Looking at the Equus Bass (guitar, not fish) is a little disorienting. The car-recognizer parts of your brain start firing, but all at once. It's like every major American muscle car was placed into a giant blender and cast into this. It's like one of those composite cars in Grand Theft Auto. Also, it's fantastic.
So far, they've built three Equui (20 more have been started), and they're all about 200 feet from me right now. Also, I learned that licking them does not make them yours, despite years of very clear schoolground precedent.
The Equus Bass 770 (the 770 refers to the displacement, in cc's, per cylinder) is clearly the product of one person's vision. Nobody actually seems to know who this person is, except for a cryptic description that he's a "European businessman." That successful European also had a powerful love for American muscle cars of the '60s-'70s, to such a degree that he started a whole company just to produce his previously hypothetical muscle car.
The design of the Bass probably is most reminiscent of a first-gen Mustang fastback, especially in the proportions, roofline and side window shape. Which may explain why a gaggle of Ford guys were silently milling around the booth. Watching. Evaluating.
Still, there's plenty of other iconic muscle car references in the Bass, from Camaros (rear fascia) to GTOs (divided grille), to Challengers (hooded front fascia), and more. I was told the inspiration collection included Mustangs, Camaros, Challengers, Chargers, Barracudas, GTOs, Marlins among others. But no Javelins or AMXs, sadly.
While derived from classic sources, surprisingly little of the Bass is sourced from other cars, considering how low volume they are. There are a few things from existing cars, like the headlights from a Camaro, and lots of the smaller switchgear, some displays, and HVAC system from the GM parts bin. I was especially surprised to find all the window glass is completely bespoke, ordered at great expense in limited quantity from glass provider Guardian. They fit the design perfectly, but I suspect any broken window will take a metric crapload of money to set right.
Other bespoke parts include a bunch of lovely billet and laser-cut aluminum parts, including gauge clusters, various switches and control knobs, and some door handles that look vintage but aren't.
At first I thought the "EQUUS" badges were taken from the eponymous Hyundai, but while the typography is close, they're not the same. I bet if you find a used Equus Bass for a good price in 2063 that's missing the badge, you can get away with using a Hyundai one and most people won't even notice.
Though the exterior has heavy Ford design influences, the guts are all GM. The same big-ass LS9 6.4L V8 from the Corvette is in the Bass, making a very robust 640HP. The engine is set far enough back in the chassis to be a front-mid engine, and the weight is even further distributed by the rear-mounted transaxle, a a six-speed dual-clutch manual box with a nice round ball shifter.
That transaxle is also manages to create a warm, substantial hump in between the very cramped rear seats, and as a result precludes the use of LATCH baby seat systems in the back. So, before you even ask, I'm skeptical of this car's ability to Baby. Though I'd be up to try.
The aluminum chassis is unique to the Equus, and the body is aluminum as well, with carbon fiber internal reinforcing panels. The brakes are massive carbon-ceramic discs (rears are shared with the Enzo, trivia-lovers). The whole thing weighs 3640 lbs, and Equus says it'll get to 60 in 3.4 seconds, and tops out over 200. Seems plausible.
For such a low-volume producer, the products of the Rochester Hills, MI factory are pretty good, though there are a few rough edges here and there, and some concessions low-volume production demands. The driver information LED-matrix screen, for example, is right out of a U-Haul GMC truck, and the dash is upholstered rather than made of molded plastics. It gives the dash a strangely soft-sofa feel, but I suspect doing it this way is the best solution for the low volumes.
The Bass 770 will cost about $250,000 or so, and is not really designed to compete with 911s or Ferraris as such. Equus' people describe it as "more of a dream car than a sports car," and their website and marketing materials make many references to the iconic movie status of many classic American muscle cars.
It's refreshing to see something like the Equus Bass being actually built because, like other beautiful, obsessively-built wealthy people's toys these cars are the direct product of one individual's very personal vision. No focus groups, no market research, just an oddly intimate peek into the psyche and desire of a person, expressed as a wildly expensive and potentially remarkable car.
Now I want to find out who this "European businessman" is. Anyone know any fabulously wealthy, muscle-car-loving, business-doing men in the countries of Europe?
I've heard Harold Primat suggested as a possibility, but I tend to think if the businessman had a racing background, they wouldn't hide that fact. What about that Dyson guy who makes those vacuum cleaners? Maybe Theo Albrecht, the German guy who started Trader Joe's?
I'm really curious.