The 10 Coolest Cars at the LA Auto Show – Wired

Posted: Monday, November 24, 2014

Saleen is known more for supercars and hot-rodded Mustangs, but the FourSixteen, it’s riff on the Tesla Model S, is cool too. It’s got a locking differential and drivetrain upgrades that give it enough grunt to smoke the tires. There’s less need for such a thing now that that Tesla’s offered the super-duper Model S P85D, but the custom bodywork will set you apart. Newspress USA

Newspress USA

The number here is 300: That’s how many miles the hydrogen fuel cell Toyota Mirai will go without stopping to refuel. We won’t recount the shortcomings of hydrogen, and instead say Toyota hopes this car does for fuel cells what the Prius did for hybrids. Newspress USA

Newspress USA

Mercedes-Benz is once again reviving the Maybach name, which once was synonymous with the most luxurious automobiles. Mercedes has reworked the S600 and named it the Maybach 57 and 62. It’s aimed squarely at the likes of Rolls, with a price to match—$350,000 or so. Chris Carlson/AP

Chris Carlson/AP

This is the race-ready version of Cadillac’s smallest car, the ATS, which has gotten the gotten the V treatment that turns everything up three notches. A 455-horsepower V-6, 6-speed manual and beefed-up suspension make this one hell of a ride. Look for a zero-to-60 time of 3.9 seconds, a top speed north of 185 and no enormous wing on the production version. Newspress USA

Newspress USA

Putting aside any thoughts you have on Metallica or James Hetfield, you’ve gotta admit Het’s custom is badass. The Black Pearl is old-school the work of custom car legends Marcel and Luc De Lay. This is the one we most wanted to drive home. Newspress USA

Newspress USA

The Audi Prologue is the manifesto of the brand’s new design head, Mark Lichte, formerly of Volkswagen. It indicates where the company is headed, aesthetically. Like other concepts we saw in LA, it has the thin headlights and replaces straight lines with curves. Audi says the lines seen here are locked into production. Newspress USA

Newspress USA

We loved the Fisker Karma, so we’re glad to see Henrik Fisker is back. He and the guys at Galpin reskinned a Ford Mustang, then tweaked the engine to make 725 galleries. Two words: Yes, please. Newspress USA

Newspress USA

We love the Jaguar F-Type, which seems happiest when it’s sideways. Now Jaguar’s given the brilliant coupe all-wheel-drive to help out drivers who might venture forth in rain or snow. The car’s default is to send all the power to the rear wheels, 100 percent of the torque sent to the rear axle, but it will divvy up power as needed. No less exciting: you’ll be able to get it with a six-speed manual gearbox. Newspress USA

Newspress USA

The Infiniti Q80 Concept is one of the sexiest concepts we’ve seen in awhile, and it provides a glimpse of the styline of future models. It’s long and low, and rocks suicide doors. Those probably won’t see production, but you can bet the 550-hp hybrid drivetrain will. Newspress USA

Newspress USA

This is LA, which means big honkin’ luxury cars are always in style, especially if they’ve got a drop-top. The Bentley Grand Convertible concept is a riff on the flagship Mulsanne sedan, and we have to admit it’s handsome. It’s also quick, with a 530-horsepower V-8. There’s no word on production, but it’s a safe bet it’ll be green-lit. Newspress USA

Newspress USA

Southern California is among the most car-crazy places on the planet. And California is one of the most eco-conscious places in the world. This always creates a unique dynamic for the LA Auto Show, where automakers roll in with some of their most impressive, and efficient, machines.

As with any show, there are the outlandish concepts that will never see production. But flights of fancy like the gorgeous Infiniti I80 Inspiration and Audi Prologue provides hints at future models. Speaking of the future, Toyota was there (still) pimping the most plentiful element in the universe with the fuel-cell Mirai, which it hopes will do for hydrogen what the Prius did for hybrids. We’re still not convinced that’s gonna happen, but there’s no denying the car looks like it came back from the future.

Speaking of coming back, LA saw the return of a few names we’d left for dead. Henrik Fisker, who brought us the ill-fated Fisker Karma, teamed up with Galpin Auto Sport to produce the Rocket, a bonkers 725-horsepower riff on the 2015 Ford Mustang. Mercedes revived the venerable Maybach name with a luxurious land yacht, and we even saw a Chaparrall — with frickin’ lasers, no less. OK, that one exists only in Gran Turismo 6, but still—Chaparrall FTW.

And no show in LA would be complete without a little luxury, so of course there was no shortage of high-dollar machinery from the likes of Jaguar and Bentley. But of all the cars on the show floor, the one we most wanted to drive home was the Black Pearl, the wild old-school custom owned by Metallica frontman James Hetfield. It was almost enough to make up for Load and Reload.

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