200,000 range, Ford should have no trouble selling the 300 cars required for homologation and could easily reach the probable maximum of 1,000 cars destined for retail customers.  Among the many interesting features, there are several standouts.  Key is the “flying buttress” roll bar that spans the wide rear quarters of the car and bridges the dramatic aero tunnels on either side of the vehicle that extend from the doors to the rear wing.  The doors themselves hinge forward and upward adding to the drama.  The tail lamps also are intriguing – a large ring of red at the end of a turbine-like housing that has a mysterious vent down the center.  Add big black wheels and what’s not to like about this monster.

The GT 350 Mustang echoes some of the GT’s front-end thematics and with 500 horsepower it should be more than enough to satisfy those of us who cannot quite stretch all the way to the real GT.

On the Lincoln stand we saw the introduction of the new MKX SUV based on the Explorer.  Lincoln has come a long way towards re-establishing itself as a bona fide luxury brand with some genuinely nice products, tastefully styled and carefully executed.  The MKC, mid-sized SUV, introduced at the last Detroit show has made a good impression in the market and the expectation is that the MKX will consolidate this position.  The Lincoln Motor Company – as they like to call it – has a long way to go, but they are certainly on the right track.

——– to be continued….