Know Thine Enemy

At the L.A. Auto Show, Pontiac displayed its upcoming, Australian-built, V8-powered GTO. And at Detroit, Ford showed the next generation Mustang in slightly disguised concept form.

Surprisingly subdued in its styling, the GTO will have a 240-hp version of the 5.7-liter, all-aluminum, OHV LS1 V8 in its nose and pumping through a six-speed manual or four-speed automatic transmission. If that sounds like a 2001 Firebird Trans Am well, it is the same drivetrain. However the GTO, which is based on the Holden Monaro that, in turn, is based on the Opel Omega, does have an independent rear suspension and a suppler chassis than the old Firebird. Only 18,000 will be brought in from Australia the first year.

Vastly better looking than the current Mustang, the next one will ride on a modified version of the rear-drive Lincoln LS platform, and that includes an independent rear suspension on all models. Shown in both GT coupe and convertible versions, the coupe was shown with a blown version of the current Mustang's 4.6-liter V8 supercharged to produce 400 hp. Our guess is the 4.6 will be back in the Mustang GT, without the blower, but that the blown DOHC 4.6 V8 in the current SVT Cobra will return making more than the 390-hp it does now. This Mustang looks better in every conceivable way and should be quicker-a lot quicker-too.

You've been warned.

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