Electricity brews at Dodge, rare AJS Porcupine eyes auction record, a guide to Maserati trims
Welcome to The Manifold, our fresh daily digest of news and what’s happening in the car world.
Is Dodge prepping an electrified muscle car?
Intake: This summer’s return of Roadkill Nights at M1 Concourse in Pontiac, Michigan, is exciting in its own right, but the rumor that Dodge is planning to tease something big on July 8 has us even more pumped. According to a report from Muscle Cars & Trucks, said teaser might be a preview of a forthcoming electrified Charger or Challenger. It’s unclear as to whether the battery-toting muscle machine in question is a fully-electric vehicle or something with a hybrid power, but MC&T does note that Stellantis placed a massive order with German supplier ZF Friedrichshafen for hybrid-ready gearboxes.
Exhaust: We knew the days of screaming supercharged V-8s were numbered. If this will be our first glance at the new direction for the Brotherhood of Muscle, we hope it’s as thrilling as the last decade of Dodge performance. Say it is a plug-in variant of the, erm, Charger; If our recent experiences with an early Stellantis plug-in effort (hey there, Wrangler 4xe) are any indication, expect the new Dodge to be an extremely competent product. At least when it comes to aerosolizing rubber.
Could this AJS become the first million-dollar motorcycle?
Intake: A 1946 AJS “Porcupine” Grand Prix motorcycle could set a new two-wheel record at auction. The 497cc twin-cylinder E90 Porcupine famously took Les Graham to the top of the 1949 500cc World Championship. This example is one of just four built and only two are said to remain. Former owner and racer Ted Frend became one of the first riders to average over 100 mph for a full Grand Prix at Spa in Belgium on the Porcupine and he kept the bike until his death in 2006. The machine then passed to his friend and neighbor Ken Senior who restored it and has now put it up for auction with Bonhams.
Exhaust: The last time an AJS Porcupine went to auction at Bonhams in 2011 it was estimated to fetch $750,000–$950,000, and although the estimate this time out is “just” $345,000–$414,000, recent sales of rare motorcycles have gone through the roof. We’ll soon find out how high this Grand Prix legend will fly.
3 for 3: Maserati sketches out engine offerings, aesthetics for new trim levels
Intake: Maserati’s most accessible trio of vehicles—the Ghibli, Quattroporte, and Levante—will each be available in three flavors as of 2022: GT, Modena, and Trofeo. Engine offerings are distinct: a 345-horse V-6 for the GT trim, a 424-hp V-6 for the mid-tier Modena, and twin-turbo, 580-hp V-8s all around for hi-po Trofeo models. The Levante gets a bonus round, available in a fourth, Modena S trim with a 550-hp V-8. The Modena S and the top-dog Trofeo-spec Levantes will still differ on aesthetics: black brake calipers for the former and red for the latter, for example. Trofeo models, naturally, receive a raft of carbon-fiber interior trim; Modena and GT configurations enjoy piano black accents and, in the Quattroporte GT’s case, wood.
Exhaust: The Maserati lineup is, for now, combustion-only—but don’t expect that to last. The gorgeous MC20, which debuted with Maserati’s new, in-house Nettuno V-6, will soon spawn an EV iteration, and earlier this year, the Trident previewed a Macan-sized SUV called the Grecale that it indents to electrify following the 800-volt example set by the Taycan.
“Less is better” for new Volvo electric SUV
Intake: Volvo has previewed its first electric SUV to sit on a new skateboard-style platform with batteries under the floor. The Concept Recharge has a long wheelbase but short overhangs and gave Volvo’s designers a free hand to come up with a new design language. This “less but better” philosophy does away with extraneous elements for a “high-precision, flush execution.” The familiar Volvo grille, with its vertical bars, has been replaced with a kind of shield and the trademark Thor’s Hammer headlamps are tweaked. The overall appearance is a little softer and more sculptural than more recent Volvos. The interior, meanwhile, is suppose to evoke the feeling of a Scandinavian living room with plenty of airy space and natural or recyclable materials accessed by giant rear-hinged doors.
Exhaust: Given the blank sheet of paper (or screen, rather) Volvo could certainly have been more adventurous with the exterior design, but there’s no denying that the flat-floor of a dedicated EV platform really opens up opportunities for interior design. That’s where Volvo excels these days.
16 years ago, the last Ford Thunderbird rolled off the line
Intake: The last Ford Thunderbird rolled off Ford’s Wixom, Michigan, assembly line exactly 16 years ago. It was intended for Henry Ford’s granddaughter (and noted philanthropist) Josephine Clay Ford, but unfortunately, she passed away one month before this ‘bird was born. So instead the Thunderbird went to her daughter, complete with an engraved dash panel reading, “Last 2005 Ford Thunderbird, produced July 1st 2005 for the family of Josephine Ford.”
Exhaust: While the eleventh-generation Thunderbird has respectable performance and a loyal fanbase, the complicated Jaguar S-Type underpinnings and the dowdy Lincoln LS dashboard were not likely the best building blocks for a flagship Ford. This final example has a bit of bad karma: The Wixom factory and the selling dealership in Maine closed their doors in 2007 and 2008, respectively.
Intake: Porsche is preparing to recall its popular Taycan EV due to undisclosed software glitches that reportedly cause abrupt power loss. A formal announcement is expected this week to address the matter. This development follows an investigation conducted by the NHTSA, in late May, over a batch of initial complaints that originally put a spotlight on the issue. In a filing, the NHTSA summated it experienced, “loss of motive power while in motion at any speed.”
Exhaust: As complexity of the modern vehicle ramps up, manufacturers and consumers alike will need to patiently approach these new-age machines for what they are truly becoming—technology products. Software integration and debugging are integral procedures native to the electric car. Unforeseen growing pains, even from perfectionists like Porsche, are now inevitably part of this new landscape.
Hagerty to host 2022 Concours d’Elegance of America at Detroit Institute of Arts
Intake: The 43rd annual Concours d’Elegance of America, scheduled for July 23–25, will be the first one on Hagerty’s watch—and the last one held at the Inn at St. John’s in Plymouth, Michigan. Hagerty, which acquired the concours in March, announced that the event will move to a new venue next year, as well as a new month. Scheduled for September 2022, the downtown Detroit Institute of Arts will serve as nexus of the multi-location experience.
Exhaust: “This move honors Detroit’s heritage as a hub of commerce, industry, design, and culture,” says Hagerty CEO McKeel Hagerty. “We couldn’t think of a better place to recognize the automobile than the Detroit Institute of Arts. It, and its 65,000 works of art, serve as the perfect backdrop as we celebrate the automobile—another signature achievement of mankind.”