BMW: Next M3 Will Feature Inline-6 Power

May 22, 2012

BMW’s North American boss, Ludwig Willisch, has confirmed that the next M3 will ditch the current naturally-aspirated V8 in favour of the classic inline-6 configuration that has powered the M3 in past e36 and e46 chassis outings… Unlike past efforts though, this new inline-6 will undoubtedly feature 2, or possibly even 3, turbo chargers bolted on to harness (and of course, needlessly surpass) the extra grunt required in this day and age.

Rendering of the next M3

There were initial plans for a chopped/sliced/turbocharged V6 derivative of the current, free-breathing 4.0L V8 but those plans have now been set aside. All that’s left to squandor over now is just how much forced induction tech will be nailed onto the inline-6 to achieve the ever-ridiculous power-increase that is required to sell units… I mean, we’re seriously looking at 440-450 bhp… in an M3… that will probably tack-on more weight/bulk anyways (just like the latest, porky-pie M5).

The current (chunky) V8 M3 with the ‘Performance Pack’

It’s pretty safe to say that the M3 is entering into that shady area of motoring now where its massive power-output will soon become an un-accessible entity on normal roads, for normal drivers… As the true saying goes – More power, more weight, more grip = Less fun.

The naturally-aspirated (and mad fun) inline-6 e46 M3 CSL

Of course I’d be in the minority here, but I’d happily trade 3-400 kgs of shed weight from the next M3 (the current M3 is a porky-pants as well) and a gutsy, responsive, 375 bhp, naturally-aspirated inline-6 over some muted, tri-turbo variation dishing out more torque and power than 99% of the M3 drivers on the road can even handle or comprehend.

Not the most-favourite M3, but its naturally-aspirated inline-6 provided driving thrills to coincide with its chassis.

Sure, it’ll ‘go like hell’ but at what cost to the driving enthusiast who enjoys the reachable and exploitable nuances displayed by M3’s of yore… ?

I’d still take the original, 4-cyl. e30 M3 over them all…

Message to BMW re: the M3: We want lightweight FUN, not extra weight and massive power.

-Blake J.

Mustang Shelby 1000: Limited Edition 1,100HP ‘Stang For The Insane

March 28, 2012

If the recently launched 650 bhp Mustang Shelby GT500 has you crying out for even more power to twist through the live rear axle of Ford’s increasingly belligerent musclecar, then perhaps you’ll want to remove the lollipop from your mug and steer your sights towards this new creation from Shelby: The Shelby 1000.

Available in two states of tune – 950 bhp in ‘standard’ tune or 1,100 bhp in full-on ‘track’ tune – the Shelby 1000 marks the 50th anniversary of the first time Carroll Shelby slotted a big V8 into a small AC way back in ’62 and will have its official debut at the upcoming New York Auto Show.

Starting with the new GT500 as a base, Shelby completely strips the 5.4L V8 and adds a new crankshaft, camshaft, valve springs, new conrods and pistons, ports the cylinder heads, upgrades the exhaust and cooling systems and tops it all off by replacing the supercharger with a Kenne Bell 3.6L supercharger…

The openly faked/photoshopped 'lift-off' pic, compliments of Shelby themselves...

For the track-only 1,100 bhp full-on-nutter version, the tuning goes even further with American Racing headers, a Borla 3-inch exhaust and a Whipple 4.0L supercharger rounding out the madness.

Onto the handling upgrades; you get new anti-roll bars and firmer bushes along with new suspension uprights. Eibach adjustables, new control arms and a Watts link system also make the list. The brakes receive six-piston calipers up front and four-piston units out back while the aero mods include an aggressively vented and bulging hood (to contain all of that power, y’see…) along with a new front splitter, sideskirts and rear diffuser. The rear-end is also replaced with a 9-inch unit and is mated to an aluminium driveshaft.

Quite why you’d spend $149,995 (yes, you read that correctly) for even more power to be (arguably) wasted through the rear tires is beyond this writer’s grasp of motoring reason but hey, some people get absolutely enthralled by the prospect of owning such a thing, purely for schoolyard-levels of bragging rights, one could very easily (and rightly) assume. Only 100, in total, will be made.

And it’s also worth mentioning that the $149,995 does not include the base GT500 that you’ll have to give Shelby as a donor car in order to receive all of the above upgrades. If you’d prefer Shelby to do all of the work from scratch, then that’ll set you back a smidge over $200,000… and hopefully a pill to ingest that blanks-out the fact that you paid that much $ for a Mustang…

There are very few cars on the market nowadays that any motoring enthusiast might consider ‘kind of ridiculous’… add this to that list please.

(Promo-vid from the Road & Track folks…)

-Blake J.

Porsche 918 Spyder: Evo Magazine’s Detailed Prototype Preview Video

March 22, 2012

Excellent up-close and detailed (pre) view vid of the bare-shelled 918 Spyder prototype in all of its complex, tech-fest laden glory while undergoing tests at Nardo…

As always, a fantastically sincere and informative presentation from Evo Magazine founder, Harry Metcalfe – his genuine passion for cars is always admired and appreciated.

What do you folks make of this project though…? Does it excite you in the ways that Supercars usually (and should) do…?

Myself, I’m definitely curious about it… But it just presents itself as more of an intriguing engineering exercise rather than something to provoke any deeply felt, yearning passions for hopes of hearing it sing and dreams of one day driving it… Also, I’m completely turned off when engineers concentrate on ‘engineering emotion into’ a Supercar, rather than allowing the emotion to evolve naturally during the build and engineering process. The tech outweighs the fluidity of the passion…

The 918 Spyder Concept Car

On the complete flipside of this engineering coin, the recently departed Carrera GT Supercar – with it’s race-derived, normally aspirated V10, race-developed inboard suspension, manual gearbox and sheer dedication to lightweight components and bare bones agenda – seems almost NASCAR-like in comparison… If I had to choose between the 918 and Carrera GT over which one to drive on a Highland road in Scotland for a day, I know which one would get the instant nod…

The tech-fest 959 Supercar from the '80s

I can’t help thinking that the 918 is the true spiritual successor to the (again, overly complex) technological tour-de-force 959 Supercar from the ’80s… Thoughts…?

-Blake J.

Eric Clapton’s New Ferrari: 512BB Boxer Tribute From A 458

March 22, 2012

Longtime Ferrari fanatic, Eric Clapton, has presented his one-off homage to the classic late ’70s V12 512BB as built by Ferrari’s own ‘Special Products’ Division, which exclusively handles bespoke one-offs such as this.

Based on the underpinnings of the 458, it has been given the name SP12-EPC (obviously after its registration plate – ‘SP’ = Special Products ’12’ = year of Reg.) Yet contrary to many other reports on the interweb, the car still retains its original 458-derived V8 heart, not a transplanted V12… despite the notable increase in desireability if that were the case

The Enzo headlamps also tempt that V12 notion even further but official Motor Vehicle documents don’t lie… Further details are understandably scant at best this early on but surely the singer/songwriter will (hopefully) be providing up-close and possibly onboard experiences to worthy journalists and his fellow Ferrari fanatics/historians in the near future…

Until then, have a gaze at the photos that captured the car’s debut at London Ferrari Dealership HR Owen last night…

The original V12 512BB Boxer...

 -Blake J.

What Were They Thinking: 1978 Corvette ‘America’ Concept

March 21, 2012

There are moments within the extended life-run of an iconic, homebred sportscar where ambitious minds and questionable visions intersect to create something that begs to ask a question that was never even asked in the first place… In this case – ‘Why wouldn’t a Corvette owner/enthusiast desire a 4-door version to haul his family and friends around in…?’

I know. There are so many responses to counter that question, but it didn’t stop Chevrolet from embarking on a… erm…. ‘design study’ in 1978 to flesh out the possibilities of a 4-door family ‘Vette.

The Corvette ‘America’ (snappy name) was designed and built by California Custom Coach in Pasadena, California in very small numbers – one prototype and five ‘production’ models – achieved by basically taking two Corvettes, cutting them in half and then stitching/welding them up, hence the increaed 30-inch wheelbase and subsequent visual awkwardness…

At the time, a base-model Corvette would stretch you back about $13,000-$14,000. So when the $35,000 price-tag was announced for the 4-door America, orders didn’t exactly flock-in as they had anticipated…

In the end, only the 6 were made and the silver ‘vette pictured here is the only known remaining survivor – the others having succumbed to uncaring owners and/or crashes of various sorts… I couldn’t even imagine what an oversteering moment in one of these would feel like. Probably frightening.

I think one left is enough.

Though, in its defense, I can’t help picturing this above red version as the sort of vehicle that the characters from The Banana Splits would have driven, if they could have…  And that makes it instantly cool in my books.

-Blake J.

Ferrari F40: Photo Album Of A Motoring Legend

March 13, 2012

2012 marks the 25th Anniversary of the very last Ferrari to be built under the watchful eye of Enzo Ferrari himself. At 90 years of age, Enzo passed away one year after the F40’s official debut in the Summer of 1987, marking the lightweight (1100 kg), powerful (471 bhp from a twin-turbo V8) and strategically bare-bones F40 as a fitting ‘last testament’ to the fuelled passions and race-bred visions of Enzo Ferrari.

There have been countless odes to the F40 over the years, both in print and within this electronic medium, so let’s spare the (albeit, worthy) fanfare for another time and instead focus on the images selected for your viewing pleasure – images that span time from period-era rarities right on up to present-day re-interpretations. In short, a celebration of the iconic F40 supercar that, to this day, still tops the list of many a petrolhead and Ferrari enthusiast worldwide as the most exciting Ferrari ever made…



The heart of the beast...


Just for laughs...

-Blake J.

Photo of the Day: Aston Martin V8 Vantage Roadster

December 14, 2011

As with last week’s ’66 Ford Mustang POTD, there’s not a lot to say here. Having captured this shot down by the local airport, I therefore felt it only appropriate to show-off the beautifully engineered doors of the Vantage as they rise up like wings upon their opening.

The angled light of a Wintery afternoon hung low in the sky and I remember it being quite cold and blowy down by the ocean’s edge – needless to say, the top came up for the drive back and the seat-warmers set to ‘Bake’…

And oh my… the sounds emanating from the exhaust… *eyes closed – no longer here*

-Blake J.

Bentley: Listen To The New V8 Engine

December 6, 2011

The next 2012 Bentley will have an all-new 4.0L turbocharged V8… and apparently it’ll sound like a NASCAR wrapped in a velveteen hammer.


~Blake J.

Aston Martin V8 Vantage: A.I. takes a look at the British Brute that redefined the term ‘Supercar’

September 22, 2011

When Aston Martin rolled out Britain’s first true ‘Supercar’ back in 1977 it caused more than a stir alongside the phenomenal thrills found behind the wheel of this opulent monster. Back then, anything with the ‘supercar’ tag attached to it usually meant something low-slung, wedgy, uncomfortable and brutally fast… and most-likely adorned with the requisite pop-up headlamps. So when Aston introduced a sleek ‘n sexy, blunt-nosed coupe capable of carrying 4 passengers in luxurious comfort yet just as fast as anything Italy had to offer at the time, a turning point had been achieved. The Italian’s eyebrows had been raised…

The look and coupe-style of the Vantage was almost the polar-opposite to what had been established as the norm within the evolving (and largely Latin) supercar circles of the time. Here was an excellent handling, practical, ferociously loud (in a very distinguished, gentlemanly manner) and thuggish… well, muscle-car… that was both elegant and user-friendly. Not to mention irrefutably fast – arguably the fastest car of the day. 0-60 came up in just over 5 seconds and you had a (newly modified) 5.3L V8 churning out almost 380bhp (437bhp if you specified the pumped-up ‘X pack’ engine/sports-exhaust with yours) – a truly staggering power-output figure for the 70’s.

To achieve these monstrous power figures from their V8, bigger valves, lower-lift camshafts, a distributor remap (there’s some old-school for ya!), improved spark plugs, a skimmed head and a much larger airbox was fitted. The suspension even received a proper stiffening-up while the ride-height had been lowered (apparently) due to cut springs… (more old-school) Heck, Aston even fitted spacers out back to widen the track. This was ‘Garagista’ pipe ‘n spit engineering at its finest.

One ever-defining feature of the Vantage was its blanked-out grille, which was actually a nod to improved aerodynamics. It was touted as the greatest gain in drag reduction and as a byproduct, let’s be honest… it looks unbelievably cool. Air was fed from underneath the front bumper with zero negative effects on cooling the raging beast under the bonnet. The outcome of all this work was outstanding to say the least. Never before had something so handsome and chiseled offered up so much spine-tingling power and fury. Top speed was 170mph (in 1977..!?!). Aston had created the fastest production-car in the world.

Back in 2009, I had the rare privilege of riding shotgun on a short B-Road blast throughout the hills surrounding the Knockhill Racing Circuit in Scotland. To say that my senses were introduced to an all-new level of blinding exaspiration would be merely grazing the knife across the butter… This was purely maniacal stuff. Of course, I have had previous driving/passenger excursions within variously riotous and seethingly angry American muscle-cars from the ’60’s and ’70’s up until that point, but this was something right from the pages of Oh-my-God-this-thunder-has-killed-anything-I’ve-heard-before.

I was purely annihilated in the most loveliest of ways… The sound (and shove) was blistering and almost frightening. My gawping mouth could not be shut no matter how hard I tried, for everytime we rounded a bend and my Scottish friend buried the throttle into the carpet, the orchestral might of that V8 hitting 6000rpm’s was enough to extract uncontrollable laughter from somewhere inside of me. ‘Floored’ doesn’t even begin to describe what I was feeling when we eventually pulled over at a lay-by.

But ‘forever honoured’ are the words I would happily use to describe what I felt when he kindly told me to get out and swap seats with him… Good. Almighty. Heavens. This was about to become a slice of dreamlike motoring nirvana that you only…well… only have in your dreams. While I adjusted the steering wheel and gazed out over the imposing power-bulge on the hood, I was momentarily reminded of the classic early 70’s Mustangs of the era. And that muscle-car ‘feel’ in a genuinely British environment rattled through my brain for the next few seconds before I dipped the clutch of the rumbling beast and barely administered any revs to get it rolling (nearly 380 lb/ft of torque surely helps).

As I expected from a car with this much torque on tap, you barely need to change gear as you ride the wave of seemingly endless power. What an absolute thrill. Back towards Knockhill we went, and I savoured every single moment of it. The Vantage spitting and popping out unburnt fuel on the over-run and urging you to open the baritone taps to expel the silken growls and ravaging howls within the rev-range… Again, I was speechless… and eventually sleepless.

I had originally come to Scotland to drive a TVR for 4 days (future A.I. feature) but little did I know that a chance 15 minutes behind the wheel of an original Aston Martin V8 Vantage would come to define this particular driving-holiday of mine. All I could think about when I returned back home was how badly I wanted to own one, one day. It had entered its place within my Petrolhead bucket list. I bow down to thee…

-Blake J.

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