Mini manual-transmission school, Z06 order banks open again, Porsche reaches new heights


Want a manual Mini but can’t drive one? They’ll have a school for that

Intake: Just two weeks after Mini USA announced that it’s bringing back manual transmissions for most Mini models, the company has announced some instruction on the art by launching a new Mini Manual Driving School at the BMW Performance Center in Thermal, California. “While the manual transmission has fallen to the wayside for many drivers over time, the excitement and passion for driving a manual has never faltered. To expand the accessibility and fun of driving a manual, Mini USA is offering a manual driving school that is open to any drivers looking for the opportunity to learn to drive manual in an engaging and safe atmosphere,” the company said. The BMW Group Performance Center West will be the exclusive location for the Mini Manual Driving School. The school will incorporate both a classroom portion and a hands-on driving experience at the on-site test track which, since 1999, has instructed over 500,000 participants at its two locations in Thermal and Greenville, South Carolina. In 2016 it added Mini driving programs, and now plans to expand its instruction to teach students “the fun of driving a manual.” The curriculum will focus on vehicle controls, finding the friction point, practicing smooth starts, stops, acceleration, and more. At the conclusion of the course, participants will be tested on a timed course to assess the driver’s knowledge. No word on when the classes will start, or the price. “We haven’t set a cost for the school yet but will communicate it once it’s confirmed,” said Andrew Cutler, Mini communications director.

Exhaust: Details are sketchy as to when the school starts and how long it takes. We assume you’d be using Minis for the class; it will be interesting to see what kind of wear the clutches show after a few hundred beginners learn to drive a manual on the school cars. Stay tuned for more information. –Steven Cole Smith

Z06 order banks reopen as deliveries begin

2023 Corvette Z06 blue front three-quarter track action

Intake: The 2023 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 has been in production since late September, and Wednesday, the first models off the assembly line began shipping to customers. Apparently construction and the parts flow have been going smoothly, because Chevrolet has reopened the order banks after closing them earlier this year. The first retail Z06 that rolled off the line was a 70th Anniversary Edition Z06 with Z07 package in Carbon Flash Metallic. Operation Homefront received $3.6 million from the sale of the first retail Z06 70th Anniversary Edition at the Barrett-Jackson Scottsdale Auction in January 2022. The car was purchased by Chairman and CEO of Hendrick Automotive Group Rick Hendrick to add to his massive Corvette collection. “Although we previously announced we were no longer accepting additional 2023 Corvette Z06 orders for production through the end of calendar year 2022, we will resume scheduling new Corvette Z06 orders for production this month,” Chevrolet spokesman Trevor Thompkins said.

Exhaust: Even if you order your Z06 today, don’t wait at the dealership for delivery – there are still a lot of cars ahead of yours. We know, you can hardly wait … –SCS

Portal axle Porsches reach new heights on a Chilean volcano

Intake: A pair of prototype Porsche 911s have climbed to almost 20,000 feet on a grueling off-road excursion up the highest volcano in the world—Chile’s Ojos del Salado. Boasting near-14-inches of ground clearance thanks to the fitment of portal axles and off-road tires the two Carrera 4S-based machines also gained lower gear ratios, Aramid underbody protection, and modified bodywork, although the 443-horsepower turbocharged flat-six engine was unaltered. A traction-gaining Porsche Warp-Connector was installed which forms a mechanical link between all four wheels, switchable differential locks were added, and a winch was fitted, just in case. Inside, the cars were caged, and fitted with carbon seats and race harnesses for safety. Conquering bolder-strewn slopes, ice fields, temperatures at 22 degrees below freezing, and oxygen levels half those at sea level, the two 911s hiked to a height no Porsche has ever reached before. “Projects like this one are vital to who we are at Porsche. As they began their journey, the team literally aimed sky high. The first of what I hope will be many adventures,” says Dr. Frank-Steffen Walliser, Vice-President, Complete Vehicle Architecture and Characteristics.

Exhaust: There have been rumors of a Porsche factory Safari for over a decade, but more recently a lifted 992 has been spied in testing, and now this extreme adventure all but confirms that 2023 will see a trail-ready Elfer. Given the location for the expedition we can’t help but wonder if it was powered by e-fuel from Porsche’s plant in Chile as well, testing its performance in far-from-favorable conditions. –Nik Berg

Entry-level Lucid starts at $89,050

Lucid lineup group

Intake: To better compete with Tesla and other premium electric car manufacturers, Lucid Motors will launch a less-expensive version of its Air sedan, the Air Pure, during an online event November 15 prior to the Los Angeles auto show. The California-based EV brand launched last year with the limited-run Dream Edition, starting at $170,500 with shipping, before launching the Grand Touring with a starting price of $155,650. Next year, the EV maker will sell the Air Sapphire, with a starting price a bit more than $250,000, says Automotive News. The Pure “is distinguished by its metal roof and Mojave PurLux interior,” Lucid said. “Air Pure will initially launch with a dual-motor, all-wheel-drive configuration, with full specs including EPA-estimated range and additional details on the model to be shared on November 15.”

Exhaust: What we’ve seen from Lucid Motors so far has been excellent, but pricey. It will be interesting to see what the fledgling manufacturer can do for under $100,000. –SCS

“Do not drive” order for 276,000 Stellantis cars with Takata airbags

2006 Dodge Magnum front three quarter

Intake: The never-ending Takata air bag controversy rears its head again, this time affecting  276,000 Dodge and Chrysler models, which include 2005-2010 Dodge Magnums, Chargers, Challengers and Chrysler 300s. NHTSA is telling all of the owners to check to see if their vehicle has an open Takata recall. It comes after two such airbags exploded in two separate incidents involving 2010 Dodge Chargers, killing two. A third death is expected. NHTSA and Stellantic suggest you park your car until you know.

Exhaust: And as if you don’t know by now, NHTSA says: “Tens of millions of vehicles with Takata air bags are under recall. Long-term exposure to high heat and humidity can cause these air bags to explode when deployed. Such explosions have caused injuries and deaths.” –SCS

The last-ever Escort Cosworth could be yours

Ford Escort Cosworth
Collecting Cars

Intake: Ford’s fabulous bi-winged rally special of the Nineties not only took the world’s special stages by storm, it was a huge hit with customers. Homologation rules required 2500 examples of the Escort RS Cosworth to be built, but over four years from 1992-96 7145 were assembled. Actually, make that 7147, for after production officially ended Karmann, which had been putting the cars together, noticed it had enough parts left over to build two more. The final example was used by the firm’s chairman for two years, and was then sold on to Dieter Hahne of Ford Special Vehicle Engineering, who kept it for the next 24 years. Recently given a mild restoration, fresh Auralis Blue paintwork and a new clutch and cambelt the car is for sale now on Collecting Cars. What’s more it will be 25 years-old in 2023 so can be road registered in the U.S.A soon.

Exhaust: The ‘Cossie’ was Jeremy Clarkson’s favorite car of the 1990s, despite his being stolen on more than one occasion. Whether you’re a rally addict or a Top Gear fan this unique Escort might be the best example… in the world. –NB

Read next Up next: The genius of Bugatti, the madness of Bugatti


    I recently began teaching my 14 year old grandson to drive my ’01 E39 530i Sport with a five speed (on a closed parking lot). In thirty minutes, he was ecstatic at his accomplishment. His 18 year old sister is already quite skilled at driving a stick shift. She is also a graduate of the Tire Rack Street Survival program. If you’re not familiar with Street Survival, Google it. Just might save your kids life!
    A huge advantage of standard today is the carjackers can’t steal your car…

    Great point on Street Survival. Both of my kids have taken it (notabley, both used the the same manual trans equipped vehicle) and it has paid off on more than one occasion

    Entry level Lucid at basically $90k. So affordable, I expect we’ll see them everywhere shortly.

    I’ll take the Cosworth Escort. Now that’s a British car I would happily drive.

    Never understood what people find so hard about manual transmissions. Taught myself after having driven autos for a short while. Once I got moving, after the first gear change into second it just clicked.

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