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GM Products Prominent At SEMA, Pt. 1

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On: Thu, Nov 4, 2010 at 4:18PM | By: John Welch

GM Products Prominent At SEMA, Pt. 1

General Motors is on a rebound, of sorts, and the proof is in the SEMA pudding. Besides aftermarket tuners going absolutely bat-ess on the ubiquitous Camaro, GM itself offered up a few (more like a "bunch") of performance enhanced Chevrolets, covering every aspect of the market from tacked-on appearance upgrades to full-bore track mods designed to transform the Camaro and Corvette into asphalt devouring track beasts ala the Dodge Viper ACR-X. The General's front drive line up wasn't left out of the fun; GM introduced its new Z-Line series of visual and aerodynamic enhancements for the Volt, Cruze, and Spark commuter boxes.

The aftermarket spit out more than a couple modified GM vehicles, but by far the most intriguing came from our friends over at Hurst Performance. Allow me to pontificate for a moment regarding the base engines offered in modern "Muscle Cars". The key word is "modern" here. Though a V8-powered Camaro or Mustang is physically faster, in a straight line, than its V6-powered counterpart, when the going gets twisty the dynamic responses of the smaller-engined cars are superior. Even with cheaper/smaller/less grippy rolling stock. The designers of these machines are able to position the V6 engines with more freedom than the V8s, because of their smaller size and mass. A V6 can be crammed right up against the firewall of a car, keeping as much of the weight of the engine behind the shock towers as is mechanically possible. This translates to better weight distribution, which in turn translates to better handling.

What if the power output of these V6s were to match or exceed that of the throaty V8s? Hurst asked themselves that question and then got to work. We will tell you all about it tomorrow. First, the General has some presents for you . . .

The 'Vettes

Chevrolet Corvette Jake Edition: Pratt & Miller's Corvette Racing Team did away with the classic Blue and White Corvette livery when they introduced their GT1 effort in 2000. Replacing the traditional colors of US-based racing teams with a sinister yellow and black paint scheme, the team also evolved a mean-looking 'skull and crossbones' logo out of the famous Corvette 'Checkered Flag and Fluer De Lis" marquee. They named him "Jake" and he is now unmistakable on the sleeves of t-shirts, the front fascia of Corvette Racing's current GT2 cars, and his own road-going Corvette model, The Jake Edition.

Starting with a 2011 Covette Grand Sport, Chevrolet adds an extended lip spoiler to the nose, Z06 wheels, and a (uhg, slightly) updated interior. Then they make the Jake logos rain. The center caps of the wheels receive Jake's macabre mug, there is a special "GT1" graphic for the hood, Jake appears on the front fenders, and is scattered all over the interior. Considering the starting point, a Covette Grand Sport, this one appearance-only package I can get behind. The GS is no slouch; it is powered by the potent LS3 small block, to the tune of 430 bhp. The other upside here is that Chevrolet is actually establishing an internationally recognizable symbol for their racing efforts, to rival the Prancing Horse or the Four Rings or the Porsche Crest.

Chevrolet Corvette Z06X: And now, Ladies and Gentlemen, the General would like to introduce a super serious Corvette, one designed to smash the Dodge Viper ACR into tiny reptilian bits. The Corvette Z06X is a dead-serious road car tuned for dead-serious track use. When I throw around the word "serious" I don't do it lightly. The Z06X is equipped with all sorts of startling racing parts, from the extensive use of carbon fiber to the race-ready roll cage to the adjustable camber plates resting atop the tuned coil-over struts. This car is not effing around.

Other niceties include a fully dressed interior—sans a/c, radio, and other heavy and unnecessary items—ceramic Brembo brakes complete with special pads, lightweight racing wheels, and adjustable anti-roll bars. The Z06X is completely SCCA compliant, and even comes equipped with a driver-drink system and a roll-bar mounted camera. This car is packed to the gills with the best GM has to offer, and previews the Camaro SSX, which we will cover tomorrow.

The Commuter Boxes, Z-Line

Chevrolet hasn't neglected its appliance cars, creating striking body kits for the Volt, Cruze, and foreign market Spark. The kits add a touch of needed flare to these otherwise unassuming daily drivers; the Z-Line treatment is especially fetching on the Volt plug-in Hybrid. (Is that what I'm calling it now? I don't even know anymore . . .) The cars aren't enhanced performance-wise, but who cares when you're stuck on the 408? (If they can make local traffic jokes from LA and Detroit, then we can make them from Orlando, thankee.) Z-Line products will be available from your local Chevy dealer, although exactly when is still up in the air.

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