NORTH AMERICAN INTERNATIONAL AUTO SHOW

Handmade muscle car doesn’t horse around

Production of Equus Bass 770 limited to 100 vehicles a year

1/14/2014
BY TYREL LINKHORN
BLADE BUSINESS WRITER
Ian James, a race-car driver who serves as ‘brand ambassador’ for Equus Automotive Inc., shows off the Equus Bass 770 at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.
Ian James, a race-car driver who serves as ‘brand ambassador’ for Equus Automotive Inc., shows off the Equus Bass 770 at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

DETROIT — The Equus Bass 770 looks a little bit Ford Mustang and a little bit Plymouth GTX.

It’s all rock ’n’ roll.

The 640 horsepower, $250,000 muscle car is hand-built by Equus Automotive Inc. in Rochester Hills, Mich. The company claims the car can hit 60 mph in 3.4 seconds and has a top speed of 200 mph.

With 25 employees and a total of three production cars built so far, Equus is one of the smallest operations out there. The start-up firm hasn’t received a lot of traditional press, but its car has created a buzz on social media.

PHOTO GALLERY: The Equus Bass 770

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If the name Equus sounds familiar, it is. Hyundai uses the Equus name for its flagship luxury vehicle. (The fact that Hyundai has a growing luxury lineup is another story for another day.)

The people behind Equus Automotive say it means “horse” in Latin, and say they haven’t encountered any issues from Hyundai.

At a small news conference Tuesday at the North American International Auto Show, brand ambassador Ian James said the company has put six years into developing the Bass (pronounced like the instrument, not the fish) 770.

“It’s a clean-sheet-of-paper design from the ground up,” Mr. James said. “What we’ve tried to do is incorporate everything that people have loved in past styling into one modern-day car with all the safety reliability and convenience that you can drive every day.”


While it may be a new design, it’s not an unfamiliar design. The car quite clearly draws inspiration from the Mustang fastbacks of the late 1960s. There's also a touch of the old Dodge Challenger. The front end looks like a Plymouth GTX or Roadrunner.

Mr. James said the company hasn’t had any issues from the companies whose products the Bass 770 draws inspiration from.

“I don’t get involved in the backroom stuff, but not to my knowledge,” he said.

Mr. James, a successful race car driver, said the company is owned and bankrolled by a European businessman who has a passion for classic muscle cars. The man wishes to remain behind the scenes, he said.

Equus said it can build 100 cars a year at its facility in Rochester Hills, 30 miles north of Detroit. The company says it has 20 orders from overseas. The Detroit show was the brand’s official launch in the U.S. market.

Mr. James said production will start soon, with the first cars being delivered in about three months. The first U.S. orders are expected to be filled six to eight months down the road.

Unlike companies that just modify current models to increase performance, Equus builds the car from the ground up.

However, some major parts, such as the powertrain and safety components, are sourced from other suppliers and manufacturers.

Equus says its aluminum body panels are outsourced to stamping operations in Michigan and California. The engine and transmission are produced by General Motors, though the two companies have no formal partnership.

Company officials say the car meets U.S. safety regulations and is 50-state compliant.

At $250,000, buyers have a whole lot of other options. But Equus thinks it is filling a small niche within the market for wealthy buyers who fancy muscle cars and performance.

“Equus is going to be a lifestyle brand more than anything else. ... This is [for] a guy who wants to pull up in Monte Carlo and park outside the hotel,” Mr. James said.

Contact Tyrel Linkhorn at tlinkhorn@theblade.com or 419-724-6134.