The Equus Bass 770. (David Coates / The Detroit News)
Although it looks remarkably like a 1969 Mustang fastback, the new $250,000, 200-mph Equus Bass 770 is “a clean-sheet of paper design from the ground up,” said Equus company spokesman Ian James when the car was introduced Tuesday afternoon at the Detroit auto show.
Six years ago an unnamed “European businessman” had the idea to build and sell his idea of a dream car for serious car nuts, added James, a friend of the company’s owner “who is in the background right now.”
The heart of the car is General Motors’ LS9 6.2-liter V8 engine, tuned to make 640 horsepower, mated to a six-speed manual transmission driving the rear wheels. The engine is mounted in the front of a custom-built aluminum frame, with an aluminum panel body drawn by a collaboration of car designers to evoke memories of 1960s and 1970s American muscle cars.
“Some people look at it and see a Challenger, a Barracuda, or a number of other cars from the period,” explained James.
Equus builds the car in Rochester Hills with 25 employees, although it plans to ramp up production to 100 cars per year. So far, only three cars have been built, a prototype and two preproduction versions. Company representatives say there have been five test cars that have been used to develop the car in the past six years.
The first public showing of the car was Tuesday afternoon at the Detroit auto show, although a YouTube video launched the car on Labor Day in 2013.
That exposure elicited 20 orders from customers in Europe, Asia, and Africa, as well as 150 serious inquiries, said Caryn Gawel, a manager at the company. The video was made using scenes from downtown Detroit, as well as closed roads courtesy of the mayor of Rochester Hills, and at the Oakland County International Airport in Pontiac, added Gawel.
The car has carbon fiber inner body panels, and an integral roll cage like a race car’s, and it is intended to meet all safety standards, said James. Tires are Michelin Super Sports, brakes are carbon ceramic units, and the fuel economy performance has not yet been released. “If you need to ask the mileage, you’re not the customer we’re aiming for,” said James.
There is a prancing horse logo for the company, which is where Equus, Latin for “horse”, comes from. The model name Bass 770 refers to the low-pitched sound of the exhaust, as well as the cubic centimeter displacement of a single cylinder, according to Shrenik Desai, a sales manager for the company.
Each car will be custom-built to the owner’s specifications, including color, type of upholstery and stitching, and other options such as wheels. James explained that Equus’ owner wished to build the car in Detroit as a tribute to the period that spawned his favorite cars.