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By Royal Ford, Globe Staff | May 23, 2004

At first, each stood out like the chrome, blunt-nosed bulldog on the hood of a Mack Truck.

Look at me, out here snorting in the winds of change.

A wing devoted to compact performance cars called tuners at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit this past winter; a tent full of them set up outside the New York International Auto Show in April.

But then, strolling the floor inside, you could see what the bulldogs had bitten off to chew.

Here were original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) trumpeting not only hot, tuned cars right off the line, but also performance parts to make them even hotter.

Most times in the auto industry, ideas bubble up from within its own ranks. Navigation systems, for instance, have been an industry-to-consumer sell.

Yet now and again, demand drives product: The recent boom in third-row seating for SUVs came at customer call.

Full story: Boston Globe
 

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the spirit of it all is really kind of cool...it's similar to what was going on in the 60's and it's nice to see that kind of passion. unfortunately for people like myself, i think some of these cars are nice and would be fun, but design-wise they just don't inspire me at all. and as fast as i know some of these cars are, as well as they perform--the 4 bangers still don't do that much for me. (although i love mini coopers).
 

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The only thing that agrivates me is that GM, Ford, and Chrysler were behind this curve and had a chance to observe it and step out and really break this market open for the home team. As usual the suits got cold feet. Ford withdrew their SVT Focus and we get an SS Cobalt that would have been fine five years ago and Pontiac basicly tanks the Sunfire.. Thanks Dodge, the car is old (SRT) but the sprit is willing.
 

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Yeah I agree. The Cobalt SS is just a good enough car to keep up with all of the foreign tuner cars. Hopefully they'll bring us something that will really blow the doors off all the others in the 2006 version. If not, the car will die fast.
 

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The Cobalt SS is just close enough to keep up? By the end of this year, the 3 fastest factory sport compacts will be the SRT4, Cobalt SS and Ion RL. Ford dropped out of the SVT race. There is nothing out there that can touch the SRT4's performance per dollar. Ive seen stock SRT4's blow away Mustang GT's, WRX's, not to mention the modded SRT4's building the street rep. the SRT4 is the GTO of the sport compact era. Its the first true hi-po performance car from the factory. It takes a simple, plain, basic Neon, adds a scoop, wing and some badges along with a hi-po motor and wham, you have the start of the SC generation.
The Cobalt SS will be far from lagging behind. Supercharged, all forged (read: unbreakable) engine along with brakes and handling... this could be the best all around SC car to date.
Im glad that Dodge and GM are stepping up the the plate. I wish Pontiac had a Delta hatch to get into the game. I think they could really have a true hit if they had an agressive Vibe like hatch with a turbo 2.2. I think that Honda, Toyota, and the others are missing out on a group that is/was very dedicated to them, to the new American compacts. As the rest of them start making more appliance cars then exciting cars, they will keep losing more of the young fans that have made them into what they are today.
 

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I agree that if anyone should have a foothold in this market, it should be Pontiac. I find it incredibly inept of GM to not have a decent tuner model to offer this year with the Cobalt. I think that the real story of indifference that will effect this market is how honda has acted towards the tuner community. They continue to wratchet the price of thier tuner model, the civic, out of the price range of it's core audience. They are said to be introducing a new model that is more compact and cheaper than the current civic, but these people have gotten used to teh civic, and to force them to buy a lesser car makes it seem like they are no longer good enough to buy the car they were able to 5 years ago.

I think that GM needs to get it's butt in gear and supply Pontiac with a entry-level car suitable to tuners. Give it a turbo upgrade package, as superchargers are great if you want to code the warranty clerk DNA into the engine design, but turbochargers are easier to wring more boost from, thus more power.

GM- No one cares about superchargers on Sport Compacts!!! SUperchargers are for larger V6's and V8's, which need the extra low end grunt to get the larger cars they sit in moving. A tuner would rather have a engine that they can wring the piss out of and listen to a blow off valve every time they shift. The mechanical link that the warranty department loves about superchargers are also the reason that tuners hate them. They rod a portion of the horsepower they make, and the decreased mechanical efficiency does little to help smaller engines at high RPM. Especially with a damn Roots blower, come on GM...
 

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Quit acting like this whole trend is something new.... :angry:

This has been going on (like someone else posted) since the 60's.
PERFORMANCE CARS ARE NOT NEW, TURBOCHARGERS ARE NOT NEW, SUPERCHARGERS ARE NOT NEW....

What is? DOHC 16 valve Engines with VV Timing making 100 HP per liter...

the whole "tuner" concept is a joke. Just call it what it is. It's not a Revolution or anything like that. There have been a couple of sources (like HOTROD magazine) that call it what it is, MODERN DAY hotrods!

I get sick of these fools claiming they are doing something to their cars that hasn't been done before. :kama:

Supercharged or Turbo'd, I really don't care as long as it gets me in front of the other guy ;)

GM inspired me plenty with the release of the Cobalt SS. I mean you get a 2.4L that can compete with the n/a DOHC crowd (SE-R, Civic, Focus, M3) and you have an option to "buy-up" to a 2.0L w/ some 12 psi worth of boost to compete with the FI crowd (MS Protege', SRT-4, Mini Cooper S).

I really don't think the SS s/c is ready for a WRX, but then again these cars haven't even been built yet!!
 
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