Don Roy
April 1, 2007

Celebrate The Journey
The missing concept vehicle arrived in the form of a joint project between Ford and Airstream. Occupying a space somewhere between recreational vehicle and crossover utility vehicle, the Ford Airstream Concept was arguably the most free-thinking and revolutionary concept presented at the show. Most others constituted mild to medium makeovers of existing models, or same-old, same-old race car knock-offs. "The Ford Airstream Concept is a futuristic look at crossovers. It's the ultimate modern touring vehicle that delivers flexibility and capability with dynamic design that evokes the spirit of the journey," Mays told the audience.

The concept's bold, futuristic front-end explores a new look for Ford, encapsulating a single-surface grille and headlamps into a unified graphical shape. Each of the concept's bold orange-trimmed window graphics is also a unique shape and trimmed in electroluminescent material. Inside, the Ford Airstream Concept features a floating instrument panel with flush-mounted, touch-sensitive controls and a multi-function single gauge display that provides the driver with all primary information. The focal point of the rear seating area is a 360-degree screen for entertainment and games. The unique screen also creates ambient mood settings, including a modern lava lamp and virtual fire, as well as a live camera feed.

"Inside, outside and under the hood, the Ford Airstream Concept speaks to the future," Mays said of the vehicle. Indeed, ending a year during which Ford has taken several body blows in the market, the overriding feeling at this show was one of optimism. The product-led revolution at Ford is slated to deliver 70 percent new or upgraded Ford, Lincoln and Mercury products bythe end of 2008, with a full 100 percent of the product lines having been freshened or restyled by 2010.

Ford showed freshened versions of the Focus and Five Hundred for the 2008 model year. As well, they announced the rollout of a new technology. Ford 'Sync' is a new factory-installed, in-car communications and entertainment system that is designed to change the way consumers use digital media portable music players and mobile phones in their vehicles. Based on Microsoft Auto software, Sync, provides consumers the convenience and flexibility to bring into their vehicle nearly any mobile phone or digital media player and operate it using voice commands or the vehicle's steering wheel or radio controls. Sync will be available in 12 Ford, Lincoln and Mercury products beginning thiscalendar year.

Notable Others
General Motors did bring along a convertible version of the Camaro concept car. Aside from the loss of the roof, no other significant changes were apparent. Daimler-Chrysler did not show their Challenger pony car competitor, although they did announce that the 2008 Dodge Viper SRT10 is freshened both inside and out, with 60 extra horsepower from the updated 8.4-liter engine under a restyled hood.

An odd, but refreshing, vehicle was shown by Holden - GM's Australian subsidiary. Their 'EFIJY' vehicle looked more like it should have come from the Foose design studios than the General's facilities down under. The wild, 21st century hot rod reincarnates one of Australia's most famous cars, the FJ Holden. Despite the lack of Mustang news, we can look forward to the potential of developments at either the Chicago or New York Auto Shows. SVT typically used these shows for their announcements, because the level of competition is lower. More concrete information concerning the Bullitt special edition Mustang can be expected at one of these shows,so there remains plenty of reason to keepfollowing the show circuit this year.

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