June 25, 2006 -

There's no magic elixir to creating a successful halo. It's usually a concoction of several ingredients:

Heritage. Retro rules. Almost all the recent halo cars have been updated versions of classics. Solstice is an exception.

Almost invariably, designers reach back to the single decade that's a touchstone for today's wealthy boomers -- the 1960s. BMW's Mini, the latest version of Mustang and, if they are built, Camaro and Challenger all fit the mold. "Every good halo car has its roots in the '60s," said Ford Motor's design chief, J Mays. It's not just looks, he said, but rather being born of "rebellious times" with bold styling.

Horsepower. Halos often rack up the ponies. Chrysler considers its SRT line of muscle cars, such as the 425-horsepower Dodge Charger SRT8, as halos. "The car sells itself," said Steve Bartoli, a Chrysler vice president. "When you're at a cocktail party on a Friday night, you start talking about it."

A big engine can't guarantee success, but lack of one can sometimes lead to failure. Gordon Wangers, an auto industry marketing consultant, thinks Chevy's SSR and Ford's T-Bird both suffered from lack of a powerful engine. The SSR later got one, but it was too late.

General Motors Vice Chairman Bob Lutz disagrees. He said the problem with SSR wasn't power but price, close to $40,000. Mays said T-Bird isn't given credit for being one of the biggest-selling two-seaters ever made.


No comments: