All posts in “performance”

McLaren Senna GTR LM cars created by MSO to honor the F1 GTR’s Le Mans success

The McLaren Special Operations division has outdone themselves again. Today, we get to present to you five McLaren Senna GTRs that were commissioned in a group. Their design and liveries are meant to re-create the five McLaren G1 GTRs that raced in the 1995 24 Hours of Le Mans. McLaren took first place in that race, with the remaining four cars finishing third, fourth, fifth and 13th. 

These five Senna GTRs are much more than just Senna GTRs with stickers on them, too. The (faithfully re-created) liveries were hand-painted on every one of the cars. McLaren says each car took approximately 800 hours to paint, with some taking far more than that. All five are kept as close to the originals as possible, as McLaren coordinated with the Le Mans organizer to get permission to re-create every last detail of the logos and trademarks on the cars. The only sticker you’ll find on the exterior is a replica of the scrutineering sticker.

It isn’t just the appearance that received all the attention, though. McLaren has found a way to give the 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8 a small power boost. It went from making 814 horsepower to 833 horsepower. The rev limit has also increased from 8,250 rpm to nearly 9,000 rpm. This is accomplished through metal matrix composite valve spring retainers (65% lighter), higher grade steel for the valve springs and CNC ported cylinder heads. A recalibration of the whole powertrain takes advantage of these new parts, leading to the increase in power.

Small changes abound elsewhere in the car, too. OZ Racing designed a bespoke set of wheels for these cars; the suspension wishbones are made in an anodized version of their previous selves, and the brake calipers are finished in satin gold. New exit pipes are bent for the Inconel exhaust (for a new look), and the interior gets a small work over, too.

There’s a new racing steering wheel with anodized gold paddles and control buttons, titanium nitride pedals, carbon fiber racing seats with a bespoke headrest embroidery, leather door pull straps and an MSO six-point racing harness. We’re afraid to know the prices for these five cars, but we won’t know anyway, because McLaren hasn’t released that information.

All five owners will be allowed to take a lap of Circuit de la Sarthe on the day of the 2021 24 Hours of Le Mans, which only seems right given their Le Mans re-creation provenance. 

Lucid Air and Maserati MC20 unveiled | Autoblog Podcast #644

In this week’s Autoblog Podcast, Editor-in-Chief Greg Migliore is joined by Associate Editor Byron Hurd. Before they get to the juicy news of the week, they chat about the cars they’ve been driving, including a Ford Mustang Shelby GT350R, Audi A6 Allroad, Mazda CX-9 and Kia Niro. It’s been a busy week in the news department, with GM investing in Nikola, Lucid Motors launching the Air electric sedan, Maserati unveiling the MC20 mid-engined supercar and a farewell to the Lexus GS. Then they talk about having a newfound respect for the Fox Body Mustang and the Mazda CX-9.

Autoblog Podcast #644

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Gordon Murray Automotive T.50s revealed as track-only, even more extreme T.50

It’s been one month since the Gordon Murray Automotive T.50 was fully revealed. We’re still reeling from learning about how stupendous it is, but Gordon Murray has gone and one upped himself again today. In addition to the road-going T.50, there will also be a track-only T.50s. 

The name “T.50s” is only a codename for now. GMA says that a proper full name will arrive when the car is officially unwrapped. Only one photo of the T.50s was shown, and you’re looking at it above. However, we do have plenty of details to share alongside the single photo.

What we’re dealing with is essentially a race car. It’s not legal to drive on any type of road, unless that road happens to be a closed course. The T.50s has more power, weighs less and produces significantly more downforce than the standard T.50. It also costs a great deal more at £3.1 million. Adjusted to U.S. dollars, that’s just over $4.1 million. Alright, yes, the price goes well beyond the realm of silly and ridiculous. But Murray will also argue that nothing else in the world can match it. So, what all do you get for the extra $1.1 million over the standard car?

Somehow, the Cosworth 3.9-liter V12 makes more power. With the new ram-induction, it’s going to make approximately 720 horsepower. No turbos or supercharger necessary. That’s a 66 horsepower increase. Murray says that revised cylinder heads and camshafts, higher compression ratio and a free-flowing exhaust all contributed to the power gains. It doesn’t even attempt to meet emissions or noise regulations anymore, which is a boon for power. In all, over 50 components in the engine have been changed. Murray specifically attributes a 30 horsepower gain to the new roof-mounted ram-air induction system.

Since this model is being built for pure speed on a racetrack, Murray has gone away from a traditional manual transmission. Instead, it uses a bespoke six-speed Xtrac transmission that is shifted via steering wheel-mounted paddles. It has new drive ratios and is optimized for track performance.

A standard T.50 (pictured in the gallery above) is a featherweight at 2,174 pounds, but the T.50s weighs even less at 1,962 pounds. The completely stripped interior contributes to much of the weight savings. Murray has deleted the air conditioning, infotainment, storage compartments, carpets and instrumentation. The seat to the right of the driver has been removed, but the seat on the left was retained for co-drivers or a single passenger for fun. The two seats that remain are both new carbon fiber racing seats fitted with six-point harnesses. A new steering wheel in F1 style (minus the buttons) is swapped in, and there will be a racing display that shows the vitals for racing only. Forged magnesium wheels also contribute to reducing the car’s mass. They’re wrapped with Michelin Cup Sport 2 tires.

Added aero is another big focus with the T.50s. A massive 69-inch delta wing is mounted to the top of the car as the shining crown, a design that was inspired by Murray’s 1983 Brabham BT52 F1 car. Other aerodynamic improvements include a new ground effect underbody airfoil, new front splitter, adjustable diffusers and an aero fin that runs from the top of the roof to the rear lip of the car. Of course, the fan remains, but it now permanently runs at 7,000 rpm. Murray says the car generates 3,306 pounds of downforce. It would be capable of driving upside down at 175 mph or more with this amount of downforce, according to Murray. We’ll just take his word for it. Murray also claims that the car is capable of generating about 2.5G-3.0G under braking. For some perspective, F1 drivers experience about 5G of braking force during races.

The brakes themselves are carbon ceramic units from Brembo. New ducting around each wheel helps them handle the increased heat they’ll be feeling from the extreme braking. Both the engine and transmission oil cooling systems are relocated for better airflow. As for the suspension, GMA re-tuned the dampers, spring and front anti-roll bar for racing. It also rides 1.57 inches lower in front and back. Customers will be allowed to tailor the suspension setup to their liking, though. In fact, everything about the T.50s will be customized to the customer’s desire. Murray really wants owners to track the cars, so the team will be working closely with every owner to set the car up properly for such an event.

“I’d like to organize a series of racing events as part of our Trackspeed package to ensure the T.50s is driven regularly by owners,” Murray says. “There will be nothing like the experience of driving this car. And hearing it … well, that will be something else! I’d like each of the 25 cars to be completely unique from setup to paint finish.”

That’s right, only 25 will be made in T.50s spec. Murray says that half of them are already spoken for, so there isn’t much time left to secure a spot. The GMA team says it will supply a “full range of pit, garage, and support equipment for the T.50s” for those who take it racing. Production for the T.50s will commence after the 100 road-spec T.50 models are built. The current estimate for T.50s production start is the first quarter of 2023.

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Henrik Fisker interview, and driving the Polestar 2 | Autoblog Podcast #643

In this week’s Autoblog Podcast, Editor-in-Chief Greg Migliore is joined by Senior Editor, Green, John Beltz Snyder. They’ve been driving the updated 2021 Honda Odyssey, the 2020 Mercedes-AMG GLC 43 and the new Polestar 2 electric sedan. After reviewing those, they talk about how the Chrysler 300 appears to be withering on the vine. Next, they take time to talk to legendary automotive designer and eponymous Chairman & CEO of Fisker Inc., Mr. Henrik Fisker himself, about jeans, horses and, of course, electric cars. Finally, they help a listener pick a $100,000 supercar in the “Spend My Money” segment.

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2020 Chevrolet Corvette Road Test | The hype is legit

The $59,995 2020 Chevrolet Corvette exists. This one isn’t it. Chevy sent me the complete opposite of a base Corvette, as the sticker on this Accelerate Yellow 3LT model came to $86,860. Yet, after a week in the tight bucket seat, I’m convinced it’s still a bargain.

Raw performance, sophistication, luxury, price. Pick three, because combining all four of these elements in a sports car or supercar is like trying to find Waldo when he’s been torn out of the page. Chevy is turning this conundrum upside down with the new Corvette. Equipped properly, the C8 checks all four of the boxes emphatically.

Performance is a no-doubter. The 6.2-liter V8 makes 495 horsepower and 470 pound-feet of torque in this Z51 pack car, rocketing it to 60 mph in just 2.9 seconds via an excellent launch control system. The magnetic dampers make for a sophisticated ride and handling balance. It can go from forgiving and plush to racetrack stiff at the twist of a dial. The interior is more luxurious and tech heavy than anything else GM makes, save for a loaded-up Cadillac. And then there’s the price. How Chevy priced this car below $100,000 still baffles me. Almost nothing is missing, but let’s dive in a bit deeper, starting from the best place to be: the driver’s seat.

Reaching beyond the highly-bolstered suede, leather and mesh Competition GT3 seats in this C8, everything I touch feels of quality. Yellow accents are splashed about the interior in thoughtful locations. Even the removable roof has yellow stitching woven in. Before I even get on the road, this attention to detail and level of customization reminds me of Porsche — the Chevy options are just cheaper. The spectacular view forward over a low nose keeps the Porsche theme on track, but it trails off when I begin to take in the interior design language around me. 

No car takes the jet fighter cockpit theme as seriously as the Corvette does. I’m cocooned in my own bubble, completely walled-off from the passenger, and the passenger from me. Wide, swooping armrests are swathed in suede and placed at perfect elbow-resting height. The square-shaped suede-covered ($595) steering wheel isn’t weird to use, but spokes at 9 and 3 would be preferable over their current 8:30 and 3:30 positions. My passengers kept accidentally adjusting my seat and temperature controls on the vertical climate control stack (driver on top, passenger on bottom), but I became accustomed to the design quickly. It beats putting the climate controls in a touchscreen. There’s a general feeling of busyness inside with all the sharp angles and its multi-tiered dash design. GM may be trying a little too hard to make it exotic, but functionality doesn’t suffer for the styling, so I accept the flair. 

The push-to-start button presses in with a satisfying click, but even more satisfying than that is tapping the remote start on the keyfob when standing near the loud pipes. Since the Corvette saves its drive mode from the last engine cycle, you can remote start your engine with the exhaust in Track mode (thank you to the engineers who did this). It is thunderous and guttural and all the things you want the startup to be.

The drive mode dial has proper heft, and the digital instrument cluster quickly animates through layouts with each new mode. Ergonomically, the interior is brilliant. My seating position is spot on with the seat set to its lowest point. Being able to see out the back with a standard mirror would be nice, but the digital rearview camera mirror on this car is a revelation for a mid-engine layout. You can see everything, and glare from taller cars’ headlights in the dark is a non-issue — even the driver-side mirror is auto-dimming. All this, and my butt and back are cool via the ventilated seats.

Setting out in Tour (comfort) mode, GM’s Small Block LT2 clacks away quietly behind my ear, sounding every bit like a Camaro or the previous Corvette. A thick piece of glass separates the cabin from the engine bay, allowing driver and passenger to look back at the pretty V8. It’s far more sedate and normal to cruise around in than you might imagine. The steering wheel flies left or right with ease at low speeds, the brakes are comfortable but not touchy, and those magnetic dampers are damping out the bumps. The big engine and eight-speed dual-clutch gearbox never fully fade into the background when casually driving around, but there’s no drama at low speeds. Ferraris or Lamborghinis never stop telling you what they are when cruising through town. If it weren’t for the incessant staring and pointing, I could’ve forgotten I was driving the hottest, most-anticipated car of the last several years. Credit to Chevy for making this beast so livable on a day-to-day basis.

Not to say the Corvette is quiet inside (it’s not), but that level of refinement in the cabin in casual driving isn’t always conducive to noise and personality when the right pedal is flat. Even with the supplemental exhaust noise being pumped into the cabin via the speakers, the Corvette isn’t as loud inside as I imagined it would’ve been with the performance exhaust. It’s opposite what’s going on out back, too. This Corvette sounds like NASCAR thunder from the roadside as it pounds through the forest, barking and snapping at each quick gear change. Problem is, the driver is only getting a fraction of this in their eardrums. I have a certain expectation for theater and aural wonder from a mid-engine car. The Corvette could use a tinge more of both.

Now, enough with the nit-picking. Power (so much of it) is simply here. It’s like a light switch. The speed at which this updated V8 revs — get the full download in our First Drive — is one pivotal aspect that stands out. Whether you’re banging through first and second or free revving for a demanding onlooker, it goes from idle to 6,500 rpm (redline) in a flash. The steady increase in shove keeps coming all the way to the top despite peak torque hitting at 5,150 rpm. 

There isn’t much fuss in the power band. Everything is business as usual if you’re accustomed to GM’s Small Block V8. It’s glorious in its simplicity, and brings a sense of normalcy to the gob smacking acceleration. I’m not wanting for any more forward thrust — there is zero letup at legal speeds — but I’m already looking forward to the shriek of the flat-plane crank Corvette headed our way soon. This engine is an ode to the traditionalists, but the flat-plane crank ‘Vette will be an ode to people like me who love high-revving, exotic engines.

Once I make it out to some proper driving roads, the brilliance of this chassis comes into plain view. It doesn’t feel like a company’s first go at a mid-engine supercar. No, it’s well-tuned and strikes a wonderful ride and handling balance the likes of which Porsche has been perfecting for years with the 911. The magnetic dampers on this car deserve many thank you notes. Turn-in is crisp and quick. The nose is happy to be pointed in a different direction at a moment’s notice, and there’s zero uneasiness coming from the rear end. As the Gs build, the Corvette remains a wonderfully balanced rock. I’m waiting for the rear end to step out on me as I apply more and more throttle coming out of turns, but it wriggles, then sticks with the weight of the engine keeping it planted. This car will happily go sideways if you intentionally goose it, but it’s incredibly well-behaved when speed is the priority.

The steering weight is just about perfect in Sport mode, but turns a smidge too heavy in Track mode. Bumps and bigger undulations in corners are shrugged off. I can feel what’s going on at the wheels through the seat and steering wheel, but the Corvette reassuringly trucks on without skipping a beat. Lesser chassis will bound around and send the car skipping on my testing roads, but the Corvette handles them like a champ. The $1,895 you spend on these dampers will be the best $1,895 you ever spend.

A manual transmission is the only item missing. My tester car may be supercar-quick, but it’s not too much of a handful that a manual would ruin the experience. Take the three-pedal version of the 911 Carrera S as an example. It may be slower to 60 mph than the PDK, but the car is still plenty drivable and doesn’t turn into some hot mess with too much horsepower. I think there’s room for a manual to work the same way in the Corvette. This is no condemnation of the eight-speed dual-clutch transmission in the Vette today, though. It’s as quick to respond as the best of them. If Porsche held any advantage here it would be in smoothness, as the Corvette is less refined in manual mode when you’re not pushing. I’d move the paddles up by about an inch, too, since they’re just out of reach at my preferable 9 and 3 hand position.

It’s staggering what Chevy put together here — nothing less than a generational milestone. The last no compromise supercar that truly shook the segment up was the 1991 Acura NSX, but even the NSX was pricey. Chevy’s new Corvette is just as important, but in a different way. McLaren and Ferrari buyers will keep buying McLarens and Ferraris. Lamborghini isn’t going to make a budget model. This car won’t force the old guard to change what they did the way Honda did in the 1990s. No, what the new Corvette does is bring that exotic level of performance to a price bracket that’s never had this opportunity before. It’s a supercar for the people, assuming the people have over $60,000 for a toy. But don’t worry; in three years depreciation will have them down in the $40,000 range.

Raw performance, sophistication, luxury, price. Somehow, all four deliverables are present and accounted for. At $59,995, nothing can beat it. At $86,860, nothing can beat it. The Small Block isn’t holding this car back from greatness — it’s already great with it. But this chassis, and the car as a whole, begs for more. More character, more revs and an exotic yowl that matches the chassis’ greatness. When Chevy adds such an engine, the Corvette can transcend beyond the performance bargain moniker to being one of the greatest of all time. It’s nearly there already.

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Spyker aiming to revive sports cars and even an SUV with new backers

Luxury sports car builder Spyker, despite having some beautiful and unique products, has had a rocky history over the past couple decades. The last news we had heard from them was the release of a special variant for the last run of its C8 Aileron, and before that was the announcement that the C8 Preliator would move to a Koenigsegg V8. All of that was in 2017. Now the company has announced it has partnered with other companies for some financial, development and production support. And if all goes well, we may see old concepts finally reach production.

The two people involved in the new partnerships are Boris Rotenberg and Michail Pessis. Between the two of them, they operate a number of racing- and automotive-related businesses: SMP Racing, BR Engineering, Milan Morady SA and R-Company GmbH. They each are fans of Spyker, both owning its cars themselves. Apparently, Milan Morady and BR Engineering were already helping build some special edition C8 Ailerons.

As for the future, it seems that Rotenberg’s and Pessis’s companies will be doing some major lifting in building some of the aforementioned C8 Preliator. Plans go beyond continuing production of that existing model, though. Apparently these companies are planning on finally bringing two even older Spyker concepts to production: the smaller B6 Venator and the D8 Peking-to-Paris SUV. The B6 made its debut in 2013, featured a 375-horsepower V6 and was a smaller, presumably more accessible Spyker. The D8 Peking-to-Paris was reportedly based on the D12 Peking-to-Paris concept, shown at the top of the page, but with a V8 engine instead of a V12. That concept dates all the way back to 2006. Time will tell if these new partnerships give Spyker some new life.

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Ferrari 812 Superfast variant spied, could be a GTO

The chance to buy a new, naturally aspirated V12-powered Ferrari is closing, and the camouflaged 812 Superfast we’re looking at here is likely going to be one of the last. Our spy photographer caught two 812s running around, but the changes are similar (not identical) among the two.

This isn’t the first time we’ve seen a potential 812 variant, either. Ferrari is rumored to be producing some special editions of the 812 before it goes out of production, and this one looks like it has the potential to be the most potent version. The changes we spy on these two prototypes suggest that Ferrari is prepping an 812 GTO, or if we use the F12 as perspective, a tdf. Either way, this car will likely have even more power and better handling than the current 812 Superfast.

Ferrari manages 789 horsepower and 530 pound-feet of torque from the 6.5-liter V12 today, so we fully expect to see a number north of 800 horsepower for this special edition. The crude, mesh front grille and gaggle of wires coming from the engine bay suggest some powertrain development is underway. How much power Ferrari ends up with is anybody’s guess, but a redline over 9,000 rpm sounds pretty good to us — the current 812 stops at 8,900 rpm.

There’s some camouflage along the side sills, reaching up into the front fenders. Ferrari is very obviously doing some work with the rear aero, as we see two different designs on the two test cars. They both look unfinished, but one is filled in with venting, while the other is wide open on the edges. Whatever secrets Ferrari is trying to keep, it has kept for the time being. The looks of these camouflaged prototypes are obviously in an unfinished state of business. Ferrari managed to differentiate the standard F12 from the F12 tdf substantially, and we expect its next front-engine masterpiece to receive the same treatment for production.

Just like the tdf, we’ll expect this version of the 812 to be made in limited quantities and cost a small fortune. As for timing, Ferrari could very well reveal the car this year as it continues its new product offensive.

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Chevy Corvette Z06 rumor suggests 9,000 rpm redline from flat-plane crank V8

It’s time to head back to Rumor Town with the Chevrolet Corvette. This time, Motor Trend says it has a scoop on the upcoming Z06 and ZR1 versions of the mid-engine sports car. Although, if what MT claims is true, we might as well just call them supercars.

We’ll start with Z06. Motor Trend’s unnamed source says it will reportedly be packing a 5.5-liter naturally aspirated flat-plane crank V8. And yes, it will be a double-overhead-cam design. Redline will be 9,000 rpm, which would make it one of the highest-revving engines in the world. Chevy has foretold that it would use a road-going version of the C8.R’s engine in a future Corvette variant. Packing it into the Z06 would make perfect sense and bring the Z06 back to its naturally-aspirated roots. There is one aspect of the report we’re skeptical of: the horsepower figures. The source claims this 5.5-liter V8 will make 625 horsepower, which seems mighty high for a naturally aspirated engine. That’s 113.6 horsepower/liter, which is a big step up from the Mustang Shelby GT350’s 101 horsepower/liter. Put simply, it’s Ferrari and Lamborghini territory for a vehicle that will cost a mere fraction of those cars. We’re not saying GM can’t do it, but we sure will be wildly impressed if it can.

The sound of one heavily camouflaged Corvette running around with an exotic scream trailing it is indication enough that GM is cooking something rather devilish up. Torque is rumored to be well over 400 pound-feet, but not more than 500 pound-feet. This will be a high-revving affair, after all. Motor Trend’s source said “it’s going to be a screamer.” The engine in the racecar makes just 500 horsepower and 480 pound-feet of torque, but racing restrictions don’t have to be abided by on the street car. That said, the street car must also pass emissions and run on pump gas, so it’s a two-way street. Previous rumors have suggested that this engine comes aboard the Z06, and they’ve offered even more info including wheel/tire packages, active aero and a possible center-exit exhaust system.

As for the ZR1 also mentioned by Motor Trend, its source says the 5.5-liter V8 will gain a pair of turbochargers. The rumor is approximately 800 horsepower for this version, but we won’t put much stock into this prediction just yet. A hybrid Corvette isn’t out of the question either, with the possibility of adding an electric motor to the ZR1 for an ultimate Corvette. We’re fairly certain this version will have enough power to escape Earth’s gravity. The last bit of info gleaned from this report is on a Grand Sport model. MT’s source claims that there will be no Grand Sport, which is a real shame to hear. The Grand Sport was arguably the best version of the C7 Corvette in many ways.

Timing for all of this is totally up for debate, but we wouldn’t put it past Chevy to introduce the Z06 within a year from now. The rumored 9,000 rpm redline already has us swooning.

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What’s hiding beneath this mystery BMW M8 mule?

Spy photos of a mystery BMW M8 mule being tested at the Nürburgring could be our first glance at BMW’s rumored 600-horsepower plug-in hybrid. The demise of BMW’s mid-engine i8 plug-in hybrid with no news of a direct replacement led us to wonder what BMW really has in store for the future of the formula, but if this early prototype is anything to go on, it may be alive and well. We’re not sure what BMW plans to call its next round of all-electric and plug-in variants, but whatever it ends up being called, the prospect is certainly fascinating. 

Let’s start with what we’re looking at. At first glance, this appears to be a fairly run-of-the-mill BMW M8 with some camouflage over the front and rear, which is about what you’d expect to see from a company that is likely developing alternative bodywork for a mid-cycle update or a new appearance package. Looking more closely, however, we see the strategic tinting of the rear window glass along with very obvious air intake vents where the rear side windows should be. Translation? There’s something back there that 1) needs air flow and 2) BMW doesn’t want us to see. 

To further grease the skids, our spies tell us that the engine in this car did not sound anything like the V8 found under the hood of either the BMW M8 or its racing variant, the M8 GTE, which carries over the former’s front-engine layout. In fact, the spy even referred to the sound as “unusual,” which could just be good salesmanship, but the fact of the matter remains that whatever is under there, it’s not from an M8, or any other 8 Series derivative currently known to us. 

Conveniently, all of the things that make this an unlikely M8 variant, from the mid-engine layout to the unconventional exhaust note, make a compelling case for it as a revival of BMW’s plug-in flagship. Even the wheels appear strikingly similar to those on the BMW Vision M Next concept the company showed at Frankfurt last year, which was said to be a plug-in hybrid with a turbocharged four-cylinder gasoline engine making 600 horsepower. BMW claimed it could do 0-62 mph in 3.0 seconds with a top speed of 186 mph and boasting 62 miles of all-electric range. 

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Historic French brand Delage returns with the D12

We’ve seen several ways so far of resurrecting a dormant car brand. There’s been the continuation build, like at Alvis, with period vehicles created from new-old-stock or parts created from original blueprints. We’ve seen brands wrap modern technology in historically-themed bodywork, as with the new Hispano-Suiza, or put that technology inside brand new bodywork said to channel the spirit of the original, as at Maybach or Bugatti. ü Called the Delage D12, CEO Laurent Tapie says it fulfills the dream of Adolphe Louis Delage, who campaigned a 2.0-liter V12 in the 1923 and 1924 Grand Prix seasons, supercharging the engine in 1925 and winning two races. Delage took the crown of World Champion of Car Builders in 1927 with the Type 15 S 8 and its supercharged 1.5-liter straight-eight, then returned to a V12 formula in 1938 in a car lost to fire before it could race.

The original Delage insisted on technical excellence, its 1914 Indy 500-winning car benefiting from a 4.5-liter four-cylinder engine with double overhead cams and desmodromic valves, a five-speed gearbox with two overdrive gears, a metal clutch, and brakes at all four wheels plus a transmission brake. On public roads, some of the finest coachbuilding of the era sat on top of a Delage chassis; the brand has won Best of Show at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance three times between 1996 and 2010.

Echoing the dual thrust of those vintage cars, the D12 is road-legal, yet designed to be “the closest to the sensation of driving a Formula One car that has ever been experienced in a street legal car.” Tapie wants the D12 to claim the record for the fast street-legal car around the Nürburgring. There will be two D12 trims, both powered by a naturally aspirated 7.6-liter V12 with 990 horsepower, developed in-house and aided by an electric motor mounted in the eight-speed, single-clutch, automated manual transmission. In the GT version, which weighs 3,086 pounds, the e-motor produces 110 hp for a total of 1,100 horses. In the track-focused Club model that weighs 2,888 pounds, the e-motor contributes a gentle 20 horses for 1,010 hp and is used mainly while driving on the streets, reversing, and parking. Delage says the GT is quicker, but the Club — which can hit 62 miles per hour in 2.8 seconds and tops out at 233 mph — is faster around a circuit.

Delage technical director Benoît Bagur has a résumé including years at Citroën Sport, Seat and VW Sport, and Ligier, the entire technical team said to have been involved with 16 FIA World Championship titles in various series. Bagur claims two in touring cars, the head engineer is responsible for six, and one of those titles is claimed by Jacques Villeneuve, the ex-F1 pilot being one of Delage’s test drivers.

The carbon fiber body panels are accompanied by carbon fiber wheels engineered to channel airflow to cool the brakes, the body and wheels connected by a visible pushrod suspension. In the cockpit, the steering wheel handles are molded to the driver’s hands, the carbon fiber seat and leg support are molded to the driver’s body. 

Tapie says he’s backed by 10 investors, four of them apparently billionaires, but he’s looking for two more. Tapie’s father is French billionaire Bernard Tapie, but the elder is not invested in the nascent car company. Laurent sees the D12, produced from next year in a run of 30 cars priced at $2.3 million each, as the opener to more products. Two D12s have been spoken for so far, sold through Delage’s West Coast dealer, Newport Beach Automotive Group.

With the brand name licensed for seven years, the deal including a provision to buy the rights to the name in 2022, Tapie already has a second model in mind. The follow-up will further highlight the historical connection at the same time as it’s powered by “a revolutionary turbine that’s been in development for 12 years, and will also take advantage of some innovative aerodynamic technology. We really see ourselves as a technology company.” 

Listen to the Mercedes-AMG Project One romp around Mercedes’ proving grounds

It’s been over three years since we saw the reveal of the Mercedes-AMG Project One, and we’re still waiting on a final production car. Mercedes isn’t keeping us entirely in the dark on what’s going on behind closed doors, though.

Today, Mercedes has dropped a new video and new photos of the Project One testing on track. The company says that testing is entering a new phase now, as pre-production models are running hot laps on Mercedes’ proving grounds in Immendingen. Mercedes also says that this is the first time it’s testing with the engines turned up to their full power potential of “more than 1,000 horsepower.”

For us, this is simply a great chance for us to hear the 1.6-liter turbocharged V6 scream around a racetrack. Mercedes says the sound we’re hearing is authentic and what owners will hear from behind the wheel of their Projects Ones. Since this engine is a street-tamed Formula One engine, it sounds very similar to the Mercedes race cars piloted by Lewis Hamilton and Valterri Bottas on Sundays. The sound isn’t exactly the same as what we hear on TV, but there’s no mistaking this engine’s origins. 

In addition to running at full power, Mercedes says it’s working to validate and develop the active aerodynamics. After this bout of testing is complete, Mercedes says it plans to head to the north loop of the Nurburgring. Don’t expect to see a record attempt, though — AMG already ruled that out a couple years ago.

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Aston Martin Vantage and DBS Superleggera 007 Editions are shaken and stirred

We’re 25 movies into the James Bond franchise at this point and it’s well established that 007 has developed an unhealthy taste for Aston Martins. To wit, the upcoming film “No Time To Die”, says the British motoring company, “will be released around the world in November 2020 and will feature no fewer than four iconic Aston Martin sports cars: the iconic DB5; the classic Aston Martin V8; the brand’s latest super GT,  DBS Superleggera; and the exceptional Aston Martin Valhalla.”

To herald the occasion, Aston Martin has rolled out two new 007 Editions. We’ll start with the Vantage 007 Edition, which is inspired by the Aston Martin V8 from 1987’s “The Living Daylights.” Cumberland Grey paint joins a unique mesh grille with chrome bezel, a dashed yellow diffuser that the automaker says is “inspired by the hazard stripes on the film car’s rockets” and sun visors with an embroidered radio station frequency of 96.60 FM, which will make sense to diehard Bond fans. A series of optional mock weapons, ski racks, and faux bullet holes round out the package.

Aston Martin’s flagship DBS Superleggera also gets a 007 Edition. Only 25 will be produced, each in Ceramic Grey highlighted by a black carbon fiber roof, mirror caps, splitter, diffuser and rear Aeroblade. Bond-specific emblems join unique 21-inch wheels and an interior finished in black leather with red accents.

Want one? Aston Martin is currently taking orders, with deliveries expected in the first quarter of 2021.

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2021 Ford GT Heritage Edition celebrates 1966 Daytona victory

Ford pulled the covers off the 2021 Ford GT Heritage Edition this weekend, inspired by the 1966 24 Hours of Daytona-winning GT40 Mk. II driven by Ken Miles and Lloyd Ruby. Even casual motorsports fans likely remember that Ford’s GT program defeated the almighty Ferrari at Le Mans that year, but the 24-hour Daytona race was just as important of a milestone in the car’s history.

The 2021 Heritage Edition is a tribute to the race-winning car, painted in Frozen White with asymmetrical black (in this modern case, exposed carbon fiber) and red accents. The number 98 is emblazoned across the doors, and one-piece Heritage Gold 20-inch forged-aluminum wheels let red Brembo monoblock brake calipers peek through. Red and black Alcantara fabric covers much of the interior, including the seats and steering wheel. A Heritage Upgrade Package adds carbon fiber wheels with gloss red inner accent barrel and carbon fiber door panels.

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Past Heritage Edition Ford GT’s honored the black-and-silver GT40 Mark II that won at Le Mans in 1966 driven by Bruce McLaren and Chris Amon, the Le Mans-winning #1 Ford GT40 Mark IV from 1967 driven by Dan Gurney and A.J. Foyt, and the iconic Gulf livery of the 1968 Le Mans winner from the JW Automotive Engineering team.

In addition to the Heritage Edition, Ford also announced a customizable Studio Collection graphics package for the 2021 GT. “The combination of the stripes and accents invokes the emotion of speed and draws your eye to some of the most prominent features of the GT,” says Garen Nicoghosian, design head at Multimatic, the company that assembles the GT for Ford. “The fuselage, buttresses and signature features on the headlights provide visual anchors for the graphics, guiding your eye across the vehicle.”

Only 40 Studio Collection GTs are planned for the 2021 and 2022 model years. See the Heritage Edition in the gallery up above, and various possible Studio Collection schemes just below.

2021 Ford GT Heritage Edition teased ahead of Sunday debut

Ford dropped a brief teaser video for its 2021 GT Heritage Edition Friday afternoon, giving us our first glimpse of a car that will honor the legacy of the #98 Ford GT40 Mk II that won the inaugural 24 Hours of Daytona in 1966 in the hands of Ken Miles and Lloyd Ruby. The car will be formally unveiled Sunday night to kick off the Peterson Automotive Museum’s Car Week.

The video flashes brief images of the 2021 Ford GT Heritage Edition overlaid on the silhouette of the #98 GT40, followed by a message that reads “2021 Ford GT Heritage Edition — Coming Soon.” Ford’s GT Heritage Edition cars all sport throwback liveries representing the GT40’s dominant racing years.

The 2017 Heritage Edition wore the black-and-silver livery of the GT40 Mark II driven by Bruce McLaren and Chris Amon at Le Mans in 1966. That year, the No. 2 car came in first place, followed by the No. 1 GT40 of Ken Miles and Denis Hulme and the No. 5 GT40 driven by Ronnie Bucknum and Dick Hutcherson.

The 2018 car honored the all-American team of Dan Gurney and A.J. Foyt, who claimed victory at Le Mans in the #1 Ford GT40 Mark IV in 1967; for 2019, Ford brought back the Gulf livery with a car honoring the 1968 Le Mans victory by the JW Automotive Engineering team. 

On any other car, these would be nothing but sticker packages; on something as prestigious as the GT, they’re unique, low-production-number configurations that will surely make them highly desirable collector’s items down the road. 

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Hyperion unveils XP-1 hydrogen fuel cell supercar

Did you hear that? It didn’t sound like much, did it? Pretty quiet. Did you feel it? Just a whiff of passing vapor? Either that’s the emissions of a fuel cell supercar, or a big entrepreneurial dream not long for this world. When you see it, though, it’s hard to miss. That’s the Hyperion XP-1, which, after a little teasing, was officially revealed in the video above.

We don’t have a lot of details yet. Hyperion says the hydrogen hypercar can travel 1,000 miles between refueling — a process that takes mere minutes — and that it’ll do 0-60 miles per hour in a blistering 2.2 seconds. Its side aero elements not only help provide high-speed cornering stability, but they house solar panels, “which can articulate to follow the trajectory of the sun.” Hyperion, which also has aerospace and energy arms in addition to its automotive business, plans to produce the XP-1 in the U.S. starting in 2022.

Sure, I was a little flippant in my lede with the vaporware insinuation. We’ve seen a lot of high-tech, green cars come and go without making much of a splash or nary a ripple in the marketplace. We’ve seen it go the other way, too, and we’re still waiting on sure signs of success from others. Hyperion CEO Angelo Kafantaris called the XP-1, in part, “an educational tool for the masses.” He added, “Aerospace engineers have long understood the advantages of hydrogen as the most abundant, lightest element in the universe and now, with this vehicle, consumers will experience its extraordinary value proposition. This is only the beginning of what can be achieved with hydrogen as an energy storage medium. The potential of this fuel is limitless and will revolutionize the energy sector.”

It’s easy (maybe even lazy) to be dismissive of hydrogen with all the gains battery electric vehicles are making, but I still believe hydrogen has a place in the green energy ecosystem, and I’m not alone. Look at Toyota, Hyundai, even a number of countries that see a big future for it in their economies. It currently has its challenges (and listen to our Green Episode of the Autoblog Podcast for more about that) but also plenty of promise, if you know how to look at it. Furthermore, Hyperion says it has a “plan to revolutionize the hydrogen refueling industry.” If that’s the case, it gives the XP-1 — and hydrogen cars in general — a better shot at success.

Anyway, check out the cool fuel cell car from Hyperion in the video and photos above, and debate about it — and about hydrogen — in the comments.

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Lamborghini Essenza SCV12 is an 830-horsepower track weapon

Following in the footsteps of the likes of the Diablo GTR and the Miura Jota, the new Lamborghini Essenza SCV12 is the latest limited-run, uber-performance GT car that offers more power than any other naturally aspirated V12 model Lamborghini has ever produced.

To say the Essenza SCV12 is purpose-built would be understating it. From the carbon fiber monocoque and the adjustable aerodynamics to the structurally integral gearbox, everything about the Essenza SCV12 was engineered expressly for speed by Lamborghini’s motorsports division. Lamborghini says the V12 actually makes more than 830 horsepower, but didn’t offer us anything more specific.

Its multi-function wheel was even inspired by the control interfaces found in Formula One, and the rest of the cockpit is similarly racecar-spartan, down to the FIA-homologated carbon-shell seats. The exterior bodywork comprises just three sections to facilitate quick repair and replacement. All four wheels are magnesium alloy and the brakes were developed by Brembo.

“Essenza SCV12 represents the purest track driving experience that our brand can offer, an engineering feat that highlights the inextricable link between our cars and the asphalt of the track,” said Lamborghini CEO Stefano Domenicali in the company’s announcement. “Lamborghini is a brand constantly looking to the future and searching for new challenges, but we never forget our roots and who we are: Essenza SCV12 is the perfect combination of our unconventional spirit as a super sports car manufacturer and our true passion for motorsport.”

The Essenza SCV12 puts all 830 horsepower to the ground via the rear wheels. The aforementioned structural gearbox is a six-speed sequential unit and the mounting point for the rear pushrod suspension. The aero elements, which were borrowed (with modifications, of course) from Lamborghini’s racing cars, produce more than 2,600 pounds of downforce at 155 MPH — more than you get from the aero on a GT3 race car. 

Making the deal even sweeter is the fact that purchasing one of these 40 Essenza SCV12s also confers access to a series of exclusive track events along with storage space in a new building (a hangar, Lamborghini says) that the company has built at its facility in Sant’Agata Bolognese. 

“We wanted to elevate not only performance and driving pleasure but also the experience off the track,” said Giorgio Sanna, Head of Lamborghini Motorsport. “Customers can take advantage of exclusive and highly customizable services to fully experience the best of Italian hospitality and become part of the Lamborghini Squadra Corse family.”

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Demand for Bugatti’s Chiron Pur Sport is exceeding expectations

Bugatti’s handling-focused Chiron Pur Sport should have been one of the stars of the 2020 Geneva auto show, but the event was canceled at the last minute due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Although customers weren’t able to see the firm’s newest model in person, demand has nonetheless been exceptionally high.

Geneva is a major event for brands like Bugatti because it’s one of the last shows where customers go to spend money, not just to sit in cars and play around with the infotainment system. Members of the company’s sales and marketing team consequently had to find other ways to present the model; some potential buyers were shown the Pur Sport online, while a handful have seen it in person as it tours Europe. All have given it a warm welcome.

“Feedback from customers that have seen the car, online or in person, has been positive. It’s exceeding expectations,” a spokesperson for the company told Autoblog. Bugatti will continue showing the car to loyal customers in Europe, and it will soon set sail across the Atlantic to make its debut on American soil.

Sixty units of the Pur Sport will be built by hand in Bugatti’s Atelier in Molsheim, France. It’s the latest member of the Chiron family, which also includes the standard model introduced at the 2016 edition of the Geneva show and the record-breaking Super Sport 300+ unveiled in 2019. Frank Heyl, the company’s deputy design director, told Autoblog that customer requests play a big role in shaping the different directions his team takes the Chiron in. 

“We have customers who really demanded a more reactive, more emotional car. This was, of course, one idea. We said, ‘OK, let’s do it,’ and we started developing this car,” he said. Heyl stopped short of telling us what’s next, but his team won’t run out of ideas — and customers won’t run out of requests — anytime soon.

In the meantime, Bugatti’s team of intrepid road testers is fine-tuning the Chiron Pur Sport by putting it through its paces on various tracks, including the Nürburgring. Production is scheduled to start in the second half of 2020.

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How design follows function in the Bugatti Chiron Pur Sport and Super Sports 300+

As the successor to the world-beating Veyron, the Bugatti Chiron had big shoes to fill, and by every measure it has succeeded. With its 304-mph top-speed run last fall, the latest Bugatti hypercar has handily beaten all expectations, and Bugatti President Stephan Winkelmann has even publicly stated that the company will no longer chase speed records. One could argue that the Chiron’s work here is done, and yet it’s merely half way through its projected lifecycle. What more could it possibly accomplish?

Bugatti’s answer: Go faster on a road course. To accomplish this, the Chiron Super Sports 300+ formula would have to be cast aside for something entirely new. After all, the things that make a car fast in a straight line are only part of the equation when it comes to conquering a race track, and with that mission, the Chiron Pur Sport was born. These two models’ diverging missions necessitated distinct design. To learn more about just how differently they were formed, Autoblog attended a virtual round-table with Frank Heyl, Bugatti deputy design director, and Jachin Schwalbe, Bugatti head of chassis development.

The distinctions are most evident in their profiles, where the longtail design of the Super Sports 300+ radically alters the Chiron’s entire rear “box,” making the Pur Sport’s sharp rear cut-off seem almost inelegant by comparison. The slow, clean taper of the longtail design accomplishes the same thing aerodynamically that it does aesthetically. When the car is in top-speed mode, the rear spoiler even remains stowed.

This design significantly shrinks the low-pressure zone behind the car, reducing the resulting drag, but that absent spoiler also detracts from the Chiron’s stability. To compensate for the lack of spoiler deployment, Bugatti’s engineers altered the flow beneath the car and through the rear diffuser. Heyl describes this as “free” downforce, because there’s no corresponding penalty in drag from gains found with these underbody features.

With the Pur Sport, Bugatti went the other direction. This track-focused car gives up a ton of top speed to its sibling in exchange for nimbleness and acceleration, so being able to cut the minimum hole in the air is far less important. Think of design as a zero-sum game, Bugatti’s team says. With the Pur Sport, top speed was less of a priority, which allowed engineering and design to explore other capabilities. 

The short rear deck and pronounced rear diffuser pair with the Pur Sport’s massive rear wing to produce significantly more downforce, significantly improving the car’s high-speed handling. It may “only” hit 218 mph, but the trade-offs allow for far greater flexibility on tighter, more technical tracks. These design changes go hand-in-hand with the Pur Sport’s extensive chassis and braking system overhaul to create a total package that is more than merely a stock Chiron with 110 pounds yanked out of it. 

In the end, this divergent pair of new Chirons should provide more than enough incentive for customers to justify and/or desire plunking down a few more millions on one of the few remaining Chirons set to be made (less than 100). Basically, how and where do you want your second Chiron to be faster?

2021 Mercedes-AMG GT Black Series revealed with 720-horsepower flat-plane crank engine

AMG has been playing a game of one-upmanship with itself by releasing ever more impressive versions of the Mercedes-AMG GT. First there was the GT R coupe, then the even more powerful four-door GT 63 S and eventually a more track-focused version of the GT R. But the 2021 Mercedes-AMG GT Black Series is something more. It’s like, a ten-upmanship.

It starts with the engine. It’s a heavily revised version of the twin-turbo 4.0-liter V8 AMG uses in multiple other Mercedes products. But it gains a flat-plane crankshaft like you’ll find in a Shelby GT350 or a Ferrari. The reason was for better engine response and more power. Supplementing this change are new camshafts, larger turbo compressors, bigger intercoolers and a revised exhaust system. The final results of the changes mean this GT makes 720 horsepower from 6,700 to 6,900 rpm and 590 pound-feet of torque from 2,000 to 6,000 rpm. That makes it the most powerful V8 ever made by AMG. It also will get the GT Black Series to 60 mph in 3.1 seconds on the way to a top speed of 202 mph.

All that power goes through a carbon fiber driveshaft inside a carbon fiber torque tube to the rear-mounted seven-speed dual-clutch transmission. It has been upgraded to handle the extra power and torque, though Mercedes-AMG didn’t specify exactly how. It also has revised gear ratios and shift logic. This power also only goes to the rear wheels.

The powertrain is only part of what makes this GT so wild, though. As you can plainly see, AMG has been busy with the aerodynamics. The car gets a giant grille inspired by the GT3 race cars to increase airflow to the engine and wheel areas. A manually adjustable front splitter can be put in a less easily damaged “street” setting or extended to the “race” setting for more downforce. The large vents in the hood provide greater engine cooling, and the ones above the fenders help with downforce. Also improving downforce are the smoothed and channeled under body and the giant rear wing. That wing can be manually adjusted for how much rear downforce the driver wants. It also integrates an electrically adjusting flap. This flap is controlled automatically with different parameters depending on the driving mode, or it can be controlled independently by the driver. It goes down for high speed, and goes up for better downforce and grip under braking and cornering. Put together all the aerodynamic upgrades and the GT Black Series can generate over 882 pounds of downforce at 155 mph.

AMG has also used a liberal amount of carbon fiber in the construction of the GT Black Series. The wing and many of the car’s aero aids are made of the stuff, but so are the roof, hatchback, many chassis reinforcements and even the transmission mount and front anti-roll bar. Speaking of the suspension, the GT Black Series has electronically adjustable coilovers like the GT R. Camber is manually adjustable front and rear, and the rear steel anti-roll bar has three positions for varying its stiffness. The car rides on lightweight wheels with Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 R MO tires specifically formulated for the GT Black Series. Two compounds are available, softer or harder. The latter is intended for extensive track time. The front tires are 285-mm wide, and the rears are 335-mm wide. Stopping power comes from standard carbon ceramic brakes.

2021 Mercedes-AMG GT Black Series

The AMG GT Black Series also gets some attention inside. The door panels are lighter pieces with fabric door pulls. The entire interior is swathed in black leather and Dinamica faux suede. Orange stitching and stripes provide some bright highlights. Behind the seats is a roll cage, and the seats themselves are special carbon fiber pieces, but only if you don’t live in the U.S., Canada or China. In those countries, Mercedes fits regular AMG sport seats. Also worth noting is that the windshield and the rear hatch glass are lightweight pieces compared to regular GTs.

Pricing for the ultimate AMG GT has not been announced yet. It seems safe to say that it will start above the GT R Pro’s price tag of $200,000, though. If you think you can afford it, you’ll be able to pick one up early next year.

Koenigsegg made a short film, so you obviously need to go watch it now

Somebody get the Academy Awards on the line. Koenigsegg makes films now

The short film above (which you should absolutely watch) was produced, scripted, cast and made entirely in-house by Koenigsegg employees. Seriously, is there anything these people can’t do? It stars Christian von Koenigsegg (the CEO himself) and a number of other Koenigsegg workers trying their hand at acting.

It’s called “Time to Reign,” and Koenigsegg even came up with a name for their production company: A Spare Time In-House Koenigsegg Production. Frankly, that’s an apt name for everything Koenigsegg does, and it all ends up being stupendous. We’re glad to see Koenigsegg found something to do to keep them all busy during quarantine. It appears to be shot in Angelholm, Sweden.

We won’t spoil the fun, so give the film a watch. Oh, and keep watching to the end, because there is a post-credits scene. 

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