Ah, November. I look forward to it rolling around every year, as it is most definitely is my favorite month. Not only does my favorite holiday – Thanksgiving – fall within its 30 days, but it also happens to be the month of my birth.
What’s more, November heralds the coming of one of my favorite annual events, a seminal experience that has sadly been canceled two of the past three years due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
In case you’re wondering, I’m talking about the Los Angeles Auto Show.
Every year, I look forward to making the trek to downtown Los Angeles and hitting the floors of the sprawling convention center.
Since Southern California is the largest car-buying market in the United States and serves as a shining embodiment of American car culture, manufacturers spare no expense or effort on their displays. In ordinary circumstances, virtually every automotive manufacturer that sells its wares on these shores brings their fleet of gleaming offerings for the good folks of SoCal to ogle, sit in, and contemplate buying.
As these are still not quite yet normal times, some major players, such as Cadillac, Mercedes-Benz, and BMW opted not to attend this year. Lucky for us though, the mainstays of modern muscle held steadfast, and brought some important new vehicles to the show.
Here’s what I found on my pilgrimage to the 2022 iteration of the event.
Fresh out of Dearborn, Michigan came what was undoubtedly the most important and anticipated car at the show. I speak, of course, of the 2024 S650 Mustang. Not just content to bring one example, Ford brought one of each of the trim levels they intend to start selling sometime next year.
Beginning at the low end, there was a Graphite Gray Metallic Mustang coupe packing the 2.3-liter EcoBoost turbocharged inline-four powerplant. Word at the show was that this lump, which currently supplies 310 ponies and 350 lb-ft of torque, will receive some massaging for extra power in its 2024 configuration.
EcoBoost Mustangs will only be available with a 10-speed automatic equipped with manual shift mode and paddle shifters. But I was told that will be one of the few limitations to the base model line. Apparently, a full suite of color and equipment combinations will be afforded so you can have your car look and perform exactly the way you want it to. Indeed, the show car sported some unusual, brass-colored wheels that were part of a Bronze Design Series package.
Next, Ford brought a stunning Race Red GT convertible. The GT will come equipped with a revised version of the beloved Coyote V8, featuring a redesigned dual air intake box with a pair of throttle bodies to promote better breathing. This should hike the output of the Coyote nicely, although exact figures have not yet been released. If I were a betting man, I wouldn’t be surprised if the power figures meet or exceed those of the current 470-horsepower Mach 1.
The GT and GT convertible will also be available with the 10-speed automatic, but for those who like to row their own gears, a six-speed Getrag manual will be offered. It also sports a more aggressive-looking front fascia and hood to distinguish itself from the base model.
And finally, Ford brought the Mustang we’ve all been waiting for – The Dark Horse. The show model was draped in the same Blue Ember paint that the world reveal car was wearing, leading me to believe it might be the very same vehicle. Featuring a bespoke front fascia, it was definitely one aggressive-looking pony car.
The Dark Horse, like the GT, also makes use of a 5.0-liter V8, but modifications will apparently push output to over 500 brake-horse-power in production guise.
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 little birdie at the show also told me to expect a track-focused Dark Horse R, and a drag-oriented S model to come a year after the Dark Horse release next year. That birdie also said that current thinking at Ford does not include Shelby models. We’ll have to wait and see if that proves true though.
As an aside, Los Angeles’ premier Ford dealer, Galpin Ford, had a nearby display, which featured a 2022 Shelby GT500 Heritage Edition. The first one I have ever seen, the car looked resplendent in its Brittany Blue Metallic paint and Carbon Fiber Track Pack wings and trim. Quite a looker.
Chevy had an absolutely enormous display at the show to accommodate their massive fleet of cars and trucks. But without question, the most notable vehicle Chevy brought was their 2023 Corvette Z06 coupe.
The top dog of the Corvette line is not for the bashful or faint of heart. Underneath the show car’s special, Accelerate Yellow Metallic-painted bodywork lurks 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 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, 10.6 second quarters, and a 200 mph top speed. Those are some no-joke numbers right there.
Outside, the Z06 sports a 3.6-inch wider body in the rear than the Stingray, which helps the bodywork cover the massive 345-series rear tires mounted to standard 21-inch forged aluminum wheels. Up front lives a pair of 20-inch wheels wrapped in 275/30 rubber.
Other differences include a bespoke front fascia with a large, carbon fiber splitter, a unique rear spoiler, a modified rear fascia and a different design to the side intake surrounds. I can attest that this is one aggressive-looking car.
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.
Chevy also brought several Stingrays and Camaros to the show, including a magnificent Corvette convertible in white, and a Camaro convertible that sported a variety of Chevrolet’s factory stripe and graphics options.
Compared to past L.A. Auto Shows, Dodge’s display was a tad subdued, as it appeared that parent conglomerate, Stellantis, decided to put its weight behind its Jeep brand this year. Jeep vehicles outnumbered Dodge’s ones by three to one by my count.
That is not to say, however, that the latter failed to bring any juice. Two of the display cars, in fact, were important and remarkable.
The first represents the future of Dodge muscle: the Dodge Charger Daytona SRT Concept. The car on hand was the latest iteration that debuted at the SEMA show just a few short weeks ago. Radiant in Stryker Red paint, the EV concept was certainly the centerpiece of the Dodge display, and drew a large crowd, eager to see the direction Dodge will be going in the near future.
Sporting a new set of non-drag-oriented wheels and low-profile tires from those seen at SEMA, the Charger Daytona Concept was a lot larger than I expected it to be, seemingly possessing similar dimensions to the current LC Challengers and LX Chargers.
While Dodge hasn’t clarified how many electric motors will be onboard the production Charger Daytona SRT, it has revealed a power lineup for the four-wheel drive car. The base model – called the 340 for the amount of kilowatts it generates – will produce 455 horsepower, while the next trim level up, the 440, comes to play with 590.
Both models, which use a 400-volt electrical system, will be able to be upgraded, post-facto, with two Mopar Direct Connection over-the-air software upgrade packages called eStage 1 & 2. They will bump the base model to 496 or 536 ponies respectively, and the 440 model to 630 or 670.
The halo model, called the SRT Banshee, will feature an 800-volt system, and though Dodge has been mum on its output and performance figures, you can expect Tesla Model S Plaid owners to finally have a car they should think twice about racing.
The other notable car Dodge had on hand was what I think is the best of the seven, self-styled, “Last Call” models that Dodge has announced to commemorate the end of the current generation Charger and Challengers – the 2023 Dodge Charger King Daytona.
Officially known as the 2023 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Redeye Widebody King Daytona (phew!) this car was an absolute knockout, to the extent that I think if I could have driven away in one car from the show, the DCSHRWKD might be it.
Fat chance on that though, as only 300 examples of this $100,015 monster will be built, and with Dodge’s bizarre allocation system on Last Call models, combined with ridiculous ADMs (additional dealer markups) that will be slapped on it, this thing is liable to be dearer than a penguin in the desert.
What makes this car, designed to honor the 1969 Dodge Charger King Daytona raced by William “Big Willie” Robinson, unique are a number of enhancements that can’t be had on any other Charger.
Starting under the hood, you get the 6.2-liter, supercharged V8 from the Dodge Charger SRT Jailbreak that packs 807 horsepower and a tire-shredding 707 lb-ft of twist. Backing this lump is an 8-speed 8HP90 TorqueFlite automatic and a 3.09:1 rear.
Only available in GoManGo Orange with a black Nappa and Alcantara interior, the King Daytona’s highlights include a satin black rear spoiler, a satin black King Daytona trunk-to-rear-fender graphic, a Mopar hood pin kit, 20×11-inch satin carbon Warp Speed wheels, orange six-piston Brembo brakes, and satin chrome exterior badging.
Inside, you get orange interior accents and stitching, a unique instrument panel badge, satellite navigation, a power sunroof, Hamon-Kardon premium audio with subwoofer, an Alcantara steering wheel, carbon-fiber instrument bezels, and a suede headliner. Man, what a looker…
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.
A vintage Mustang display that included a heart-achingly beautiful, emerald green 1968 Shelby GT350 coupe also caught my attention.
All-in-all, this year’s Los Angeles Auto Show was a rousing success as it always has been in the past. Here’s hoping that next year’s event will be even grander.