V-8 Mini to the max, R.I.P. Reutemann, the Golf R you can’t have


Welcome to The Manifold, our fresh daily digest of news and what’s happening in the car world.

Someone just put a V-8 in a MINI to make a VINI

Intake: British suspension specialist Powerflex has shoehorned a BMW V-8 under the hood of an R56 Mini Cooper S. The VINI has been four years in development and its four-liter, 420-hp naturally-aspirated S65 engine comes straight out of an M3. Powerflex’s original plan was to somehow keep the car front-drive, but that proved impossible, so it has been converted to rear-wheel-drive and uses a a BMW seven-speed dual-clutch transmission. From the outside the VINI looks little different to a regular Mini, but inside all has been stripped and refitted with roll cage, race seats and harnesses and a motorsports dashboard. Although the car is being promoted by Powerflex at this weekend’s Goodwood Festival of Speed it’s actually a massive collaboration between a number of tuning and aftermarket parts firms including Ed Motorsport, Litchfield Motors, Alcon, Tilton Engineering, Bilstein UK, Forge Motorsport, Goodridge, Aero Tec Labs, ITG, Cobra Seats, Lifeline, Racelogic, Syvecs, AiM Tech, and Braid.

Exhaust: The original Mini has long been popular for eccentric engine swaps, from Honda VTECs and Rover V-8s to motorcycle motors and electric powertrains but this is the first major swap we’ve seen for the “new” Mini—and we love it.

Carlos Reutemann, 1942–2021

Carlos Reutemann puts on his leather jacket after driving a 1971 Brabham BT 34, the car he drove in his first F1 race and in which he won the 1972 Brazilian Grand Prix after racing it during the Festival of Speed at Goodwood, 1997. Getty Images/Gerry Penny

Intake: Carlos Reutemann, Formula 1 ace and long-serving politician, has passed away at the age of 79. Entering F1 in 1972 Reutemann’s racing career saw him take 146 starts with Brabham, Lotus, Ferrari and Williams. He qualified on pole six times, and was on the podium 45 times, including being on the top step on 12 occasions. Reutemann was undoubtedly one of the quickest drivers of his time, but he could be inconsistent and his final race was a prime example. Qualifying on pole in Las Vegas in 1981 he only needed to beat rival Nelson Piquet to take the World Championship, but the race was a disaster and Reutemann ended up eighth. Narrowly missing the world championship with Williams in 1981, having previously finished third for the team in 1980, third for Ferrari in 1978 and third for Brabham in 1975, Reutemann retired from Grand Prix racing in 1982. His next race was for governor of the Sante Fe province in Argentina where he was born, and he served two terms before becoming a senator for the Justice Party in 2003. In 2017 Reutemann was diagnosed with liver cancer and he fell victim to the disease on July 7.

Exhaust: Reutemann’s death is a loss to the motorsports community and the Argentine people who he served for so many years. His former team Williams Racing says, “We are saddened to learn of the passing of our former driver Carlos Reutemann, winner of three Grands Prix for Williams during his career. Our thoughts go out to his family and friends at this difficult time.” Ours too.

Whatever your budget, you can now build a (virtual) Lotus Emira

Lotus Emira Dark Verdant configurator

Intake: If you’ve got $80K–$100K in your sports car budget—and even if you don’t—you can now hop over to the Lotus configurator to build your dream version of the last internal-combustion Lotus, the Emira. The main factor in price is powertrain (an AMG four-cylinder or a Toyota six) and transmission (manual, dual-clutch, or torque-converter auto), but with those decisions made, it’s on to the bells and whistles. Lotus offers six exterior colors, a choice of red or silver brake calipers, and some black trim (roof, exhaust tips, sideview mirrors). Wheels come in three designs, two of which are available in silver or in black; the third is a black-and-silver affair, shown here on a Dark Verdant V-6 model. The interior features a 10.25-inch infotainment screen and a 12.3-incher behind the flat-bottom wheel. Four colored leathers are available, or you can go the Alcantara route with grey, red, or yellow stitching. The stereo comes courtesy of KEF, and there’s even a trinket tray … if Colin Chapman could imagine such a frivolity.

Exhaust: We got our first look at the production-spec Emira and its spec sheet yesterday—now we get all the juicy details on colors and trim. Plus, a good peek at that tidy manual shifter. Long may it reign.

Subaru produces 20-millionth all-wheel-drive vehicle

Subaru All-wheel-drive system

Intake: Subaru announced today that its cumulative production of its all-wheel-drive vehicles eclipsed the 20-million mark in June. Not bad for a company that introduced its first mass-produced AWD car, the Leone 4WD Estate Van for Japan, just 49 years ago in 1972. Unsurprisingly, AWD models account for 98 percent of Subaru’s sales globally. Each of those AWD vehicles also features some sort of horizontally-opposed boxer engine as well, another Subie staple. That engine uniformity will change soon, though, as Subaru plans to unveil a new all-electric SUV in 2022 called the Solterra, plus a stretch of hybrid vehicles arriving in the mid-2020s.

Exhaust: Perhaps no brand, aside from Audi perhaps, is more well-known for its all-wheel-drive offerings than Subaru. The Japanese brand cut its teeth in rallying—where AWD is king—and then spent the end of the last century and the majority of this century marketing its products as tools for outdoor-focused folks. Producing 20 million AWD cars globally is no small feat. It helps when you’re ahead of the curve in terms of offering AWD on pretty much everything you make. As the brand readies itself for the electric revolution, don’t expect any wheels to lose their driven capability.

Behold, the Golf R Americans can’t have

Volkswagen Golf R Estate rear three quarter
Volkswagen Ingo Barenschee

Intake: In a story that’s already too familiar, a European brand has just revealed an achingly beautiful performance wagon that won’t come stateside. Volkswagen just unveiled the Golf R Estate, a longroof version of the forthcoming Mk. 8 Golf R hot hatch. It boasts the same 315-horse turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, the same seven-speed dual-clutch DSG automatic gearbox, and the same 4Motion all-wheel-drive system with that new trick rear diff with dual multi-disc wet clutches that can shuffle 100 percent of the car’s 310 lb-ft of torque to either wheel. Ordering for this goldilocks wagon begin today in Germany and other parts of Europe.

Exhaust: Alas, lust across the Atlantic once again. We understand why we can’t have nice things like this—American buyers prefer the rolling fortress feel of today’s bulky crossovers to the sleek streamlined presence of a sultry station wagon such as the Golf R Estate. Still, we can’t help but dream of a world where we’re ripping off long-wheelbase slides in an all-wheel-drive Golf, kids and luggage in tow. Hey, at least there’s the Audi RS6 Avant if we somehow strike it big on Bitcoin. 

Got a heavy-duty Duramax Chevy or GMC from 2017–19? Listen up

2018 Silverado 2500 HD White LTZ Custom Sport Crew Cab towing Jo
2018 Silverado 2500 HD White LTZ Custom Sport Crew Cab Chevrolet

Intake: GM just issued a sizable recall—331,274 trucks—for heavy-duty Silverados and Sierras from the 2017–19 model years with the Duramax 6.6-liter engine (LP5) and the optional engine-block heater (K05). The heater and power cord, manufactured by Electronics Components International in Ontario, are susceptible to short-circuiting and GM is issuing a recall over concern of fire risk. For some owners, it’s an all-too-familiar situation: Back in 2019, GM recalled the same models, plus the 4500/5500/6500 Silverados from 2019, for the same issue.

Exhaust: Unfortunately, GM wasn’t willing to share any additional information here. Whether this is an unresolved issue stemming from the 2019 recall or simply commentary on the trouble-plagued engine-block heaters, we’re unsure. For 300,000-odd owners, however, a potential fire risk will be an urgent call to action.

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