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Muscle cars 'endangered'?

2007-12-28 08:33
When General Motors pulls the covers off its new supercharged Corvette at the Detroit auto show next month, it could also spell the beginning of the end for the great American muscle car.

The car's chief engineer Tadge Juechter has said the Corvette ZR1 may be the last performance car from Detroit.

"High-performance vehicles such as this may actually be legislated out of existence," Juechter said at a recent showing of the ZR1.

US president George W Bush recently effected a law that calls for more fuel efficient cars and a wider used of ethanol, describing it as a "major step" towards the country's independence from foreign energy sources.

The legislation requires automakers to increase fuel efficiency by 40 percent to an industry average 35 miles per gallon by 2020.

But Aaron Bragman, an auto analyst with the consulting firm Global Insight said predicting the death of the muscle car might be premature.

Although fuel economy figures were not released for the ZR1, he said the Corvette is fuel efficient when compared with its competitors and, according to him, gets around the same mileage as a Chevrolet pickup truck.

"I think it's a little over-dramatisation," Bragman said. "GM wants to sell big, high-performance, fun cars. And typically that's what Americans want to buy."

He added that performance cars of the future may be powered by smaller engines or electric motors, but they will not die.

The ZR1 will be powered by an all-new supercharged 6.2-litre V8 engine and have a top speed of more than 320 km/h.

A carbon fibre bonnet, fenders and roof will help to shave the weight off, while carbon-ceramic brake discs are responsible for mighty stopping power.

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