High-tech Hot Wheels: 2003's Concept Cars.

Look at 2003 North American International Auto Show.

Published: 08-Jan-2003

By Eric C. Evarts | Special correspondent of The Christian Science Monitor

DETROIT – If the sour economy and the specter of war have America in a grim mood, you can't tell that in historically musty Detroit, even in a snowless January.

A version of the Ford Mustang, for instance, will be coming back. Again. Chevy is bringing back a swoop-fendered rendition of its SS, another muscle car from the 1960s and '70s. This one will have enough horsepower to run a small country, but with a decidedly new millennium twist: Four of its eight cylinders stop running when they're not needed, turning the roaring beast into a politically correct commuter vehicle, though you still probably won't see Ralph Nader in one.

In fact, new technology has eased some of the tension between power and fuel efficiency that has conflicted Detroit ever since the days when cars had real tail fins. It hasn't ended the clash. Many environmentalists, among others, remain upset at the move toward bigger, faster vehicles, even though the automakers are also producing ultra-efficient hybrid cars.

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